Hortilux Drives Business Model Change with IoT-Enabled Grow Light Platform based on Mendix

About the case

HortiSense combines Operations Technology (OT) including sensors, actuators, communication devices and industrial PCs in the greenhouse collecting data, with Information Technology (IT) to process data on AWS IoT and turn data into actionable insight with applications built on Mendix for Hortilux employees and customers.

Asset Performance Management

  • Automatic prevention of overheating of transformers and electrical panels
  • Real-time monitoring of power quality and costs
  • Automatic intervention in case of low power quality

Maintenance Management

  • Prediction of remaining lifetime of lamps
  • Automatic repair alerts for transformers & panels
  • Digital service requests
  • Customer portal for maintenance reports, warranties, technical drawings

Light Management

  • Real-time monitoring of light levels (Umol)
  • Real-time insight into light sum (sun light + supplemental light)
  • Insight into cost per Umol

Crop Yield Management

  • Digital cultivation schedule
  • Light strategies based on plant physiology (e.g. light response curve) and life cycle
  • Automatic light adjustment based on predictive analytics (e.g. weather forecast and energy prices)

Challenge

Horticulture growers across the globe use Hortilux grow light systems in their greenhouses for yearround production, and to ensure consistent and uniform quality levels of their crop.

As the leader in grow light solutions, Hortilux’s mission is to help its clients increase the yield per square meter (m2). Having started as a manufacturer of grow light fixtures, the company now offers end-to-end grow light solutions: advice, engineering, installation, project management, hardware, and maintenance.

To maintain its position as market leader and continue providing high-quality service, Hortilux started looking for ways to expand the services it provides to growers. Through the use of IoT, the company radically transformed its business model.

The Hortilux management team realized that they will provide added value for their customers with IoT improving their customer relations and engagement. Keeping the mission in mind, they realized that the new frontier for increasing crop yield was to optimize availability and lifetime of grow light systems, and help reduce energy cost by providing growers insight into light levels and advice on smart light strategies.

The key to offering new services was to equip grow light systems with sensors to collect data on system performance and energy consumption, combine it with other sensor data from the greenhouse, and turn that data into actionable insight.

We are convinced that the IoT is a transformative and unstoppable force. Therefore, we needed an innovation platform that allows us to easily extend our proposition and quickly deliver new functionality. That’s why we selected Mendix.

Solution

The ideas for new engaging customer services didn’t develop overnight. The path to innovation was iterative and explorative with ideas that were seemingly sound but had to be abandoned as they turned out not to work in practice or were not of interest to customers. The challenge was not so much the technology but finding ways to offer customers a value-added experience.

This is where Mendix came into sight. Mendix partner First Consulting helped Hortilux in their transition. They advised Hortilux to leverage the Mendix high productivity platform for rapid experimentation of IoT app development and implemented the cloud architecture.

The collaborative environment for business and IT to jointly explore and prototype ideas, the visual development with integrations to IoT technologies and other backend services to rapidly build web and mobile apps, and the 1-click cloud deployment, allows for a Test & Learn approach at low cost, which is imperative to drive IoT innovation.

The prototyping phase culminated in a brandnew proposition for growers: Hortisense, a digital platform that monitors and safeguards various grow light processes in the greenhouse using sensors and PLCs. Software applications interpret the data and present valuable information to the grower anytime, anywhere, and on any device.

Results

The HortiSense platform further strengthens Hortilux’s leadership position in the market. The Asset Performance Management and Maintenance Management solutions drive smarter operations at Hortilux, reducing the cost of service and maintenance activities. Growers benefit from longer lifetime and higher levels of availability of the equipment. The Light Management and Crop Yield Management solutions are pivotal to establishing a deeper and more engaging customer relationship and increasing retention.

The information that is shared with growers allows them to optimize their grow light strategies for energy cost and yield per m2.

“Near term, we plan to launch at least two innovations per quarter for the HortiSense platform,” says Arno Wartewig, Director Business Development at Hortilux. “The IoT-enabled services and apps built on Mendix have helped Hortilux change its business model from manufacturer and product seller, to total solution provider, including value added software services.”

About Hortilux

Hortilux is a leading company for grow light solutions in the horticultural industry. Hortilux delivers total solutions, from advice, design, installation, and service, focused singularly on improving crop yields for their clients. Their digital grow light solution platform, HortiSense, offers horticultural clients realtime monitoring of their grow light assets, proactive, predictive maintenance solutions, and prescribed strategies to increase crop yields.