Exciting new phase: after extensive testing and fine-tuning of the prototype the robot enters a new phase; towards market introduction and implementation. A ficus grower will include working with the robot which is developed in the Innovation Demonstration Centre (IDC) Robotics.
The technique of the robot makes it possible to automatically bind the branches of a ficus plant. In this technique nursery Zwethlande, who grows ficus plants, is very interested because of efficiency arguments. Efficiency and return on investment are important issues for entrepreneurs when considering an investment in a robot. These issues certainly play a role in the horticultural sector, where about a third of the cost of labor exists.
IDC Robotics, which is an initiative of TU Delft, Demokwekerij Westland and TNO, is very enthusiastic about the development that the nursery Zwethlande is willing to make this investment and starts working with the robot.
Robotics can mean a lot for this sector. According to Martijn Wisse, professor Biorobotcs at TU Delft, we are, as the Netherlands, big in the world as a food export county, but we are also big in food process machines, wherein more is becoming robotized. The Netherlands has beside a high-quality high-tech position, a good position in the horticulture sector, which can be expand worldwide.
Roy Wubben, projectleader of IDC Robotics and operating for Demokwekerij indicates that he noted the interest and need for robots in the field.
IDC Robotics welcomed, since its starting in early 2014, hundreds of visitors and dozens of questions from growers were received. Recently IDC was working on 14 concrete innovation projects, including a robot application for sorting eggplants, sorting yucca stems and automatic binding of Ficus plants and soon will be implemented in nursery Zwethlande. Roy: “Implementing the robot at a user, and therewith making the step towards market introduction is a step to be proud of. ”