Harvest Automation introduces a new tool for optimising profit margins

The new century brings new methods of automation to the Nursery and Greenhouse Industry with the Harvest Automation HV-100 robots, and a new opportunity to increase profit margins. Along with this equipment is needed a new tool to analyse the profit margin gains automation brings. Harvest Automation introduces the Robot Automation Rate per Move (or ARM). There are many factors that contribute to the overall rate per move, to find the true rate per move Harvest Automation combines all of the contributions to generate the Robot ARM.



Spacing plants is the most physically demanding task in a Nursery or Greenhouse, but it is arguably the most critical. Workers who can move plants at a rate of hundreds of pots per hour for short periods will quickly slow to a fraction of that as the day wears on. Repeatedly bending and picking up a plant that weighs up to 22 pounds for 8 hours a day under the hot sun not only tires a person, but can lead to debilitating back injuries, lost work days and expensive workers compensation claims.

The Harvest Automation HV-100 robots can eliminate these concerns. Customers that have used the HV-100 to move plants have experienced a reduction in plant moving related injuries and an associated savings in worker's compensation insurance premiums, along with the added benefit of a happier, healthier workforce leading to fewer lost work days and fewer instances of workers not showing up for work.

Along with fewer physical demands on a workforce comes the follow-on benefit of reduced demand on a Human Resources department. Without the need to recruit a large seasonal workforce to do spacing, or the constant need to replace workers who are injured or who don't show up due to exhaustion, the HR department can now focus on the long term strategic needs of the company. And as any HR manager will attest to, understanding and complying with the myriad federal, state and local workforce regulations and recent healthcare changes can be challenging and complex. A leaner workforce means fewer HR issues to deal with, and less susceptibility to labour law changes. These costs can be captured in terms of HR department hours saved, lost work days saved, and a minimum savings of the per employee $2000 employer penalty from the Affordable Care Act.

To complete the Robot ARM calculation one must also consider certain intangible factors such as enhanced plant quality, operational stability and ease of doing business. Moving plants on-time is a critical component to quality products. During the busy shipping season plant movement may not get the attention it deserves and plant quality may suffer. The HV-100 allows a grower to have a dedicated plant moving workforce that eliminates the difficult choice between shipping and spacing, producing a measurable and valuable increase in yields.



With the emergence of the HV-100 as a productive solution for the N&G industry the need for a large cohort of seasonal workers is lessened, leading to more predictable workflows and more predictable outcomes. Managing labour work schedules and plant growing needs along with environmental variables, is enough to give even the most experienced grower headaches. With the uncertainty of labour availability gone, plant production becomes a much more manageable endeavour, and can improve yields considerably, directly impacting the bottom line.
 
Using the Robot ARM calculation to properly account for, all of these contributions, a business using the HV-100s can experience costs from under 1 cent per move depending upon the specifics of an operation. The Robot ARM calculation shows that the payback period for an HV-100 can easily be under 2 years.

For many commercial Nursery and Greenhouse businesses, moving plants is both a critical and costly necessity of doing business. Traditionally this task is completed the same way it was done 50 years ago - with back-breaking manual labour. This task is both physically demanding, and mentally exhausting; and as a result many commercial nurseries and greenhouses have a difficult time recruiting labour for this job. Additionally labour costs are likely to continue to rise in the future, as many states have or are contemplating a rise in minimum wage rates, the federal government considers immigration reform and the implications of health care changes become clearer. To grapple with these issues, companies are turning to Harvest Automation and the HV-100 plant moving robot. The ARM tool can help you evaluate if robots make sense for your operation.

To contact Harvest Automation sales to find information about an open house at a grower in your location, to arrange an on-site demo or to discuss our flexible financing, leasing and short term rental program please call Greg Timbol at (978) 528-4450 or gregt@harvestai.com.

For more information about Harvest Automation and the HV-100, please visit harvestai.com.
 

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