A new system that uses NFC phones and RFID tags to track how many grapes each worker has harvested means Bodega Norton winery in Argentina now saves a day every week collating how much each worker has picked and what they should be paid.
The new NFC solution replaces a paper- and RFID tag-based system that required one day a week to be spent by workers collecting, counting and processing tracking chips so that the correct wages could be paid to each harvester.
"On that day, harvesters were unable to earn compensation collecting grapes and the winery did not have grapes to proceed with wine production," says HID Global, which worked with Fundación Ada Byron (FAB) on the new solution.
With the old system, thousands of aluminium or plastic chips of different colours and shapes were used to signify the amount of grapes picked by each harvesters, in order to work out how much they should be paid. These were then manually collated each week, in a process that took an entire day to complete.
"A harvester would collect an appropriate chip from a supervisor each time they picked a full bin of grapes and delivered it to a collection site," HID Global explains. "The harvester would pocket the chip, then return to gather another bin full. At the end of a workweek, each harvester would present their chips to a manager, who would tally them and issue a voucher which would be exchanged for payment.
"In some cases, pocketed chips were dropped and lost as harvesters moved through the rows of vines throughout the course of their workdays. As harvesters brought chips home after a day's work, there was also the chance of the chips being misplaced or stolen."
In the new system, each of Bodega Norton's 150 harvesters is issued with an armband equipped with an HID Global contactless card, grape collection bins are tagged with HID Epoxy Disc tags and vineyard supervisors are outfitted with NFC smartphones.
The supervisors then read the harvester's armband each time they deliver a full bin to a grape collection point, assuring both the worker and the supervisor that the collection bin has been counted and credited to the correct worker.
"Hand picking is the only way to harvest grapes properly to ensure the best wine, and at Bodega Norton, people bring to life the winery — if you cultivate the best people, they will help you produce the best wine," says Pablo Minatelli, vineyard manager for Bodega Norton.
"Due to the efficiencies of the new system, we pay better than other vineyards, and that means we attract the best harvesters... With the best people and reduced administrative time and expense, we get a better harvest and yield."
A video shows how the system works in practice: