Browsing: Robots & robotics
A New Zealand tech company could be on track to solving labour shortage problems faced by US vegetable growers and removing herbicides from the farming process at the same time.
Greentech Robotics, based in Palmerston North and founded by Don Sandbrook, specialises in automated seeding, harvesting and high-density salad mix and baby carrots.
Now with increasing pressure on growers in terms of labour costs and the outlawing of herbicides in many countries, the Greentech Robotics team are developing a robot that could replicate the accuracy of a human-being with a hoe and potentially removing the need for herbicides altogether.
But this doesn’t come without its challenges says Greentech Robotics director Rob Baan.
“The difference between us and most of the other groups working in this space around the world is that we are looking at an extraction option. That is technically a lot harder because we have to get a lot closer to the plant and the weeds to extract them.”
Baan says one of the real challenges facing the development of this product is that the vegetables they are working around have usually been trench planted. This means the seeds have been sown in a controlled environment and then transplanted into fields where they are left to mature into fully grown crops.
When these plants are transplanted, they are given a boost of fertiliser to ensure they get a good start.
“The problem here is that weeds like the fertiliser just as much,” says Baan. “Therefore, there’s a tendency for the weeds to congregate around the vegetable plants and that is the most difficult place to get to when you want to extract weeds.
“Traditionally vegetable growers would either spray against those weeds indiscriminately or use human being and a hoe to extract the weeds.”
Baan says in California grows approximately 45% of all vegetables consumed in the US and most of the weeding is done by immigrant labour with a hoe.
“During the last four years under Trump presidency there has been a lot of noise around immigrant labour, so there’s even more pressure on growers to find alternative solutions rather than using seasonal workers because it’s harder to get people into the country.”
This has meant that labour costs have risen and farmers are looking for alternative options he says.
Greentech Robotics has been supplying seeding equipment to the American market for 25 years and Baan believes this will help immensely when introducing the robotic weeders.
“Our ultimate aim is to do mechanical extraction using our robotic weeder,” he says.
“Our robots will probably be capable of doing micro-spraying as well, but we will also have robots that will be capable of mechanical removal. Herbicides are being outlawed in many countries because there is a lot of pressure from environmental groups to remove them. Our aim is for no chemical herbicides to be used at all.”
Trials are currently taking place in New Zealand however Covid-19 has affected the development process significantly.
“We are doing trials on the weed spider here but we need to get a lot of data about the crops and weeds in California as that’s our target market. The problem is that we haven’t been able to get into the market. We had planned 4 field trips in 2020 and we weren’t able to go on any of them.
“That has hampered our development because we need to learn about all the different weed species and how they perform when you try to extract them.”
Nevertheless, the team have their fingers crossed for a field trip to take place in June 2021.
Baan says regardless of these hurdles, to pull of this technical goal is a major achievement.
“Founder and chief executive Don Sandbrook and myself have met with many other groups around the world that are also trying to develop this type of technology. They are all working on something along the lines of what we are doing but I think we are reaching for the skies.
“We have set our sights very high. As far as the technical difficulties that we need to overcome, they are probably higher than most because we are trying to emulate a human with a hoe and that is not easy. Most of the other groups have set their sights more on being accurate using micro-spraying technology.”
But for Baan, it’s the people that is key to the company’s success and drive.
“It’s that enthusiasm you get exposed to. Everybody is enthusiastic about the project and it’s a nice team to be able to interact with. That’s a privilege,” he says.
Beckhoff implements open automation systems based on PC Control technology. The product range covers Industrial PCs, I/O and Fieldbus Components, Drive Technology and automation software. Products that can be used as separate components or integrated into a complete and seamless control system are available for all industries. The Beckhoff “New Automation Technology” philosophy represents universal and open control and automation solutions that are used worldwide in a wide variety of different applications, ranging from CNC-controlled machine tools to intelligent building automation.
Unit F3, 4 Orbit Drive
Caliber Design is a consultancy that provides project-based mechanical design engineering services. Our team of 30+ highly skilled and experienced engineers are based in Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga and Christchurch. Our engineers work on-site with clients on a project-by-project basis, this means our clients can upsize their team with the exact skills they need, when they need them.
