Service is perhaps the most important part of a maintenance contract. It can make available to you the help you need whenever you need it. It can also minimise the disruption you experience from routine maintenance, but which is essential to plant health and yield.
At first glance, it may not look as though there are that many things that can go wrong. Such structures consist mostly of aluminium and glass with some steel pipes running around the inside, a bit of irrigation, and a drainage system. More advanced ones have computers that automatically make adjustments to heat, light, and water as needed. With the Internet-of-everything on our doorstep, it seems that glasshouses should just about run themselves.
But they don't.
Like any other system, they need to be monitored and maintained. In fact, the slightest change one way or the other can make the difference between a high yield and a poor one.
So what can go wrong? Why would you need a service contract anyway? Let's look at the several parts of a glasshouse to find out.
The most obvious part of a glasshouse is the glass. It's probably the first thing you notice, too.
If it's dirty, then it will reduce photosynthesis and make your plants spindly. It's also a sign that bacteria could be growing. The humidity on the inside of a glasshouse needs to be carefully controlled, too. Too much, and it becomes a breeding ground for all manner of destructive algae and mould. Not enough, and the plants begin to close down.
Wind and snow may be the biggest hazards for greenhouses as both can crack panes or break them altogether. Not only does it let heat out and unwanted pests in, but loose sheets could be a hazard to your employees as well as your customers. Special equipment, such as roof ladders and gutter walking aids, are necessary to access and repair it.
You may wish to do some or all of this work, and perhaps you intend to when you have the time. A service contract can take away the bother by letting you forget all about it.
Nuts, bolts, and screws can come loose over time and fall out. On occasion they may even break. Given the fact that you're working in your glasshouse nearly every day, it's possible to get to where you can't see the wood for the trees. This is where an independent and objective eye can pay his / her way. When all you do is build, repair, and service glasshouses and their integral parts, you get a sense of what needs to be fixed. You can spot problems that others miss.
Leaks can form in your irrigation and drainage systems. These are not easy to trace. Sometimes the only hint you'll get is an inexplicable increase in your water bill.
Cracked or clogged hoses and faulty valves can also create problems by preventing water from running at the desired pressure.
Growing systems are where the "rubber meets the road" so to speak. It's the place where plants are grown, fed, and harvested.
Troughs of soil with the crop in them are suspended from the ceiling, and water and fertilizer are introduced via micro-irrigation hoses. Any and all of those parts can suffer from deterioration with use.
Heating refers to the introduction of heat within the greenhouse, rather than the management of it through ventilation, screens, or glass paint.
It takes a well-maintained boiler to provide a reliable heat source throughout the year. You don't want it to fail when there's an unexpected frost.
Ventilation is a large part of how the interior temperature of greenhouses is controlled. Large fans circulate the air and prevent stratification.
Motorized racks and pinions open and close roof windows as if choreographed for a command performance.
Quite often, thermal shading screens are used, too - to prevent too much heat from reaching the leaves or to trap the heat in the night to prevent frost from forming on the plants or to offset the colder outdoor temperatures.
All manner of machinery can be found inside a greenhouse which requires routine maintenance. Lubrication is essential to keep everything running smoothly and to prevent overheating.
Parts wear out from constant use, and regular checks can forestall catastrophic problems later on.
It's amazing how many parts are required to construct a greenhouse. There are the concrete dollies and side panels, the aluminium for the frame; pipes, valves and pumps; clamps, bolts and hooks; fixings and fittings; and of course the glass. All these things are combined to make your greenhouse function as it should so that you can obtain the best yields possible.
It makes sense to have expert engineers take a look at your facility on a regular basis, not only so that potential problems can be rectified before they get out of hand, but so that you can get on with what you love to do most: grow and sell your crop.
You really shouldn't have to worry about doing all the maintenance as well.