That is a question that I am sure goes through the mind of every greenhouse owner at some time or another. Is it really worth the cost? Will my employees embrace it and make it work?
Automation takes on a lot of different forms. It is not just transplanters and sowers, but rather, it is taking the tasks that we ask our employees to do every day and making those tasks more simple and efficient.
Automation can be installing booms over your crops so you get more even watering. Booms also will allow growers to look over the crops more closely, so they can find any potential issues. They also provide efficiencies that allow growers more time to grow better and more consistent crops, and what greenhouse owner isn’t looking for that?
At Metrolina, we have tried a lot of different forms of automation over the years. Some of them worked, and some of them helped us improve the process later on in the cycle. When we first started looking at transplanters, it took until about the fourth or fifth version to get the machine we chose working correctly. With transplanters, we are able to keep our greenhouses full through the spring season. To plant as quickly as transplanters plant, we would need 30 to 35 people per line.
Automation Is An Ongoing Process Of Improvement
These are just two of the ways we automate, but there are many more. We use robots to space; we use cranes to move tables around the greenhouses. We have automated basket systems so all watering, pruning, and shipping can be accomplished in one area. We are looking at machines that can stick cuttings, drones that can spray the crops, and a multitude of other things.
Remember, the end goal of automation is not to get rid of employees, but to make work better for them. It is everyone’s job to make the next person’s job easier. What are you doing to accomplish this at your business?