Handhelds Are Hot

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Handheld devices can help growers dramatically improve the accuracy of their plant inventory in the greenhouse, while also making it much easier to replenish inventory at retail stores.

“The truth is, if you want a smoother operation, you must have better control of inventory,” says SBI Nursery Software’s Aaron Allison. “Very often customers come to us and ask for help in smoothing out the order process, but once we dig deeper, it is usually found that a sloppy inventory control process is the core of the issue. We have found that every penny spent on inventory control can save 10 times in order fulfillment.”

Vanderbilt of Casa Verde Greenhouses, the production arm of Petitti’s Garden Centers, in Ohio says her staff uses handhelds in the greenhouse to check counts and when they move plants from one greenhouse to another. “It’s easy to use and we’re training more people to use them,” she says. “We can use even more and find them to be really helpful.”

Innovative Software Solutions also offers handheld options for its Picas system and went from proprietary units to nonproprietary. “We want to give growers the ability to purchase what they want and not worry about technology changing and the units not being useful anymore,” President John Stallmer says.

While the first units sent data back to the main system, with today’s wireless technology, new units can pull data. “The grower can scan a tray and say, ‘Tell me something about that. I’m thinking the plants should be tossed. Has anyone ordered them?” he says. Growers can also go to the greenhouse, look at crops and create unscheduled production activities and assign them.

Stallmer also is looking at browser-based solutions outside the Picas world, which could be used by merchandisers onsite at Home Depot to enter inventory. The larger-screen format of iPads also open up new possibilities.

Kevin Moser of the Corymb Group, which offers Vericell Vision, says we’ll be seeing more portable devices for data collection and to look up information. Shop floor applications include product location maintenance, product quality documentation, inventory adjustments, picking and shipping.

“Web applications supported by internet browsers are being developed to support real-time merchandising at the retail store level,” he says. “With the increased prevalence of scan-based trading, these tools will enable a merchandiser to quickly determine how to best replenish retail benches with live access to availability and order creation to optimize sales. Major changes moving forward will be more options to utilize hosted solutions. Rather than growers having their own servers and purchasing software solutions, it will be provided via data centers on the Internet.”

Delilah Onofrey directs Flower Power Marketing for the Suntory Collection. She can be reached at donofrey@gmail.com

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