Tarras Cherry Corp

Technology supports New Zealand cherry pickers to work 'smarter'

Central Otago cherry producer Tarras Cherry Corp has implemented innovative New Zealand-developed orchard management technologies this season to attract and reward productive seasonal workers.

Orchard and project manager Ross Kirk said Tarras Cherry Corp was the first New Zealand cherry development to implement radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology developed by Auckland-based software company, Dataphyll.

"At a time when pickers are in short supply, investing in smart technologies is a way to attract and retain quality workers. We want to lead the charge as an innovative and progressive operation throughout the supply chain," he said. "The Dataphyll Grow software ensures pickers are paid for the exact kilograms of cherries they harvest. It provides an absolute volume of harvested fruit through scanning and weighing and links the volume to the picker. Pickers know in real-time how much they have picked and how much they will earn."

He added that with workers being paid per kilogram, there's an incentive to fill buckets and a "smart picker" can earn well because the more they pick, the more they get paid and this technology pinpoints top performers who pick above the minimum and may be eligible for bonuses.

"Pickers can keep track of their earnings via an app on their phone," Mr Kirk said. "There's no risk of other pickers being paid for their harvested fruit. Traceability will be the immediate benefit this season. Over time, long-term data collection will allow orchard mapping to determine harvest volumes and ease control of fruit flow to the packhouse."

Dataphyll chief executive officer and co-founder Christoph Kistler said the technology was developed to pay pickers for performance, not attendance. The software, developed initially for the berry industry in 2015, had been extended to meet Tarras Chery Corp's needs.

"It tracks workers and buckets via ID tags which interface with mobile devices and weigh stations in the orchard," he said. "A 'runner' collects picked buckets which are placed on a weigh station. The weight is captured automatically via a unique identifier on the bucket. Orchardists can review performance and production in real-time, highlight best performing workers, row-level yields and understand reject rates."

The software has been integrated with Tarras Cherry Corp's existing orchard and people management solution, known internally as Horthub. Produced by Christchurch's Prolorus Solutions on the Prolorus platform, Horthub captures hours worked, combines the productivity data captured by Dataphyll and calculates transactions required for payroll.

"This includes ordinary hours, performance bonuses, along with any other deductions such as accommodation," Prolorus chief executive officer Simon Lind said. "Our platform provides workflows for recruiting and onboarding employees then manages wage calculations. The automation of this process reduced a lot of paperwork and manual handling of data (and therefore data entry errors)," he said.

Source Aqua Public Relations on behalf of Tarras Cherry Corp.

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