Designing Your Commercial Grow Facility to Maximize Production

The best and most effective way to maximize production at your grow facility is to start with a solid design. Before you even begin with equipment selection or commercial grow facility construction, a purposefully architected design will lay the foundation for the rest of your process. An optimal grow facility design will integrate the various facility systems and factor in the interaction between plants, people, and products. For the highest yields possible, you'll need to consider every last detail of your facility operations. That means looking at everything from square footage to fertigation to door dimensions (the last thing you want is needing to install a piece of equipment that won’t fit through a doorway!)

High-performing facilities start with purposeful design implemented by a team well versed in Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA).

Create An Ideal Environment

Growing indoors means creating an entire climate system and the environment from scratch. The good news is that you don't need to reinvent the wheel, this is a well-established discipline with specific guidelines you can follow.

Why is controlling temperature and humidity in a grow facility different from controlling temperature and humidity in an office building?

How you size and orient your rooms will first depend on the dimensions of your facility space. However, high-performance facility design is guided by workflow. You want to maximize efficiency and minimize contamination. Engineering systems make it sensible to keep all growing spaces oriented along the same axis or clustered on the same side of the building. Areas with lower humidity like office spaces, drying rooms and such should be organized so that they are separate from growing rooms.

What kind of light is best for an ideal environment?

When considering lighting options, the big question is always whether to make a large upfront capital investment (CapEx) in exchange for lower operating expenses (OpEx) or vice-versa. With traditional HPS lighting, the CapEx is low but the OpEx is high, and the opposite is true for LED lights. However, this focus distracts from another issue: HPS lighting generates a lot of heat which cannot be too close to the plants (requiring more vertical space) and must be offset by the HVAC system. Many growers find that LEDs cut their HVAC costs by half.

What kind of medium should the plant be grown in?

Growing medium selection usually comes down to grower preferences, the type of product being cultivated, and other such factors. Coco coir, peat moss, and rock wool are commonly-used industry substrates.

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Optimize Equipment

Optimizing equipment is one of the most critical factors in grow facility success.

Make equipment work together throughout the process

Systems integration is necessary for crop quality and efficient energy consumption. Additionally, when your systems "talk" to one another, far fewer things are likely to go wrong. A knowledgeable systems engineer will make sure that integration is part of your design from day one.

Maintain equipment (preventative maintenance, spare parts, etc.)

Your equipment is a massive investment, and any lapse in function can wipe out your profit for a season. Operational support like gro-care can ensure that your team is trained and your equipment is continuously monitored to prevent problems from arising.

Can I automate certain parts of the production?

Any part of your production process that can and should be automated. The amount of time and money you can save with automated processes will more than offset the costs of setting up automation.

Promote Staff

Your most valuable resource is your team, which makes investing in your staff a smart move.

Train staff to grow in their jobs

Stay in tune with your staff and give those who aspire to grow in their jobs the tools to do so. Whether this means investing in advanced equipment training or giving trusted employees more responsibilities, do what it takes to keep your team engaged.

Highly trained staff create more synergy in production

A team that has been trained comprehensively together will function more like a well-oiled machine, and will trust each other to make the right decisions when called upon to do so. 

Managing turnover and on-boarding of new team members

No matter how exceptional a working environment you provide, you won't be able to retain 100% of your team forever. Having a solid onboarding and off-boarding protocol will help make transitions easier and can keep your team cohesive.

 

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