Peter Rietveld, Chief Business Development Officer at TTA chats to Indoor AgTech about the biggest challenges in automation, factoring in delicate crops and how the company is attractive to indoor growers.
What inspired you to work in the indoor agtech industry?
My biggest inspiration to work in the indoor agtech industry is that we truly make a difference with automation in the market we’re operating. With automation we create the most efficient indoor farm. I openly believe that the indoor farming industry contributes to an environmentally friendly solution for fresh affordable food for everyone and has a lot of growth opportunities in this market.
What are the biggest challenges in automation and how you are working to solve these problems? What is needed from the entire industry to accelerate developments?
Fortunately, there is a lot of interest for the cultivation side of vertical farming. I think one of the biggest challenges is that many farms start as start-ups, with a lot of human labor and a focus on cultivation. Many farms don’t have enough knowledge of what is needed to automate the workspace. When cultivation is under control, the intention is often to scale up and expand the production capacity. However, if logistics processes and automation weren’t thought through during the start-up phase it’s possible that this leads to problems in the future. By thinking along with the customer at an early stage and as a partner by taking the customer along through all steps in the process, we prepare them for future operations.
Indoor growers are starting to broaden their range of crops into fruits and berries. Tell us how you factor in crop diversity and delicate crops as part of your operations?
TTA has been working within a lot of different sectors like fruits, forestry and plants. For example, the plant grippers of our sorting machines have already been developed for many types of plants. For large forestry plants and even for fragile plants like mint or basil. Besides that, our R&D department is continuously evolving for future innovations by following the latest trends and developments.
Tell us what makes TTA different to other technology companies. What makes you attractive to indoor growers?
Since 1996, TTA is a highly experienced and innovative company for handling and selecting plants. Since the start of the company, TTA has been focusing on the sectors forestry, fruits and plants. For about three years TTA has been concentrating on indoor farming as well. Within TTA, Indoor Farming is understood as: all crops in closed systems, both horizontally and vertically.
Thanks to client requests for more machinery, TTA developed and expanded more and more. We already established partnerships with major indoor farms worldwide and serve them from our branches in the Netherlands and USA. TTA is a complete automation solution provider and is focusing on the entire workspace. From seeding up to harvesting. To connect the dots, we also provide internal transport solutions with Autonomous Mobile Robots (Lowpad) from one of our sister companies, so logistics can be optimized.
What is the roadmap for you and where do you want to be in the next 5-10 years?
TTA already automates entire workspaces with few to no people doing all the labor. So yes, we are already at a level where we really wanted to be. In the coming years, we want to strengthen our position as technology provider within indoor farming by developing new automation equipment. We liked to be challenged, so if anyone has an automation issue within any indoor farm please let me know.
What connections are important for you to make at the Indoor AgTech Innovation Summit, and how does connection and partnership benefit your own organisation and the industry at large?
In general, connections are very important and valuable for us. With our automation solutions the indoor farms can produce in their own way, while we’re adding constantly more value by automating the production completely. The best thing is, that our automation is suitable for every farm, and we make the difference in how successful a farm is. Connections brings new partnerships, meeting exciting customers and important: get to know new Indoor farms. All things considered, for us it’s very important to make connections at the Indoor AgTech Innovation Summit and we’re very excited to be part of it.