Internal greenhouse logistics | From harvesting to packagingJoyce Groenewegen
Internal greenhouse logistics improve the production process and save labor. But what kind of logistics suit your situation best? And which advantages do they have? In this article you can read more about internal logistics during cultivation and harvest operations, about different types of harvest trolleys and about automation of internal logistics in the greenhouse.
Internal logistics in horticulture refers to the systems within the logistics process that easily move the plants or other crops in a greenhouse. These systems can optimize complete logistic processes. Time and money can be saved by employing people in a smarter way and by automating vehicles, for example.
Internal transport in horticulture ensures that the internal logistics in a greenhouse can be optimized. In addition, this solution offers numerous possibilities for organizing processes within a nursery more efficiently. Besides the fact that this solution is efficient, internal transportation in horticulture also ensures better working conditions for employees. For example, implementing a mobile container provides the space to work at an ideal working height for employees. This reduces the workload of employees and has a positive effect on labor costs. Because business processes can be set up more efficiently, it is possible to make a harvest faster and easier.
Navigate directly to:
Greenhouse logistics during cultivation operations
During cultivation operations, it is of great importance that everything runs smoothly. To make the work more efficient, different sort of internal logistic solutions come in handy, such as pipe rail trolleys or monorail trolleys.
Pipe rail systems
To carry out work at height, pipe rail trolleys are widely used in greenhouse horticulture, especially during harvesting and spraying of the crop. In addition, pipe rail trolleys have countless other uses. They can be used to transport products, to spray cultivation gutters clean, to clean lamps, for example, and to carry out various repairs and maintenance work on the greenhouse roof. In short, a pipe rail trolley is used to increase the efficiency of work in the greenhouse. Pipe rail trolleys move over – the name says it all – heating pipes. In addition, the pipe rail trolleys can also drive on a concrete floor. This is where the so-called flange rollers come in handy.
Berg Hortimotive pipe rail trolleys
Are you looking for a new pipe rail trolley? Hortispares offers a wide range of different pipe rail trolleys of the Berg Hortimotive brand, but also offers spare parts for these different pipe rail trolleys. Hortispares has various BeNomic pipe rail trolleys: from standard to mechanical, 2-scissor, 3-scissor or 4-scissor and pipe rail trolleys with a single or double hydraulic scissor. A Berg electro pipe rail trolley with hydraulic scissors makes it easy to work at crop height. Set the desired height using the control panel. This way you always work at the right height of the crop and you are assured of the correct working posture.
Maintenance of pipe rail trolleys
A pipe rail trolley should be checked regularly to avoid downtime and malfunctions on the one hand and to work safely on the other. Read here how to maintain pipe rail trolleys and read here how to repair them. Hortispares also supplies parts for Berg Hortimotive pipe rail trolleys.
Safety of pipe rail trolleys
In order to work safely with the pipe rail trolley, it is important that you read the safety precautions before using the trolley. Before using a pipe rail trolley for internal logistics, always read the user manual and follow the instructions and safety regulations in it. A pipe rail trolley may only be operated by people at least 18 years of age who have received proper instruction and have read the user manual, fully understand it and are aware of the dangers. Inspect the pipe rail trolley for defects before use. If you notice a defect, fix it first or – if you cannot fix it yourself – call in a mechanic. Before driving, check if no one is walking in the path, that no other pipe rail trolley is in the path and that there are no obstacles in the path or plant debris on the rails. Check in advance that all guards and protective covers are mounted and closed.
Use a pipe rail trolley only for harvesting and crop care work and never use a pipe rail trolley as a crane.
Only one person may stand on a pipe rail trolley at any time. Also, never let anyone ride on the chassis. Place any load in the center of the work platform and secure it. The load must never extend more than 40 centimeters above the working platform. Close the safety gate before driving and leave it closed while driving. Never exceed the maximum load capacity of a pipe rail trolley, as this increases the likelihood of misalignment. The maximum load capacity is in most cases stated on the pipe rail trolley itself. If this is not the case, consult the manual. Remain standing on the work platform at all times. If the height of the pipe rail trolley is not sufficient, never increase the lifting height (for instance by placing a staircase on the work platform). Most pipe rail trolleys are equipped with a skew detector with warning signal that will beep when the car reaches a skew position greater than 2. If you hear this signal, immediately stop work, put the scissors down as far as possible, get off and drive the pipe rail trolley back alongside the trolley on foot.
