Vertical Harvest selected Elevated Signals to supercharge its digital transformation
Credit: Hanna Hardaway
Case Studies Inventory Quality and Compliance

Case Study: Guiding Vertical Harvest Through Digital Transformation and AI Adoption

Elevated Signals
Elevated Signals
"Being able to capture all our production data in real-time, in one place, has greatly improved our ability to make informed inventory decisions. Elevated Signals has been instrumental in enabling us to accurately calculate yield performance, pinpoint areas for operational improvement, and gain a full understanding of our costs.
- Michael Chin, Chief of Farm Operations at Vertical Harvest

Unpacking the Vertical Farming Industry’s Growing Pains

The vertical farming industry, known for its potential to transform agriculture with high-yield, space-saving crop production, is undergoing a significant shift. Initially praised for its revolutionary potential, the industry is now grappling with both operational and financial challenges, such as high startup costs and ongoing expenses like maintenance and labor.

Despite these hurdles, the current "Trough of Disillusionment" phase offers a valuable chance to move up the “Slope of Enlightenment” by embracing more innovative practices through digital transformation:

Gartner Research's Hype Cycle

Elevated Signals joined forces with Vertical Harvest, a pioneering company within the vertical farming industry, to supercharge their journey in digital transformation. Together, we're tackling the inherent operational issues that drive up production costs within the indoor farming sector.

The key to financial viability in this industry hinges on improving productivity and hitting production targets to bring down costs. Addressing these challenges is crucial to make Vertical Harvest's operations profitable and sustainable. Our partnership has already achieved significant strides in streamlining their operations through digitization, data centralization, and automation.

Now, Vertical Harvest is advancing towards Artificial Intelligence (AI) adoption, marking a new phase in our partnership. This step is about more than just new technology; it's focused on finding critical insights and enhancing operational efficiency to inspire further innovation.

By analyzing their existing operations and data, we at Elevated Signals are set to develop AI-driven strategies and recommendations customized for Vertical Harvest. This tailored approach aims to refine their processes and accelerate their growth, helping them reach new levels of success more efficiently.

What is Vertical Harvest? 🌿

Vertical Harvest is a hydroponic, vertical farming company with a focus on community-centric farms, food, and futures. Operating year-round, its farms serve as innovative urban models for fresh food production, coupled with significant social impact. The farm, unique for having 40% of its staff come from the disability community, designs all operations with accessibility in mind.

Vertical Harvest's first facility, a state-of-the-art three-story vertical hydroponic farm in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, was the first of its kind in North America. It produces a variety of vegetables such as tomatoes, arugula, lettuce, and microgreens.

These products are then mixed, packaged, and distributed to a wide range of customers, from the culinary industry and institutional food services to grocery stores like Whole Foods and Albertsons. Vertical Harvest's model has effectively replaced 50,000 lbs of produce previously transported into the community.

Now, Vertical Harvest's growth continues, with two new farms underway in Westbrook, Maine, and Detroit, Michigan as part of their larger plan to expand further.

Westbrook, Maine Facility Rendering

Before Teaming Up

Unreliable Data, Difficult Decisions: Vertical Harvest faced difficulties due to inconsistent data management, resulting in unreliable inventory and production information. Without accurate real-time data, making informed operational and financial decisions led to less precise planning and financial projections. This ultimately reduced their profit margins due to increased waste.

Vertical Harvest faced difficulties with managing accurate inventory and making operational data useful for the business. Their data was spread across various spreadsheets, paper records, and different software systems, resulting in no single reliable source of truth. This lack of unified data limited the finance team’s ability to analyze key metrics like cost per batch, complicating asset tracking and cost computation.

This fragmented approach to data management hindered Vertical Harvest’s ability to plan and forecast effectively, particularly within Jackson’s seasonal economy. The absence of dependable inventory data often led to either overproduction or shortages, negatively impacting their operational efficiency and ability to respond to market demands. The seasonal variations in Jackson heightened the need for precise data management to align production with demand accurately.

“We used to rely on multiple software systems and Google Sheets for managing historical data, but it was challenging to collect and interpret this information effectively.”

Michael emphasizes, "We realized the need for a more structured approach to data collection across our farm, ensuring it was accessible and usable for all departments."

After Teaming Up

Elevated Signals delivered a digital solution to help Vertical Harvest overcome these challenges. By centralizing inventory transactions into one reliable source, Vertical Harvest's team can now produce accurate, streamlined reports on inventory and production costs.

"Being able to capture all our production data in real-time, in one place, has greatly improved our ability to make informed operational and financial decisions,” said Michael Chin. “Elevated Signals has been instrumental in enabling us to accurately calculate yield performance, pinpoint areas for operational improvement, and gain a full understanding of our costs.”

Credit: Hanna Hardaway

He adds, “The team has actively helped develop and implement an approach, providing training for our operations team. As farm operators, we rely on top-tier partners like Elevated Signals to enhance our technology stack. Their solution perfectly meets our needs, offering scalable best practices that are easily tracked and managed through the software.

Having successfully achieved digital transformation, Vertical Harvest is now working with Elevated Signals on AI-driven initiatives for predictive analytics, supply chain optimization, and improved operational efficiency.

Their Success 🎉

Digital-First Operations: Elevated Signals' automation of data collection for Vertical Harvest has freed up resources and improved data accuracy. This advancement simplifies data extraction and provides a complete business overview, crucial for the profitability and sustainability of their vertical farm.
Scalable Best Practices: By implementing farm-level inventory software through the Elevated Signals platform, Vertical Harvest has effectively transformed their farm operations into scalable best practices. This development instills confidence in their ability to expand production processes across multiple farms.
Streamlined Data Management and Reporting: With Elevated Signals' centralized digital platform, Vertical Harvest now enjoys a unified source for inventory, cost, and real-time data. This greatly simplifies their data management process, enabling accurate and immediate reporting. Ultimately, this bolsters both operational and financial planning, facilitating improved decision-making and efficiency across departments.

Michael Chin, Chief of Farm Operations at Vertical Harvest, highlights:

“Elevated Signals worked with us to create an inventory solution that automates the collection of production data, making it easily usable across different departments. Data once trapped in spreadsheets is now readily available, providing valuable insights into yield, efficiency, and costs. This has been instrumental in establishing best practices for our farm operations, a key factor in achieving scalability and profitability."

The relationship between Vertical Harvest and Elevated Signals is further defined by a genuine partnership. “Thanks to the dedicated support from their customer success team, we’ve been able to customize the software to perfectly fit the unique demands of our vertical farming operations,” Michael Chin adds.

Looking for a centralized digital platform to simplify and automate your inventory tracking? Discover how Elevated Signals’ modern manufacturing software can guide you toward increased profitability. Speak with us to learn more or get a demo. 😎

Credit: Hanna Hardaway