Growing without additional labor with smart logistics: 3 tips for nurseries

Growing without additional labor with smart logistics: 3 tips for nurseries

Growing without additional labor with smart logistics: 3 tips for nurseries

Jan 25, 2024 8:48:00 AM

The labor scarcity is increasing, even in the nursery and perennial plant industry. Automating and/or properly organizing logistics and processes can help achieve efficiency gains. In other words: growing without additional staff.

Take a step back and look at your processes

Not all logistical processes in nurseries are efficiently organized, leading to, for example, order picking taking more time and labor than necessary. Critically examining this and making adjustments where possible can result in significant efficiency gains.

However, not all logistical processes at a nursery can be easily changed, as the layout is often 'fixed' and frequently stems from the organic growth the company experienced over time. This means, for example, that the width and height of the pathways may vary.

According to Cor Bremmer, Commercial Director at ErfGoed, a grower needs to step back and look at the company from a distance. What kind of entrepreneur do you want to be, in which areas do you want to differentiate yourself, what does your ideal future scenario look like, and what factors can help you organize your company as efficiently as possible? 

"This involves not only logistical choices, such as walking paths and driving routes, but also choices in assortment, customer groups, pot sizes, and so on. Adjustments in these areas - such as a more limited assortment or fewer pot sizes - can help entrepreneurs make efficiency improvements and take steps in automating and optimizing logistics processes."

All these aspects are also considered when creating an ErfGoed Master Plan, which provides entrepreneurs with guidance and direction for the future and helps them make the right choices.

New innovations, new possibilities

The possibilities for automation are rapidly increasing, and the market is actively evolving in this regard. For example, ErfGoed is developing special plates that will allow us to offer an even stronger floor in the future. This makes automation easier. Moreover, a concrete floor is not necessary for further automation; numerous other possibilities exist. Read more about this in this blog(add blog).

There are various options to streamline and automate company logistics to save labor. This can include the use of transport and buffer belts, forklifts with dual pneumatic tires, bigger carts, robots for spacing, trolley tracks, reinforcement plates in the floor, pipe rail carts, concrete paths, tiles/rubber Stall Mats, tire carts, steel frames, under wipers, or Flying Forks.

Automate step by step

Working with automated systems is generally very different from manual labor. "Growers often don't realize this," says Cor Bremmer. "Therefore, the advice is not to go from 0 to 100 all at once, but to invest in automation step by step. Start on a small scale so that you can learn to work with it and identify obstacles and areas for improvement. As an entrepreneur, you don't only notice these; employees can also play a valuable role in this."

Bremmer advises considering partial solutions as well. "For some parts of the company, working with conveyor belts may be a good solution to save labor. Just try it by purchasing a limited number or renting them temporarily."