One way for a lighting company to offer information technology is to partner with a technology company. That sounds like a truism, but the industry is full of examples of lighting vendors attempting to also offer services like data collection and analysis, with mixed success.
So in its latest IT push in the horticultural field, Signify has partnered with Siemens to help digitize and automate vertical farm operations such as climate control, lighting, plant growth, and irrigation for 80 Acres Farm, an Ohio-based chain that grows crops indoors at facilities around the U.S. and supplies them to local supermarkets and retailers.
80 Acres, headquartered in Hamilton, is in expansion mode hoping to open new locations both in the U.S. and in Europe through The Hague, Netherlands-based subsidiary Infinite Acres.
Signify, based in Eindhoven, Netherlands, did not provide a lot of detail on the Siemens technology, except to say that it incorporates an open data platform that will benefit operations not just inside the vertical farms, but across the supply chain as well. The partnership is via Signify’s Philips Horticulture LED Solutions division, and does not include Signify’s Austin, Texas–based Fluence horticultural lighting group.
“The joint development with Siemens, a leading technology company and supplier of automation and industrial software, will enable rapid global scale-up for 80 Acres Farms,” Signify said in a press release. “With knowledge and experience gained from a great diversity of industries, the Siemens’ Xcelerator open data platform will provide the required technology and ecosystem for digitization, automation, and standardization throughout the whole supply chain.”
Signify has been providing lighting to 7-year-old 80 Acres since 2017, and will now work in collaboration with Siemens at 80 Acres’ sites on the IT enhancements.
While Signify generally promotes its own brand of “Interact IoT” data services across its divisions including horticultural, it now appears that Munich, Germany–based Siemens will play that role at 80 Acres.
It’s possible that the Dutch and German companies could jointly target other operators in the vertical farm area.
Horticultural lighting is currently experiencing a slowdown. Combinations like Signify/Siemens could help reverse the stagnation.
Network-connected lighting, or IoT lighting, in general has been slow to catch on in various market sectors, but lighting vendors are still hoping activity will pick up.
MARK HALPER is a contributing editor for LEDs Magazine, and an energy, technology, and business journalist ([email protected]).