Track Shipments More Efficiently & Accurately

“Now, the person in the yard will scan a barcode, and he sees on his screen what that pallet is for – what the ribbon color is, what the material is, what the quantity is supposed to be on that pallet, “Losely says. “It also says this order is being assembled in such and such area.”

Tracking 1,000 acres of plant material and staging it for shipping in one area is no easy task, as Karl Losely, the president of Herman Losely & Son. will tell you. But tracking material that comes into the shipping yard with an archaic manual paper system, as the nursery did for many years in Perry, Ohio, magnified the challenge Losely and his team faced.

“Initially, we had a paper pallet tag in which crew leaders in the field would note specific data on the tag – customer name, ribbon color, order number, what the material was and the quantity,” Losely says. “There was a tear-off stub on that tag. It was torn off as pickup crews picked up orders and brought it into the office. We would then manually track the data.”

Manually tracking was a nightmare, though. The paper-tracking system forced Losely and his wife, Kathy, into many late nights around the dining room table finalizing the next day’s shipments. After enough aggravation and too many late nights, Losely figured a better way to track must exist.

Fortunately, Losely met Vista Data Systems’ Jerry Peyton, who helped Losely & Sons implement barcode tagging and mobile handheld computer systems to replace the old paper system that tracked inventory and shipments. Now, the nursery is tracking shipments quicker and more accurately while offering customers better service. The system offers Losely the chance to get a little more sleep, too.

“Losely & Sons was the first nursery that we sold this particular product to,” Peyton says. “It is tailor made for nurserymen because we used Losely & Sons as the blueprint for all the modules.”

The System’s Advantages

The product Herman Losely & Sons has is called ConnectPRO. Vista Data Systems actually recreated the nursery’s existing inventory/order management system, and implemented new technologies to improve efficiencies. The new system incorporated handheld devices from Psion that each function as their own “terminals.” Each Psion handheld is linked to the nursery’s main office, so data collected in the field is streamed back into the office.

“Now, the person in the yard will scan a barcode, and he sees on his screen what that pallet is for – what the ribbon color is, what the material is, what the quantity is supposed to be on that pallet, “Losely says. “It also says this order is being assembled in such and such area.”

The handhelds serve as a great double checker, Losely adds. Losely & Sons has historically relied on ribbons to identify material for a specific order throughout the nursery. Losely still uses a ribbon system to ID material, but the added bar codes and handhelds offer confirmation before the wrong material is loaded onto a truck.

“If there are supposed to be five pieces on a pallet and there’s actually six, we can adjust the order,” Losely says.

Now, when a shipment is complete, loaders press a signoff key, which triggers a delivery ticket to be printed. So there are no transcription errors when a delivery receipt is created. Another plus is the Psion handheld doesn’t get soggy when it is raining. The nursery’s inventory, together with the customer’s order, is updated, so Herman Losely & Son is always aware what’s in the nursery and what’s been loaded onto trucks.

“This system has been significantly smoother,” Losely says. “I would say it’s improved our throughput by 30 percent. The really great part is that it’s improved our accuracy.”

In addition to tracking shipments, the nursery tracks inventory with ConnectPRO. Data entered into Psion handheld throughout the nursery is stored in the unit’s memory. The handhelds are brought back to the office at the end of the day, placed in a docking cradle and the inventory data is downloaded to the computer.

“We track our field stock once a year with a hard count, and it takes a month to get done,” Losely says. “Before, we had pencil, paper and a six-button clicker.”

Even then, those tracking inventory typically hand off their notes to a transcriber. And transcribers can easily make mistakes if they can’t read the tracker’s handwriting, or if they lose focus during the task. But now, reports are printed based on handheld data, and those who take inventory simply review printouts for glaring errors.

“Once they say the reports look good, the data is transferred into the active inventory,” Losely says.

Leave a Reply

More From Equipment...

May 22, 2015

Nexus Greenhouses Is Optimistic For Expansion Into New Markets

Cheryl Longtin and Mike Porter, who own Nexus Corporation, say they were excited to attend the grand opening of Gotham Greens’ new structure atop the new Whole Foods grocery store in the Gowanus neighborhood in Brooklyn, N.Y., when it opened in December 2013. The project is just one example of some of the new and expanding markets that Nexus Corporation has expanded into over the past few years. Jeff Warschauer, vice president of sales for Nexus, says the company has enjoyed getting to know and working with the founders of Gotham Greens, Viraj Puri and Eric Haley, and Jennifer Nelkin Frymark, the chief agriculture officer, on their innovative approach to business. “They are very excited and work hard internally – just great people,” he says. “From our perspective, it’s great to see that excitement and vision. The employees there are happy and there’s no turnover; they’re only adding new people […]

Read More

May 20, 2015

2015 Farwest Show Announces Second Annual Equipment Innovation Day

The second annual Equipment Innovation Day will be Tuesday, Aug. 25, prior to the 2015 Farwest show, which will be August 27-29 in Portland, Ore. Equipment Innovation Day, which was enthusiastically received in 2014, offers a real-time opportunity to see new heavy and automated nursery equipment in action. The demonstrations take place in manufacturing and nursery settings, adding value to the showcase. Attendees will be able to talk with participating manufacturers and learn first-hand from innovative growers who use the equipment in daily operations. The day-long event will be held at the main manufacturing plant of GK Machines, Inc., Donald, Ore. Further demonstrations of field equipment will take place at the nearby nursery of A&R Spada Farms, LLC. Bus travel to and from the event is planned, starting at and returning to the Oregon Convention Center. Attendees are welcome to provide their own travel to and from the site. Preregistration is required. The cost […]

