Robots used in greenhouses to improve productivity

Metrolina Greenhouses used robots from Harvest Automation to help space plants and help improve worker safety and overall efficiency for the company.


Metrolina Greenhouses used robots from Harvest Automation to help space plants and help improve worker safety and overall efficiency for the company. Courtesy: Harvest AutomationMetrolina Greenhouses in Huntersville, N.C., purchased HV-100 robots from Harvest Automation to help with spacing plants. Spacing plants is the most physically demanding task in a nursery or greenhouse, and it is the most critical because improperly spaced plants will not grow properly.

The robots not only helped improve Metrolina's efficiency when it came to spacing and moving plants, but it also helped the greenhouse's workers. There were fewer lost workdays, fewer spacing-related injuries, and zero workers' compensation claims, which helped eliminate some major problems for the company. Metrolina, along with other greenhouses and nurseries, has a hard time finding consistent employment due to the labor involved. Keeping the workers it does have healthy and productive can be a major challenge. Workers who space plants for a full eight-hour shift can face serious back and joint injuries due to the constant lifting and bending required. Robots do not have that disadvantage and require only that they be properly maintained.

"The robots are a morale booster because the workers dislike the spacing job, and now they don't have to get stuck on that job for a long period of time," said safety director Kerry Krivanek. "In a prior year we'd experienced three spacing-related injuries within the first two weeks, and this year we had zero."

The HV-100 plant-moving robots allow growers to move plants night and day. The HV-100 robots are also designed for year-round use. They can space plants in the spring, consolidate (re-space) picked-over fields from summer into fall, and collect plants to can-tight at the end of the growing season for winter protection.

Harvest Automation's HV-100 is designed to provide high placement accuracy without any programming required. It is also designed for 24-hour operation regardless of weather conditions. It has Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity and a battery life of 4-6 hours. It is also efficient with water, pesticide, and herbicide usage. It is useful in enabling efficiency initiatives like resource management, just-in-time production, and inventory control for greenhouse, nursery, and other agricultural environments.

Harvest Automation 

Metrolina Greenhouses 

- Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, Control Engineering, See more Control Engineering robotics stories.

See additional information about Harvest Automation below.

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