"We use cobots to make greenhouses more and more ‘hands-free’"

For many years, manufacturing processes that were ‘too expensive’ for the Netherlands were moved to low-wage countries. Two years of Covid and the recent political instability have led us to think differently about our dependence on products that are produced far away. It is no longer just about the costs; there is a growing awareness that there is more to consider than just money, writes Colinda de Beer, senior business developer at InnovationQuarter.

In greenhouse horticulture, something else is at play. Yes, this entails the manufacture of, for example, our flower pots, and the cultivation of source materials that require a lot of labor (such as tissue culture) has been outsourced to countries in Asia. However, the risk facing our sector is that we will no longer be able to sell the products we grow in the Netherlands if borders are closed due to a pandemic or a war! Fortunately, we do sell most of our products in the surrounding region. When we cite the strategy of ‘feeding and greening megacities’, we are referring to the production of products for ‘megacity Western Europe’.

However, another part of this strategy is to sell technology and knowledge so that food production in the region of large cities anywhere in the world. So this may seem like outsourcing, as production is outsourced to another country. However, what we take with us is our technology and knowledge!

This has already been a scalable concept for years. Our greenhouse builders have been building fantastic projects all over the world. These include projects in Australia, Kazakhstan and Abu Dhabi, all of which are packed with Dutch high-tech. We have learned that it will not work if you only sell the hardware and let people figure out on the spot how to work with it. We came up with a solution: we sent out cultivation consultants or the sons or daughters of Dutch horticulturists. They really enjoyed working abroad for a number of years.

Read the complete article at www.innovationorigins.com.

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