Sports Labs Wins SAPCA Award 2021 for its Innovative Field Marshal Product

Sports Labs has been named among the five winners of this year’s SAPCA Awards. The Livingston, Scotland-based company secured the “best product” award for its innovative Field Marshal impact attenuation device.

Five in one

The driving force behind the development of Field Marshal was to create a single device capable of measuring a number of properties of a turf surface – such as deformation, hardness and shock absorption. In total, the Field Marshal is capable of measuring five different aspects – Force Reduction (%), Deformation (mm), Energy Restitution (%), Impact values (IV) and GMax (G) results from a surface. As a result, it provides users with three industry-standard impact tools in one single drop device – and can replace the bulkier AAA (29kg), Clegg Hammer (4.6kg) and GMax (14.2kg).

Designed, engineered and tested over an 18 month period, the Field Marshal weighs just 14.2kg and features fully integrated electronics, removing the requirement for any wires. During operation, an Android phone or device wirelessly controls the release of the magnet, allowing the mass to fall freely and impact the surface.

The board within the Field Marshal subsequently acquires the drop data from a centralised accelerometer, before wirelessly transmitting the data back to the Android device, providing results in a purpose-built app within seconds.

It’s size and weight means that it is easier to carry from location to location around a field – and also fits neatly in a custom-built flight case, offering ease of transport to different venues, whatever the method of travel.

The ultimate tool

The idea behind the device was, in part, spurred on by Sports Labs’ work on testing natural surfaces – a process which meant carrying a lot of equipment and cases around. Sports Labs wanted to streamline the process and come up with a device which could, in particular, replace the use of the heavy-duty AAA and Clegg Hammer devices.

Eric O’DOnnell, founder and MD of Sports Labs, said: “The Field Marshal was designed as the ultimate tool for groundsmen, consultants or technicians to help monitor surface performance.

“The device’s smaller envelope, in comparison to its predecessors, not only means it’s easier to carry from location to location around a field, it also fits neatly in a custom-built flight case offering ease of transport to different venues, whatever method of travel.

“During the testing phase, more than 50 surfaces varying in type and hardness were tested using the Field Marshal, alongside the three comparison devices, with strong correlations identified across the ranges. Over one thousand drops of each device have been recorded and compared in order to verify the Field Marshal’s output.”

O’Donnell adds that, in addition to natural and synthetic surfaces, the Field Marshal could, in future, be used to measure and test most sports surfaces – from running tracks to indoor surfaces.

“We recently completed a round robin test on track services,” O’Donnell says. “We’ve used the AA, AAA and now the Field Marshal devices and got very interesting correlations.

“Using an AA device to measure a track surface can be very time consuming, so hopefully in the future – after we’ve done a lot more data gathering and testing – we may be able to start using the Field Marshal for all kinds of surfaces.”

  • Now in their sixth year, the annual SAPCA Awards celebrate exceptional achievements by SAPCA members within the sports, play and physical activity sectors. Entries are accepted for construction projects, technical innovations, new products and services – and any other successes by members.

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