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Plants at Anthura Thriving with RFID From Pepperl+Fuchs [Reference]

Anthura’s striking and spacious greenhouse complex at Bleiswijk

Project details

Customer | Anthura

Project | Identification system for the greenhouse complex

Location | Bleiswijk, Netherlands

Project report

The customer

Anthura B.V. in Bleiswijk, Netherlands is an international company whose business is focused entirely on the breeding and propagation of Anthuriums and orchids for both pot plant and cut flower culture. Through specialization and innovation, Anthura has become one of the main suppliers of young Anthurium and Phalaenopsis plants for growers in more than 90 countries.

Production - previously spread across three different sites - was centralized in 2009 to enable the company to continue producing sustainably and efficiently in the long term. The new central production site at Bleiswijk is a hyper-modern greenhouse with six growing compartments. The impressive, architect-designed complex deploys the latest innovative technologies.

A view of the huge nursery inside the greenhouse complex

The requirements

One example of this is the automated container system (carrying 8000 aluminum containers, each with dimensions of 7.20 m x 1.65 m) that operates throughout the 12 ha site of this modern greenhouse complex. Each container, in which hundreds of young plants are cultivated, can be transported around the greenhouse fully automatically on the conveyor system.
To ensure that all these movements run smoothly, Anthura again opted for an identification system from Pepperl+Fuchs who already provided a high quality identification solution in 2000.

Inductive reading head of RFID system on the underside of the conveyor system
Inductive reading head of RFID system on the underside of the conveyor system

The solution

Each container has a plastic code carrier on the underside. The unique code of each container is read remotely by an inductive reading head at a number of strategic intersections. Useful information can then be linked to this unique code (remotely read by the reading head) in the software. This information, e.g., item, item type and number of plants in the container, is kept up to date in a database. The system also knows precisely where each container is in the greenhouse at any time. The identification system is made up of just two components, underlining one of the great strengths of this system, since the fewer the number of components the lower the likelihood of faults occurring.

Patrick Romeijn, production manager at Anthura comments:

It’s important for us to know where containers are in the greenhouse at all times, so that we know where specific stock is when we need it. Once stock that needs to be processed has been located, it can be shunted extremely efficiently with the minimum number of movements. In the light of our previous experience with Pepperl + Fuchs identification systems, we again opted for the “Ident I system P” identification system due to its high degree of reliability, robustness and ease of commissioning. In this system, communication with the higher-level control and information system takes place via an RS485 interface. The Pepperl+Fuchs identification system has already given us many years of reliable, fault-free service in the area of container position logging.

Additional components available

In addition to the products mentioned above, Pepperl+Fuchs also offers a broad and unique range of reading heads, as well as code and data carriers. For example, an RFID reading head has recently been developed that – due to its compact dimensions of 540 x 50 x 15 mm (l x w x h) – fits perfectly between the rollers of the conveyor system. This is an LF system, which means it will work even when mounted on or between metal components. In this case, the reading head is linked to an IDENTControl system to which several reading heads can be connected. This system can be linked to the control system via all common fieldbuses. The reading head has a homogenous reading range across its entire length that provides a constant reading distance of 65 mm.

This represents another major innovation from Pepperl+Fuchs in the area of RFID for transport and material processing systems where reliability, ease of use and continuity are key factors.

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