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Siemens Frankfurt installs vertical farming for its own employees

Anyone who eats in the employee restaurant at the Siemens Frankfurt branch in Gateway Gardens in the future will receive meals made from food grown on-site. This is made possible by a vertical farming model that has been installed in the restaurant and is operated by employees of the branch. In the model, various types of sprouted vegetables, basil, and pak choi will initially be grown, harvested, and used to prepare meals for employees and visitors to the Siemens Frankfurt branch. In the future, other herbs and vegetables will be grown.
The idea of ​​growing under controlled conditions (controlled environment agriculture) came from employees at the branch. The basis for this was an ideas competition as part of the Siemens Future Fund. The future fund agreed between Siemens and the company's general works council is intended to create a learning organization to minimize the risks of structural change and, at the same time, optimize the opportunities for change in the interests of employees. Part of this includes learning programs that target employees' sustainability skills.

The ideas competition was launched by the management and the works council of the Siemens Frankfurt branch. All employees at the branch were asked to submit a sustainable project idea to raise awareness of sustainability at the site. The Frankfurt employees submitted around 25 project ideas. The ideas were examined and evaluated by a jury for feasibility. The three best-rated ideas were presented at the staff meeting. The employees decided to implement vertical farming in the Frankfurt branch via live voting.
"I am very proud of the constructive ideas, commitment, and enthusiasm of the Siemens workforce in Frankfurt," emphasizes Claus Thiede, operations manager of the Siemens branch. "With the vertical farming model, which is operated with Siemens control technology, we can grow food all year round in a controlled environment. The robust health of the plants and the accelerated growth rates help to minimize water consumption."

The model of the start-up greenhub solutions is operated by the Siemens Restaurant Services team. The freshly harvested products can be processed directly in the restaurant. "Although the yields do not cover all of our daily needs, they offer an excellent opportunity to think outside the box," explains Marco Ribas-Heredia, Regional Manager of Restaurant Services at Siemens. "We are convinced that this project will generate enthusiasm not only in our employee restaurant but also across the industry and provide important impetus for the food industry."

The vertical farming model enables efficient and sustainable plant growth. Together with the greenhub farm management app, the Siemens components in the model's control box enable automated watering and lighting of the plants. By using the latest generation of circuit breakers, electrical parameters can also be easily recorded and transmitted to mobile devices, PCs, or higher-level IoT interfaces to support cloud applications. The greenhub model continuously collects data on plant growth to optimize the control of light and nutrients. This data makes it possible to maximize resource efficiency while producing high-quality food in an environmentally friendly way and without pesticides.

Cultivation under controlled agricultural conditions
Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) is a technology-based farming method that combines sustainability and profitability. Siemens' control systems make it possible to optimize plant growth, conserve resources, and increase yields while taking advantage of automation and data-driven insights. The result is a decisive competitive advantage: products from a CEA plant are significantly larger and of higher quality than plants from conventional agriculture. At the same time, Controlled Environment Agriculture uses fewer resources such as water, soil, pesticides, and general land use. Compared to traditional farming methods, up to 95 percent of water can be saved, and more than 300 percent growth per square meter can be achieved.

Advanced technology for smart agriculture
The advancement of plant science combined with more accessible data is leading to new concepts of smart agriculture. Farmers are using AI, analytics, and IoT to make novel decisions, e.g., based on real-time data on weather, temperature, and soil moisture. Automated and digitized processes help reduce energy and labor costs. Siemens' automation and digitalization solutions help create transparency for this data.

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