Solving the Labor Problem
It’s 7:00 am on a Monday morning, you have a production line that should be running and you are 5 workers short. This is a challenge many growers know all too well. A reliable workforce in the horticulture industry is becoming a thing of the past. The hours a Grower spends dealing with labor issues could be more effectively used within the company focusing on sales and growth. Even when workers are available, efficiency and product quality still seem to be a daily struggle. Does this sound familiar?
The reality is, it’s not about finding workers that can get the job done. Most of the time it’s about finding workers that will simply just show up for work. This isn’t the ideal situation growers are looking for. Having to operate with an unpredictable and unreliable workforce consumes management’s time and energy and causes operations efficiency and product quality to suffer.
In today’s horticulture industry, efficiency and quality products are more important than ever to growers. Efficiency and product quality greatly affect margins and can be the determining factor for business growth and success.
Having a quality trained workforce, along with the tools they require to get the job done, is important not only to reduce labor costs but to increase and maintain product quality.
In our grower feature, Hampshire Farms was filling with older equipment and planting / loading benches all by hand. Interruptions in their production lines were common and labor reliability was a serious problem. The constant labor struggles put a strain on production operations.
Because of their labor shortages, Hampshire Farms was not able to run all 3 of their lines at once. When they had to stick cuttings, they would have to shut down their production to use the workers.
- 75 workers.
- 20+ Acres in production
- 1,000,000 square foot wholesale greenhouse
- Older filling technology
- Planting by hand
- Manual sticking of cuttings
- Manual bench loading
Why is Automation so important for Growers?
Automation is a proven way for growers to make your businesses more efficient and profitable.
The return on investment on most automation projects is 1 to 3 years with many growers reporting a return on investment within the first 1-2 years.
As all growers know, labor is expensive and problematic. Providing higher quality jobs will attract long term employees. This is a key component to the success of any horticultural organization.
Product quality is important for growers. When your product looks its best, it attracts the attention of buyers and makes it easier to sell.
Change is hard for Growers
Over time, growers may settle into the status quo of how their business operates. Change is hard for anyone and most growers are too busy with the day to day running of their operation to change how production is accomplished.
Why is Automation so important for Growers?
Where do you start?
- Choose a turnkey solutions provider who can evaluate a grower’s current operations, work with them specifically to plan a unique and custom designed layout solution that will work best with their current and future expanding infrastructure.
- Choose a provider who has a service department with a track record of success in installing new systems & training staff in a timely manner that fits within the grower’s production schedule.
- Choose a provider who has experience with equipment integration and compatibility with other brands.
- Choose a provider where performance, reliability, service and support after the sale is a core value of their service.
The Bellpark Solution
Hampshire Farms was able to stabilize their production line with the addition of the AutoStix. Adding AutoStix to their line enabled them to stick all of their cuttings without having to shut down other planting lines to borrow workers. This reduced the time consuming and tedious process of sticking cuttings by hand. Hampshire Farms are now more efficient and able to run all planting lines without additional labor.
The addition of the Logitec Soil Hopper, Visser Dibbler, Visser Versa Filler, Visser Blueline transplanter, and the bench loading system allowed them to automate their entire production line. This solved their labor issues and improved efficiency by 40%. The new line streamlined their processes, increased employee productivity, efficiency and overall product quality.
These are major contributing factors to their return on investment. In this particular case, the rate of return is cut in half because both lines are able to be operational and increasing capacity at the same time.
The new production line at Hampshire Farms is set to pay for itself within two years!
Bellpark Horticulture has knowledgable project consultants on staff. If you would like to find out about how we can partner to develop specific solutions for your unique business, please contact us.
Hampshire Farms Labor Savings Project Included:
- Visser AutoStix Cuttings Transplanter
- Logitec Plus Soil Hopper
- Visser Versa Filler
- Visser Dibbler
- Visser Blueline Transplanter
- Visser Wagon Loader & Bench Loading System