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Toro ‘Evolves’ at IA Show

Irrigation Show, Supplier News

The Evolution irrigation controller will be available in two models.

| November 6, 2012

Here’s what Toro featured at the 2012 IA Show.

EVOLUTION Controller. Introducing the Toro EVOLUTION irrigation controller – a menu-based controller that incorporates an easy-to-understand digital interface.

The EVOLUTION controller will be available in two models - an indoor model, as well as an outdoor model that features a locking door cover. EVOLUTION will be manufactured as a standard four-zone controller, with the option to add up to two 4-zone modules or one 12-zone module for a total of up to 16 irrigation zones.

Back in 2009, Toro hosted Voice of Customer (VOC) focus groups across the country asking landscape contractors and homeowners what they liked - and didn’t like - about their irrigation controllers. Toro also sought customer input from around the world.

“We went back to the drawing board - literally, and asked both contractors and homeowners around the world to sketch out their ideal irrigation controller,” said Pete Moeller, director of marketing, Toro Irrigation. “Everyone expressed different needs, but there was a common theme around making a more modern, intuitive interface, so that is where we focused our efforts.”

The EVOLUTION controller was designed to perform like a traditional time-based controller, but could evolve into a “smart” controller with water-saving upgrades that can be added during installation or over time as the homeowner’s needs evolve.

The result of Toro’s multi-year, multi-million dollar investment is a professional irrigation controller that features an intuitive menu-based, large graphical LCD control system. Inspired by tablet and smart phone technology, EVOLUTION’s icon-labeled control buttons allow homeowners and gardeners to perform simple actions - like “Water Now” and “Adjust” watering amount - as well as advanced access for landscape contractors. Simple “Home” and “Help” buttons are included to aid the end user as well.

“One of our primary objectives with the EVOLUTION controller was to give the contractor everything they would ever need to sell, without sacrificing the simplicity needed for the homeowner.” said Jeff Miller, marketing manager, Toro Irrigation. “Our research told us that nearly all homeowners had a tough time interfacing with their controllers based on complicated controls. With a few shortcut menu options on the EVOLUTION controller, homeowners can do all the basic functions they would ever need to do and leave the advanced functions for the contractor.”

By pressing the “advanced” button on the controller’s touch screen, landscape contractors will have access to an array of options embedded within EVOLUTION’s powerful microprocessor and USB flash drive connection. Contractors can configure multiple schedules, integrate soil moisture or weather sensing technology, and add auxiliary elements such as low-voltage landscape lighting or fountains, all with just a few keystrokes on the control pad.

“We believe the EVOLUTION controller will have quick adoption because it’s so different from what’s on the irrigation market today, yet so similar to common devices that customers use regularly, like their MP3 players or mobile phones,” added Moeller. “It’s actually fun to program because it’s so intuitive.”
“We developed a product that was simple enough for a homeowners’ limited interaction,” said Burnett Jones, engineering manager, Toro Irrigation. “But on the other end, EVOLUTION is smart enough and advanced enough to allow contractors to fully utilize their expertise and knowledge in managing irrigation systems and landscape needs to the full extent needed at an individual property.”

The base model of the EVOLUTION controller allows contractors to extend their sales cycle after installing the controller. With a simple addition of Toro’s wireless Smart Connector, contractors can upsell with wireless products like an ET sensor, up to three soil moisture sensors a handheld remote, and even landscape lighting with up to three relays (one wired and two wireless).

 

Precision Series Spray Nozzles. The Toro Company announced the introduction of yet another innovation to the PrecisionT Series Spray Nozzles – a pressure-compensating feature. Designed to operate in both male- and female-threaded nozzles, this latest offering keeps the Precision Series Spray Nozzle operating at optimal water pressure even with fluctuating inlet pressures.

The multi-award-winning Toro Precision Series Spray Nozzle with exclusive H2O Chip Technology represents the most significant breakthrough in spray nozzle technology in over 60 years. The sole-sourced technology for the award winning FreeSprinklerNozzles.com campaign delivers a significantly lower precipitation rate than traditional fixed or variable arc nozzles, expands the selection of arc choices for increased precision, and conserves water through better edge definition and improved wind resistance – all while effectively optimizing the health of turf and landscapes.

Nearly all spray nozzles perform best at or around 30 PSI, but when pressures rise to 50-70 PSI even the best nozzles mist and perform less than optimally. That is where the Pressure-Compensation comes in. It reduces the pressure to the more optimal 30 PSI and keeps it close to that pressure, even when the inlet’s water pressure fluctuates. It compensates for higher inlet pressure by closing a flow orifice to drop the pressure further, and also compensates by opening the orifice if that inlet pressure were to drop.

