Australian tech tool tracks fruit pickers under COVID-19 – and record-keeps too

AgPick, which captures data and reports on field activities and helps farm managers monitor, analyse and improve crop performance, was also helping producers keep track of pickers’ movements under COVID-19 WHS protocols, Agricultural Picking Technology (APT) chief executive officer Henrietta Child told Fresh Plaza.

Caboolture, Queensland-based berry producer Paul Dydula, of Paradise Fruits Enterprise Pty Ltd and Paradise Berry Propagators, deployed AgPick in his operations over the COVID-19 lockdown period in March 2020. In September, Dydula told Fresh Plaza that the system paid for itself within the first few months.

“We were already investigating AgPick to create efficiencies and improve record-keeping. COVID-19-safe protocols (including daily temperature checks) accelerated that decision. Within two weeks, AgPick was installed and keeping track of workers’ attendance and location,” Dydula said.

“It’s helped us meet auditing and Health Department requirements easily. That would have been so much more difficult with the previous paper-based system.

“AgPick records when pickers clock on and off, what they pick and where they are, with real time data which was the selling point for us. Before that, we would have to go into the paddock to see what was happening. Anyone who can operate a smart phone can use it, it’s that simple – and we’ve never lost data,” Dydula said.

What is AgPick?

APT’s AgPick tool was initially designed to provide growers with better visibility and control over harvest activities and boost picking efficiencies in Australia’s horticultural sector.

The company developed the technology,  which works via via hand-held Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) scanners, after identifying a need to improve labour management within picking operations.

The tool enables producers managing their own labour to transition from hourly to piecework rates, and yields data that allows each picker to view his or her pick rate and total earnings.

“AgPick’s hand-held scanners accurately record the number of vessels picked and match that number to the right picker, in the field,” APT CEO Henrietta Child told Food&Drink Business in May 2018

“The data is uploaded to a live feed via the cloud so producers can see what’s happening during harvest, what blocks are being picked or if the harvest has finished. It records how many pickers worked and what they picked, so they can be paid accurately for their day’s work. It takes paperwork out of the paddock.”

Child said the AgPick tool provided unprecedented worker visibility, affording producers greater autonomy over decision-making at harvest time.

“Producers are able to see efficiencies, streamline their operations and save money,” she said.

The AgPick tool was subsequently customised to record all outdoor activities “including seasonal picker payroll reconciliation, traceability, on-farm crop management costs and yield comparisons”, Child said.

“Producers want to look at more than picking outcomes, move away from paper records and have the flexibility to access information easily and remotely via any device,” she said.

Read the full Fresh Plaza article.

Sources

Technology helps trace pickers during pandemic I Fresh Plaza

RFID helps producers pick up the pace I Food&Drink Business