For the efficient processing and delivery of young plants, Jörgen Valstar, director of Valstar Young Plants from Maasland, was looking for a partner who could think along with the complex logistics of these processes. Jörgen Valstar: “In the preliminary phase I spoke with 3 parties about this project, but the other parties actually did not really understand what our wish was exactly. Martin Stolze did and they even thought of ways how it could be improved. They are skilled people who understand the game”. Valstar ultimately opted for a system where the trays, with the young plants are transported, distributed and buffered on a network of conveyor belts. The system is controlled at the PLC level, whereby the identity of the trays is secured on the tray with QR codes.
The process starts with applying and checking the QR code on the tray. After the tray is filled with paperpots, the cuttings are inserted. The QR code of the tray is automatically linked to the type, stitch date and employee via the workplace. In addition to the information required for control (determining the destination), the information stored in the QR code is also the basis of an extensive registration system.
When sufficient trays have been collected in one of the buffer belts of the return buffer after the cuttings have been inserted, they are placed on a cultivation container by means of a robot. The information from the trays is transferred to the container and secured in the software system of the container system and an external database.
If after some time the plants have to be sorted, the logistics system from Martin Stolze receives the trays and associated information from the container system. When sorting, the plants are assessed individually and subdivided into four classes. The trays are collected on the buffer belts for each sorting and placed back on the container in the desired order.
For processing the cuttings, an ingenious system has been devised. Because the system is split into two parts, it is possible to process several types simultaneously and to merge them later by type. This is good for the capacity of the system. An additional challenge was that the plants also have to be sorted by age, which in turn results in a number of extra sorting classes. By means of buffer space on the roller conveyors and the conveyor belts of the cutting-stitch system and the control system, the correct trays are finally found in the right order and collected on the buffer. As soon as there are enough trays on a buffer belt for one full container, the trays are placed back on the container.
For the last action, a system is provided with which the trays can be delivered with young plants. For this they are placed on a long conveyor belt where the right trays can be collected. The remaining trays can be returned to a container via the return buffer.
All trays are registered in the system using the QR code. Because all processes run simultaneously and interchangeably, the QR code is necessary to recognize the correct tray. In all processes, the date, the employee and the duration of the actions are recorded automatically. This information is passed on to an overlying software package with which various analyzes can be performed.
Jörgen Valstar: “The line itself is a solid logistics system that offers many opportunities for us. In addition, it is nice to work with a partner like Martin Stolze again. In the past we have also done a few projects together which showed that they have a lot of knowledge. They really think with us. Which is definitely ideal for a customized project like this. The success of the project depends on the finishing touch. The system is only solid if the last 5% is also done perfectly. The great thing about Martin Stolze is that they choose the right materials of good quality. This makes it easy to maintain and durable. In short, it has just been thought through. We are happy with our new system!”