Berry Delicious

Fresh and Delicious

Last week, I was called to the small town of Burbank, Washington, to make some minor FairPick repairs. I couldn’t help but notice the varieties of crops around me; I knew one was blueberries.

Once I arrived at the customer site, I wandered into the customer’s blueberry packing facility where I could see workers sorting, organizing, and packaging the berries. Although the work was intriguing to watch, I realized that I had entered the customer site through the wrong door. Eventually, as I stumbled my way into the main office, I remember looking immediately to my right where I saw some of the most beautiful looking blueberries I’ve ever seen. I tried to not let them distract me. I had some repairs to take care of.

Luckily, after the repairs were done, I was handed a container of those blueberries. On my way home, I immediately dug into them. I have not had that many fresh blueberries in the past and was first awestruck by their size -- some were as big as a quarter. Although the berries’ size was impressive, the taste was out of this world. The nice snap of the skin leading to a soft, sweet, and slightly tart interior was exactly what I craved on such a hot summer day. I may need to do agricultural equipment repair full time.

Buckle Up for the Heat

We have been experiencing a late and abnormally mild summer (for the most part), but now we are in the midst of a serious heat wave. It’s hard to fathom that, here in the Pacific Northwest, we had a freeze as late as May and now have temperatures of over 110 degrees. If you must be outside or in places without air conditioning in this kind of heat, it is of the upmost importance to prepare.

You have heard it before, but it is crucial that you hydrate even when you do not feel thirsty, and you should keep an eye on your co-workers. Heat exhaustion or heat stroke are not pretty and can be fatal. Stay out of the sun, if you can, and wear a hat. It is also necessary to have access to clean drinking water during these times.

I don’t work outdoors, but I am camping outside this coming weekend in this oppressive heat. I have dug deep into every back road of my not-so-creative brain to find a solution that will allow me to sleep in this heat. You may see another product on the market if I figure out how to combat the heat effectively.

Diving Into New Markets

Although our software focuses on assisting agricultural businesses, we have an open mind about helping any business who may find our products useful.
One sector in which we have been developing multiple new contacts is the seafood industry, primarily business that harvest crustaceans.

The seafood and ag industries have a lot in common. They are both seasonal, and they both often pay some employees by piece or weight. These similarities immediately allowed us to understand the various tasks within the seafood industry and how we they can use 2nd Sight software can help them track employee piece wages just as ag does.

Discoveries like this make us ask: what are some other sectors that could benefit from our automation and labor tracking technologies, and more importantly, how can we reach them?

Are You Harvest Ready?

Don’t Procrastinate

As harvest quickly approaches for Pacific Northwest farmers, it is vital to ensure that you are harvest ready. It is of the upmost importance to dust off the machines, plug them in, charge them up, and turn them on. If you have new crew bosses and employees who have not used the products yet, I recommend you give them a brief introduction to the machine before they start with harvest. If you need a refresher on how to use the machine or the web portal, a 2ndSight representative can set up a quick meeting through a phone call or via Zoom, which will get you right back up to speed.

Bookkeeping Solution

Handling thousands of punched timecards can lead to disaster, but we have a solution, and that solution removes timecards from the equation altogether. As many of you know, the labor tracking services such as ours provide an alternative to the dreaded paper timecard. Counting punches on paper timecards often leads to payroll mistakes, and finding the appropriate paper timecard when an employee later questions paycheck information can be next to impossible. Instead, with the touch of a button, all your employees’ hours and working data gets uploaded into a web portal account that allows you to track their hours, overtime, piece wages, and other data at the touch of your fingertips.

Countering Record Inflation

As we all know, unprecedented inflation levels (up 8.6% in 2022 alone!) have been making business more than difficult as the year goes on. Did I mention that this level of inflation is a 40-year high? In addition to inflation driving up costs for products upon which farms depend – fossil fuels, fertilizers, and parts-another major cost increase this year has been cost of labor. So far this year, farm operators have been paying their hired workers an average wage of $17.22 per hour, which is up 8% from this time last year. In addition to skyrocketing wages, new labor laws in many states such as Washington, Oregon, and California are also eliminating the agricultural exemption on overtime hours, resulting in many farms having to choose between paying workers more and getting them for fewer hours.

A solution to this? Automate labor tracking. In today’s situation, every hour, and, frankly, every minute matters. Paper labor tracking and manual time entries should be a thing of the past. The labor alone of manually entering information one employee at a time keeps office workers at their desk for additional hours every week.

Technology may be intimidating to some, but if there is a time to invest in technology and farm automation, the time is now. Our goal is to produce systems that are straightforward and simple for even to some of the least tech savvy folks to use. On top of that, we offer constant customer support with a customer service line.

2nd Sight’s goal is to “Engineer Better Solutions for the Ag Industry,” and our solution to the current large-scale labor inflation is our FairPick and FairTrak automated labor tracking systems.

overtime report

Preparations and Expectations

Overtime Tracking Through 2nd Sight

With legislation passing new overtime restrictions it is of the upmost importance to find the essential tools and techniques to best adapt to the new changes regarding the hour thresholds of your employees. Luckily our crew at 2nd Sight has developed an overtime hour tracking report that helps track those pesky hours and notify administration when certain employees are approaching their hour threshold for the week. In addition to the hour tracking, we are also working diligently to help implement an estimated pay report for the excess hours that would fall into the overtime category. We know the importance of separating the additional overtime hours from the standard hours but calculating the exact pay for those overtime hours has been a little bit tricky for our team, but we are getting close to developing something that we have confidence in calculating the overtime pay. 

Unprecedented Inflation

As most of you are aware, we are currently in a time of extreme inflation, which has been skyrocketing the prices of some of the most essential needs for business such as parts, gasoline, fertilizer, and many other everyday items. We understand the difficulty of these current times and are here for your support. The prices of agricultural chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides have skyrocketed over 50% this year alone, which is extremely worrisome when fertilizers and chemicals represent anywhere between 10-20% of total costs for U.S. farmers. If that wasn’t enough the price of prepared animal feed has also gone up 12.7% this year, which hammers the livestock sector as well. Only a mere two years ago the nation’s average diesel price per gallon was only $2.39, and now we are looking at numbers that have inflated by just over 123% resulting in an average price per gallon of $5.12. Obviously with these astronomical increases of costs it has made the cost of farming increase by nearly 50% over the past two years alone. We understand the difficulty these current times create and are here to support you. 2nd Sight can help save you money in another area of rising costs such as labor. Our labor tracking software such as FairTrak and MobileClock can both help streamline and reduce labor costs and payroll, while organizing your business tasks automatically. 

Late Freezes and Historically Cold Weather

In a year of extreme changes many of us have also had the short end of the stick regarding the weather within our respective regions. As many of you know we are a Spokane, Washington based company and today we broke a 126-year-old weather record. It is almost June, and we still have not reached 70 degrees one single time this year breaking the record stemming from 1896. In addition to that the state of Washington also got hit with several late freezes that hurt many early crops such as cherries. Several friends of ours up the Abbotsford/Vancouver area of BC had their crops face a similar fate due to the wave of late freezing during early harvest. Not only did this historically late freeze hurt our NW customer’s crops, but only months before many of our beloved southern customers down in Georgia, North Carolina, and even parts of Florida also got hit with an aggressive week of freezing that led to tremendous crop loss, primarily in their blueberries. It seems to be one of those years where there is no easy sailing, and I commend all of you who have battled through these recent hardships and have continued working hard and moving forward, and you will continue to have our gratitude and support every step of the way.