Vanacker is one of the largest players in the flower bulbs business in the Benelux and has been a family-owned company for over 40 years. Headquartered in Harelbeke, the company delivers flower bulbs to garden centers, landscapers, parks, and even municipalities in Belgium, Luxembourg, France, and the Netherlands. The company handles the logistics of around 800 bulb varieties for a total of 15 million flower bulbs each year, a process that requires thoughtful organization, a strong focus on quality control, and a continuous drive for automation to put efficiency front and center. In its search for more access control efficiency and automation, Vanacker discovered the convenience of Pozyx ultra-wideband solutions.
Searching for Access Control Security and Convenience
The 4000 m2 facilities of Vanacker are a well-oiled machine designed for flower bulb processing efficiency.
As suppliers arrive to unload the bulbs, personnel handles and sorts everything to make sure it ends up ready and waiting on the right pallet for delivery with the customer.
The entire flow is spread across multiple zones and halls. To keep its facilities safe, secure, and easy to access, Vanacker was looking for a solution that combines smart automation with ease of use.
“ We want our employees to be able to focus on the job at hand, not on whether they are locking doors, turning off ventilation systems, making sure the lights in every zone are switched off ” says Geert Vanacker, owner of Vanacker.
Since the company has several restricted zones, it wanted to make sure unauthorized personnel could not enter specific areas. Transporters, for example, may deliver in the middle of the night, in a designated area. Their access should be restricted to loading zones only. Other employees need access to more parts of the facility and the owners need unrestricted access everywhere.
“We wanted a solution that made access control as simple as possible”.
Evaluating Traditional Access Control Options
The company worked with integrator EAVG to design a tailored access control system to meet their needs. Jef Van Gauwbergen, owner of EAVG, looked into different technologies to solve the puzzle, ranging from RFID over Bluetooth and UWB.
“Our goal was for a door to open as soon as someone is in close range without any manual intervention” says Geert Vanacker.
Badging was quickly ruled out since it requires manual intervention. And RFID was less suitable due to the high costs associated with dedicated readers. Bluetooth initially showed promise but came with a couple of downsides.
“Bluetooth was not accurate and fast enough for our purposes. You really want a narrow perimeter and a quick reaction time. The last thing you want is someone who is a couple of meters away to accidentally open a door. Or someone who’s just passing by or near an adjacent machine to trigger the door unlocking.
From our testing, Bluetooth did not fit the bill: doors would open too soon and the distance was too wide, especially for our working environment” says Geert Vanacker.
UWB Accuracy & Speed: Planting the Seeds for Access Control Success
Ultra-wideband, however, was the perfect fit to make seamless access control a reality. “UWB is very accurate, well below 50 cm, which let us define a precise zone with a quick response."
You only need to be a couple of steps away from the door and it will open automatically. We just couldn’t achieve this with any other technology. And certainly not in a cost-effective way.” Vanacker and EAVG tested the Pozyx system by installing Anchors in the corners of one hall and experimenting with a handful of Tags.
“The setup was pretty quick and performance out of the box was very good. After validating the technology on several dedicated zones, we were convinced that the Pozyx UWB solution was the way to go” says Jef Van Gauwbergen.
After the proof of concept, Vanacker rolled out 19 Anchors throughout its entire facility with a dozen Tags for personnel.
“We were really surprised by the strong coverage of the Anchors. Our halls are very large but we easily managed with the number of Anchors proposed by Pozyx”.
Employees simply wear a tag on their wrist which opens any door or area assigned to that specific badge. A transporter may also have a separate tag that opens up a zone designated for unloading only. Assigning zones and Tags and updating access controls was made easy with a custom interface developed by integrator EAVG.
“The Pozyx API was a joy to work with in writing our own application. Interfacing was really easy, speeding up our development times. And the customer has access to a user-friendly application to update zones, tags, and more” says Jef Van Gauwbergen.
What's more, we have started a project to improve time registrations with the Pozyx system, too. Since our employees are already wearing UWB tags and we have defined the zones, we can easily register when employees start and stop. Without any manual intervention such as scanning, badging, or logging. As a result, errors in time registration are now also a thing of the past” says Jef Van Gauwbergen.
Pozyx UWB: A Fertile Soil for More Automations
Today, access control with ultra-wideband is a seamless part of Vanacker’s day-to-day operations with more and more automations depending on accurate Pozyx positioning. Being driven by automation is an extension of Vanacker’s philosophy to look ahead and put new technology at the service of creating better experiences. Not just for customers but for colleagues, too.
We love it when technology gets out of the way and makes things easier. And that’s exactly what the Pozyx UWB solution does at Vanacker. It gives us peace of mind to focus on our job and not worry about security, systems, or access control. That’s the kind of automation we love to invest in!”