Read More
Bee On Flower

May 20, 2015

White House Task Force Releases Pollinator Health Strategy

An interagency Pollinator Health Task Force commissioned by President Obama released its “Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators” on May 19. The strategy, released in accordance with the Presidential Memorandum issued last June, is accompanied by a Pollinator Research Action Plan, which outlines needs and priority actions to better understand pollinator losses and improve pollinator health. The recommended actions will be supported by a coordination of existing federal research efforts and accompanied by a request to Congress for additional resources to respond to losses in pollinator populations. Pages 47 through 52 specifically address pesticides and pollinators. The report calls out plant production, native plants, mosquito control and all urban uses in its Pollinator Action Plan. RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment) says it supports the goals of improving pollinator health and habitat contained in the White House Pollinator Task Force’s release of its National […]

Read More
Latest Stories
Growers are looking for low-cost options for temperature control, like circulating fans and exhaust fans.

April 10, 2015

New Ways To Give Growers Control Of The Greenhouse Envi…

From heating systems to circulation fans, manufacturing companies are finding new ways to help growers control the greenhouse environment, save on energy costs and streamline production.

Read More
Polyarch Berns

March 12, 2015

The Energy Efficient Greenhouse

New coverings technology means today’s films, plastics, shade cloths and climate screens slash heating and cooling costs while improving crop productivity year round. We checked with manufacturers to see what’s new and uncovered some best practices for buttoning up your greenhouse. Here’s what you need to know about the latest trends.

Read More
FormFlex_MTZ Hanging Basket

March 11, 2015

4 New Ways To Automate Your Operation

These new automation products can help streamline labor-intensive tasks, saving time and labor and increasing productivity.

Read More
Outfitting Your Greenhouse

February 24, 2015

Save Energy With The Right Greenhouse Glazing

The glazing you choose can make a big difference in your energy bill and the uniformity of your crops.

Read More
Michigan State University Extension

February 24, 2015

Ethylene From Defective Greenhouse Heaters Damages Crop…

Malfunctioning greenhouse heaters can lead to crop damage from ethylene and carbon monoxide induced illness for workers. Michigan State University's Extension educators Tom Dudek and Randy Beaudry teach you how to recognize the symptoms and check greenhouse heaters to avoid the concern.

Read More
Havest Automation Robot

February 18, 2015

Robots Grab Hold Of Growers’ Material Handling Needs

Harvest Automation’s HV-100 robots automate one of the hardest, most labor-intensive jobs at growing operations – plant spacing. With more technology coming, investing in robots could become even more realistic for growers of all sizes.

Read More

February 1, 2015

4 Lighting Products For Your Operation

These new lighting products have been developed for maximum energy efficiency in greenhouse production. Check out the slideshow to see which products are right for your operation.

Read More

January 30, 2015

LumiGrow Expands Customer Base In 2014

LumiGrow, Inc. is adding more than 125 new commercial, governmental and research customers to its roster of customers, and beyond the new accounts added this year, many existing customers significantly increased the number of LumiGrow products they use and research customers made LumiGrow a part of their efforts to add to the body of knowledge about spectral science.

Read More
harvest automation featured image

January 13, 2015

Harvest Automation Extends Robot Rental Program

Harvest Automation's robot rental program proved to be such a success for the company that it is being extended through the spring. The program was unveiled last year as a way for customers to get started with HV-100 robots.

Read More

January 9, 2015

Innovations In Irrigation

Need help improving your irrigation? Check out these new products.

Read More

December 2, 2014

Hanna Instruments, Inc. Introduces pH Electrode With Bl…

Hanna Instruments recently released HALO, a professional pH probe with Bluetooth Smart (Bluetooth 4.0) technology that transmits measurement data directly to an Apple iPad running the Hanna Lab App.

Read More

November 24, 2014

Biomass Six Years Later: Would Pleasant View Do It Agai…

Pleasant View gardens installed its first biomass boiler six years ago and has added a second one since. Now it’s reaping the benefits of lower heating costs and dollars saved.

Read More

November 18, 2014

7 New Media And Light Products For Greenhouse Productio…

New media and light products cover a broad sweep of growing conditions.

Read More

October 21, 2014

GreenClocks New Generation City Farm Fitted With Philip…

Osaka Prefectural University’s new city farm, which has been fitted out with Philips LEDs, opened September 19.

Read More

October 1, 2014

Harvest Automation Introduces Robot Rental Program

Harvest Automation has unveiled a new introductory robot rental program as a way for customers to get started with HV-100 robots.

Read More

September 15, 2014

Precision Horticulture: What Piece Of Equipment Or Syst…

Let us know what product you can't live without.

Read More

September 15, 2014

New Products For Precision Growing

Increase efficiency with these new offerings in equipment, automation, structures and software.

Read More

August 12, 2014

LEDs Comparable To High Pressure Sodium Lamps For Cutti…

In his Cultivate'14 presentation on lighting the future of young plants with LEDs, Christopher Currey, Iowa State University, shared recent research on how LED lights stack up against high pressure sodium lamps for liner and plug production.

Read More