“The Pressure-Compensating Precision Series Spray Nozzle is a great, low-cost alternative to a pressure-regulated spray head or pressure-regulating valve,” said Hyok Lee, product manager for Toro Irrigation. “At a fraction of the cost of a regulated spray head, it will eliminate most of the problems associated with high water pressure conditions, such as misting and poor distribution.”

Pressure-Compensating Precision Series Spray Nozzles look, install and adjust like conventional spray nozzles, but they perform more like rotors. And, Toro’s H2O Chip Technology lets them achieve distances of throw equivalent to those of conventional spray nozzles, but with one-third less flow and higher overall irrigation efficiency.

The Pressure-Compensating Precision Series Spray Nozzles are available in models with a radius of between 5 and 15 feet, and the nozzle tops are color-coded to indicate the specific radius. To further distinguish them from the standard, non-Pressure-Compensating versions, the molded-in Toro logo is stamped in red, versus the normal white. They are available in models with six different arcs between 90 and 360 degrees, in addition to side strips and corner strips.

T7 Series Sprinklers. The Toro Co. announced the introduction of Low-Flow models of the T7 Series Rotors for short radius/low flow applications, such as baseball infields. These low-flow models include all the features and benefits of the standard models including, Smart Arc memory to safely return the sprinkler to its previously set arc in case of vandalism, top arc setting indicator for easy wet or dry adjustments from 45 -360 degrees, full 5” pop-up height to nozzle, and single-port nozzles that ensure even distribution without putting too much water near the head, thus preventing seeds from washing away.

Most irrigation designs specify the use of multiple rotor platforms to cover the various flow and radius requirements on different portions of an irrigated area. For example, on a typical baseball field, the infield requires a rotor with a shorter throw and faster rotation time than the ones in the outfield. This requires the specification of a different rotor platform in the infield from the outfield, resulting in the maintenance of multiple service tools and parts, and the training of personnel in different adjustment and maintenance methods.

All that can be avoided by having a common rotor platform to cover all the irrigation needs of a single irrigation site. Hyok Lee, product manager with Toro Irrigation says, “This is where the T7 Low-Flow comes in. By being able to cover a radius range of 38-56 feet and flow range of 1.7-12.7 GPM, the T7 Series can be used as the standard rotor for the entire irrigation design. Granted, sprinkler maintenance is not rocket science, but having a single rotor for the entire field certainly simplifies the upkeep and saves time.”

While retaining all the features and benefits of the standard High-Flow T7, the Low-Flow T7 is able to cover the shorter radius and lower-flow requirements, and the special low-flow stator ensures effective rotation. The Low-Flow T7 is also available in stainless-steel riser and with effluent indicator. The operating specifications are radius range of 38-56 feet, flow range of 1.73-12.74 GPM, variable, reversing-low flow stator, and a range of low-flow nozzles in 2, 3, 4.5, 6, 7.5, and 9 GPM. The 3.0 GPM nozzles are pre-installed on low-flow versions.

By standardizing on a common rotor platform for the entire irrigation design, maintenance is simplified and overall costs of the irrigation system are potentially lowered.

TS90 Series Sprinkler. The Toro Company is proud to announce the introduction of the TS90 Series sprinkler with optional TurfCup for direct installation on the playing surface of both artificial and natural turf sports fields. The TurfCup allows seamless integration into the playing surface, maximizing playability and minimizing possible injury to athletes. In fact, one would never even know that the sprinkler is there until it is popped up and operating.

According to Jeff Miller, marketing manager for Toro Irrigation, “It incorporates a specially designed TS90 rotor with the TurfCup and an optional stabilizer. This allows direct installation on the sports playing surface. Only the stabilizer, which minimizes lateral movement during play, is at grade, while all the rest of irrigation components are below grade, providing a seamless playing surface. The cup comes unfilled, allowing the user to fill it with material matching the natural grass or synthetic turf of their fields. The type and height can be anything that they want, so they can mow a natural grass field as they normally do. The pop up is high enough for effective water distribution.”

The modified TS90 rotor retains all the features of the standard TS90, such as:
• Trajectory adjustment from 7 to 30 degrees to fine tune nozzle spray height and help provide true head-to-head coverage and compensate for windy conditions;
• Part- and true full-circle operation in one sprinkler;
• Three nozzle configuration that provides optimal distribution uniformity, maximal nozzle flexibility and better system efficiency; and,
• Constant-velocity drive that provides reliable rotation speed from sprinkler to sprinkler, under various conditions.

