Is Vertical Farming the Future?

This story is courtesy of the Visual Capitalist. You can read the entire article here.

Advantages of Vertical Farming

Is Vertical Farming the Future?

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), half of the Earth’s topsoil has been lost over the past 150 years. This issue is known as land degradation, and it’s caused by natural and human forces such as droughts, overfarming, and pollution.

In this graphic sponsored by Global X ETFs, we’ve illustrated an innovative solution to land degradation known as vertical farming.

Advantages of Vertical Farming

Vertical farming is best defined as growing food indoors and on vertically stacked layers. It utilizes technologies known as controlled environment agriculture (CEA):

  • Aeroponics: Plants are suspended in the air and sprayed with nutrient-rich solvents
  • Hydroponics: Plants are cultivated in a nutrient-rich water-based solution
  • Aquaponics: Plants are cultivated in an ecosystem which also houses fish

Vertical farms can grow 1 ton of lettuce with just 17% of the space needed for a traditional farm, meaning they are much more space efficient. This is a direct solution for land degradation, but the benefits don’t end there.

Farming in a controlled environment cuts down on chemical usage because there is no longer a need for pesticides. A recent U.S. study found that in 71% of usage cases, pesticides have contaminated soil and reduced biodiversity.

Furthermore, vertical farms can reduce water use by up to 90% thanks to recirculation. This is a massive improvement when considering that traditional farms account for 70% of global water consumption.

What’s the Trade-off?

Like most things in life, vertical farms also have their drawbacks.

The first challenge is high energy consumption due to the lack of natural sunlight and water. Both of these inputs must be provided by using electricity, which may not be ideal depending on location. The second challenge is costs, not just because of energy consumption, but also due to the equipment needed for CEA systems.

The table below compares a traditional outdoor farm with a theoretical vertical farm. These estimates illustrate a clear trade-off between i) greater output and less water usage; and ii) a larger carbon footprint.

Metric Traditional Outdoor Farm Vertical Farm Percentage Difference
Lettuce output per 1 acre 16 tons 126 tons +787%
Kg CO₂ emitted per ton of lettuce 160 kg 540 kg +337%
KL of water used per ton of lettuce 118 kL 6 kL -95%

Traditional farm yields are based on the U.S. 2020 average. Source: Global X ETFs

With global population expected to reach 10 billion people by 2060, more efficient methods of farming are needed. Vertical farms, alongside other innovations in agriculture and food, could be the answer.

 

 

Ultimation named one of “Michigan 50 Companies to Watch”

ROSEVILLE, Mich. (Mar. 18, 2022)— Ultimation Industries has been recognized as one of the 2022 awardees for the Michigan 50 Companies to Watch Award, presented by Michigan Celebrates Small Business. Ultimation will be acknowledged on stage at the in-person awards ceremony during the 18th annual Michigan Celebrates Small Business Gala on May 3, 2022.

Ultimation is the leading direct-to-consumer conveyor manufacturer, specializing in solving productivity challenges with fast-to-deploy solutions. In addition to major automobile manufacturers, Ultimation Industries’ customers include those in the sectors of food processing, vertical farming, heavy equipment, warehousing, fulfillment and delivery.

Companies nominated for the Michigan 50 Companies to Watch Award must be second-stage companies, defined as having six to 99 full-time-equivalent employees and generating $750,000 to $50 million in annual revenue or working capital from investors or grants. Additionally, the companies must be privately held and headquartered in Michigan.

“This award recognizes the success of Ultimation’s strategy to grow by expanding into new markets through e-commerce while continuing to innovate for mainstay automotive customers,” said Jacqueline Canny, CEO of Ultimation Industries. “Michigan’s great manufacturing hub has been integral to our success and we are honored to be chosen as one of our state’s top growth companies.”

In 2021 alone, Ultimation has:

  • Continued increasing revenue at more than 30 percent year over year as it has done consistently over the past five years.
  • Expanded its product line-up to include Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR) or warehouse robots that allow companies of all sizes to transform their facilities into fully integrated warehouses.
  • Been awarded the contract to design and build the conveyors and material handling system for the world’s largest indoor vertical farming facility.

