Electrified outdoor power equipment is changing the landscaping industry, and quickly. Beyond the obvious improvements — convenient powering, fewer emissions, simplified maintenance — electric vehicles create a platform for other innovations. New digital screens that provide real-time operating data and diagnostic information are one of the most significant advancements on the Gravely Pro-Stance EV and Pro- Turn EV. The screens are constantly evolving and provide valuable intelligence to operators and technicians alike.
“The features on the display screen started with feedback from the field,” said Brett Bogenschutz, senior platform manager for EV Products at AriensCo. “The advent of the battery age has made some operators and technicians uneasy because it’s a completely new ballgame, so we used their input to help guide our design and flatten the learning curve for them. Their feedback helped us build a machine that’s easy to use, understand and service.”
Though these new systems might be perceived as complex — which is true, they’re very advanced — the user interface is simple. Through the CAN bus (Controller Area Network) and the easy-to-use display screen, information is available at the fingertips of users and service technicians, bridging the gap between man and machine.
“Think of the CAN bus as the communication network,” Bogenschutz said. “It allows the VCM (Vehicle Control Module) and other electrical components to talk with each other. It transmits signals from the controls to the electric motors, but it also receives information back from those systems.”
That feedback is communicated through three screens on a 4.2-inch LCD monitor in the control panel. In normal conditions, operators have access to the home screen that shows machine status and the overall charge, a power screen that shows individual battery charge levels and a maintenance screen that shows fault and warning codes. There are also other screens for special conditions.
“The display also has a balance screen that appears when the battery packs auto-adjust to near-equal states-of-charge, a steering sensor calibration screen that dealers use to dial-in the tracking, and a charge screen that displays a countdown to full when charging the batteries in-unit,” Bogenschutz explained.
In the field, operators can view the machine’s total runtime, warnings for non-normal operating conditions, and most importantly, the amount of juice left in the proverbial tank. Like a fuel gauge, this shows the remaining charge so operators can return to the truck and swap in a fresh set of FusionCore batteries. It’s an invaluable tool on the jobsite, but it has just as much appreciation in the service shop.
When a fault or warning occurs, the maintenance screen displays a yellow or red icon (red for fault, yellow for warning) and the system generates a five-digit code. This code represents the specific location of the issue, the affected component and other various details. It provides immediate clarity that enables service technicians to pinpoint the problem and work to activate a solution protocol immediately.
“Our technology helps take the guesswork out of troubleshooting,” said Tyler Kovac, master technician manager at AriensCo. “This saves our dealer technicians a ton of time in diagnosing faults and warnings, and it provides pinpoint accuracy in determining the next steps needed to get operators up and running much faster.”
Saving time is a welcome benefit for power equipment dealerships in short supply of skilled technicians. Lowering the knowledge barrier for servicing electric vehicles makes shops more versatile. It also comes in handy for an operator scratching their head over an issue on the jobsite, as they are able to obtain their own diagnostic information.
“Access to the fault and warning codes through the display screen eliminates the need for a special diagnostic tool,” Bogenschutz said. “Anybody can toggle to the maintenance screen, refer to the trouble codes in the operator’s manual and relay the information to a dealer. It’s not a guarantee, but depending on the type of fault or warning, dealers may be able to guide an operator to simple fixes over the phone.”
Like a flight data recorder in airplanes, the technology also keeps a log of the machine’s most recent fault warnings, as well as the exact time the trouble occurred. That information can be shared with AriensCo for further analysis to learn if design improvements are needed.
“Voice of customer combined with technical evaluations are already influencing enhancements,” Bogenschutz said. “Toggle through the screens of our very first EV digital displays compared to one with the most current software and you’ll see new features, like serial numbers above each battery on the power screen or an Eco Mode indicator. It’s through that commitment to continuous improvement that we take a great product and make it even better for our customers.”
The Home Screen displays the system’s overall state-of-charge (SOC). It also indicates if the unit is Live-to-Drive, the blade status, the parking brake status and a low-battery warning icon.
The Power Screen displays the individual charge levels of each battery, their serial numbers and a power bar showing available power.
The Charge Screen appears when the unit is plugged into an electrical outlet and shows the estimated countdown to a full charge.