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Fall 2012

Toolcat utility work machines stay busy on Big Ten campus

Toolcat 5600s and Bobcat attachments help maintain the University of Michigan campus.

University of Michigan parking and athletic departments put more than two dozen Toolcat machines to work to maintain the campus structures, parking lots and athletic facilities.

University of Michigan parking and athletic departments put more than two dozen Toolcat machines to work to maintain the campus structures, parking lots and athletic facilities.

How many Toolcat utility work machines does it take to maintain a 3,200-acre property? At the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor, the answer is 26.

Sprinkled among the traditional Michigan colors of maize and blue is a small army of Toolcat 5600s. That’s because the small city that is the University of Michigan has 538 major buildings and a student and staff population of about 114,000. Three departments use the Toolcat 5600 machines for a wide range of jobs — from snow removal to delivering packages.

The plant building and ground services department by the numbers:

  1. 18 utility work machines and dozens of attachments
  2. More than 26 million square feet of property
  3. More than 12 million square feet of turf
  4. 171,000 square feet of annual and perennial beds
  5. More than 2 million square feet of planting beds
  6. 3.7 million square feet of sidewalk, plaza and specialty paving surfaces that require snow removal

Here is how two departments utilize the Toolcat units purchased from Diuble Equipment.

Parking maintenance

The employees of the parking maintenance department work in shifts so their duties are covered 24 hours a day. Every April 15, the personnel rotate to another shift for the next year.

The Toolcat utility work machines are plenty busy after a snowfall. The parking department is responsible for 27,000 parking spaces throughout the campus (with the exception of the athletic facilities). That’s more than 100 surface lots and 14 structures (ranging from four to seven levels).

“The Toolcat units are assigned to the parking structures,” says Scott Harrington, parking maintenance manager. “They are stored in a heated building near the medical center because that area is our first priority. Six of the structures are connected to the medical facilities.

“One 5600 is stationed at the cardiovascular center and its helical (spiral) ramp,” he continues. “We need to keep it clear at all times and that is a challenge because there are two open and exposed corkscrew ramps, one going up and one going down. When they are coated with ice, vehicles slide up and down. The 5600 can get closer to the wall than a truck. We remove snow with the angle broom attachment on the front as we apply a de-icing product from the rear.

“The parking ramp decks are not smooth so if you plow with a truck, snow remains in the pores of the concrete, then melts and freezes,” he says. “The angle broom allows us to clean out the pores and cracks in the concrete.”

The rest of the year, each of the three daily shifts gets plenty of work out of the Toolcat machines. The day shift (7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) uses the 5600s mostly for campus cleanup, including picking up debris and power-washing. The afternoon shift (3 to 11:30 p.m.) maintains the surface lots, working when most of the vehicles are gone. The Toolcat machines are used for sweeping and herbicide application. The night shift (11 p.m. to 7:30 a.m.) works in the parking structures, using the 5600s for sweeping and cleaning.

Athletic department

The athletic department is responsible for all of the maintenance at 17 sports venues — from one of the nation’s largest football stadiums to the golf course on the edge of the campus. “Our initial machine was purchased to help maintain the baseball and softball fields,” says Chris Onsted, athletic department facility manager. “Since then we have added four more 5600s.”

All of the facilities have parking lots that need to be cleared by 6 a.m., so the utility work machines are kept busy handling snow with attachments such as angle brooms and snow blades. They are also used to clear snow on the football field and outdoor track prior to events.

After the snow season, the 20 members of the athletic department maintenance staff operate the Toolcat machines to handle a variety of projects, including:

  1. Moving soil, removing brush and hauling away stumps and trees from the golf course.
  2. Removing sod with a bucket and installing new sod on the baseball and softball fields.
  3. Handling all department deliveries — mail, packages and larger items — that come to the two receiving locations and taking them to the appropriate destination.
  4. Carrying materials with pallet forks, digging postholes with an auger, cleaning parking lots and streets with the angle broom and sweeper attachments, and much more.

Toolcat utility work machines and attachments are kept busy at the parking and athletic departments at the University of Michigan, 365 days a year.

Room for two

Two-passenger cab

Two-passenger cab

Toolcat utility work machines from Bobcat offer seating for an operator and a passenger. Employees, like those at the University of Michigan, can quickly get from Point A to Point B to complete grounds maintenance tasks. Additionally, Toolcat 5600 machines have a spacious cargo box to store tools, supplies or mount a Bobcat® salt and sand spreader for snow and ice removal projects.

  1. Easy access and good side visibility.
  2. Comfortable operating conditions in enclosed cab.
  3. Tilt steering and adjustable seat for enhanced comfort.
  4. Easy-to-read instrumentation panel.
  5. Loader joystick and fingertip control of attachments.