NatureFresh™ Farms Technology Strategy Earns National IT Award
- by Laura Hillen
LEAMINGTON, ON – With an eye ever-focused on utilizing technology to further its innovations and efficiencies, NatureFresh™ Farms has been recognized for apply high-tech features to its operations. The company was named an Ingenious Award Winner by the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC).
“We are very pleased to be recognized by the Information Technology Association of Canada for this prestigious award,” said Peter Quiring, Owner & President. “The diversity of technologies needed to bring NatureFresh™ Farms to where we are today makes us a leading, and innovative business. As an example, we implemented traceability technology by barcoding every vegetable we grow before it was a legislative requirement, and this was just the start.”
The company was appointed the distinction for the Small/Medium Private (Non-ICT) Category for 2016, as seen in the video above. According to a press release, NatureFresh™ was recognized for its investment in a complete rebuild of the company’s information technology structure. This endeavor was undergone to become economically competitive and operationally efficient.
“NatureFresh™ Farms is facing tough competition from other countries with much lower costs and much like the rest of the industry, tighter regulations for food safety & increase requirements for food quality,” said Ronan McGrath, Principal, Ronan McGrath & Associates, Selection Committee Member & Past President, ITAC. “Energy costs have been dramatically reduced and quality and yield have improved due to the full automation of the greenhouses. It’s a great example of multiple technologies put together in order to produce a much lower cost of production and much higher quality product.”
The company stated that as part of its tech, its new mobile Greenhouse Education Center is equipped with PRIVA developed tech that allows growers to monitor plant health from a trailer that can be located anywhere on the globe. Growing aspects, from watering and plant nutrition to greenhouse roof venting, can be controlled remotely by the app.
“From a consumer perspective, how we use technology to help grow our vegetables helped us create conversations with hundreds of people each week when touring our mobile Greenhouse Education Center,” said Chris Veillon, Director of Marketing.
NatureFresh™ Farms saw an immediate return on its investment after the implementation, and felt the immediate impact throughout the company. This real time access enabled the company to give better support to its multiple sites throughout two countries.
“Our information technology overhaul touched all aspects of NatureFresh™ Farms. From our sales & administrative teams who were provided with new and more reliable tools that could be remotely controlled, updated or fixed, to the production line that was handling the product directly,” commented Keith Bradley, IT Manager. “Warehouse staff and forklift operators were also provided with tablets to monitor orders in real time to our Packing teams that had a whole new set of technologies to improve the picking, packing, and sorting of our produce. This was a monumental shift for our organization.”
This now award-winning technological move allowed NatureFresh™ growers direct access to their crops via a smartphone or tablet. Additionally, the technology has enabled greater data collection and knowledge sharing throughout the entire company.
NatureFresh™ Farms’ technology is ensuring the company continues to strive towards its goal of reducing operational costs while increasing its customers’ overall quality.
What's next for the agricultural-focused technologies, and the industry at large? AndNowUKnow will be sure to report.