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Automated harvest and transport in new Japanese greenhouse

This year AgriD Inc started shipping cherry tomatoes cultivated at its newly built greenhouse in Inabe City, Japan. The 4.2 hectare greenhouse is one of the biggest in Japan. The high level of automation is being shown in a new video: automated harvest and automated harvest transport. 

Japanese agriculture faces severe labor shortages due to the decreasing number and aging of farmers. Smart farming based on robot technology and ICT holds the potential to help farmers compensate for lost labor while achieving high-quality agricultural production.

Asai Nursery is a Japanese tomato growing company. The AgriD  joint venture with Denso, that was announced in 2018 and includes a 51% ownership for Asai Nursery, resulted in a 4.2 hectare greenhouse that was opened earlier this year. 

"We're combining Asai Nursery’s leading greenhouse cultivation and selective-breeding techniques with our technology for industrialization, such as environmental control and automation, and applying those capabilities to large-scale tomato cultivation at the greenhouse", the team with Denso said. "Our goal is to make farms better places to work and more profitable." 

The team with AgriD says that they will stably cultivate vegetables throughout the year regardless of climate and season by controlling the temperature and humidity in greenhouses. The company will also automate the transportation of agricultural products, including crops, and night-time harvesting. "Throughout these activities, we will reduce human workload while enabling 24-hour agricultural activities and achieve optimal human-machine collaboration in farming", they say. "We will develop and work on next-generation greenhouse horticulture with high productivity and commit to agricultural production business in the world." 

Quite some ambitious plans they are and in a newly released video they also show how they are doing this. One of the main features of the greenhouse is the smart farming system that enables human-machine collaboration. "We're using the cloud to manage work shifts, tasks, and hours of employees to visualize operations through to harvesting to shipping of tomatoes, and to reduce excessive work, waste, and variability", they say. "Based on expertise of industrial technology such as Kaizen, manpower saving is acquired even though the amount of harvested and sipped crop changed." 

Then there's the automatic harvesting robot FARO. Developed by Denso under Asai Nursey's corporation to automate harvesting and reduce the human workload. Further automation is achieved with the crop transporting system, automatically transporting tomato loads weighing up to 160 kg to optimize the transportation route and reduce the lead-time from harvest to shipment. 

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