Always put the pipe rail trolley in the lowest position before dismounting. Always switch a pipe rail trolley off with the main switch after use. Always put the driving direction switch in the neutral position after use. Always wear safety shoes of at least safety category S1 when moving a pipe rail trolley.
How to move the BeNomic Star 300?
Monorail trolleys are used as internal logistic solutions in various crops such as potted plants, fruits and vegetables and flowers. The monorail trolleys are often used to transport the crop through the greenhouse. The name says it all, one wheel is used which drives over the tubes above the crop.
The use of a monorail has several advantages for a grower. For example, during harvesting you always have your hands free. Moreover, by using a monorail you will have less risk of damage to the crop. Because the monorail frame rotates 360 degrees and is also adjustable in height, the monorail trolley is easy to use.
You can choose between a monorail with one window, several windows or equipped with a platform. In order to keep the monorail in operation, it is important to regularly replace the parts. This way you can regularly maintain the monorail wheel or the upper part of the monorail.
Greenhouse logistics during harvest operations
The harvest phase is crucial at many greenhouse horticulture companies. Quick action is required to respond to the wishes of your customers and efficiency plays a big role here. To make the internal logistic run smoothly, harvesting trolleys are widely used in greenhouse horticulture for processing and transporting the harvest. Especially during the harvesting of the crop, convenience is what counts for your staff. The harvesting trolleys can be used for various crops, whether it is the cultivation of tomatoes, roses, gerberas, for each crop there is a suitable harvesting trolley available. For the harvesting of tomatoes you can use automatic or manual tomato harvesters with roller tracks. The harvesting trolleys contain both swivel and flange wheels, so that the trolley can be pushed along both the pipe rail system and the concrete paths. The cask or cartons can be placed on the roller tracks, allowing the harvested tomatoes to be easily packed into the box or crate. Vegetables, flowers or potted plants: the shorter the path from A to B, the better it is for your operations and for the quality of the harvest.
Types of harvest trolleys
There are various types of harvesting trolleys. The harvesting trolleys from Berg Hortimotive, for example, are highly suitable for transporting fruiting vegetables on tubular rail trolleys in greenhouses. The harvesting trolleys can be pushed by the heating tubes. In addition to these harvesting trolleys, there are also, among other things, so-called pneumatic tire trolleys. This is a harvesting trolley equipped with pneumatic tires for transport over various flat backgrounds. These trolleys are a real godsend, especially in the cultivation of soft fruits such as strawberries. These harvesting trolleys are suitable for both internal and external transport. Furthermore, the frame of the harvest trolley is made of steel.
Harvesting trolleys for vine tomatoes
Harvesting trolleys are mainly used for harvesting vine tomatoes. By means of the transport rollers of the trolley, plastic crates or cardboard boxes can easily be placed on the trolley and pushed in the production area. The harvesting trolleys can also be easily linked together, making internal transport in the greenhouse simple. The harvesting trolleys are fitted with middle wheels, so that the trolley is also maneuverable in the middle aisle. In addition, the harvest carts contain an upper rack where boxes can be placed. The frame of the trolley is powder coated so the trolleys are always durable in use.
“Ensure labor savings and become more efficient with a good internal logistics plan“
Danish trolleys are common internal logistics solutions in greenhouses. A Danish trolley consists of 4 uprights with a various amount of shelves. The trolley is very easy to use because it is easy to (dis-)assemble and adjust. Thanks to its efficient design, the trolley takes up minimal space when it is dismantled. Moreover, Danish trolleys are easy to move because of the sturdy wheels under the steel frame and are also easy to raise in height with the iron extensions or the plastic wrapping poles. Several couplings exist, which can connect the Danish trolleys as a train with multiple container trolleys. The trolleys are used in the horticultural sector for various applications, including the transport of flowers and plants, presenting flowers and plants and at the least the storage of the products. Because the plate distance of this plant pot trolley can be changed from 5 to 180 cm, the trolley can be adapted specifically for the height of your flowers and plants. This makes it easy to transport flowers and plants from the grower to the auction.
