Entrepreneurs The Greenery Growers look to the future with Gearbox

Gearbox is a high-tech, data-driven nursery business. “Our customers are companies that look beyond today and keep abreast of developments in visual engineering, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI),” said Harm van Adrichem (Strategic Business Developer Gearbox).

Reason enough for the young entrepreneurs from The Greenery Growers to visit Gearbox in late June. “We are quite behind,” Harm warned. It turns out not to be a lie as the young entrepreneurs drive to the Gearbox location in Maasdijk.

Simone Keijzer welcomes young The Greenery Growers (TGG) entrepreneurs to their canteen (from left to right Dave Zuurbier and Rick van Koppen)

Fast growth gearbox
The young entrepreneurs are welcomed by Simone Keijzer, one of the owners of Gearbox. The company is founded by Simone Keijzer and Johan Kreeft. They combine their qualities in robot technology (Johan) and user experience (Simone) in Gearbox. “We both come from Western Norway and wondered: Why do we see smart things everywhere, but it is not reflected in Western horticulture? This is the start of the Gearbox. In 5 years, Gearbox grew to more than 30 employees. “We started developing products that can be used widely in the market. We invent, design and make smart products that simplify, improve or accelerate daily work. We do that with vision solutions, smart software with artificial intelligence and robot technology. “

Image technology as a starting point
Vision, or image technology, is the starting point for all products that Gearbox develops. “It is the common factor that is reflected in every product. We first ensure that the product is properly visualized, and then provide a crop or quality assessment using AI visual analysis. “

Harm van Adrichem explains how GearVision works

100% control over all products
One of Gearbox’s products is the automated self-learning GearVision, which you use to assess quality, among other things. “GearVision provides a uniform quality control for the grower, but with which product you go to which market, the grower really has to judge for himself. The English customers, for example, are more demanding than the Eastern Europeans, «states a young breeder. “The machine has an objective measurement, but the rigor, so how much you weigh it, you can adjust it,” says Ab van Staalduinen (sales engineer gearbox).

Smart Harvest Assistant
Questions from all crops come to Gearbox. “We are working on harvest solutions for both cut flowers and vegetable growing,” says Simone. “For example, GearRover helps employees assess the harvest maturity of ornamental and vegetable crops. By integrating cameras on a harvesting cart, in combination with smart software with machine learning, which can determine maturity from the images. Of course, depending on the maturity you as a breeder have set yourself. Using a laser, identify the flowers and fruits that are ready for harvest. At the same time, GearRover also collects a lot of data on, among other things, how many flowers per meter in each maturity stage. These digitized data provide insight into cultivation, quality and expected harvest. ”

Added value GearRover
The young entrepreneurs are wondering what the payback time for GearRover is. “A grower initially thinks of saving labor, and that’s what it does, but the added value also lies in the data that the machine generates. You will only see this value when GearRover starts working. Think, for example, of increasing your product quality, improving the process and better sales through accurate harvest forecasts, ”says Simone. “Now you are primarily based on your feeling and experience, but there are many variables that affect the cultivation,” says Jim Zwinkels (tomato grower). Jordy Vroedsteijn is in charge of the workforce at Noorhuys Tomatoes Tinte and sees his problems getting smaller. “It’s hard to get manpower for the daily work.”

The young TGG entrepreneurs stand in the industrial hall with the 3-D printers in the background.

Less dependent on suppliers
The Greenery Growers growers are then shown around the production hall. At Gearbox, they make their own parts with 3-D printers. “Then we can quickly test ideas in practice,” says Harm. There are also experiments with robots and new Gearbox products.

Protect knowledge
The discussion then shifts to data protection. “Our projects are almost always kept secret, and we protect the customer’s knowledge,” says Simone. “Experience has also shown, however, that sharing knowledge / data with the permission of manufacturers accelerates technical development in a sector.”

Photo right: GearStation Pre Flowpack Sorter that sorts trays filled with in this case tomatoes by quality, so that only good product reaches the customer.

Smart workstation
Although everyone does their very best, mistakes are made when washing kegs or packing products. New employees need to be trained, and experienced employees sometimes do not have their everyday lives. “GearStation ensures that no wrong product ends up with the customer,” explains Harm. This station evaluates products over a conveyor belt and rejects them if they do not meet certain quality requirements. He does this with the help of artificial intelligence and the latest camera techniques. GearStation is available for pounded products (such as grapes, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.), but also for individual products such as pepper, snack tomatoes or empty dishes. With this, GearStation replaces the quality employees at the reading belt or on the assembly line.

The young entrepreneurs conclude that something beautiful has grown in this hidden place. Here, work is being done on smart practical solutions for horticulture. The young entrepreneurs will follow Gearbox. “And you are always welcome to spar again,” Harm emphasizes.

For more information:
Inge van Es
The vegetable growers

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