Can conveyors improve yield for vertical farming systems?

Vertical farms or indoor farms have the potential to achieve great efficiency in food production, promising less use of water and delivering fresh food produced efficiently from nearby geographic locations. However challenges remain – and conveyors and better vertical farming technology will likely be part of any economically viable solution.

What is vertical farming?

Vertical farming is a system for food production that is typically used in indoor farming systems. They work with surfaces or modules to hold the plants in position while they are in an environment where all growth factors are controlled. By controlling the light, temperature, humidity, water and nutrients that plants receive, indoor vertical farming can potentially achieve higher yields for a given surface area dedicated to production.

Conveyors are sometimes used in indoor farming to optimize the density of the plants as they grow and to move the plants through automated systems to reduce labor in planting and harvesting. High efficiency LED lights have greatly enabled more efficient vertical farming technology. However replicating the efficiency of the sun remains a major challenge that indoor farming companies hope to achieve through improved control of all other plant growth variables.

vertical farming systems conveyors

Types of Conveyors used by Indoor Farming Companies

Ultimation has supplied conveyors and equipment for vertical farming companies ranging from small gravity and belt conveyors from our “quick ship” product range up to major overhead power and free conveyor systems to support commercial scale production. Conveyor types used in vertical farming are:

  • Gravity roller conveyors
  • Belt conveyors
  • Skate wheel or flow rail conveyors
  • Overhead monorail conveyors
  • Power and Free Conveyors

How do vertical farming systems work?

Vertical farming systems require great efficiency – volume each plant occupies, the energy to move product around, labor, ventilation systems, lighting and nutrients. Conveyors enable that efficiency of each resource to be optimized as much as possible. Ultimation’s customers include several of the leading vertical farming companies. The technology used by these vertical farming companies is typically top secret and therefore we’re not able to publicly show or talk in detail about the various types of conveyors that are used in vertical farming systems.

Automation for vertical indoor farms

Conveyors and industrial automation equipment used in vertical farming automation systems can include many of the traditional conveyor types such as gravity roller conveyors, belt conveyors and skate wheel or flow rail conveyors. But more recently the technology used in larger systems is including motorized conveyor systems and overhead conveyors. Power and Free conveyors are the ultimate in space and volume optimization for vertical farming systems as they enable tight concentration of product in some areas while then enabling separation of the products as and when required for movement to processing areas.

Indoor farm technology – Squeezing more plants into less space

Ultra high density vertical farming systems aim to optimize plant production relative to the productive space employed for the task. Conveyors are essential in that optimization process to use all the available vertical space of a facility. Vertical farming automation can enable spacing to change as plants grow throughout a facility. Technology used can include robots as well as overhead conveyors, floor conveyors and specialized plant processing equipment.

Food safe materials and lubricants are used for all vertical farming conveyor systems. Ultimation has experience with the various different requirements and the available food-safe conveyor lubricants, oils and greases that can safely be used in these environments. Vertical farms can help reduce “food miles” which is the distance that food items travel from the point of production to the table. High volume indoor farms located near to major consumption areas have the potential to reduce CO2 emissions from transport as well as deliver fresher and better tasting products.

Interested in vertical farming technology and vertical farming equipment? Contact Ultimation today at [email protected] or call us on +1-586-771-1881 to discuss your requirements.

If you’d like general help  learning about conveyors, which types to use and how to specify them? This step by step guide will help.

Ultimation Recognized as Leading Integrator for Jervis Webb Conveyor Systems

Jervis Webb conveyor systems have been in use for over 100 years, and with Ultimation’s help, the Webb brand continues growing. There’s no better technology available for durable overhead conveyor equipment and Webb systems have always been the “gold standard” in conveyors. Ultimation recently received the award for the largest systems integrator and parts distributor for Webb conveyor systems for 2018.

Webb’s overhead conveyor technology is available through a network of integrators that manage the design, build and installation of Webb systems. They integrate the base components into fully functional overhead conveyor systems complete with the necessary support steel, carriers for parts, electrical systems, installation and software programming. This arrangement enables Jervis Webb to focus on the conveyor mechanical components like track sections, trolleys, drives and take-ups. Other integrator partners with broader experience can then implement “turn key” conveyor solutions for their customers. Ultimation CEO Jacqueline Canny received the award for the largest Webb integrator for 2018 at the group’s recent national integrator meeting in Savannah, Georgia.

Ultimation CEO, Jackie Canny, is proud of the growth that Jervis Webb and Ultimation are achieving with this business arrangement. “Our Jervis Webb overhead conveyor business segment has grown dramatically since Ultimation’s first system with Webb in 2012. We are delighted to now be recognized as the largest integrator and parts distributor. We’re supporting Webb’s business growth with systems and parts throughout the United States, Mexico, Canada and South America. Webb is the best conveyor equipment available in the market, and Ultimation is growing quickly in this business segment” said Canny.

Jervis Webb conveyor largest distributor

Ultimation’s internal sales team with CEO Jackie Canny and Engineering and Sales VP John Daugherty

Learning more about Jervis Webb conveyors and conveyors in general

You can learn more about Jervis Webb’s rich history in the conveyor business in this post. Want to learn more about the different types of Webb overhead conveyors available? This product category page explains the types of overhead conveyors and their uses.

If you’d like general help comparing floor conveyors and learning about other conveyor types, which types to use and how to specify them? This step by step guide will help.