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Simple tactics to help improve your horticulture business’ alarm management

For business owners like you, the threat of alarm failures is an unfortunate reality. Greenhouses are becoming more reliant on technology. In fact, the level of technology in greenhouse production has increased greatly - from greenhouses in the 1960s with manual electric controls to modern greenhouses of modern technological level, we are becoming more reliant on technology. In the past, a simple technical failure had no immediate consequences, while nowadays, a breakdown of several hours can have disastrous outcomes.

Alarm failures in greenhouses can lead to serious crop damage. You may also experience disruptions in daily processes, delays in fulfilling customer orders and negative impacts to your overall business reputation.

Fortunately, alarm management can be improved through the right set-up, regular maintenance, correct configuration and a proactive mindset. Consider adapting the following list of tactics to help you prevent alarm failures at your greenhouse.

Pay attention to set up alarm systems that warn you immediately
To deal with these unpredicted failures, manufacturers have set up alarm systems to warn you, allowing you to react as quickly as possible. Most growers are familiar with these alarms and know how vital and occasionally frustrating they can be. Some alarms are primary, whereas others are more secondary. It is therefore advised to raise your awareness level about alarm settings based on your own risk inventory.

Understand your alarm’s system set-up & instructions
As a standard, your supplier for climate management and fertigation systems assists you in setting up the systems, offering trainings and providing standard instructions and alarm thresholds. We recommend to pay full attention to these directions and have the different settings explained to you in detail, as each crop or its stage is specific and therefore there is no one-size-fits-all standard thresholds for each situation. Correct alarm maintenance can also be based on frequent conversations with crop consultants, suppliers etc.

Know how to configure your alarms
On a daily basis, you will be able to judge the relevance of these alarms above all the necessary trigger thresholds. Too few alarms is a bad sign, but having too many of them can also be nerve-wrecking. Apart from the alarm installer, here also lies your responsibility as a business owner, as you should also know how to configure your alarms and adjust the appropriate thresholds.

For example, a flow rate alarm threshold of 100% will not send you alarms in the event of a break in a secondary pipe section. It is also necessary to grant importance to the latency time of measurement of the probes. Thus, a latency time of 2 minutes for watering of 1 minute 50 seconds will not prevent you from deviations in the measurements of the pH or conductivity probes.

Ensure regular equipment maintenance
It goes without saying that equipment maintenance also plays an important role. A poorly maintained system will generate repetitive alarms at the end of its life stage. You are therefore recommended to choose the design and level of maintenance in such a way that tight alarm settings are possible, so that malfunctions are always quickly apparent.

React quickly to the first rescue measures & recording alarm history
Apart from paying close attention to regular maintenance measures, alarm settings, reception of alarms on your phone, it is also important to react quickly to the first rescue measures. Also, do not forget to record the alarm history. This refers to all the alarms that took place, together with the surroundings (e.g. measured values at that moment) and its responses (reset/recovery). These ought to be recorded in a log file that remains retrievable for at least one year. This will help you or the technician to find the root cause of problems, which is extremely helpful in the case of difficult malfunctions.

When facing technical risks, here are some final recommendations

  • Make sure the maintenance of the systems are at appropriate operational level;
  • Set the alarm settings optimally after commissioning the installation so that alarms always work at the right moment;
  • Remember that alarms are not fixed forever: during cultivation phases, it may be necessary to adjust alarm limits, in consultation with experts;
  • Respond quickly to various incidents;
  • Test regularly.

Hagelunie can guide you to the right coverage
While you cannot predict when alarm failures may occur, you can prepare for the possibility of alarm issues in a general way. Hagelunie’s insurances can help alleviate the worry of “what if” and help protect your greenhouse business’ crops. If, despite all efforts to prevent damage, damage still occurs, we are here to help.

This is where Hagelunie as your insurance partner helps you. We offer you tailored solutions for these technical risks in terms of operational damages and can therefore guide you to the right coverage.

- Christophe Hivert, Greenhouse Insurance Specialist Hagelunie

Make sure you’re covered with insurance
Already insured with us? In that case, you’re advised to review your current policy to ensure your business and inventory are covered. Should you have questions or would like to learn more about our insurance coverages, contact us. We’re here to help keep your horticulture business safe.

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