Previously, we used traditional time cards to track workers’ hours. However, there were often challenges with deciphering people’s handwriting and ensuring that everything was correct. It was also extremely time-consuming.
Schmitten Orchards Inc
How highly-regarded pear and cherry producer Schmitten Orchards utilizes Hectre’s Harvest, Timesheets, and QC modules to easily save time, manage multiple blocks, determine harvest bonuses, pinpoint and address quality control issues, and improve organization and decision-making across their business. Enhanced Quality Control. Time-Savings. Better Record Keeping. More Informed Decision-Making. Improved Traceability to Quickly Identify and Resolve Issues.
Fruit Types Pears & Cherries
Size 80 acres / 32 hectares
Using Hectre App Since February 2022
Modules In Use
Schmitten Orchards is a family-owned and operated orchard located in Central Washington. The orchard is currently managed by Mike Schmitten and owned by his father, Ray Schmitten. Ray is well-known in the fruit-growing community, often appearing in Good Fruit Grower Magazine and having held multiple roles in the tree-fruit industry.
Schmitten Orchards began with 30 acres of pear trees, which soon expanded to 50 acres of pears and 5 acres of cherries. The acreage has fluctuated over the years and now sits at 80 (32 hectares). The weather and elevation of the location provide ideal growing conditions for pears and cherries, as they thrive in a climate with long, hot summer seasons and minimal rainfall.
Mike has always loved farming and working with his dad. He got his agriculture license when he was 13 years old and fondly remembers hauling fruit into the warehouse and skipping school to help with the harvest season. “The farming lifestyle has always appealed to me,” says Mike, “I find it fulfilling.”
However, Mike concedes that the industry has become more challenging, which led him to explore different options, particularly different technologies, to improve efficiencies and make the orchard more financially sustainable.
Challenges & Solutions
We sat down with Mike to find out how Schmitten Orchards is using Hectre’s Harvest, Timesheets, and QC modules to gain valuable insights, track jobs and labor, and streamline orchard operations.
From Traditional to Tech
I wanted a more accurate and efficient way to keep track of everything, and that's exactly what Hectre has given us.
I have always been interested in technology, especially in its applications in agriculture. Therefore, I have spent a lot of time researching different types of farm technology to determine the most efficient and technologically-advanced to have the most impact on our business.
During my research, I stumbled upon Hectre and realized the solutions offered were exactly what I was looking for to move Schmitten Orchards away from the traditional methods of tracking labor, jobs, and tasks on the farm.
I had also noticed that a lot of the more experienced staff members tended to have everything in their heads and it was natural for them to remember everything. However, I wanted a more accurate and efficient way to keep track of things, with some structure that I could easily reference. That's one of the many reasons why Hectre is so helpful.
Timesheets Before Hectre
It was a really tedious process. Now with Hectre, it’s so much smoother and more efficient.
Everyone needed to handwrite their timesheets, and I had a columnar pad where I recorded all the pickers' names and kept a tally of the bins they picked each day. Then, because we pay bi-weekly, every two weeks, I would have to tally up all the bins that each picker had picked.
The information then had to be cross-referenced to ensure everyone had written down the correct information and it all matched up - it never did! After that, it had to be manually transferred to a spreadsheet and input into our payroll system. It was a really tedious process.
Fortunately, now we’ve got Hectre, the process is so much smoother and more efficient. Instead of relying on manual tallies, with Hectre, I can easily access a worker's harvest data for a specific period. The information is also far more accurate, and it's a huge time-saver - and if you’re saving time, you’re saving money as well.
Streamlining Orchard Operations
It's a huge time-saver. And if you’re saving time, you’re saving money.
Hectre has been an invaluable tool for streamlining our orchard operations. It allows us to be better organized and to track our operations more effectively. With Hectre, I can easily see where my managers have assigned everyone, which block they are working in, and even who to talk to in a particular area.
Being able to track employee locations is especially useful because we have multiple blocks spread out all over the place. It helps improve efficiency by allowing me to quickly locate a worker rather than driving around looking for them, which is often time-consuming.
Hectre has also made it much easier for me to manage everything without any confusion. By having all the tools and information in one place, we have been able to improve communication and ensure everyone, managers, employees, and owners, are on the same page.
One of the many benefits of Hectre is that I have the ability to track our fruit from the field to the warehouse. This has enabled us to identify any issues with the fruit and trace them back to the exact location they came from, helping us to improve our overall quality control.
With the Hectre app, I can track our fruit from the field to the warehouse and pinpoint quality control issues with precision.
We typically go to the warehouse to monitor the grading of our fruit and ensure that it's being handled correctly. The detailed tracking that the Hectre app provides means I can identify where certain bins came from, which helps me understand any quality issues we might be seeing.
For example, if I notice some rough-looking pears on the line, I can check which block the bin came from and see that it was in a low area that might have experienced frost damage. This kind of insight is really helpful for quality control and identifying areas of our farm that may be underperforming compared to others. The Hectre app allows us to pinpoint these issues with precision. It is pretty sweet to have access to this kind of information.
With the Hectre QC module, we save time, save money, and can easily track picker performance to encourage more accountability.
QC Benefits & Insights
The Hectre QC app helps me determine harvest bonuses, and I can show people their packout percentage while explaining my decision.
I find Hectre's quality control module to be incredibly user-friendly and effective. With the old paper system, there was a risk of losing important information and it wasn’t nearly as effective for tracking accountability or performance.
But with Hectre's QC module, we can take pictures of any issues, and track who picked the fruit, which means I can show the person responsible a picture of the issue and easily share feedback and encourage better performance. The QC module not only saves us time but also helps keep everyone accountable and ultimately saves money.
Another significant benefit is that I can use the information recorded in Hectre’s QC module to determine bonuses for each team member at the end of the harvest. With the QC information, I can see each person’s pack-out percentage, the amount of fruit that was damaged, and compare their performance against other pickers and the team in general.
Since there is often speculation of favoritism, it is very helpful to have concrete numbers to show and explain my decision. The numbers don't lie.
On top of that, I appreciate the fact that the QC module is customizable. I was able to add a couple of features that were specific to my needs, which the Hectre team made easy. Overall, I've been very impressed with the positive impact the QC module has had on helping us optimize our operations.
Hectre’s streamlined and efficient approach to orchard management is unmatched; I’m always recommending it to my colleagues.
Hectre has been an invaluable tool for managing our orchard. The Hectre app's streamlined and efficient approach to orchard management is unmatched by any other platform that I've come across.
Additionally, the support from Hectre has been outstanding, always responding promptly to any queries I've had. I've already recommended Hectre to several growers and will continue to do so without hesitation.