PACE Mechanical Handling, one of the leading suppliers of automated packing solutions, has revealed that 2023 is set to be the company’s best-ever year. The company will celebrate this achievement at British Potato this November.
Orders received in the first eight months of 2023 have exceeded the previous best year, with enquiries still coming in for the remaining four months.
Managing director Nick Cesare said that interest from the potato industry has played a significant part: “Orders from potato growers and packers represent about a third of our sales in 2023, so it’s a very important sector for us, and we’re looking forward to exhibiting at British Potato. We’ve had an excellent year so far, and in the first eight months of 2023, we have beaten our previous best year, which was 2018, when we saw turnover reach seven figures.
“I think we’ve benefited from several factors. Potato packers and growers are looking for ways to cope with labour shortages, and they’re looking to pack more quickly and effectively. Automation and robotic packing and palletising are therefore increasingly popular with them.”
The company uses four core products to develop automated packaging and palletising solutions: the Gemini twin head weighed, the Orion Weigher, the Orion Weigher and sack placer, and the CBC sack placer and stitcher line. It also has a long-standing partnership with Motoman of Japan to offer a wide range of robots.
One potato grower who has benefitted from a bespoke packing line is OGE Chapman & Son. “We installed the PACE palletising system five years ago, and it was one of the best things we’ve done,” said Jamie Chapman. “We needed to reduce our labour costs, so, with Nick’s help, we installed a sack placer and stitch line.
“Our potatoes come into a hopper, over the grader, through Nick’s equipment which packs them into 25kg sacks, which are then placed on the pallet.
“By installing the sack placer, we no longer needed a man there to do the job. As that person was checking the quality of the stitching, we installed a stitch line too. Stitching can be temperamental, but the PACE machine never lets us down.”
The installation has also improved capacity and throughput. “On a good day, we can have up to 100 tonnes being packed. Before we automated the process, this would have been two days’ work! Nick’s double-headed weigher is also more accurate than our previous weigher and increases our output.”