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20 June 2024

""Sorting sprouts with a camera system meant we had to automate our crate logistics.""

The Weyers Group location at Freshpark Venlo is a hive of activity. A large team comprising sales, accounting, HR, and management is entirely dedicated to the daily vegetable and fruit trade. The group is also involved in cultivation, working with growers in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, and Spain. On the factory floor, more than 120 permanent employees are sorting, packaging, and preparing all vegetables for shipment. Since 2024, Weyers has also been using a camera sorting system to sort sprouts - supplied by VHM crate logistics.

The Ambition

Operational director Erik van Maren is fully occupied managing the many dynamic challenges Weyers faces. Erik says, "This ranges from commercial tasks to planning challenges, personnel scheduling, and logistics. I deal with all operational matters. For instance, in 2022, we found out about TechNature when we were looking for a proven system to make sorting sprouts much more efficient. We were particularly interested in TechNature's SproutCam. With this, we could not only sort sprouts much faster with significantly less human effort but also provide better assurance of consistent product quality to our customers."


The Challenge

 "Finding enough staff is a major challenge throughout the agricultural world, and Weyers Group is no exception. Automation is an obvious choice to address this challenge. For years, we've been packaging sprouts and supplying them primarily to the German market. However, meeting German supermarkets’ strict requirements requires a great deal of labor. Until recently, everything was done manually; six to twelve people worked on this from mid-September to January, or even longer if winter allowed it."

"With the SproutCam, we can sort eleven tons of sprouts per hour and operate three packaging lines. These are impressive volumes, of course, but the challenge was to bring the supply up to speed. Traditional methods of bringing in cube crates with forklifts were no longer sufficient. That's when we contacted VHM."

About Weyers Group

Weyers Group is a sizable family business, consisting of an international collection of fruit and vegetable companies in the Netherlands, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The group focuses on the production, sale, and transport of fresh vegetables throughout Europe. Weyers Group aims to optimally serve customers and suppliers, with a focus on quality. By being present at every link from field to supermarket, Weyers Group ensures fresh quality at an attractive price. In addition to trading, Weyers Group also offers opportunities and solutions in production, packaging, storage, and logistics.

The Solution

"TechNature worked with VHM, and within a few months, came up with a setup for the machines. VHM provided a buffer conveyor and supply system, allowing crates to be stacked, unstacked, and emptied completely automatically. Forklifts now bring in two or three crates at a time instead of one, which has led to more calm on the factory floor as the number of forklift movements has significantly decreased. A significant additional benefit!"

"With the SproutCam and VHM crate logistics, processing of sprouts is much more efficient. VHM ensured that we can work with 250-, 300-, and 700-kilogram crates. You just enter the crate size on the machine’s screen, and everything else is carried out automatically, including unstacking and stacking the crates. For the 250- and 300-kilogram crates, stacks of three are made, and for the 700-kilogram crates, two stacks. It works flawlessly, and we are very satisfied!"

"The only thing you enter on the machine’s screen is the crate size; 250, 300, or 700 kilograms. The rest is carried out automatically."

Erik van Maren, Operational Director Weyers Group



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