Controlling everything

Increasing Profits Supplement 2018 - 2018 Increasing Profits: Environmental Controls

Argus Controls fulfills distinct needs at all three Houweling’s Tomatoes locations.

May 29, 2018

Houweling’s Tomatoes controls all of its equipment with Argus Controls.
Photo courtesy of Argus Controls

Argus Controls provides flexibility for Houweling’s Tomatoes, a greenhouse operation that grows an array of tomato types, including heirloom, cherry, grape, tomatoes on the vine and Roma, at three sites. The business has 30 acres of growing space in Mona, Utah; 125 acres in Camarillo, California; and 50 acres in Delta, British Columbia.

Casey Houweling, owner of Houweling’s Tomatoes, says the business controls all its equipment using Argus Controls. “It’s not only a climate computer, but it also controls our cooler, our water sterilization system and our filtration systems,” he says. “You can go on and on about all the different things it does. We even control packing equipment.”

Houweling’s Tomatoes has unique needs at all three of its sites, Houweling says. For instance, its Mona operation, located on a power plant, controls its flue gas offtake through Argus Controls. The heat is low-grade, so standard programs do not work with it. “There are all kinds of safeties to take care of and ensure that nothing goes wrong at the power plant and nothing goes wrong on our end, besides the control of managing the hot water storage tank and everything else,” he says. And Argus Controls helps the grower follow these protocols.

At both its Mona and Camarillo locations, Houweling’s Tomatoes uses a force-pressurized greenhouse system called Ultra-Clima. “It’s a unique greenhouse with unique demands,” Houweling says. “There’s a screen system in it. It’s got all the bells and whistles. Plus, the greenhouse is pressurized through a fan tube system, and you’ve got humidity control and CO2 and all the other programs with it.”

Argus Controls’ systems are flexible and offer a number of possibilities for Houweling’s Tomatoes.
Photo courtesy of Argus Controls

Argus Controls’ systems use feed-forward control intelligence, which means they can adjust to environmental conditions in real-time. Working within Ultra-Clima greenhouses, it is beneficial that Argus Controls’ systems are quick-reacting and offer an assortment of possibilities, Houweling says.

In addition, growers can map out the data that Argus Controls records, Houweling says. “Any parameter you set in, you can graph, so it’s got huge graphing capabilities,” he says. “Basically, whatever you want to graph, you can graph.”

To use a sophisticated environmental control system to its full potential, growers need to have a certain skillset — or employees that do, Houweling says. “You need good qualified technical people onsite because the more flexible a program is and the more capabilities you have, you really need to know, ‘What do I want to do?’ ‘How am I going to do it?’” Houweling says. — Patrick Williams