It’s well known that one of the biggest challenges nurseries are currently facing is rising labor costs, and to help our customers adapt to this, Proptek have been looking at labor saving solutions and systems for a number of years.
Our research has found that the best way to reduce labor overheads is to centralize the majority of the work in a headhouse and to use simple machinery to move the plants to the people in the headhouse, rather than people moving to the plants spread across the nursery.
However in the context of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, and as it becomes clear that social distancing measures may be a requirement in the workplace for quite some time, our ‘Plants to the People’ approach is evidently needed in nurseries, now more than ever. By having a safe, controlled central headhouse where social distancing and hygiene measures can be implemented and monitored, nurseries can ensure that not only is the work being carried out more efficiently, but they can actively avoid transmission by reducing touches and employees unnecessarily crossing paths several times around the site.
Here is an example of how Proptek’s centralization process can improve movement around a nursery and reduce labor. A nursery can go from the below model, where moving plants requires dozens of people:
to the following, where a fraction of the people are required and social distancing can be monitored:
Alongside the ability to set up the headhouse to accommodate social distancing, there are also a number of other benefits to a centralized labor model, including:
- Easier, more comfortable work – Some jobs on the nursery can be labor-intensive, hot, dirty and tiring with constant bending and lifting required. With the challenge of both workforce costs and workforce availability, employers with a more attractive, comfortable environment are more likely to attract and retain high quality workers.
- Fewer workers required – With more comfortable working conditions, employees are able to operate to their maximum potential, focusing on efficiency and quality of work which in turn means you require less workers overall. With the option to become fully automated, nurseries can further reduce their labor costs by a significant amount.
- Workers are easier to manage – With the majority of the streamlined workforce in a centralized headhouse, it is much easier for issues to be flagged and dealt with quickly. Time spent on breaks or going to the bathroom is also reduced by having facilities nearby.
- Safer working environment – With an indoor, ergonomic environment, workers are less likely to suffer the ill effects of repetitive lifting, bending and exposure to high outdoor temperatures.
- Centralized machinery – Engineers are able to quickly identify problems with machinery, when the majority of the operating equipment is in one location. The problem can be dealt with more efficiently, allowing employees to return to work.
Watch our Youtube video to find out more about our ‘Plants to the People’ approach, or get in touch with our Sales Team to discuss how we can help future proof your nursery from rising labor costs, and Covid-19 requirements.