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Enjoy Handsfree Plant Production

Aiming to be handsfree

"Aiming to be handsfree", our article in Greenhouse Management Magazine

WPS’ Edwin Dijkshoorn explains how the company helps growers automate their operations.

Tackling greenhouse labor shortages and costs with solutions from WPS

Though it’s been talked about endlessly, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the industrywide labor shortage and rising labor costs keep being a headache for greenhouses. Luckily, growers have more and more options for tackling these challenges. Thanks to WPS (We Prove Solutions), growers can install automation systems in their greenhouses so they can run their operation with fewer people.

WPS is “trying to come as close to hands-free plant production as possible,” says Edwin Dijkshoorn, WPS North America director of business development. WPS deals with the logistics of plant production from when the plants come off the potting line all the way through to the time they go on a truck. The company’s goal is to significantly reduce the amount of what Dijkshoorn calls “hand touches,” meaning that plants are handled by human hands as little as possible throughout the production process. “As little hand touches as possible means fewer employees and means lower labor costs,” Dijkshoorn explains. “That’s why we focus on Handsfree Plant Production.”0_fmt

WPS's SmartFlo: the "base and backbone" for most of the solutions

Dijkshoorn describes the WPS SmartFlo system as the “base and backbone” for most of the company’s solutions. On top of the conveyor technology, WPS also offers camera systems, sorting systems, RFID readers, QR code readers and robotic arms to aid in growers’ automation efforts. Dijkshoorn likens it to an automobile factory with a long conveyor belt with automated equipment on the side putting the pieces together.

“We are aiming to do this for greenhouses,”
Dijkshoorn says. “Going back a few decades, WPS has been one of the first companies in our industry to use integrated vision systems for sorting plants as well as using articulated arm robots in its system setups.”

"WPS aims for Handsfree Plant Production in greenhouses to minimize labor costs and maximize efficiency by using integrated vision systems, SmartFlo systems, robotics and many more. By working with growers to understand their current and future state, they focus on reducing the number of hand touches in their process, from sorting to shipping."

WPS offers solutions for automated high-tech Phenotyping systems

This technology is not only used in WPS’ horticultural solutions, but also in their automated, high-tech phenotyping systems.

“There’s a lot of automation equipment out there, but the logistics have never been tackled to the extent that you see in automobile factories,” Dijkshoorn says. “That’s where we see our niche, so we take it from wherever the other guys stop with, let’s say, automated transplanters, potting machines, soil handling machines, for example. And we start processing the plants all the way until shipping. That’s what we’re aiming to do, and we usually sit with the growers and see what their current state is — what they have right now — and then we try to figure out what they’d like their future state to be, and that usually means the least amount of hands as possible, the least amount of plant touches. That’s what we focus on.”

More about Handsfree Plant Production

Aiming to be handsfree

Greenhouse Management - Confeyors

 


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