The Dutch greenhouse horticulture sector faces major challenges. The competition can only be kept at bay through constant innovation, and structural improvement of productivity and flexibility are imperative. Companies that succeed in adapting their work processes accordingly will remain at the forefront.

In addition, companies must also be capable of retaining sufficiently qualified staff. This is only possible if in addition to improving the productivity and flexibility of the processes optimum use is also made of the input from the people within the companies.
It is a fallacy to think that with an investment in a new machine or technique alone you will be in good shape for many years. Without involving the people – your employees – the result will almost always be failure.
The human factor is one that must be taken into account, and an even better strategy is to use their talent to make the difference.

Process improvement

TNO's Production Innovation and Optimization makes use of a wide range of instruments and tools that are always deployed with the active involvement of the stakeholders within the company. It encompasses the production process from beginning (input) to end (output), and all the processing steps in between, as they pertain to labour. This includes aspects such as: lean order processing, cutting lead time, reducing waste and disruptions, shortening changeover times, increasing flexibility of staff utilization, product design for flow, organization of process and workplace, cooperating value chains and information support. Another aspect is boosting employee involvement. Here, too, TNO has developed and continues to develop related instruments and tools. The approach includes the use of social media as a work platform (gamification), strengthening the company's innovative capacity, and use of the training as a springboard for learning and working.


The results in similar manufacturing industry processes speak for themselves: 10-20% higher productivity, better and more consistent quality, reduction of lead times, lower costs and greater flexibility. (See 'Top performance in the manufacturing industry'). In the greenhouse horticulture sector, innovation alone is expected to result in an efficiency improvement of at least 15%.


The first step is to sit down with the company or companies to identify the relevant issues and define them precisely for the sector. Then, based on a production output plan, the potential for improvement will be brought in focus so TNO can work with the company to gradually develop, innovate, and implement these wins. TNO has the in-house expertise to accomplish this and can draw on extensive experience gained from diverse projects at companies in different industries.

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