24-hour Time

3pm or 1500 hours?

You can now choose a 12-hour or 24-hour time format on the ABCgrower App.

App Setting

The 12-hour format is set by default.  Enable the 24-hour format in the App Settings – this is a one-off step.

Tap the cog icon on the right of the blue main Menu banner. 

Turn on the Enter 24 hour time toggle.

Entering worker time on an Android device

The 24-clock shows two dials for setting the hours.  Tap the desired time on the clock face, or drag the hand around the inner or outer dial to the desired time.  

Alternatively, tap the keyboard icon and enter a time using the keyboard.

The images show the 24-hour format with hours selection on the left and minutes selection on the right.

Entering worker time on an Apple device

Use the dial picker.  The 12-hour format has hours one  to 12 and an am and pm option, the 24-hour format has hours one to 24.

Intra-Day App Toggles

Do you record intra-day times? Do your piece workers move between blocks one by one, rather than as a crew?

Then this maybe a tool for you… Introducing the Finish Intra-Day and Start Intra-Day toggles.  Use these to auto-create intra-day times when entering a picking record on the ABCgrower App.

Start of Day

Record an Intra-Day Start Time for your worker’s first Activity for the day via Worker Time in the usual way.

Finish Intra-Day

When a worker has done their final pick in a block, enter this via Enter Pick Data in the usual way, and turn on the Finish Intra-Day toggle. This will use the timestamp of the picking record to set the end time for that worker.

The fine print:  The Activity Type and Block/Variety of the Picking record and original Intra-Day Start time must match, or the toggle will be disabled.

Next Block

The worker moves into the next block and starts picking.  When their first pick in entered via Enter Pick Data in the usual way, turn on the Start Intra-Day toggle.

This uses the end time of the previous block as the start time of the new block for that worker.

Tips

It is not essential the toggle is engaged on the first picking record of the new block as it will remain available for a subsequent picking record, and still record the correct time.  This is because it uses the end time of the previous intra-day record to set the new intra-day start time.

Once the toggle is engaged it will become unavailable while the worker remains in that block.  This is a handy check if you’re unsure whether you’ve engaged the toggle for a Worker already.

The image below shows the information entered in the example above when uploaded to ABCgrower Web.  This is a partial record for a day and the timesheet will auto-update as further records are uploaded.

App Settings

Enable this functionality in the App Settings – this is a one-off step.

Tap the cog icon on the right of the blue main Menu banner. 

Tap Picking Settings and turn on the Finish Work Time toggle and/or Start Work Time toggle.

Minimum Wage Guarantee – Are you Ready for Harvest?

Are you ready for harvest? And we don’t mean your produce.

A minimum wage guarantee was introduced in Australia in April 2022 for horticultural workers who are paid piece rate . For many growers, the upcoming harvest will be the first time they’ve had to put the new rules into practice.

To meet requirements, employers have far greater record-keeping obligations, including recording the hours worked by a pieceworker in each task they do. Employers must also keep records of their workers competency in each task, which is defined as having at least 76 hours’ experience performing the task.

Workers whose earned hourly rate falls short of the minimum wage must be paid a top up for the shortfall. Further, the piece rate set for each task must allow for the average competent worker to earn the equivalent of at least 15% above the minimum hourly rate for the worker’s classification.

The administrative burden of the additional record keeping, and the complex calculations required to ensure workers are paid correctly in relation to the minimum wage and competency, are driving growers to drop piece rates altogether.

Paying hourly, however, comes with its own problems. Growers must ensure their workers’ hours fit within a long list of rules or face paying overtime. The very nature of harvest means that overtime rates are often applicable. What’s more, productive workers are incentivised by piece rate payment and growers potentially become unattractive to workers if their pay rates are not competitive.

