Vertical farming (VF) has been recognised as an important tool for managing future food security, yet economic viability poses a significant hurdle with the majority of farms closing within several years without further investment. VF involves the management of highly complex systems and, despite the opportunity it presents, start-ups have struggled with underestimated labour cost and inefficient workflow and inadequate ergonomic design considerations. Standard approaches to process management have yet to be widely adopted in the industry and the application of lean principles poses an opportunity to address labour inefficiencies. In this presentation, five lean principles are discussed in the context of an industry case study providing techniques and some usage-cases. This exploratory research exposes voids in the knowledge-base and is important for driving higher profit margins in this emerging sector.
Speaker info: Francis Baumont de Oliveira is a final-year PhD researcher in the Institute for Risk and Uncertainty at University of Liverpool, collaborating with social-enterprise Farm Urban. With a background in engineering, he has spent the last three years immersing himself in the industry of vertical farming conducting case studies, interviews with business leaders and exploring different business models to uncover best practices. Through investigation of shuttered farming facilities and lessons learned, he has identified risk analysis and good process design as critical steps to develop robust vertical farming businesses. He has authored two scholarly publications, one on a decision support system framework for assessing the economic viability of vertical farming companies and another on lean principles applied to vertical farming. His research on applying manufacturing system methodologies is the first of its kind within the sector and exposes voids within the knowledge base.