The product of a joint venture between UK-based Fleet (Line Markers) and Swiss laser specialist Leica Geosystems, BeamRider is designed to help groundsmen mark out perfect straight lines and exact 90? angles with the minimum of time and effort. BeamRider consists of a set of laser transmitters and reflectors, and a laser-following attachment mounted to the side of Fleet’s popular Kombi spray-marker.
It’s difficult to imagine laser technology and digital recognition software playing a part in line-marking on pitches. Surely line-marking is all about schoolboy geometry, tapes, string, pegs and a few gallons of white compound? And often there’s quite a bit of guesswork.
The laser unit and reflectors are stored in a box. We watch as BeamRider’s representative puts the equipment into position. There are no set-squares and no string. With the BeamRider, the 90? angle is pre-set.
The system is switched on. We are talking Class 1 Laser technology here. The beam is red. But this is no James Bond film. This laser beam is not going to sear a hole in you leg if you walk through it. In fact, you can put your hand through it and it’s even safe to look at.
Then here comes “old faithful” Kombi. But this one is slightly different from the Kombi used every week to mark out pitches. This Kombi is fitted with the BeamRider computer and electronic laser-detection circuitry, fine-tuned to eliminate the effects of spurious reflections and sunlight. The computer incorporates the latest monitoring software so the BeamRider can be continuously tuned and improved, and self-testing and error-checking routines in the software ensure that any deviations from the normal function are immediately reported and corrected.
The Kombi, with Actuator and spray- marking device, is wheeled into position close to the laser. Once the laser is locked onto the receiver, the operator simply walks forward and the actuator tracks the beam. All is well and a white line appears on the turf as the Kombi covers the ground.
Any deviation the operator and Kombi make from the laser-true straight line is compensated for by instant and automatic movement of the actuator arm. So, as the operator veers slightly to the left, so the Kombi’s spray arm moves out to the right. A wobble to the right and the arm immediately retracts to stay on course with the laser beam. If the sensor loses the beam altogether, then the paint flow is cut off in an instant. The result is a laser-accurate white line in less than two minutes.
Moving in for a close-up inspection, we are able to determine tread marks from the Kombi line-marker. They wobble here and there but the adjacent white line is perfectly straight.
Clearly a line-marking machine based on this kind of technology is going to be sizeably more expensive than your average wheel-to-wheel transfer marker. For this system you are writing a cheque for at least £5,300 ex VAT. But think of the time you would save. Think of the accuracy. And it’s worry-free.
The BeamRider, after rigorous testing, is now in production. It is specified to mark for 160m but in tests has gone a distance of 225m and only had to stop then because it had run out of space.
A stadium mounting kit provides sites for the laser and reflector points via the use of installed sockets inserted around the perimeter of the pitch. This allows rapid set-up of the system for over-marking time after time. The kit is designed to be non-intrusive, with grass able to grow right up to the socket.
We reckon the BeamRider will become a must for top league clubs. But, as it drastically cuts marking time, we can see the system becoming popular with local councils and contractors with many pitches to mark. Current marketing is in fact targeting first-class pitches but, because the beam becomes taller the greater the distance from the emitting unit, the kit can cope with a certain level of undulating ground.
There is no doubt that BeamRider is setting brand new standards in terms of time, efficiency and most off all accuracy for pitch marking — standards we would never even have dreamed of until now.
For more information on the BeamRider, call 01684 580115.
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