In West Texas, Florida-based Plant Agricultural Systems (PLANT-AS) is moving forward with investments in Amarillo and Lubbock. PLANT-AS delivers both the physical and digital infrastructure to support localized fresh produce demand in all regions of the world. The company’s vision is to dynamically enable society’s transition to more sustainable methods of food production, distribution, and consumption.
PLANT-AS will develop a total of more than 1,100 acres of advanced Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) production in West Texas as a part of its phase one domestic operations roll out. The Amarillo Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) and the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance (LEDA) worked in partnership on the project.
PLANT-AS’ Amarillo project includes the development of 9 million square feet of advanced CEA production facilities on 400 acres at the Centerpoint East site. Fresh produce, including leafy greens and vine crops such as tomatoes, will be produced using state-of-the-art hydroponic technology. The company will invest a projected $510 million in the project, which will scale up operations over seven years to employ more than 700 full-time employees with an expected payroll of $35 million.
“We are excited about the decision by PLANT-AS to locate in Amarillo and Lubbock,” said Kevin Carter, President & CEO, AEDC. “The West Texas region plays a significant role in providing food for the nation, and I believe it was extremely important for our communities to work together on this project. Congratulations to Lubbock and Amarillo on what I see as a huge win for our area.”
In Lubbock, PLANT-AS’ operations will include 700 acres, where it will develop 13.3 million square feet of advanced CEA production facilities. The company will invest a projected $670 million here, and will scale up operations over 10 years to employ over 900 full-time employees with an expected payroll of $45 million.
“As the U.S. population continues to climb, and Texas doubles its population by 2050, the need for more domestic food is vital,” said LEDA President and CEO, John Osborne. “The expansion of PLANT-AS through this regional partnership not only helps provide food for our growing population, but more importantly provides certainty in our food security with cutting-edge technology that traces where and how food is produced. With a Tier One University known for its food safety research and graduate expertise, this expansion of PLANT-AS solidifies the Panhandle and South Plains as the premier region for safe quality food production.”
The PLANT-AS Distributed Network Production Site (DNPS) model spans multiple U.S. and International markets, including a planned North American build-out of 3,000+ acres of advanced CEA facilities in a multi-year roll-out, making its domestic footprint greater than the sum of all land currently dedicated to CEA in the US.
PLANT-AS’ advanced production facilities are modern data centers where Production Technicians will be supported by artificial intelligence processing the widest array of crop-cycle data ever available. The data collected and processed via IBM’s blockchain-supported system is the foundation of a digital infrastructure model that will transform the global food supply chain.
“The end-to-end impact PLANT-AS will have on existing food systems begins with the agricultural process and extends all the way through the consumer experience,” said Plant Director of Global Brand Representation, Sara Gaul. “We are thrilled to be a part of the economic growth in West Texas. Together, we are building infrastructure for the future, and people are at the core of everything.”
Volvo Autonomous Solutions Starts Operations In Texas
Volvo Autonomous Solutions (V.A.S.) has expanded its footprint in North America with the establishment of an office in Fort Worth, and will start manual operations in preparation for commercial autonomous hub-to-hub transport.
The V.A.S. Fort Worth office is dedicated to driving activities to set up its first autonomous freight corridors that will run from Dallas Forth Worth to El Paso and from Dallas to Houston. To prepare for commercial launch, V.A.S. has also started to haul loads with trucks using drivers for key customers like DHL and Uber Freight to test aspects of the transport solution and establish frameworks and procedures for safe and reliable operations.
“At Volvo Autonomous Solutions we believe the path to autonomy at scale is through reducing the friction and complications around ownership and operations for customers,” said Nils Jaeger, President of Volvo Autonomous Solutions. “This is why we have taken the decision to be the single interface to our customers and take full ownership of the elements required for commercial autonomous transport. With the opening of our office in Texas and start of operational activities, we are building the foundations for a transport solution that will change the way we move goods on highways.”
“Through our Autonomous Transport Solution, our ambition is to create a new source of industry capacity that will ease some of the burden of the increasing demand for freight while also enabling local drivers to shift into short-haul jobs that will keep them closer to home. This will unlock significant efficiencies in the entire supply chain and benefit everyone in the transportation industry,” said Sasko Cuklev, Head of On-Road Solutions.
Volvo Autonomous Solutions is a part of the Volvo Group and is tackling the transportation industry’s capacity constraints through safe, sustainable and efficient autonomous transport solutions. The Autonomous Transport Solutions (ATS) offered by V.A.S. includes hardware, software and services required to run autonomous transport operations. On highways, the solution is operated based on a hub-to-hub model where autonomous trucks take on the highway portion of the driving, operating all hours of the day and night between transfer hubs while human drivers complete local operations.
To accelerate the development of autonomous transport solutions, V.A.S. partners with others in the industry including DHL and Uber Freight. The program is aimed at shippers, carriers, logistics service providers and freight brokers whom V.A.S. will work with to pilot and commercialize autonomous transport solutions. V.A.S. has also formed a partnership with industry-pioneer Aurora, integrating the Aurora Driver with Volvo’s on-highway truck offering.
Niagara Opens New Global HQ In Flower Mound
In Flower Mound, water-saving toilet manufacturer Niagara® has opened a new state-of-the-art global headquarters. The facility houses an expansive distribution center spanning over 117,000 square feet, geared toward serving Niagara’s U.S. customers in a more efficient and streamlined manner.
“Moving into this new cutting-edge facility and distribution center will ensure Niagara is best positioned to continue delivering on our unwavering commitment to creating innovative products and ensuring prompt lead times.”
— Carl Wehmeyer, Executive VP, Niagara
The new building also features a testing facility with advanced technology and tools that will measure the performance and features of toilets, showerheads, and other plumbing products. It includes a full product showroom that displays a variety of Niagara’s award-winning products including Niagara’s Pro line and the newly-launched Phantom One Piece. The showroom is an opportunity for wholesalers, architects, builders and plumbing professionals to explore the different features and benefits of products and to also take a peek inside a Niagara tank by viewing a clear model that illustrates how Niagara’s patented Stealth Technology® works.
“Moving into this new cutting-edge facility and distribution center will ensure Niagara is best positioned to continue delivering on our unwavering commitment to creating innovative products and ensuring prompt lead times,” said Carl Wehmeyer, executive vice president at Niagara. “We are thrilled to have the expanded space and testing facility which will enable us to achieve our vision of continuing to grow Niagara’s footprint in the bathroom fixture industry.”