Designing mechanised production systems

Labor costs on average 27% of the total cost of production in the Dutch horticultural business. Improving efficiency is a critical success factor in the Netherlands and Western Europe in the coming years.

Generating effective solutions is no sinecure, and the interests and the costs of innovation are high to very high. Planning of work and dedication of machines is difficult because of the natural variability of production, uncertainty in the weather, uncertainty in consumer demand and the increasing scale of farms. While products with high added value are produced, the production and investment is high and therefore the margins are small. Then its business, work planning in place and time and commitment of machinery are critical success factors.

The goal of this project is to encourage sustainability in protected cultivation systems by developing tools for multi-factorial methodical design of production systems. The tools to develop is specifically aimed at business, internal logistics and replacement or support of human labor by machines and robots. Assessment on sustainability indicators is part of tools to develop. 

To minimize the risk of failure of complex projects and innovation projects is both an economic and social importance. The instruments developed can help policy and industry to design new systems, concrete innovations and to map potential systemic jumps.

The method supports a broad view of the new design and prevents that a system design bogs down too fast in a (possibly already known) partial solution. The developed concepts and methodologies are so generic that they also are applicable in other areas of the agricultural sector such as agriculture and animal husbandry.