The Coolest Product On The Show Floor

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The Coolest Product On The Show Floor

Labor is a killer, right? It might even be the biggest issue your greenhouse operation deals with. But if you’re a Phalaenopsis orchid grower, a Dutch company called Hortiquip has designed a big-time labor-saving machine for you.

The machine is actually a staking machine, and it uses laser technology to position stakes to support plants, including the automatic attachment of clips. You have to see it to be totally wowed by its capabilities, and I’ll post video on GreenhouseGrower.com/GGTV in the coming weeks featuring Remco Hmmerlaan, one of the staking machine’s developers, giving a demonstration.

For the time being, imagine this: You’ve just potted your orchids with a growing media. Perhaps you prefer a media like bark that’s thick, jagged and unwilling to take stakes from greenhouse workers on a line without a fight. The staking machine simplifies the process, moving potted orchids along a conveyor line to a point where pots are rotated 360 degrees. A computer takes a laser scan of the pot and determines the best location for stakes. The technology is so advanced that the machine can pinpoint the best staking location even if less than an inch of pot space is available for stakes.

Hmmerlaan says Hortiquip has done research that indicates growers will save 60 to 70 percent on labor.

I personally thought the staking machine was the coolest thing I saw Tuesday. The jury choosing awards for the Horti Fair innovation awards were also impressed with the machine, awarding Hortiquip the Horti Fair Innovation Award in the Horti Tech category for 2009.

Just think of the time, energy and effort wasted inserting stakes into Phalaenopsis orchid pots. It’s a simple task, yes, but a time-staking one. And greenhouse workers are unlikely to stake all pots equally because the bark or stone media growers use presents different challenges from pot to pot.

The machine solves those issues, though, ensuring stakes are placed firmly and squarely into pots. The only job left for workers is clipping stakes to orchid stems. And that’s a task one greenhouse worker can handle on his or her own.

For more information on Hortiquip, visit its website at Hortiquip.nl. Most of the site is presented in Dutch, but it may give you a better idea about the product.

Kevin Yanik is the former managing editor of Greenhouse Grower.
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