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8170 1920x720 M10 Smart Harvest Container Ripening
Smart Harvest

Developer of Shipping Container Farm Units Doubles Production Capacity

And gets payback on investment in just 12 months

Bison Group

14 Feb 5 Minutes

Customer Stories

Introducing SmartHarvest

Established in 2013, SmartHarvest is a one of a kind containerized fruit ripening company. Their high-tech, mobile ripening systems provide operators with a fully contained, portable fruit ripening room. Having first developed software and electronic control systems for container fruit exports, their business has expanded to a fleet of shipping container ripening units (e.g. renting banana ripening rooms). This company certainly fits in the wider trend of shipping container farming growing across the world.

SmartHarvest typically uses 45’ HC, pallet wide containers weighing up to 30 tonnes once in use. However due to the current global shipping crisis, they are shifting to standardised 40’ containers as a more cost-effective alternative.

The containers come from China and they are about 50% completed on arrival at SmartHarvest's facilities in the United Kingdom. The team then finishes off fitting and fabrication of the ripening units at its premises. 90% of their container handling is done in the fabrication warehouse. The other 10% involves delivering to client sites in the UK.

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Safety & Logistical Challenges

With no traditional container handling equipment at their premises, SmartHarvest faced several challenges when handling containers for fabrication and on delivery to clients.

Modifying containers on truck chassis involved working from height, which was a health and safety concern for the company's workers. But grounding the container with forklifts was also dangerous. The team tried using four forklifts to handle the containers, but it was dangerous and unsustainable relying on four individual forklift operators to coordinate the lift. And with a forklift operation, it was common to damage containers when the mast of the forklift hit the container unintentionally.

Customer deliveries were also fraught with costs and complications - coordinating third party cranes, plus haulage and storage services, along with clients every time a container had to be moved.

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Portable Container Lifting Jacks

For SmartHarvest, these challenges were solved with the Bison C-Lift M Series - a portable, low maintenance container hoist with a lift capacity of up to 20,000 kg or 44,000 lb. Learn More about the M Series here.

With the M Series, SmartHarvest has overcome its safety concerns and can get twice as many containers into the fabrication space at once, increasing their production potential.

Previously their team could only put one container into the warehouse, one at a time through one door. Now with the M Series and castors, their team can easily work on two containers indoors.

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“We can build two containers just as efficiently as building one at one time, so having two containers indoors enhanced capacity and improved productivity. The C-Lift M Series is easy to move and gave us the ability to work in tight spaces. And, at the same time improving the health and safety of our operations.”

— Neil Turbitt, Director, Smart Harvest

12 Month Return On Investment

SmartHarvest says the equipment paid for itself within 12 months from not using third party lifting services. On top of this, the company realised several other benefits:

  • Flexibility & Convenience — Now SmartHarvest can exchange containers and swap trailer bodies out in the yard on its own, without having to hire in an external service or go to another yard to get the job done.

  • Doubled Production Capacity — By having two containers indoors at the same time, the production team greatly improved its output.

  • Improved Health & Safety — Working at heights and handling long containers with several forklifts are now a thing of the past.

  • Less Management Time — Now there's less stress and less management time going into organising container handling externally.

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"It is good to know we have the equipment on-site and can act immediately when required and don’t have to organise a third party to conduct the container handling. I think of all the get out of jails we have had when we had trucks arriving last minute."

— Neil Turbitt, Director, Smart Harvest