“MCSB has always prided itself on its spirit of collaboration and celebration,” said Jennifer Deamud, MCSB Board Chair. “We love seeing our awardees celebrating one another’s success and sharing in this amazing moment is each awardee’s journey. It’s true— success is best when it is shared.”

Judges from economic and entrepreneurship development organizations annually select the winners. The judges evaluate the nominees’ demonstration of intent and capacity to grow based on the following:

  • Employee or sales growth
  • Exceptional entrepreneurial leadership
  • Sustainable competitive advantage
  • Other notable factors that showcase the company’s success

Michigan Celebrates annually receives over 550 nominations for the Michigan 50 Companies to Watch award. In addition to a competitive landscape for this award, the businesses selected by the judges go through a rigorous due diligence process prior to the final decision.

Additional information and ticket information can be found at MichiganCelebrates.org.

About Michigan Celebrates Small Business:

Michigan Celebrates Small Business (MCSB) is a collaboration of trusted statewide founding organizations who offer resources for small businesses. Since 2005, Michigan Celebrates Small Business awards gala has placed a spotlight on how small businesses positively impact our communities and state. The MCSB organization is focused on supporting, promoting and celebrating small businesses in Michigan. Kinexus Group is the Managing Partner of the awards gala.

About Ultimation:

Ultimation Industries, LLC is a woman-owned leader in the conveyor technology and automation industry. Founded in 1989, Ultimation designs, manufactures and installs machinery and equipment, automation devices, tire and wheel processing lines and conveyor systems for customers throughout the Americas. The company offers a line of proprietary automation systems and is also a leading integrator of Jervis Webb Conveyor Systems. Ultimation’s e-commerce channel sells Ultimation, Interroll, Itoh Denki, Jervis Webb, and a wide range of other conveyor equipment. In 2020, Ultimation was recognized as one of Inc. 5000’s fastest growing private companies in America. The company was a finalist for Amazon’s 2019 Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year and earned honors as one of “2019 Metro Detroit’s Best and Brightest Companies to Work For®.” Visit https://www.ultimationinc.com/ for the latest product information and news about Ultimation.

 

###

For further information please contact:

Nancy Sarpolis at [email protected] or 248-219-5651

 

External coverage of this story at:

https://www.automation.com/en-us/articles/march-2022/ultimation-industries-earns-michigan-50-companies

https://www.thefabricator.com/thefabricator/news/materialshandling/ultimation-industries-earns-michigan-50-companies-to-watch-award

 

Ultimation Industries Receives “2021 Best of MichBusiness” Award

ROSEVILLE, Mich. (Feb. 10, 2022) – Ultimation Industries has been named an honoree in the 2021 Best of MichBusiness Awards, an achievement that recognizes the company’s business leadership and its transformation into a global, e-commerce provider of conveyor technology and automation. The awards honor companies that made a difference in 2021 and showed outstanding leadership in a time of social and economic uncertainty, according to MichBusiness.

Ultimation is the leading direct-to-consumer conveyor manufacturer and specializes in solving productivity challenges with fast-to-deploy solutions. The company designs, manufactures and installs material handling equipment from its location in Roseville, Michigan. In addition to major automobile manufacturers, Ultimation Industries’ customers include those in the sectors of food processing, vertical farming, heavy equipment, warehousing, fulfillment and delivery.

“2021 was a landmark year for our company,” said Jacqueline Canny, CEO of Ultimation Industries. “We celebrated the success of our turnaround and growth strategy, as well as the 10th anniversary under our current ownership. The Ultimation team is proud of our commitment to the community and our innovations in the conveyor technology and automation industry. This award aligns with the principles we hold as a company, so it is a true honor to receive it.”

Ultimation has remained committed to Michigan as they’ve grown.  The company recently acquired additional space adjacent to its Roseville location and has expanded its workforce by 45 percent in the past few years, thanks in part to the expansion into e-commerce.

