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66% faster than manual twisting
Last week I decided to time myself against an experienced greenhouse worker who was clipping cucumber plants using the tomsystem. I warmed up on a row before I started to time myself against the tomsystem. Approximately 30-50 cm of plant length required to be trained or attached to the string. I used the old-fashioned method of twisting. I made sure I used a tight twist and left no bows. Cucumber plants require a tight twist to prevent the stem slipping back down the string when the fruit load/weight builds. It is also a major advantage using either a plastic or metal ring clipping system to prevent slipping and reduce plant loss.
It was apparent, very quickly I had no chance of keeping up. By the time I had twisted 44 plants, Rubel had finished the row that contained 132 plants. That was three times faster than I could twist. I was not going slow; I am not that old and still very competitive so I was moving as fast as I could. I was spending approximately 11-12 seconds twisting and moving to the next plant and Rubel around 3.5-4 seconds. The length of the plant certainly slowed my momentum, some stems that were close to bending over did take longer to twist. The massive advantage the tomsystem has is that if you are one day behind with this type of job then just standing up the plant and clipping high up you save huge amounts of time.
It was quite phenomenal, I’d predicted the tomsystem would be twice as fast. However, once you’re familiar with the tomsystem it proves its worth with its labour-saving attributes. Three times faster output is incredible and at a time when labour is one of if not the biggest concerns for our industry, it demonstrated the importance of having the tools to increase output. Not only is the cost of labour increasing but it is much harder to find workers to work in a greenhouse.
This is not a robotic solution but a mechanical solution. It is fairly similar to electric pruning shares they just make the job faster and easier.
Electric pruning shares speed up the work, it's not robotics but another demonstration how the job can be made easier.
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Article Written and compiled by Stefan Vogrincic, Consultant, Grower2Grower
Article Edited by Marie Vogrincic, Editor, Grower2Grower