Accessories of a Danish trolley
Not only is the Danish trolley of good quality, it is also weatherproof, stackable, adjustable and suitable for long-term use. For the extension of a Danish trolley you can use various accessories. In addition to the accessories, you can also choose from different types of wheels. Depending on the load and the required maneuverability, you can choose the type of wheel. Would you like to know the difference between the wheels for a Danish trolley? Then keep reading the article, below we will discuss the difference between types of wheels.
Wheels for horticultural trolleys
Many tools for harvest processing, such as harvesting trolleys, Danish trolleys and (dirt) containers, are equipped with wheels. To ensure that everything runs smoothly, it is important that you choose the right wheels for your internal logistics trolleys or machines. This is because the wheels affect various factors such as load capacity, impact resistance and noise level.
Carrying capacity of wheels
The more you want to transport, the greater the carrying capacity of the wheels. For example, if you want to be able to move a full 300-kilogram garbage container (with 4 wheels), the wheels must be able to hold it. You calculate the required load capacity per wheel by dividing the total weight by 3. You divide by 3 and not by 4, because on uneven ground usually only 3 wheels touch the floor and these wheels should not collapse under the weight. So in this example you need wheels with a load capacity of 300 : 3 = 100 kilograms.
Size and width
It is also important that you choose the right size and width. The bigger the wheel, the easier it moves and the less force it takes to get it moving. Large wheels are useful, for example, when you want to drive over obstacles such as thresholds. As for the width, the narrower the wheel, the more maneuverable it is. However, wider wheels are again more suitable for uneven surfaces.
Material of the wheels
Wheels are available in different types of materials. Which material is most suitable depends on the required load capacity, the surface and environmental factors such as the presence of chemicals and temperature. The most common materials are nylon and rubber.
Most wheels are made of nylon. This material has a high load-bearing capacity and is long-lasting. Also, wheels made of this material are suitable for flat and smooth floors such as the concrete pad and have high chemical resistance.
Rubber wheels are basically suitable for both indoor and outdoor use and are less sensitive to shocks, producing lower noise levels. Pneumatic tires are also made of rubber. Pneumatic tires are very suitable for outdoor use and for uneven floors. They are large and wide, allowing you to easily take obstacles with them.
If you also want to be able to use the wheels in a cold store, pay close attention to the temperature resistance. This is because not every material is suitable for use at low temperatures.
Swivel or fixed castor
The choice of the type of wheel – a swivel or a fixed wheel – depends on the degree of load and the required maneuverability. Castor wheels are very sturdy and therefore suitable for large and heavy objects, but are not very maneuverable. Swivel casters, on the other hand, offer great maneuverability, but are less suitable for a large load. So take this into account. Of course, it is also possible to make a combination of swivel and fixed-wheel casters.
Logistics of harvested products with electric tractors
Electro tractors are an important part of internal transport in greenhouse horticulture. The tractors are used to bring products from the greenhouse to the packaging area. There are electric tractors that can be operated both manually and automatically. In this way the electric tractor can always meet your needs and requirements.
One of the biggest advantages of electric tractors is that they can be used for a wide range of purposes. For example, an electric tractor pulls a harvest trolley from the greenhouse to the barn or it helps you move a roll container without any physical strain. The use of an electric tractor increases productivity by allowing multiple carts to be carried simultaneously in the loading and unloading system in the packing area. In addition, exhaust fumes from fuel engines are also a thing of the past when using an electric tractor. This is because electric tractors are equipped with a so-called full traction battery, which means that maximum power is always available from a standstill. This results in an easier and smoother way of internal transport through the greenhouse. Carts full of flowers or harvested vegetables are easily brought to the packaging area to be packed as an end product.
Range of electric tractors for horticulture
Hortispares supplies electric tow tractors with various amounts of pulling power, capable of handling the toughest conditions in professional greenhouse horticulture. The electric tractors are equipped with a very high quality drive control to be able to drive away with heavy loads as ‘smoothly’ as possible. Within the range you will find tractors with a towing capacity up to 4150 kg. Depending on the objects or carts that need to be moved, you can choose the right tow tractor. However, you should also take into account factors such as the surface and wheels. The use of electric tow tractors increases the efficiency of transport activities and simultaneously relieves your employees.