In a diversion from the standard TS90, the TS90 with TurfCup has the molded-in inner nozzle securely plugged, at the factory, to prevent direct streams of water striking the turf right next to the head. Furthermore, the revolving nozzle turret has built-in features that allow for secure attachment of the TurfCup with stainless steel screws. Therefore, the TS90 with TurfCup are only available as a sprinkler/TurfCup combo, due to incompatibility of the TurfCup with a standard TS90.

The typical irrigation system design for a soccer field would use the TS90s with TurfCup on the centerfield to minimize playing surface disruption and 835 golf sprinklers on the surrounds. Brian Ries, Toro Irrigation marketing manager, says, “The TS90s allow multiple heads on a valve to run at once. Per FIFA design regulations, the centerfield needs to be ‘wetted’ down within five minutes, before start of a game and during half time.” For a soccer field, Ries recommends installation of eight TS90 heads in the centerfield, two heads per valve – or one head per valve, two valves on a station – then two stations running simultaneously. A full circle rotation on these TS90s during that five minute interval is adequate to meet “wetting down” regulations.

Controller for Sentinel Central Control. Further expanding the capabilities of its powerful Sentinel central control system, The Toro Company now proudly introduces a new redesigned satellite controller for the Sentinel central control. The new controller, slated for launch in early 2013, offers a number of new features and enhancements, including a completely redesigned interface for easier standalone programming, incorporating a large backlit graphical display, new shortcut buttons for frequently-used functions, as well as a number of other additions.

Sentinel offers true two-way communication via several different connectivity options that can be mixed and matched to meet system requirements, including fiber optics and Ethernet (now built in and no longer requiring an external device to connect), as well as wireless options such as UHF radio, spread spectrum, and cellular. The new Sentinel WMS (Water Management System) software package also includes iPhone® and iPad® connectivity for remote programming and alerts on ALL new systems.

In addition to leveraging Sentinel’s optional Precision™ ET for ET-based “smart” irrigation, the new controller can also operate as both a repeater and base station for Turf Guard® wireless soil sensors, communicating directly with up to 16 sensors per controller (1 per program), continually measuring moisture, temperature, and salinity levels in the soil and adjusting irrigation as needed.

“The new controller has significantly more internal memory” said Peter Lackner, Product Manager, Toro Irrigation. “This allows for extensive event logging and data storage, making it easier to diagnose issues in the field.” Firmware is also now easier than ever to update or upgrade by simply inserting a USB thumb drive, and new self-test hardware diagnostics as well as added alerts expand the troubleshooting capabilities of the unit. It also includes a number of useful reporting tools, including yearly water use reports, unlimited daily flow graphs, and ET, temperature, and rain reports, just to name a few.

Despite its drastically different look, the new controller can still easily retrofit into the same enclosures as its predecessor, including a stainless-steel pedestal, plastic pedestal, powder-coated wall-mount cabinet, and stainless steel wall-mount cabinet, operating up to 48 conventional stations, or up to 204 stations with two-wire or using Sentinel’s unique wireless output boards. Sentinel has an even wider range of capabilities with one-of-a-kind custom build service and the new controller is designed to allow options to be combined without any restrictions.

Acquisition. Toro has offered professional irrigation contractors an expanded lineup of installation equipment with its newly acquired line of vibratory plows, ride-on trenchers and horizontal directional drills. Toro acquired certain assets from Astec Underground, a wholly owned subsidiary of Astec Industries in February 2012. These additional equipment lines join the popular Toro TRX trenchers and Dingo compact utility loaders for the irrigation industry.

The expanded line of equipment features the new Toro Pro Sneak™ 360 Vibratory Plow, designed to install irrigation lines with minimal soil disturbance, while still having trenching capability where needed. “With our wide range of equipment, Toro has the product needed for everyday irrigation system installation as well as jobs with more specialized needs,” said Neil Borenstein, senior marketing manager for Toro’s Sitework Systems Business.

“As a leading worldwide manufacturer of turf maintenance equipment and irrigation solutions, we strive to develop products that allow contractors to do their work more efficiently and be more profitable,” said Borenstein. “In 2008, we introduced our TRX trencher line that features easy-to-use controls, fast travel speeds and a track design that makes cross-trenching easy.”
 

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