"Interaction between everyone involved is what makes our products a success”
Since its official opening at the end of 2022, the compartments of the new Rijk Zwaan Trial Centre have steadily been taken over by neat rows of fruiting vegetable crops. Metazet FormFlex was one of the construction partners for the project, supplying and installing all of the greenhouse and hoisting equipment for both the cultivation system and the pipe rail system.
Marco van der Weerd managed the project on behalf of Metazet FormFlex and visited the site weekly during the construction process. Now that the first crops are in place, Metazet FormFlex took the opportunity to revisit the Trial Centre to discuss the project with Arno van Steekelenburg.
Rijk Zwaan regularly constructs new sites for its portfolio. “But this site is completely unique”, says Arno, the station manager at the seed finishing company, whose role involves overseeing finishing activities across eight locations. He also works on new construction and innovation projects – which is why Rijk Zwaan asked him to get involved in the construction of this new site. “It’s great that Rijk Zwaan is thinking about the future and making long-term decisions; this approach is what makes these kinds of projects happen”, says Arno. “Rijk Zwaan’s vision for this location was to build a place to welcome and inspire customers. And now that construction is complete, I think it’s fair to say that we’ve achieved that goal”, Arno continues.
Each department is unique
Across seven compartments, Rijk Zwaan showcases an array of different varieties of peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers. An effective hygiene protocol on entry is essential for this diverse display to thrive, to prevent diseases such as ToBRFV from attacking the crops. The greenhouse is also designed to provide good visibility for visitors and easy access for crop maintenance – while still complying with all of the required hygiene standards.
“Each department is unique”, explains Marco. “In the cucumber area, the path is 1.92 metres wide. This ensures that the crop remains easily visible through the broad cucumber leaves. The peppers have a double gutter system rather than a single channel. And all departments are equipped with a hoisting system with a continuous axle, which enables us to lift the entire cultivation system, tube rail support and the long beams all in one go to replace the mat underneath”, says Marco. “I’m very pleased that we opted for this solution. It’s a robust system that lifts all of the necessary components at once. Our experience here will inform our choices at our new ‘de Serre’ location”, adds Arno.
Arno continues to reflect on the project as we stroll through row after row of peppers, tube rail supports and crop wires. “I’m proud of what we’ve achieved here. This is such a unique site because we can trial three different fruiting vegetables from one location. There’s nowhere else like this. It looks neat and tidy too, which is exactly what we wanted to be able to welcome and inspire customers”. He continues: “Rijk Zwaan works with a regular construction team across all of its projects, which has enormous advantages. All of the companies involved know how to get in touch with one another, which streamlines the construction process. Everyone wants to do a good job, shares the long-term vision and delivers a high standard of quality – and that is what enables us to build a site like this”.
As Marco and Arno wander along the corridor, Peter Ammerlaan joins the pair. The manager – who oversees cucumber cultivation at the site – enthusiastically shares his ideas with Marco; he wants to add new brackets to the greenhouse to make the team’s job easier. The two men dive into an engaging discussion in which Marco shares his expertise and helps come up with ways to use Metazet FormFlex products to achieve the desired outcome. “This is why we do things the way we do. It’s this interaction between a need in the market, our customers and us as the supplier that can take a product to the next level. Interaction between everyone involved is what makes our products a success”, says Marco.
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