Swisslog’s Warehouse Automation Optimizes Control Capabilities for Vertical FarmingApril 16, 2021 by Sara McCaslin
Warehouse automation specialist Swisslog sees the potential to enhance and optimize vertical farming using their warehouse pallet shuttle system and logistics management software.
Swisslog, the Switzerland-based logistics automation company, specializes in providing data-driven solutions for warehouse automation and material handling. Recently, Swisslog announced that its warehouse automation technology will be implemented in vertical farming applications.
Swisslog’s CEO, Dr. Christian Baur, states that it will “help strengthen the food supply chain, transform abandoned urban buildings into growing facilities, contribute to reductions in pollution and, most importantly, eliminate food deserts.”
In vertical farming, crops are grown in individual layers stacked vertically, not unlike pallets in a warehouse. These crops are grown under highly controlled environmental conditions and often involve soilless farming techniques such as aquaponics, aeroponics, and hydroponics.
Users leverage Swisslog technology to automate and increase the yield of modern vertical farms. Image used courtesy of Swisslog
Vertical farming is increasing in popularity due to its efficient use of available space, higher crop yields, and enhanced sustainability.
Swisslog PowerStore and SynQ
PowerStore is Swisslog’s high-density shuttle system originally designed for pallet warehousing but is fully applicable to enclosed vertical farming installations. The PowerStore automated shuttles would be able to move discrete shelving units containing plants.
Each of these shelving units would be capable of holding multiple plant trays, and the trays could be organized according to characteristics such as plant growth height or lighting.
PowerStore is designed for environments that pose significant challenges for a traditional ASRS (Automated Storage and Retrieval System), including buildings with unusual shapes and extreme operating temperatures--both of which can apply to vertical farming installations.
The automated shuttles will rearrange the shelving units according to the needs of each plant. This would include nutrients, light, water, planting, monitoring, maintenance, and harvesting. In addition, PowerStore can reduce the required space in a warehouse by up to 60%, which would be of extra benefit in vertical farming.
The PowerStore shuttle system can be used to move vertical farming crops to where they need to be to receive light and nutrients and harvest and planting. Image used courtesy of Swisslog
SynQ, SwissLog’s smart modular warehouse management system, will provide key support in logistics management and automated flow. SynQ can optimize the care, maintenance, and harvesting of the various plants growing in a vertical farm and support the scalability of vertical farms.
Benefits of Swisslog Technology for Vertical Farming
In addition to benefits concerning efficiency and yield, shuttles and pallet warehousing technology support the scalability and flexibility of enclosed vertical farming installation.
SynQ will enable adopters to further increase yield and optimize the day-to-day operations necessary for successful vertical farming. PowerStore and SynQ working together, provide a sustainable, energy-efficient system for vertical farming.
Vertical farming is a growing market that can be further optimized in terms of space management, productivity, and yield. Swisslog PowerStore intelligent shuttle systems and SynQ warehouse management software have already proven to be effective solutions for warehouse palleting and may be coming to a vertical farm near you.