Digging Up Vertical Farming Solutions
Vertical farming—in which indoor spaces are used to grow food—is forecast to increase globally, but such operations can only grow a limited number of crops to make a profit. A new automated solution, created by Swisslog, can help the industry overcome these barriers to growth with better flexibility, reduced costs, and closer proximity to consumers in urban areas.
Automating vertical farming also has the potential to transform abandoned urban buildings into growing facilities, reduce pollution, and eliminate food deserts. The technology can be installed in a wide range of spaces, such as abandoned warehouses in urban areas and unused space in office buildings, as well as purpose-built spaces.
Swisslog's SynQ management software supports an automated flow in plant production. The technology lowers the cost of labor for harvesting, planting, and logistics; reduces energy use by optimizing lighting systems; and lowers transportation costs by enabling vertical farming to be closer to the point of sale.
The solution enables custom configurations based on growing process, crop type, and space availability. One approach uses a shuttle system with a modular design, in which automated shuttles move around shelving units inside an enclosure or facility. Each shelving unit can hold multiple plant trays, depending on plant height, and the shelving units can be rearranged based on each plant's needs.