Using Electronic Labor Tracking Systems to Physically Distance Farm Workers

It is always a guessing game at 2nd Sight in December. How many FairPick harvest scales will we sell next year? It is hard for farmers to commit to a purchase for harvest more than a month or two (or even a week or two) before that first day of picking. We can forecast based on past sales, the economy, what we heard about crop prices, what we hear about the upcoming season, weather events, availability of labor…. but it is still only an educated guess. Unfortunately, this does pose a challenge in terms of carrying enough inventory without overstocking our shelves. The lead time is several months for the custom, rugged, NTEP-certified Mettler-Toledo scales used with the FairPick Pro and Lite weighing systems.

Did we consider a pandemic when making our guess last December? No. Would we have projected an increase in demand for our employee tracking systems knowing that the world would be hit with a pandemic in 2020? No. Are there benefits to using electronic labor tracking systems with strict social distancing requirements? Yes. I wish I could say I was the first to realize this, but many growers beat us to it, and scales are flying off the shelves!

Our systems are more “hands-off”, requiring little to no exchange of paper or punch cards between workers. With the FairPick and QuickPick, you also have the benefit of keeping employees farther apart. Each employee has his or her own RFID badge and scans this badge to log produce weight or register buckets while a checker remains a safe six feet away. Pickers still have the option to take home a record at the end of the day. Printing clock out receipts is a great way to provide employees with important feedback and a record of the day’s work with minimal interaction between people.

Another benefit of 2nd Sight’s electronic labor tracking systems is speed. It only takes a few seconds to log clock in or clock out times, weights, barcodes, or piece counts. This could greatly reduce lines that may typically form of employees waiting for a checker or puncher.

The MobileClock, a time-tracking app that can be downloaded on an employee’s personal cell phone, can also limit the need for year-round workers to report to the office. There is even a “Notes” section that allows a worker to send a message directly to the farm’s online Portal account for review.

As we are all learning to adapt to new circumstances, it is interesting to see how creative we can get to play the hand we have been dealt. New uses of, or new reasons to use, existing technology is proof that farmers' ingenuity will keep feeding us even during the toughest times.