In 2020, Berkvens Greenhouse Mobility was acquired by Taks Handling Systems. Arie Meeuwissen, CEO of the latter company, believes now is the time to tell us a thing or two about it. "We wanted to go turnkey with Taks Handling Systems, both in barn and greenhouse automation. Then you can do two things: either develop it all yourself or buy a company." So, in the end, they decided to go with the second option.
After taking over Berkvens, which just a year earlier had moved into the new premises Arie is showing us around, the entire factory was converted. "We tackled the internal processes in order to produce lean. Moreover, we had to ensure that we could supply all our 26 countries with systems, whereas in the Berkvens era, only four countries were supplied from this factory. After all, each country has its own electrical schematics, pipe rail sizes, and so on."
After that conversion and a lot of innovation, the full Taks Handling Systems range is available for greenhouse automation and turnkey projects. "We have tubular rail wagons, harvest wagons, crop care wagons, AGVs, but we also build bumblebee hives here, for example. These are hives that close automatically at night to prevent the bumblebees from flying at night in an illuminated greenhouse. Then you can start spraying, and in the morning, the bumblebees are then allowed out again."
Arie continues his listing with the complete pepper solutions offered by Taks Handling Systems, container systems for cucumbers, and spraying robots. "Actually, we have everything you need to run a greenhouse - everything you need for crop care, harvesting and processing, and packaging."
The Taks Handling Systems range is sold directly by the company. In addition, the Berkvens range is available through dealers. "We are now expanding that dealer network for Berkvens globally. We are noticing inquiries from many countries about dealership opportunities."
The well-known scissor trolleys are also handy for personal use.
Berkvens' merger with Buitendijk-Slaman, which was also acquired by Taks Handling Systems, has also contributed to being able to deliver that complete package. "Both companies continue under the name Berkvens Greenhouse Mobility. At Buitendijk, we build 'specials' and also a lot of service, and here at Berkvens, we build most of the new package."
Modular machines and production spurt
Challenges also came with the takeover, Arie explains. "A major challenge was: how do I get modular machines built as quickly as possible that can also fit all markets? And now the big challenge is the production spurt coming up. Now we have to get the people together to start making everything. We also experienced this at Taks Handling Systems. When I took over that company, turnover was 4 million, and now, eight years later, it is 40 million - ten times as much. And in the coming years, that's only going to grow."
Staying afloat in a tough market
When it comes to new greenhouse construction, things have not been the busiest in recent years. Nevertheless, they have managed to hold their own well at Taks Handling Systems, mainly thanks to conversion orders, says Arie. "For example, greenhouse conversions from tomatoes to cucumbers. And in addition, eighteen months ago, we developed a fully automatic harvest processing line for strawberries, complete with refrigeration and all the trimmings."
Berkvens Greenhouse Mobility makes a foray into ornamental horticulture with its rose truck.
Another windfall for Taks Handling Systems is that the company is internationally focused. "If there was a dip in the Netherlands, we could turn to Australia or Japan, for example," he says. However, Arie also sees less pleasant developments outside the country's borders - in North America, for example, where investors are currently a bit more hands-off.
What does the future look like for Taks Handling Systems and Berkvens? "I hope we can then put away beautiful turnkey projects, in which everything is integrated, but at a much higher level, with all R&D. Take, for example, our cooperation with Octiva, which has enabled us both to expand our product range considerably and take another step higher in the market."
The R&D to which Arie refers is mainly focused on saving labor. That will be the motto in the coming years. "In five years' time, you will have even more machines and fewer hands at work. And the projects are getting bigger and bigger, which is also a challenge for us. How do you get all those big projects connected in the factory without leaving gaps between them? That will be the big challenge, not only for us but also for the greenhouse builders, who are increasingly faced with large projects."
Greenlift 3000: the hydraulic scissor trolley equipped with two center wheels i.c.w. two swivel wheels.