The TTA PackPlanter, recently brought to market by Bouldin& Lawson, is a small, economical and versatile transplanter. The machinedesign combines the features of a high-speed production transplanter with anentry-level price point. On-the-fly adjustments for planting depth and plantshift for overly developed top growth, as well as gripper design with pusherpins to assist extraction of plugs, make the TTA PackPlanter a great primarytransplanter for the small grower or a supplemental transplanter for the largegrower.
Design and Performance
“When we came up with the concept for this machine, welooked at entry-level transplanters and attempted to incorporate bothinnovations and improvements to what was currently available,” said StevenBiles, international trade director and TTA product manager at Bouldin &Lawson.
The TTA PackPlanter is a lightweight, narrow (83 x 34 x 71inches), 16-gripper machine that works with a variety of plug trays, from72-512 and flats from 1204-606. It has a production speed in excess of 19,000plugs per hour and offers growers an entry-level price point in the$50,000-60,000 range, as well as a fast production speed.
“Price was the first thing that attracted me to thetransplanter,” said Bart Olson owner of Olson’s Greenhouse Gardens inSantaquin and Salem, Utah. “When I went to a demonstration that Bouldin& Lawson offered, I discovered that the machine was half the price of my32-gripper, and it plants probably 75 percent of what the 32-gripper woulddo.” Olson purchased the PackPlanter immediately after the demonstrationto use at his smaller location in Salem.
TTA’s use of a combined drive system for the pick and placeunit, which uses two Servo Motors tied together with a common drive, allows forsmooth, precise and fast movement and drastically increases the cycle time orproduction rate of planting. “There is no other transplanter that movesvertically and horizontally like this machine does,” Biles said.”This is the first transplanter that utilizes a combined drive system, orwhat we call a Gantry System. The advantage is that we are able to get fastmovements with a smooth, fluid transition.”
The design also features on-the-fly adjustments, such asvariable speed planting, planting depth, plant shift, travel height and trayejecting. “Planting depth adjustments are very easy,” Olson reported.”Our machine operator has never worked in production before and hasimmediately picked up on it.”
Adjustable side plant shifts help in the extraction ofproblem plugs by shifting the grippers so they move horizontally across thetray and get under the foliage before moving down to extract the plug. The maximumgripper spread for container to container transplanting is from a single 512plug into a pot up to 41/2 inches, a 288 plug into a pot up to 6 inches and a72 or 84 plug into hanging baskets of up to 10 inches.
According to Olson, the TTA PackPlanter outperforms othertransplanters in speed as well as easy changeover for the plug tray andfinished containers. The transplanter does not require any reprogramming. Plugtray and flat settings are stored in memory for easy access, along with a self-diagnosticto insure minimal downtime.
“A technician rarely has to come in to makeadjustments,” Biles said. “The operator can program any sizecontainer. Your plug trays and your finished flats are stored in thememory.”
The gripper adjustments and replacement with no tools makethe TTA PackPlanter easy to maintain. “At this point,” explainedOlson, “the only thing we do is just clean the machine at the end of theday and lube it at certain areas. We have to replace a gripper finger everyonce in a while,” Olson added, but “the grippers are very easy tochange; it’s just a matter of undoing a screw with your hands.”
In addition, the lightly designed pick and place unitminimizes the wearing of the machine’s bearings, as well as the wearing of thetransplanter moving parts.
On-the-fly adjustment, which the operator can do while themachine is running, easy changeover and simplicity of operation confirm thatthe TTA PackPlanter is a great entry-level transplanter, as well assupplemental transplanter for larger growers who need multiple automatedtransplanting lines for different products and container sizes. “It iscritical to have a good transplant machine,” Olson said. “I’ve beenreally happy that we’ve purchased this one, and I have already recommended theproduct to others.”