Many of our best feature ideas come from our customers. At the end of the year, we call up every grower to check in on how the system worked and ask about how the system could work better. When we hear the same feedback, we consider how to implement a new feature so that many growers can benefit. It is no surprise that every farm has its own way of doing things, so If a farm wants a very specific or unique addition to the software, our engineering team quotes the custom feature or report work. Many of our customers even benefit from the implementation of these commissioned features.
In this post, I want to highlight some of the innovative ways that growers are using our labor tracking systems to improve their operations and how they are adapting technology to meet their current needs.
Auto-Print Weigh Receipts
A Georgia grower uses the FairPick Lite for his blueberry harvest. Most of his pickers want individual weigh tickets. Pickers always have an option to manually print a receipt after they weigh. However, as soon as the next person puts a bucket or lug on the scale, the picker cannot print the last weigh transaction. Pickers would get frustrated when they forgot to print their weigh ticket. Now there is an option in settings that enables auto-printing. Eliminating one button push continues to prevent a lot of frustration. Every grower knows that maintaining a happy workforce is key to getting all the fruit out of the fields.
This feature was originally requested by a commercial nursery using the InstaCaliper to measure field inventory. It is a tool that allows the user to quickly grade a tree without having to open multiple screens. “A”, “B”, and “C” buttons are available right on the measure screen for fast and easy grading. This season, we “spun off” the ABC Select feature for a blueberry grower using the FairTrak app to log blueberry buckets. This farm is strict about quality and minimizing “green” berries sent to the packing house. The farm management team implemented a “three strikes” policy. If a picker brings up green berries three times, he or she is sent home. This new way of using the ABC Select feature allows the grower to set parameters and associated messages so that checkers can easily flag workers picking bad fruit and track the number of “strikes”. The message “Send Home” will pop-up when the worker has picked too many buckets of bad quality fruit. In the office, it is also easy to filter on this data to identify which employee may not be welcomed back to pick.
Batch Mode with Crew Filtering
Many large farm operations run multiple crews and these crews need to be treated as one unit and kept separate from each other. Once an employee is clocked in to the FairTrak, QuickPick, or FairPick Lite apps, the Batch Mode feature allows crew leaders to clock multiple employees in and out of other tasks or breaks without individual employee badge scans. This can be helpful when an entire crew stops for a rest or lunch break or moves to a different field. Crew Filtering allows the crew leader to quickly sort workers by crew, making it even easier to utilize the Batch Mode feature to manage crews out in the field.
Auto-Trigger Container Barcodes
Container tracking can improve crop traceability. The Ruggedized Handheld Computers that run our labor tracking apps have a built-in 1D and 2D barcode scanner. This feature automatically turns on the barcode reader when the picker is prompted to scan the container tag. This will allow the grower to set up a station where one person will grab cherry lugs from a bin trailer, place the lug on the scale, scan the pre-printed barcode attached to the lug, and slide the lug off the scale onto a conveyor that is loading a truck. All of this will happen in about five to seven seconds. Eliminating bottlenecks with a new software feature can greatly increase efficiency and productivity while decreasing labor costs.
Reports that Pinpoint Costs
Knowing your costs is important, especially when times are tough. 2nd Sight farm labor tracking systems can collect the information you need to evaluate labor costs. Many growers have commissioned custom reports that display their labor data in a way that helps them better know their costs. Knowing your labor expenses per employee, cost center, task, variety, and field location is valuable information that can help a grower make better, more-informed decisions for the operation.