Whether paying piece rate or by the hour, easy-to-use, robust software like ABCgrower is a must. With harvest underway at Smart Berries, farm manager Sally Jolly says “it’s made things heaps easier in the office; a life saver is how it’s been described”. ABC’s labour and farm management solution, ABCgrower, avoids double handling of information, reduces errors and risk of lost records. It is purpose built, and as founder Sharon Chapman says “it does all the complex calculations at the click of a button”. Remarkable Orchards manager Mark Sim agrees “doing the wages now is so straightforward. It works out the top ups automatically, and as there’s no more paperwork, we don’t agonise over poor handwriting. It really has made everyone happy.”

ABCgrower is horticulture-specific and offers productivity reporting, invaluable information for increasing efficiencies on the farm. With the information ABCgrower provides and incentive of fair wages and unlimited piece rate earnings for his workers, Widem Farming’s managing director Wim van Niekerk paid minimum wage even before the legislation change. Mr van Niekerk says “you can show the workers exactly what they’ve done, how much they’ve earned, what their friends have done and they realise they got so close to making extra money. The productivity the day after goes through the roof.”

As well as providing tools for worker management, ABCgrower has other benefits such as traceability, block cost information, and inventory/bin management, all in one system. Koala Cherries Chris Nealon says “time is very critical in a cherry harvest. With the ABC integration we have data at our fingertips. Our marketing team, our production team, in fact everyone can all see the information they need quickly and easily. It’s made us hugely more efficient”.

The ongoing inspections by the Fair Work Ombudsman, which have already seen fines issued, indicates there’s no room for non-compliance on the minimum wage legislation. The produce isn’t going to wait to be picked while growers sort out a solution, and nor is the FWO. ABC Software offers an obligation-free customised demonstration and a free 45-day trial with training. Growers who haven’t investigated a software solution should contact ABC today.

Part Bins

Got part filled bins at the end of the day?

It is particularly important with the recent changes to the Australian Horticulture Award that quantities are accurately recorded and there maybe times where you need to record a partially filled container. This enables you to pay your piece workers accurately – for their sake, and yours.

For example, a worker has picked a quarter of a bin and it’s knock off time. The bin is left in the field and will be filled up tomorrow. If you don’t record this you risk an unnecessary minimum wage top up as the worker’s productivity is falsely lowered. And they need to be paid for the work done.

The problem is having to know tomorrow what was recorded today – was it a quarter, 0.2, a third? We have a solution….

App setting

Enable this functionality in the App Settings – this is a one-off step.

Tap the cog icon on the right of the blue main Menu banner.

Tap Picking Settings and turn on the

 toggle.

Today

Enter Pick Data and enter the Qty of the part filled container as a number between zero and one.

Upload Data as usual.

Tomorrow

Download Settings at the start of the day. This will load any part containers that were recorded up to three days ago on any device and have been previously uploaded to the website.

Scan the same container and the Qty will be auto-populated with the remaining amount. This way you do not need to know accurately what volume was recorded in the first instance. The worker(s) can be the same or different.

No Need To Double Up Your Data

Avoid doubling your data entry

If an Intra-Day Time exists for a worker, you can set the ABCgrower App to automatically load the parameters into a Work Activity record. 

App setting

Enable this functionality in the App Settings – this is a one-off step.

Tap the cog icon on the right of the blue main Menu banner.

Turn on the Default from Intra-Day toggle.

Worker Time

Enter an Intra-day Time for your Worker(s) – Tap Set Worker Time, select the Activity Type and Grower and any further details as required by your business process.

Activity Record

Tap Enter Pick Data or Enter Non Pick Data, select the Worker, and the details from their latest Intra-Day Time record will be automatically loaded into the Work Activity record. Too easy.

Entering End Times On ABCgrower App Made Easy

Setting breaks and end times…with ease

If you record Intra-Day Times you may have noticed that when you tap Worker Time you now get a sub-menu with Add and Break / End.

Tapping Add takes you to the usual Set Worker Time screen where you can enter Start Times, End Times and Breaks as usual. Read on, this is where it gets really good…

Tapping Break / End gives you a list of all Workers with a Start Time for the day. This means you don’t have to scan or search for the workers again to enter their Break and/or End Time!

