SAPCA comment

Maintaining your assets

The life of a pitch often depends on its upkeep and an inadequate maintenance programme can severely impact the benefits pitch operators hope to achieve.

growing-medium for algae and moss. While cleaning and overall maintenance tasks,

such as brushing, are relatively straightforward to plan and execute, there is one variable which is sometimes harder to detect and predict – the wear and tear (and even damage) caused by users. The heavier the use, the more likely it is that the pitch will need mechanical sweeping, infill top-ups and/or decompactions. Monitoring – and acting on – potential issues

DEVISING a workable maintenance plan requires a clear understanding of what is needed. This is because the procedures can be complex and will depend upon many contributing factors. Is the pitch, for an example, a sand-filled, short pile system or a 3G long-pile product? The maintenance plan should cover the key

areas of concerns relating to all synthetic pitches. These include keeping the playing surface clean, ensuring the infill materials are evenly distributed and checking the surface remains level and of consistent texture. It’s also crucial to make sure adequate drainage of surface water – and that the system does not become over-compacted and hard. An often neglected issue is caused by leaves,

pine needles and other detritus building up on the pitch. When the organic materials rot, they can form a drainage-inhibiting ‘skin’ within the surface – causing further issues by providing a

relating to usage is a crucial part of pitch maintenance. Handily, new technologies are being developed to help scope the maintenance needs relating to usage. Some of these were highlighted at the recent SAPCA conference, including Intelligent Play, which has been designed to help pitch operators assess usage and potential maintenance needs. The only technology on the market using

artificial intelligence and machine learning, Intelligent Play monitors a pitch through discreet sensors to track and chart the frequency and intensity of activity on a pitch. As a result, it provides accurate and clear data and heatmaps and can issue alerts when surface maintenance is required or if non- approved activity is occurring on the pitch. Another technology-based maintenance

solution is the Passport365 software system, developed by synthetic sports surface care specialist Replay Maintenance. Utilising the latest streaming technology, the tool allows full track, trace and historical call back of all activity related to the surface and its surround. The information gathered by the tool can be used by the in-house or by the external

SAPCA is the recognised trade association for the sports and play construction industry in the UK. Its role is to foster excellence, professionalism and continuous improvement throughout the industry, in order to provide the high quality facilities needed at all levels of sport, physical activity, recreation and play. For details on the above stories and more visit


maintainer to ensure maintenance efforts are engaged effectively. This means that maintenance needs can be diagnosed and scheduled to resolve potential issues – before they become major concerns. It also allows the tracking of maintenance

works. The maintainer can use the tool to update progress on the job live from the site, submitting photos, documents or notes from their visit, creating a comprehensive maintenance report. A thorough maintenance plan is

recommended from day one, but it’s never too late to introduce a maintenance programme. A well-planned and executed programme of regular maintenance can add years to the life of an older pitch, so it should be at the forefront of operations. While many operators take on at least some

of the maintenance needs in-house, specialist services are available. To learn about available options, get in touch with SAPCA whose members include the leading pitch maintenance firms.

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