With five growing locations comprising 3.6 million square feet of greenhouse space dispersed throughout the Mountain West region, Olson’s Greenhouse knows all too well that profit is often a product of efficiency and finding economies of scale.
Automation plays a significant role in that aspect of horticulture. Labor is expensive, so any processes that can be automated can direct dollars right back to the operation’s bottom line. And when you’re as big as Olson’s is, it can mean big savings.
“Adding automation to our facility has allowed us to remain a leader in the industry and be able to keep up with added demand from our customers,” says Nate Barker, director of purchasing at Olson’s.
Barker and his team are leveraging 16, 32 and 36 gripper TTA PackPlanter transplanter machines to increase throughput volumes in its potting up efforts. The machines can handle transplanting anywhere between 10,000 and 50,000 plugs per hour.
“By using PackPlanters, we are able to complete the volume of product needed to meet our customers’ needs that we would not be able to find enough manual labor to complete,” Barker says.
A now two-decade customer of TTA, Olson’s has found that the technology – and its ease of use – has improved dramatically over the decades.
“As transplanter technology has advanced, TTA has made it much easier for our employees to operate and program the machine,” Barker explains. “And when there is maintenance necessary, the grippers are easy to change, minimizing downtime.”
Of course, the aforementioned improvements of operator ease-of-use have been crucial in keeping plants moving through the production cycles in Olson’s greenhouses. And the manufacturer has made it easier to make adjustments on the fly, with little to no downtime while the machine updates.
“The user interface is easy to navigate and allows you to make changes quickly to dial in the performance of the transplanter and increase efficiency,” Barker says.
Being a multi-state operation, Olson’s also appreciates the level of customer responsiveness it gets from TTA. Management can’t be in all five states where Olson’s operates greenhouses at once, so being able to remotely troubleshoot and manage through issues with the machines is incredibly important.
“We have been using TTA transplanters for over 20 years now and we know that they have provided us with the best transplanters on the market backed up by excellent customer service,” Barker says.