Tap the All checkbox, and/or tap individual names on the list, and then tap Update.

Break / End

If you are wanting to enter Unpaid Break Time only for the selected workers enter it here.

You can record Unpaid Breaks when entering Start Times or End Times, or leave a gap between activities, but it’s often best practice to record the break against the activity at the time of the break, and this functionality supports this.

Tap Enter End Time to enter the End Time, and optionally breaks, for the selected workers.

New tool for selecting crew members

When you want to choose more than one worker from a list on the ABCgrower App, you used to long press one of the names to enable multi-select. This has changed. Now you tap the list icon top right of the blue banner, and then you can tap the All checkbox, and/or tap individual names on the list.

Where to find staging tables and your data

Missing records?

I explained a while back about how information collected on the ABCgrower mobile App is passed through staging tables when it is uploaded to the website.  The records are checked for errors before they are passed to the relevant data tables.  If any records are in error the uploaded batch is held in the staging table.  Examples include double scanning of a unique bin number and scanning a worker who has been marked inactive. 

What’s new?


We’ve moved the staging tables out of the various menus into their own Mobile App menu.  The staging tables you can see depends on the modules your organisation uses and your user permissions.

The red notification icon shows when there are records being held in error, with the number on the notification telling you how many records there are.

What do I do with them?

Records are automatically processed every few minutes.  It’s possible for records to be in the staging tables but not in error if they’ve just been uploaded but not yet processed.  In this case you can click [Re-process] to push them through if you like.

If there are records in error there will be a message to tell you what’s wrong.  You can delete a record by clicking the adjacent rubbish bin icon.  Then you can click [Re-process] to push any remaining records through (or wait for them to auto-process).  Remember to re-enter the corrected record via the the appropriate page (e.g. Activity > Worker Activity) if necessary.

How to control the default ‘work date from’ date – updated!

Dating Tips – Part 2

Work Date From’ is a common filter in ABCgrower, like in Worker Activity Search for example.  It’s set to 3 months by default, but you have control over this.

Sound familiar? I talked about this a while back. Well, now it’s a whole lot better.  Not only can you set a default for your organisation, you can set different defaults for individual users.  For example, a manager who frequently runs daily reports may set the number of months to zero, and a spray operator who looks at the seasons data may set the number of months to three.

Set user default

Go to Settings > Users > click the User name link and select a value from the dropdown list in Work Date Default.  To set the default to the current date choose zero.  To keep using the default value set for the organisation leave the field blank.

Set organisation default

Go to Settings > Control and change the setting in Work Date Default.  To set the default to the current date select zero.  This will apply to any users without a value set on their user profile. 

Grow IT – July 2022

Welcome to your Winter issue of Grow IT.  We hope your harvests are fruitful and that you can take a few minutes out to catch-up on the news…

We’ve got a fully-packed newsletter for you – enjoy!

Sharon and the ABC team

We’re Invested!

We’re very pleased to announce that we’ve partnered with Jenkins Group Limited. Jenkin’s core competencies are specialised printing, distribution and technical service in the fruit and produce industry, and comprises Jenkins Freshpac Systems, J-Tech Systems, Globalpac Technologies, CR Automation and now, ABC Software.  ABC offers a complementary capability to the Jenkins Group, and Jenkins investment supports ABC’s plans for significant growth across New Zealand and Australia.  It’s a fantastic fit with well aligned business models, complementary cultures and shared values.   

Above is the J-Tech team with ABC at the Hort Connections event in Brisbane – we think you can spot Sharon and Alison pretty easily!

Events – lots of them!

It’s been an eventful few months – we had a great time at Hort Connections in Brisbane in June where we joined 3000 delegates for a key industry conference and exhibition. Key topics included: leveraging farm data with your customers, state of the industry panels, environmental issues affecting growers, bio-security, and future farming. In between conference sessions we were busy networking with delegates in the exhibition area – proudly sporting our new ABC shirts.  