In 2021 alone, Ultimation has:

  • Continued increasing revenue at more than 30 percent year over year as it has done consistently over the past five years.
  • Expanded its product line-up to include Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR) or warehouse robots that allow companies of all sizes to transform their facilities into fully integrated warehouses.
  • Been awarded the contract to design and build the conveyors and material handling system for the world’s largest indoor vertical farming facility.
  • Invested in the future of material handling by presenting a $1,500 scholarship each year to a U.S. college student for innovative conveyor solutions.
  • Actively involved in Automation Alley’s Project DIAMOnD, which is creating the country’s largest 3D printing marketplace and network.

“We’ve begun using additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, for some tooling and fixtures and we’ll continue to embrace additive methods,” said Canny. “If a customer needs a custom system, our engineers can create 3D cinematic quality renderings of the final product before we even build it. We also believe that Industry 4.0 tools, which use interconnectivity and smart automation, will help us build more advantages for our customers in the future.”

Ultimation has committed to go completely digital in its marketing, making it easier for customers to quickly find what they need to grow their businesses. The human connection remains, however, in the company’s commitment to answer each customer enquiry within 24 hours and answer every phone call with a live sales associate.

Ultimation was named to the 2020 Inc.5000 list of America’s fastest growing private companies and was a 2019 finalist for Amazon’s Woman-Owned Small Business Spotlight Awards. The company was also listed as one of  Metro Detroit’s Best and Brightest Companies to Work For® in 2019 by the Michigan Business and Professional Association.

About Ultimation:

Ultimation Industries, LLC is a woman-owned leader in the conveyor technology and automation industry. Founded in 1989, Ultimation designs, manufactures and installs machinery and equipment, automation devices, tire and wheel processing lines and conveyor systems for customers throughout the Americas. The company offers a line of proprietary automation systems and is also a leading integrator of Jervis Webb Conveyor Systems. Ultimation’s e-commerce channel sells Ultimation, Interroll, Itoh Denki, Jervis Webb, and a wide range of other conveyor equipment. In 2020, Ultimation was recognized as one of Inc. 5000’s fastest growing private companies in America. The company was a finalist for Amazon’s 2019 Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year and earned honors as one of “2019 Metro Detroit’s Best and Brightest Companies to Work For®.” Visit https://www.ultimationinc.com/ for the latest product information and news about Ultimation.

###

For further information please contact:

Nancy Sarpolis at 248-219-5651

Ultimation Announces 2021 STEM Scholarship Winner

ROSEVILLE, Mich. (January 20, 2022) – Jonathan Wright of West Jordan, UT is the winner of Ultimation’s 2021 STEM Scholarship. Jonathan recently received a $1,500 stipend from Ultimation towards his STEM studies in 2022. Jonathan is a student at Utah State University working towards a Computer Engineering degree. Ultimation offers an annual scholarship to encourage students to study STEM programs at colleges and universities across the United States.

Jonathan Wright 2021 Ultimation STEM Scholarship Winner

“Jonathan’s submission was one of many that we received” says  Jackie Canny, Ultimation’s CEO. “The STEM scholarship is a merit-based award, and we asked each applicant to propose ideas that demonstrate innovative ideas and systems for the use of conveyors within vertical farming systems.

Jonathan’s idea was to combine a gravity-driven system and robotics to create an optimal functioning vertical farm system. In this system, he proposed creating towers which are held by a single wheel inside of enclosed conveyor track. By using enclosed track, it allows for bi-directional motion for the robotics to move around the towers as needed. The main benefit to this system is that each tower is completely independent and can move according to the changing needs of the plants.”

Ultimation will be announcing the theme and details of the 2022 STEM Scholarship soon.

Ultimation celebrates Earth Day

Ultimation is recognizing Earth Day 2021 by celebrating the progress made on indoor vertical farming systems.

Indoor farming

“It’s now 3 years that our team at Ultimation have been doing large scale indoor vertical farming systems” said Ultimation CEO Jacqueline Canny. “When we did the first facility with Plenty three years ago our team were really excited to work on the project. Now systems like this have become a major segment of our project business. We’re grateful to be doing something good that’s good for business too.”

Ultimation offers a variety of different material handling systems for indoor vertical farming ventures. The technology includes conveyors and material handling products for vertical (hanging) format growth systems and horizontal (sliding/rolling) format growth systems. Material handling systems for these farms can be hand push, motorized or ‘power and free’ style with accumulating buffer banks.