Entering the flower auction buildings in Naaldwijk, one of four locations for the Dutch company Royal FloraHolland, is a mind-blowing experience. First – it’s the proportions. The airy distribution halls with their fragrant smell of flowers are the size of 11 football fields. Then it’s the logistics. For the 4-5 hours in which the auctions take place, an average of 46.000 pots or buckets of plants and flowers change hands. All these flowers are stored in Naaldwijk from the night before. As the auctions start the flowers are transported to the distribution hall in automotive carts. When the content of the carts has been sold, it is redistributed and taken to the customer’s area on fast-going vehicles. Literally kilometers of flowers pass through the distribution center every day. To the uninitiated eye it appears chaotic, but in reality, it is an extremely efficient system perfectioned over many years.
The auctions themselves are also an intriguing experience. There’s no auctioneer at the site, instead, fourteen “auction clocks” are used. The auction clocks are represented by large screens in the different bidding halls. Some of the bidders are physically present in the halls but an increasing number participate online. Thus, a bundle of flowers can as easily be won by a buyer in Russia as by a local trader. Either way the bidding is done from computers in a system that grants the buyers full anonymity. The benefit of turning up in person is the opportunity to inspect the plants and flowers. The online bidders rely on pictures, quality assessments and judgment sampling.
But the distribution hall is only a part of the Royal Flora Holland complex in Naaldwijk. All in all, the company disposes more than 900 000 square metres here, almost half the size of Monaco. Glamox has supplied lighting for the distribution halls, cooling halls, flower inspection area, offices and more. In addition, we are supplying a lot of the lighting for the Aalsmeer site. Adding up it has probably been more than 80.000 luminaires over the years. The history of the collaborations with the project department in Naaldwijk goes back more than three decades, to a time when both companies were smaller and had different names.
“The history stretches back to 1981 when I had just started working here. Glamox supplied the lighting to the first cooling hall, Aircofleur 1,” says Project Manager and head of the Project department Marcel Toussaint. Toussaint is among other things in charge of the areas that are rented out to customers. The areas comprise halls and office space and are the subject to continuous change as customers grow out of one location and is relocated to another. “The service we get from Glamox is quick and good”, Toussaint says.
Even though the flowers themselves are more sensitive to temperature and humidity changes than to different lighting, finding the right lighting products and solutions for a place like the Naaldwijk complex isn’t straight forward.
“In general, we want products that have a high quality and that require little maintenance. A lot of dust is created in the areas where the flowers and plants are stored. Hence, we need dustproof luminaires. We also need products with good colour rendering so that our customers can assess the quality of the flowers properly, project manager Dennis Harteveld explains.
New times, new lighting
Harteveld’s colleague Frans Tulling, has been with the company since 2002. He has a background in architectural design, but enjoys the opportunity Royal FloraHolland gives him to work with a wide variety of projects. When it comes to lighting, he has seen a gradual development towards more user oriented solutions. Among other things, this has resulted in the implementation of lighting that can be tuned up to 4000 Kelvin.
“Recent research shows that a more complete spectrum is healthier for people. It took some persuasion, but now it seems like people are happy with the results”, Tulling explains.
Although very favorable electricity prices make the economic incentive for replacing conventional light sources small, the company is now opting for a greener alternative by gradually phasing in LED products.
“We work very closely with Glamox to get the right input. Our company is not like any other and it takes time to understand how we work and what we need. That’s why we choose to work very closely with our suppliers. I also appreciate to have someone with the professional authority on lighting behind me when we make decisions about lighting,” Tulling says.
In the Royal FloraHolland maintenance department teamleader Peter Voogt and technician Sedat Sari also have long experience with Glamox products. “We are very satisfied about the way Glamox handle things.
“To us, Glamox stand for quality”, Sari says.
Driving along the A20 motorway at Maasdijk, you can’t miss this site – sturdy anthracite grey square frames of varying sizes with huge glass partitions. The site looks out over the green Westland, the area where its work is done and where it all began.
Systems for greenhouse builders
In 1989, brothers Paul and Koen Brabander launched PB Tec. They are the sons of a greenhouse builder, and are very familiar with glass walls. The company develops and produces systems for greenhouse builders the world over, with offices not only in the Netherlands but also in Canada and the United States. Wherever you go in the world, people need irrigation, light, electrical engineering and automations. Their systems are installed in greenhouses growing vegetables, fruit, and flowers, offering the most food production efficiency per square metre, lower CO2 emissions, and less water consumption thanks to their water treatment equipment and filter systems. Dutch growers use only 10% of the water used by other growers by reusing drain water in closed cultivation systems. There’s a lot of progress still to be made worldwide.
Koen Brabander is glowing with pride as he shows us around their new site. “We’re never short of clients – we’re one of the biggest and most well-known suppliers in this niche market. We haven’t even advertised in years, though actually we’ve found that not advertising comes with its own problems as people within the sector don’t know who we are. That makes it difficult to attract staff in today’s tight labour market. Since you really can’t miss this new site, though, we’re hoping that people will see it and take an interest. We’re looking for the best technicians, and when we recruit them, they’ll earn top dollar. Our production capacity could be doubled, and given current issues around global food supply and the heavy demands being placed on energy and water use, there are huge opportunities for us,” Brabander explains.
From outside you can clearly see the C80 linear luminaires through the glass partitions. The outside wall is dark, contrasting with the white floors and walls inside, creating a peaceful atmosphere.
The C80 luminaires have been installed throughout the project, in office areas, the managers’ offices, the canteen, and the fitness areas. Different ceiling systems were chosen, with a slat ceiling in various shades of grey as well as a light coffered ceiling. The aim was to have the continuous lines of light visually passing through both ceilings. To this end, Glamox installed a surface mounted and a recessed version of the C80. The custom layout of the C80 luminaires was made following consultation with the architect, construction company, installer and plasterer. This luminaire is designed for this type of application Luckily, the end result is exactly what everyone hoped it would be.
Working with A&B Electrotechniek
Of course, the C80 lines are not the only luminaires installed in the site - others have also been used, carefully selected to match the design, environment, and the jobs to be done in each area. A flower garden with beautiful outdoor lighting is still being designed. A&B Electrotechniek is in charge of installing all of the light fittings. From day one, Glamox and A&B Electrotechniek have worked closely together to design a plan that works as well as possible. The lighting can be dimmed, and is operated by presence detection sensors. If you drive past the site at night, you’ll see the lines flowing gently. They dim to a very energy-efficient level to light the site up. The luminaires have been calibrated by A&B Electrotechniek in a way that allows all of the lighting to be operated from a panel in the reception area.
“A proactive partner”
A&B Electrotechniek Project Leader Mehmet Tuncer tells us: “When we chose Glamox, we were stepping away from the luminaires described in the specifications. The mean reasons we did this were: the lighting advice Glamox gave us along with the light calculations they provided, the quality and design of the luminaires, and their transparent operations. Glamox is a proactive partner, which makes them great to work with.”
Nothing has been left to chance with this site; every single feature has been designed with a brilliant workplace in mind. Socially, staff will be able to use the fitness area even during working hours, and the canteen includes entertainment such as race simulators and table football. For PB’s ambition: be the best at what we do, all of the preconditions must be met. The perfect outcome from thinking inside the box 2.0.
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