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Speeding up with Second Skin is no problem: 'We were able to cover 14 km per day'"

How many kilometers do they cover per day? For grower Leon Dukker, it was quite a suspenseful event when the gutters in his greenhouse recently got the Second Skin application. Ultimately, his concerns were unfounded. 85 kilometers of the gutter were rapidly renewed with the innovative plastic top layer. "We install Second Skin just as quickly as with steel gutters," says Luke van Adrichem, CEO of Metazet. The grower is satisfied as well. "It went smoothly. We finished right on time."

Initially, it was 'a bit of trial and error' at the greenhouse project at rose grower Porta Nova in Waddinxveen. "The material is indeed a bit different from steel," Luke says. "Eventually, everything went through quite smoothly. We could do 14 km per day. That's at least as fast as steel and even a tad faster."

On existing system
For Metazet, this was the first major practical project with the innovation presented last summer. "We have already installed Second Skin in about a dozen projects on a smaller scale. Those were always about 1.5 to 2 kilometers of gutter."

At Porta Nova, there was more pressure. "As soon as the plants arrive, you have to be ready. Within rose cultivation, the plants will stay in the gutter for years. This means you have one chance to get it right, in an eight-year process."

In Waddinxveen, the gutters in 4.3 ha of greenhouse needed renewal. "We installed Second Skin here on the existing system, with existing gutters. The existing gutters were used as a carrier, and a completely new plastic top layer was applied."

Labor and hygiene benefits
Fewer people were needed for the renovation job than with steel gutters. "Normally, you will have a guy at every two columns. That means about fifteen men per bay. In this project, we could move the guides with three men. The lower weight of plastic and the ability to use the existing gutter as a guide is enormously helpful."

With new constructions using Second Skin, the labor advantage disappears. "In that case, we will roll the steel carriers and directly apply the plastic top layer over them." What remains for both renovation and new construction are the other advantages of the innovation. "With this product, we help growers improve hygiene in the greenhouse. The material is smoother than steel. Fertilizer residues, algae, and dirt adhere much less to the plastic second skin. Second Skin also withstands the increasingly intensive cleaning and disinfection of greenhouses. It gives growers flexibility in their choice of agents."

Lower long-term costs
So far, Metazet has gained practical experience in crops where, during renovation, the existing gutter construction remained in place. Unlike when replacing steel gutters, one does not demolish the entire structure. "The steel structure on which the gutters stand will last the full lifespan of the greenhouse. With Second Skin, you only need to replace the top layer."

A greenhouse will nowadays easily last thirty years or even longer, Luke says. "If you build new and apply Second Skin, you are investing in the gutter construction once, and later you will only need to replace the top layer. The plastic top layer technically lasts ten to twelve years, and maybe even longer. In the end, with Second Skin, you spend less than half the price of a steel gutter for the entire lifespan of your cultivation system. With Second Skin, you will lay plastic for less than half the price of a steel gutter."

Crop rotation
Now that the first major practical project is completed, Metazet can start covering kilometers later this year. "It was convenient for us that this project was relatively close to home. We were able to fine-tune the forming technique and the new machines for Second Skin and completed the project within the schedule. The ideal warm-up for the projects to come." This summer, the first major greenhouse vegetable project will follow, after which more projects are scheduled around the time of crop rotation. "The technique has rapidly matured."

For more information:
De Lierseweg 6
2291PD Wateringen
+31 (174) 22 58 22
[email protected]

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