In addition to the steerable electric tractors, there is also the Betrac fully automatic electric tractor – also called Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) – for internal transport of carts and harvesters in the greenhouse. In addition, these fully automatic can also be operated manually. Below you can read more about automation and AGV’s.
Automated internal greenhouse logistics
Processes in the greenhouse run smoothly and in a coordinated manner. You can make the same demands on the operations in the hall. In terms of processing, packaging and preparing your product for transport. Berg Hortimotive has developed two types of Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) to make internal logistics more easy.
Berg Hortimotive has developed the Benomic AGV especially for pepper cultivation. By applying induction technology, the pepper AGV is able to drive fully automatically to and from the processing area. By drilling ‘Tags’ into the concrete path, you can also add points to the route for programmed actions. For example, ‘stop’, ‘slow down’ or ‘speed up’ the harvesting trucks. Intersections, passes and splits to different departments are also possible.
How does it work?
For harvesting peppers, the bell pepper AGV’s are equipped with a container so that harvesting can be done manually at the right height. For example, the carts are sent from the processing area to the greenhouse. The harvester puts the trolley on the tube rail, then harvesting can be started. The driving speed can be set, if desired the cruise control function can be set so that driving can be automatic.
When the harvesting container is full, the trolley is automatically sent to the processing area over the induction track in the concrete path. The harvester picks up the next harvest wagon and can continue picking again. In the processing area, the container is emptied into the sorting system and the empty container is automatically placed back on the bell pepper AGV trolley.
At the end of the day, the bell pepper AGV’s can be automatically directed to a loading or parking area.
The AGV undercarriage is almost standard for every crop. Depending on the application and the crop, a choice is made for a type of harvest stretch. The Benomic AGV has been developed completely new. The most striking change is the induction technique. The previous generation of harvesting wagons found its way to the farmhouse by means of a vane/groove system. The Benomic AGV finds its way by means of induction technology. A cable is milled into the path. The AGV is equipped with a steering wheel with an induction sensor.
While driving, the steering wheel will follow the cable in the path and bring the car to the right position. This technique gives us much more possibilities than before.
By milling in different cables, any route can be covered and by drilling sensors into the path, the AGV can stop, slow down or speed up as it wishes. Crossroads, passages and splits to different sections are also possible. Path recording systems can be combined well with the Benomic AGV.
The Benomic AGV steers with one wheel, in the middle of the car. This, in combination with the differential on the driven wheels, makes an extremely small turning circle possible, which gives many advantages on the concrete path and in the working area. The Benomic AGV is also a harvesting system with considerable labour savings. The driven wagon takes a lot of work out of the harvester’s hands and increases productivity. In addition, there is an optimal continuity in the packaging line.
Ensuring internal safety
In the sorting area, there is often a lot of coming and going of employees, visitors, fork-lift trucks, lorries and other internal logistic machines or carts. In practice, this can sometimes lead to unsafe situations. It is therefore important that you pay sufficient attention to safety measures in these areas.
Make sure that employees and visitors entering the greenhouse or sorting area immediately know what to expect. You can do this by placing safety signs at the entrance. Indicate clearly where you can and cannot walk, that you must pay attention to forklift trucks and whether you must wear personal protection such as safety goggles or hearing protection. Also place signs near the eye or emergency shower and make sure that escape routes are clearly indicated.
If there are many forklift trucks and other vehicles and machines in the shed or sorting area, please mark the walkways. You can use floor markings for this. This reduces the risk of collisions. Floor marking is also used, for example, to indicate where forklift or pallet trucks must be parked, or where nothing may be placed.
Accidents can happen when working with moving vehicles. It often happens that the driver of a forklift hits something when reversing. Placing crash barriers at vulnerable points in the greenhouse or sorting area reduces the chance of such accidents. Speed bumps, for example, ensure that a driver slows down and a crash barrier prevents major damage to the premises.
Sometimes employees and visitors are temporarily not allowed in a certain part of the sorting area, for example because oil has been spilled on the floor, if there is a leak or if maintenance work is being carried out in that area. With the help of fencing material, you can easily close off this area.