Farm Costing Solutions takes away the stress of managing Farm Labour.

Hermanus Potgieter is a farmer in the Sundays River Valley in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province. Together with his two children and son-in-law, he is mainly involved in citrus cultivation.
His two farms, Miskruier and Nooitgedacht, collectively have 400 hectares of land under cultivation with about 250,000 citrus trees. A variety of citrus fruits – including oranges, lemons, grapefruit and soft citrus – are produced.
All first-grade fruit, as well as a portion of second-grade, are exported abroad; while third-grade produce are supplied to two nearby factories where it is processed into juice. Hermanus aims to eventually export 90% of his total crop

Hermanus-Potgieter
Labour-intensive business
During harvest time Hermanus takes on approximately 300 seasonal workers. These labourers are predominantly from the Western and Southern Cape and even as far afield as Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. He also employs some 50 full-time employees.
With a long harvest season – stretching from April until September – and a large variety of fruit that need to be picked, managing the workforce became increasingly difficult. Traditionally all wage-related recordkeeping was done manually by hand, which meant errors often crept in. A manual system also opens itself to dishonesty. The daily, weekly and monthly administration of wages was time-consuming and exhausting.
With rising production costs and thinning margins, expansion of land under cultivation becomes essential for fruit farmers to boost their profits. However, this type of growth requires even more workers, putting further pressure on management.
To address these labour-related challenges, Hermanus turned to Farm Costing Solutions (FCS), a South Africa-based company that develops and manufactures hardware and software for the agricultural sector. FCS offers a one-stop solution to easily record and manage all costs on a farm. An integrated system makes it possible to build up an extensive database of all labour and management activities.
FCS prides itself on the fact that the system can pay itself off within the first two seasons of use. In Hermanus’s case this happened even sooner – within one year!
Time Management Solutions
FCS’s Time Management Solutions (TMS) system electronically records all labour-related expenses on a farm, saving significant time and improving productivity. TMS allows for the capturing of the following data: time and attendance, piecework/ productivity, job costing, and unproductive time.
To log time and attendance information, farm workers are issued with a plastic ‘tag’ that they swipe against an electronic ‘reader’ device when they arrive at work and leave in the evening.

TMS is also ideal to monitor piecework and productivity. Under supervision of a team leader, workers swipe their tags against a portable reader device once they have completed a certain task. The system then automatically calculates each worker’s wages based on the work done, for example – the number of bags of fruit that were picked. Hermanus bought a reader for each one of his 10 teams, and uses TMS throughout the year for both full-time and seasonal workers.

With the TMS system, each individual’s performance can be monitored. Weak and unproductive workers are immediately identified and the issue can be addressed by giving them additional training.

Wage information is sent to a central database that integrates with a number of payroll systems, including VIP, Donkerhoek Data and Crest Payroll. The Payroll module has been designed for simplicity and ease of use. Its features include the quick and effortless generation of pay slips, simultaneous allocation to cost centres and auto generation of tax forms, to mention a few.

Hermanus also utilises FCS’s Fleet/Fuel Management module for full control over his fleet of vehicles, allowing him to stay on top of fuel, oil, service and repair costs.

Superior support
One of the biggest benefits of working with FCS is that the system can be customised to suit each farmer’s unique needs. For example, in Hermanus’s case the software was modified to regulate piecework so that workers can’t swipe their tags twice within a certain period of time. The system was also set up to make provision for different varieties of fruit. When FCS installed the system in 2014, only two months ahead of harvest season, one of FCS’s agents spent a week on the farm to get everything up and running.

Overall Hermanus is impressed with the user-friendliness of the software, as well as FCS’s dedicated support team who is always on standby. The time and energy spent on manually recording wages can now be directed to other parts of his business.

What are the advantages of the Farm Costing Solutions (TMS system)?
The Farm Costing Solutions (TMS system) offers the following benefits:

• Measuring of productivity per employee/ team/ farm
• Significantly decreases payroll processing time and administration work
• Saves costs through accurate monitoring
• Can be used as evidence in disciplinary hearings
• Leads to a more effective and efficient workforce
• Statistics and data are instantly available
• User-friendly for farmworker
• Customised for individual farmer needs
• Has a readily available support system of trained specialists
• Pays for itself by cost savings – excellent return on investment

For more information about how your business can benefit from TMS, contact Val Harker at: Landline: +27 (0)21 556 2561 Cellphone: +27 (0)82 518 2300 Email: val@tms.za.net www.tms.za.net