The Case for Automation
Reducing labour, wastage & costs
In the UK, broccoli is currently harvested manually, usually by teams of 7. Between 2016 and 2021, the cost of manual workers in the UK will have increased by 35% due to increases in the National Living Wage.
Poor exchange rates and Brexit uncertainties may compound the problem and reduce the supply of suitable workers and result in crop production moving to low cost countries.
It is not just UK growers that are facing these challenges. Growers in Poland, Australia and the USA are amongst others reporting similar difficulties.
Currently, growers are totally dependent on the ability of their field workers to be able to accurately assess the size of each head of broccoli against the customer’s specification before making the decision to cut it or leave it in the field.
Field workers have just 7 seconds to make this assessment, cut the head, place it in a bin and get ready to assess the next plant.
Workers' ability to do this will vary and their effectiveness to do so inevitably deteriorates over a working shift. This can lead to high levels of waste and other cost implications.