Equipment Tips to Maximize Your Growing Season
With the final remnants of winter finally gone, many of us take solace from the fact that spring is finally here. In hopeful anticipation of the coming warmth, we’ve turned our thoughts away from the last storms of winter and towards the potential of spring. Many things are associated with the gradual change in weather but perhaps nothing symbolizes this transition better than the activities of the agricultural industry.
With the turn of the season, dormant greenhouses, vineyards, and farms are emerging from a long sojourn in preparation for the growing season ahead. Even in the earliest stages of the growing season, most operations recognize the need to maximize productivity and efficiency in everything they do. After all, seasonal operations face an inherent time crunch book-ended by the cold weather brought by the inevitable change in seasons. Under these conditions, unnecessary delays or bottlenecks in productivity must be addressed whenever possible.
One area of particular importance in these operations is how to handle and transport products, supplies, materials and equipment. From boxed plants and nursery stock to containers and plant carts, material handling equipment plays an essential role in the smooth and efficient operation of a greenhouse, vineyard or farm. As such, maximizing the ROI of your agricultural operation’s material handling equipment is an effective means of improving productivity and efficiency. The pertinent question to ask, then, is what equipment will help you achieve such an end?
To begin addressing this question, start by considering the size of your operation, delivery occurrences, load sizes and the distance that needs to be traveled in between loads. For high frequency and/or long distance loads, consider ride-on options such as forklifts, dock stockers, or ride-on pallet trucks and straddle stackers. On the other hand, manual and walk-behind models offer a cost-effective alternative for applications involving low volume or short distance loads. You’ll also need to consider your overall work environment. For indoor work environments, consider electric units that provide safe and effective equipment solutions without placing a strain on ventilation systems or damaging products with harmful exhaust emissions. Once these questions have been considered, it is time to consider what type of unit fits your application specific needs.
Among the most common pieces of equipment seen in agricultural applications is the sitdown counterbalanced forklift, where versatility reigns supreme. On a basic level, forklifts are used to load and unload trailers and transport palletized products and loads. Yet, the potential uses of the forklift go far beyond these basic operations with the addition of specialized attachments built specifically for agricultural applications. When handling pots or trays, for example, specialized fork systems are used to lift, transport and space pots and trays. Forward dumping bins and fork rotators, on the other hand, are used to lift and transport fruits and produce for packaging or processing. With these specialized attachments in tow, it’s easy to why the forklift occupies a central role in many agricultural applications.
Then again, the forklift is not an end all, be all material handling equipment solution. This is particularly so in the agricultural industry, where substantial turnover and seasonal workers make it difficult to fill positions that require a specialized license or training. Since forklifts require a licence to legally operate, many facilities utilize equipment beyond counterbalanced forklifts such as electric utility vehicles and pallet trucks to transport palletized loads. Here, electric tugs are commonly used to haul long chains of carts to loading docks where they can be loaded for transport. Meanwhile, pallet trucks are used to move palletized loads from one end of a facility to the other in an efficient and ergonomic fashion.
Beyond the equipment options mentioned above, other options such as burden carriers, personnel carriers, dock stockers and more are used throughout the agricultural industry. If you’re still unsure about what equipment best suits your needs, we encourage you to reach out to a Stärke dealer near you!