AHDB SmartHort Automation Challenge Launches

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Following on from the two day SmartHort Conference which AHDB held on the 6th and 7th of March 2019, a new competition has been launched which aims to develop technological solutions to the labour issues which horticultural businesses are facing. This ties in closely with some of the key messages of the 2019 SmartHort Conference, which focused on how to deliver technological innovations to growers, and the many ways businesses could get involved with technological research, from supporting PhDs to developing cultivation systems which work with robotics.

A competition to match expert engineers from the manufacturing industry with horticulture producers to develop new technology has been announced by AHDB Horticulture.

The winning grower will collaborate with automation systems experts from WMG, at the University of Warwick. The two year project will aim to find an applied solution to a problem within their business to improve labour efficiencies.

The judging criteria will ensure that the selected project will develop novel technology and be beneficial to the wider horticultural industry.

Robert Harrison, Professor of Automation Systems at WMG, said: “We believe our expertise in areas such as vision systems, special purpose machinery, integration of robotics and autonomous indoor vehicles will be invaluable in finding new solutions to automate production processes in light of the current labour shortages in horticulture.

“Our cutting-edge technology and custom automation solutions have already been applied to different industries including aerospace, automotive and healthcare. Moving into horticulture will be a great new challenge.”

Debbie Wilson, Head of Knowledge Exchange at AHDB Horticulture, said: “As part of the AHDB SmartHort campaign, we have set out to bring new knowledge in robotics and automation into UK horticulture. The partnership with WMG is a brilliant way to show other engineering specialists the potential for further technological development in our industry.”

“The challenge will deliver an applied practical solution for one growing business, but the solution will benefit other growers too.”

The project is being jointly funded by AHDB Horticulture and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, with in-kind contributions from WMG.

To apply, growers simply need to complete a short survey explaining the problem in their production process that they would like WMG to fix.

To find out more about the SmartHort Automation Challenge and how to apply, visit ahdb.org.uk/smarthort. The deadline to apply is 29 March 2019.  

The project is part of AHDB’s SmartHort campaign to help improve labour efficiencies in horticulture.

Last edited on: 07:03:2019

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