Logiqs Vertical Farming

This interview details Logiqs, an indoor farming technology company based in the Netherlands. The interview is with Gert-Jan van Staalduinen, Owner of Logiqs.

Source: Logiqs

What is the origin story of Logiqs?

 

The company was originally founded in 1975. The goal of the founder was that people wanted mobile growing systems where the plants move on benches in greenhouse, and there was only one supplier and he became the second supplier. Initially the projects were related to welding aluminum and related activities.

 

The reason growers wanted that, especially with flowering plants is because to induce flowering, you typically need a different climate than the climate needed to grow plants. If you have a greenhouse with maybe three climate zones, the plants move generally from zone one to three every week. You have the same amount of plants that are ready for the harvest and sale in that system. So you have a steady flow of produce instead of once a year a lot, and the rest of the year nothing.

Source: Logiqs

 

I joined the company in 1989, and my specialty was automation. To move the benches around. In the year 2011, we were also working with pallets moving systems and those were three-dimensional. The storage of pallets is often in a freezer warehouse. And for that, we use the same type of shuttle technology and software that we use in the greenhouse.

Source: Logiqs

 

We thought this might be a fun idea for vertical farming. So we posted a video with our plants moving automatically in our warehouse and that got picked up. We got our first customer in vertical farming. I think one of our first customers was Bowery Farming and they have grown a lot. We already had a good base in ornamental production and herbs in a greenhouse, so the vertical farming business was additional.

 

Occasionally right here in Holland we now see growing systems with three or four layers. The top layer with the sun and the other layers with artificial light or with no light.

Source: Logiqs

 

What are the biggest challenges?

With rising interest rates, and the fact that a lot of vertical farming companies are in trouble, investments in vertical farming are very low. There are only a few companies that have cashflow-positive operations in vertical farming.

 

So, whenever they expand they have to find investors for the expansion. So that market is slowing down a lot. We also made some systems for medicinal cannabis production in greenhouses in North America. That slowed down dramatically.

Source: Logiqs

 

Last year, the gas and energy prices in Europe went up sky-high because of the war in Ukraine and that led to it being very difficult for growers to find finance to build an extension or wanting to build an extra greenhouse. So these three markets, like the normal greenhouse ornamental market in Europe, the cannabis market worldwide, and farming worldwide are all suffering.

 

We are fortunate that we also do systems for automatic pallet storage, because that market is still going up. Last year the pallet portion for the business was 10%of our revenue and I think this year it will be 60%.

Source: Logiqs

What is the long term outlook in your opinion of indoor farming?

 

There is alack of space, there is a lack of water and we don’t want to pollute the planet. There are a lot of places where it’s difficult to produce high-quality vegetables. So there is a lot of reason that both greenhouse and vertical farming should be on the rise long term. I think that what we are having today is a temporary problem and it will get solved.

Source: Logiqs

What is unique about Logiqs?

 

We have been in business for almost 50 years in mobile growing systems. So we know how to move plants in two dimensions and in three dimensions. When we are doing it in two dimensions, we were part of the climate and light discussions that we had with our customers.

So for each type of plant, we need a special type of air movement and irrigation in combination with the bench. We have a long history of interacting with top-end growers in getting the growing conditions for the plant optimal and getting the logistics optimal.

Source: Logiqs

 

We have a big network and a lot of knowledge. What we see is that climate in three dimensions has extra challenges. So we think we have a good solution for homogeneous climate. So a part of our company is working on the climate and we have a partner for very homogeneous light.

 

If you control the logistics, climate, light, and irrigation, then you control all the growth factors for the plants. So I’m very confident about the coming years. We are also very curious, and that’s a core value of the company.

Source: Logiqs

Another unique aspect of the company is our core values. Our company core values are honest, kind, curious, responsible, and proud.

 

We are always curious about what would be a better solution. That’s been part of the company for 50 years. So quite a number of growers asked us for innovative solutions. This used to be mainly European and North American growers, but now there are more and more in the world connecting with us.

Source: Logiqs

 

What is the impact of Logiqs so far (revenue, customer quantity, etc)?

We look at the turnover mainly. The turnover used to be like 100% greenhouse, and then in2015, we had a very small portion that was in storage systems.

 

In 2016, there was a small portion of vertical farming and that portion grew. And I think last year that was half of our turnover. So it was like, let’s say 45%greenhouse 45%, vertical farm and 10% storage. This year, it will probably be60%, 20%, and 20% where it would storage being the 60%.

Source: Logiqs

So that’s a pretty drastic change and also with a turnover drop. So we had a continuous increase turnover in between 2014 and 2022. I think about a 30% turn over increase annually. So that’s pretty steep. And this year, I think it will be a bit more than half of what it was last year.

 

Right now we have one team that’s doing all three industries. I think if we grow, we have to split the teams. So then it will be sort of as if we have free companies and then the growth we expect in vertical farming will be the highest.

Source: Logiqs

 

It’s very difficult to predict the storage market, because that market at the moment is the biggest and we only take a very small part of that market whereas in the other two markets, we are a significant player. But we have a very good solution for storage, so maybe the increase this year will continue and then that part of the company will be the biggest.

I really liked the greenhouse. But in the greenhouse, it’s difficult to control the sun to get a homogeneous climate. In the current greenhouse systems, there is far higher water usage and also climate control is tougher, so to produce crops just in time to perfect quality is a challenge.

Source: Logiqs

The vertical farm has advantages and what you see in a lot of markets, just in time, perfect quality typically wins over price. I have a feeling that as the volume of vertical farming goes up, the genetics and development of plants will increase. In theory, the yields can be four times higher than they are today.

A lot of the plant genome is built to fight diseases and troubles that don’t occur in vertical farms. Yes, It will take a while but if the plant focuses on being healthy and nutritious and growing fast, then technically advanced vertical farms would win from outdoor and might also win from today's state-of-the-art greenhouse.

Source: Logiqs

What have you learned since starting Logiqs? 

A few of my observations over the years at Logiqs include a few thoughts:

 

In big companies owners are far away from day-to-day business, and there is an obligation to make a profit each quarter, so it can be hard for companies to take a long term view of their business.

Source: Logiqs

Product Development: As company grows in size, product development is typically slower and more expensive. The biology of plants is complex. The more we learn about plants, the more questions we have.

The world is changing faster every year: Now it is difficult to have a 10-year plan because of the amount of change happening in the world.

 

Specialization: Most vertical farming companies are taking on too much of the technology challenge, one company can’t be good at everything (lights, CEA, growing) 3 things stopping vertical farming from growing more:

 

  1. Genetics: with better genetics for vertical farms specifically, yields could be 4x current Levels
  2. Cooperation and standard development: people have to meet and develop standards
  3. Market acceptation. A more healthy, tasty, fresh product should be put in the shop for a higher price

 

Source: Logiqs

How can people learn more about Logiqs?

 

People can visit the Logiqs website at www.logiqs.nl.Here, they will find more information about the company, its products, and services. They can also find contact information, including a contact form that they can fill out to send us a message.

Make a vertical farm design online at https://greencube.logiqs3d.nl

Or a greenhouse design online at https://greenhousebenching.logiqs3d.nl

Or an automated pallet storage at https://asrs.logiqs3d.nl

 

Email Logiqs: People can send an email to Logiqs at info@logiqs.nl. This is the general email address for the company, and they can use it to ask questions or request information.

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Source: Logiqs

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