As a grower, how do you maintain control in the greenhouse?
That control is important, is absolutely clear. In recent years, nurseries have been expanded tremendously. And the bigger the nursery, the more difficult it is to keep control. This affects your success as a grower. What can you do to keep control?
Type of grower determines the need for control
For a start, I will not apply one single measure to everyone. One person is in a different need of control than the other. One grower wants to record and analyze everything accurately, and the other grower only wants to know the most necessary data. I will name three types of growers, but of course we could think of many more variations.
- Grower one wants to record and analyze everything. He wants to know when things will be done, what will be done and who does what.
- Grower two is mainly interested in the quantity of space he utilizes and where everything is located. As long as he know this, the rest will be fine.
- Grower three just wants a list with all activities that have to be completed every week, to make sure that his plants will be ready at the right moment. He is satisfied with that, and will arrange everything else in a different way.
In which of the three growers do you recognize yourself most? The type of grower determines what tools you will need to keep control.
Maintaining grip and overview as the nursery grows.
The bigger the greenhouse, and the more employees, the more difficult it gets to maintain overview. Every type of grower will agree to that. We work in a wonderful sector with living products. This makes planning more complicated, and details make all the difference. To guarantee an outstanding quality, the planning has to be in order. The proper quantity of people, space, machine capacity and other resources must be available at the right moment. Of course you know that better than anyone.
That is why it is so important to keep control of the production schedule and human resources planning. Your employees must perform the proper actions at the right time. This way you will grow plants with an excellent quality.
A small grower with only a few products and a small number of employees will have less trouble to perform all activities at the ideal moment.
But it is very different if you are a grower with a wide range of products, 200 employees, and in summer a large number of seasonal workers on top of this. How do you make sure that you have a proper planning?
How we can increase control in the nursery.
How do you currently try to keep overview in your greenhouse? Many growers, even big growers, are often still using Excel. The advantage and the disadvantage of Excel is that you are not bound by anything: it is easy to quickly make changes.
This flexibility comes with big consequences, unfortunately. My co-worker Cor Verdouw says the following about it: “Within companies we often see island automation: a patchwork of different software for different processes and departments. In all kinds of processes you see that Excel is widely used. Island automation has some obvious drawbacks: data often are entered multiple times; it is inefficient, time consuming and sensitive to errors.”
Do you actually have control with Excel? You could have, but in many cases you will not. ERP can help every type of grower to keep an overview of the planning and activities. And no, you will not lose all flexibility with that. It is still possible to adjust things.
But ERP will take some time getting used to. You will have to make adjustments via a structure. The advantage is that multiple people can do this, and data can easily be used for analysis. Growers of type 2 and 3 may not do this frequently, but for growers of type 1 this is interesting for sure.
More grip through continuous registration.
Don’t compare ERP to gold that you put in a safe. ERP only is worth gold, when you use it in the right way. And the most important rule is: keep registering. Even if you are a grower type 2 or 3. For example the relocation of plants, activities that have been performed, who did that etc.
By registering you will keep gathering invaluable data. You keep control of the activities in the greenhouse and of all other processes. And even more important: you can use the data to improve processes (and with that possibly also your final product) and to better deploy people.
Apps to increase control
To collect as much valuable data as possible, apps are ideal. New apps keep coming on to the market, and that is a positive development. However, what remains very important, is that all apps you use are connected to one data source. All data together provides a powerful tool that generates added value.
As a central data source we have Agriware 365, but even if you don’t use ERP it is important to only have one data source. From this one source you can keep grip and control over activities and planning in the greenhouse, and then run proper analyzes on this. This is of course perfect when you are a grower type 1. With different systems used side by side, you will keep running into the problems that you also have in Excel.
Examples of advantages with good registration
Example 1: when you produce tissue culture, and one of your employees performs better than average (higher number of plants per hour or less failure) this emerges from the data registered. The labor manager then can investigate what causes this. Maybe it is because this employee often cuts an easy variety, but perhaps this person has a certain way of working, that other employees can apply as well.
Example 2: by registering activities and spaces, you will notice gaps in the space or human recourses planning. This means you sometimes can place more plants on the same number of square meters. This, for example, was the case at Dijk van Dijk.
Example 3: you have 300 employees in your greenhouse. As all employees register all activities with an app, you notice that certain people are less productive or are not very good at certain tasks. With this information you can support them better, or have them perform different activities.
If you are convinced that control is of the essence for the success of your nursery, make sure you support this in the best possible way. You decide to what extend you want to have insight. More information about apps and ERP? Read this page or watch our webinars.