Much of our work is in the food technology industry. Our experience includes heating and cooling systems, multiple lane conveyors, palletisers, up lifters, process and packing lines, freezers, refrigeration, and production equipment for the meat processing industry, and more.
We design for safety, hygiene, assembly, reliability, serviceability, and longevity, while minimising costs. Our engineers are experienced in all aspects of the design process, from scoping through to parts procurement, manufacturing, installation, and commissioning.
Shortage of resources? Looming deadline? Skill gap that needs to be filled? Caliber Design has talented engineers that can help.
Wayne Le Sueur
597 Rosebank Road
PO Box 71084
PO Box 29488
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Waikato Innovation Park First Floor Gallagher Core Facilities Building 1 Melody Lane
Importers and suppliers of Cooling Towers, Water Chillers, cooling and control equipment. MESAN, and King Sun, cooling towers. SHINI, YU TING, and GREEN TECH. Air Cooled and Water cooled Chillers. Portable, and central systems.
Technical support and a back up of spare parts made possible by volume and commitment to looking after our customers long term. With continued supply of strong brands for more than 20 years with a good reputation. Stock cooling towers and spare parts held in our Penrose warehouse. Spare parts and replacement infil for our brands and some for other common brands in the market.
Also water flow indicators, and indicators, and temperature controller units ( Hot ) with a medium of a water or oil based medium.
We are here to help.
Parent company Machinetech Ltd are very strong in the Plastic Machinery supply business.
112a Mays Raod
PO Box 12899
Techspan Industrial Printing Systems supply a comprehensive range of Thermal Print Media; including: Hot & Cold Stamping Foils, Make Readies – TSC Thermal Transfer & Thermal Direct Label Barcode printers, and a range of label printer spares, print heads & associated accessories.Techspan is not limited to house brands, and has a large range of foil products to suit most applications, and can offer options from many different manufacturers.
Techspan manufactures an extensive range of Thermal Transfer ribbons ( TTR ), in all grades, for all label and barcode printers, in all configurations – including: Near-Edge, Wax, Wax/Resin, Full Resin. High quality high performance thermal ribbons for barcode & label printers, thermal coders, signage, graphics and, data ribbons.
We convert all Foils & Ribbons in-house using precision high speed slitting machinery. We can ‘slit’ and package to specific customer size requirements. Our TTR products can also carry your ‘private branding’.Visit our web portal www.techspanonline.com
1 Portage Road
PO Box 15262
Aurora Process Solutions is a recognized leader in the process equipment industry. Our experience, technical knowledge, product range, system solutions and back-up service capabilities unlock process potential through Australasia and beyond.
• Bag and sack filling and closing
• Robotic & Conventional Palletising
• Bulk Bag handling
• Stand alone units or full line automation
• Floveyors and product conveying
Satisfied clients, using solutions that add value to their product is a key focus of Aurora’s as they work to ensure projects are delivered satisfactorily from concept to completion.
Unlock Your Process Potential!
65 Columnbo Street
PO Box 9573
Machineryseller is regarded as one of the most authoritative and comprehensive industrial sales spaces in New Zealand.
The Machineryseller website lists new and used machinery and equipment from trade, manufacturing and industrial businesses including workshops and factories. No auction fees, just low listing fees for sellers.
Listing categories: Manufacturing machinery, processing, packaging and materials handling equipment, composites, robotics and woodworking equipment and more.
The Machineryseller classified newspaper is included with every copy of New Zealand engineering News. A total of 8,000 copies are delivered every month except January, plus 9,000 digital links emailed every month – that includes new and used engineering and industrial machinery listings.
8/48 Maki Street
PO Box 84345
Specialists in Plastic Processing Machinery.
NZ’s largest stockiest of ancillary equipment and representing the worlds largest manufacturer -SHINI Plastics Technology.
Injection, Extrusion, and Blow Moulding machines.
Also Importers of Cooling Towers, Water Chillers ( Air, or Water cooled ), Water and Oil Heaters, Bulk Bag systems, Material loading, drying, and Blending, Colour dosers, Conveyors, Robots, and automation machinery ie. IML systems
Granulators, Shredders, and Washing Systems for Recycling.
112A Mays Road
PO Box 12899