Spring is approaching and thus the season with the most orders in plant logistics. There are many challenges in dealing with plants — from the correct handling of sensitive organisms to short turnaround times so that the goods arrive fresh at the dealers. Volmary, an international vegetable and floriculture company based in Münster, Westphalia, is well aware of this. There, herbs, vegetables and flowering plants are preferred and packaged for the wholesale trade. The company turned to TRAPO AG, a specialist for innovative complete line concepts, to automate its intralogistics processes. A high-performance order picking system was installed, adapted to the individual requirements of Volmary.
Volmary approached TRAPO AG with the requirement that up to 3,000 trays be picked per hour and that 3,500 different young flowering plants be traded in a database to be created. A special challenge: some of the flexible trays filled with soil are rooted through, others hang over the edge of the tray and cover the code. For this reason, the conveyor belts used not only had to be able to accommodate trays of different sizes and weights, but also had to be insensitive to dirt and easy to clean. "Another special feature was the automated watering trolley, which supplies all the plants," explains Jörg Thomas, Sales Manager at TRAPO AG. "In order to avoid the risk of collision with the conveyor belt, we installed a pneumatic lifting system".
Complete documentation and reliable assembly
Volmary's product database manages around 3,500 individual articles, each provided with a barcode that allows them to be reliably identified. This barcode is assigned during sowing. Thanks to the connection to the higher-level control system, the type plate can be scanned, read and the tray assigned to the respective customer order. If the label is missing, the tray is automatically ejected. If, for example, leaves or dirt cover the code, a nozzle blows the label free. An automated process chain is then set in motion: The higher-level control system knows the contents of each individual tray and transmits the information to the order picking system as to which customer order a tray belongs to. On the conveyor belt, this is printed with the customer's name and logistical information on the stacking trolley and shelf. The control system flexibly assigns the respective customers to a total of 44 lanes. The trays are then transported via high-performance diverters along chutes under which there are walking paths. At the end of the chute, a braking mechanism prevents the back pressure from becoming too high and causing damage to plants.
"With the experience of three generations, we grow numerous plant varieties ourselves and are particularly responsive to our customers' wishes. For example, we have added many organic varieties and vegetable rarities to our range according to preferences," says Raimund Schnecking, Product Advisor Vegetables at Volmary. "Competence that our customers rely on. Against this background, it was important for us to have a partner in intralogistics who could guarantee that the young plants arrive safely and on time at the customer's premises.
Here you can have a look at the high-performance picking system installed by TRAPO AG at Volmary: https://youtu.be/bKiOlJtL3zA
The Volmary GmbH
Volmary GmbH is the leading supplier in Europe and garden professional for high-quality seeds, young plants and plants for beds and balconies – for horticultural success according to the motto Grow For Gold®. As a family business, the name has stood for success in classical plant breeding, selected varieties with special characteristics and a wide range of products since its foundation in 1925.