Above you can see us (L – Alison, R – Sharon) with a rather flat Chris Hemsworth!
 

Events coming up

We’re back to Australia this month attending BerryQuest22 on the Gold Coast between 25-28 July.  This event brings together the berries community in a three-day event showcasing the latest innovations including growing techniques, research, packaging, export development, biosecurity, labour and marketing. We’re looking forward to networking and understanding more about what’s happening in the industry.  We’re also hoping to catch-up with our Aussie berry clients – so if you are attending get in touch and we can catch-up over a coffee (or a berry smoothie!). 

All the details here: https://berries.net.au/bqi2022/  

 

And, back in New Zealand, we’ll be attending the Apples and Pears Conference – NZAPI – in Nelson on 24-26 August.  The conference theme is Adapting to New Horizons and explores how the apple and pear industry can meet new horizons that have arisen over the last two years.  There will be presentations and discussions on growing our industry globally, strengthening our sustainability pillar, technology partnerships and telling our story to the world. 

We’re looking forward to mingling with colleagues and partners and listening to industry leaders.  If you are planning to go, come and find us – Sharon and Alison will be attending, we have a small exhibitor space with cake and a competition, it would be great to say Hi.  Did we mention there will be cake? 

All the details here:
https://www.applesandpears.nz/Library/General/NZAPI_Conference_2022 

 What’s New?

NFC Readability

The team has been working hard behind the scenes and we’re excited to let you know the ABCgrower Mobile App can now read NFC tags.  You can continue to scan worker cards or search for workers by name but now have the option to scan NFC tags.  If you have existing NFC tags, cards or wristbands, or are considering heading this way talk to us for more information.

App for Apple

The ABCgrower Mobile App was originally developed for Android because the scanners use this operating system.  But you’ve told us that on some farms you prefer Apple to Android, and you’re keen to use the App on your iPhones. There’s been a few hoops to jump through, but we are excited to announce an intended release date to the App Store of 31 July! 

Hot Topic – Productivity

Average productivity is a key component of the changes to the Australian Horticulture Award legislation. In order to determine average productivity, you need to know which workers are competent at the specific task. You need to know the time those competent workers spent on the task. And you need to know the quantities those workers did. When you have all that information, you can determine the average productivity. Now you need to put each worker against that average to determine if the worker is below average, or average and above. For those average and above, you should be paying them the 15% uplift. 


This can be a big ask when managing via spreadsheets. The person doing all this data collection and manipulation, is not doing the job they were doing last year. Who is doing that job? This is where good software tools come into play. Let the software handle the legwork of crunching the numbers and presenting information for decision making. Use your key staff in the roles you hired them for. Automation is the buzz in the horticulture industry. Software tools such as ABCgrower for worker productivity is automation. 

 

What would it mean to your business if you can see productivity every day? What decisions would/could you make? What opportunities does it create? Productivity is a fixed formula of quantity over time. What you do with this information, however, is a choice each farmer can make. Some ideas: 

  • Reward high performers 

  • Know your key workers and who to retain 

  • Motivate workers using comparisons on what other workers are achieving 

  • Identify poor performers, and act 


If you have questions, get in touch here.

 

Customised online demo

45 day obligation free trial

Comprehensive training at no cost

 

How to set pay rates in bulk

Work smarter, not harder

Paying your workers by the hour?  Any worker who is to be paid by the hour must have an Hourly Rate or Pay Grade set against their individual record.  Sounds painful? It doesn’t have to be. You can set Pay Rates and apply Pay Grades in bulk.  It really is as easy as ABC.

Tell me how?

If you’re using Pay Grades make sure these are setup first via Settings > Pay Grade.

Go to Worker > Worker, use the filters and Search for the workers (you can filter the list further in the next step).  Then click Create Pay Rate.

Enter the Effective From Date and the Hourly rate, or if using Pay Grades, tick the box and then select the Pay Grade from the dropdown list.

Select the workers you want the rate or grade to apply to and lastly, hit Create!