Fa HGL Zwinkels consists of four partners and is affiliated with grower organization Prominent and operates at three locations on the border of Westland, with a total area of 16 hectares. The head office is located in Maasland and is regarded as the cradle of the tomato business. Innovation is central to this location, where several new varieties are grown.
The other two production sites are located in 's-Gravenzande: 7.5 hectares with lighting and 4.7 hectares without lighting. These two growing locations have received the title of 'operational excellence', which is translated into "a lot for very little" by Tom Zwinkels. "High production at minimum cost requires us to monitor as much business as possible".
Demanding and critical
As a loyal Priva customer, Tom Zwinkels worked with Priva to identify the need for labour management in the market; Priva embraced the young, critical-thinking entrepreneur as the ideal partner for the development and launch of Priva FS Performance.
This management tool was revealed in early 2013 as the successor to the versatile management information system Priva Fusion and labor registration program PrivAssist. The expansion of glasshouses and the associated desire for more insight and overview into the business gave rise to the development of FS Performance.
With the worldwide trend of multiple farms with multiple locations increasing, insight is needed into all business processes. In the Netherlands, the need for a comprehensive and intuitive registration systems and the development of an efficient and accessible management tool was increasing.
Zwinkels had the experience to test and manipulate the new system developed by Priva to ensure it's operable in a high functioning and busy greenhouse. "That was quite exciting," admits the tomato grower. "We are demanding and critical, but we had and have the fullest confidence in Priva, based on previous experiences. That´s why we dared to fulfill this pioneer role"
Replacing the lighting in 2012 was the immediate cause for Zwinkels to optimize internal processes. The company's main goal was to be able to register and monitor the activities on both farms and the central packing house.
The result is one central database for all employees, enabling Tom Zwinkels to relocate them from one crop to another location easily. Operational managers may also follow closely what is happening and intervene or correct where possible.
Priva FS Performance allows Zwinkels to gain insight into the processes for the day and effectively manage his employees. "In our previous situation, it was often that the first location was ready at one o'clock in the afternoon, while the other location was operating until five o'clock. Now, we have the insight to relocate people in time, so that everyone is finished at three o'clock", says Tom Zwinkels as an example from daily practice.
The system that the company now uses at its two tomato locations is ready to put into the market, but according to Zwinkels there is an ongoing process. "Such a software system is never finished; continuously dots should be put on thei. For us, it is good to be part of the development and introduction of a new product, right from the start. Of course that takes time and energy, but we can continuously provide practical input from our own situation. To provide quality tomatoes at a good price is the premise of our business, but that cannot be done today without up-to-date insight into the business processes."
FS Performance makes tracking and tracing of the product possible at path level, but also shows which employee cut the tomatoes, who had packed them and who had carried out the final quality assurance inspection. Every piece of detailed information is available for external parties in case of auditing, recalls, emergencies and/or performance review periods.
Self -correcting and motivating
The Zwinkels management team experienced the internal benefits; above each workstation in the packhouse hangs a display with the real-time performance of the packers. In the canteen hangs an overview display of the performance of all employees in the greenhouse and in the packhouse.
"That display board is very motivating," experiences Zwinkels, "because nobody wants to be at the bottom of the list. Data are linked to a performance bonus. This not only involves how much an employee has harvested, for example, but also how quickly it can then be weighed and packaged. Therein lays a self-correcting means, because packers are not happy when they get poorly harvested tomatoes. As a result, they cannot achieve their desired level themselves". Everyone has to work together to achieve positive results.
The grower emphasized that it is not punitive, but an improving system. Employees are coached, leading to improvements and a stronger bond with the company. "I prefer to work with people who love to come back. The training of new people also costs money, time and resources. "
Fast and reliable
Tom Zwinkels concludes; the system will bring more uniformity, unity and ability in the operational processes. "It is difficult to express in monetary terms, but it leads to a savings that I am convinced of. Benefits are visible throughout the company. Employees in the greenhouse and in the packhouse can see in real-time what their performance is, team leaders and managers can quickly check and adjust where necessary. For us as entrepreneurs, it is important that we can have reliable management information quickly.
We are ready to expand the implementation to the location in 's Gravenzande and possibly the location in Maasland."