The Corona virus has had an effect on everyone and changed the way many people do business. In Australia where growers rely heavily on seasonal labour and the ability of those people to move from region to region and follow the work, there is real concern as to how they are going to harvest the fruit and vegetables this year.
Hayden Stewart who has been in the automation sector for more than 10 years decided to start his own company at the beginning of the year, “It was tough in the beginning just as COVID hit and everything shut down, but now that people are seeing that the labour is not going to be available they are investing in automation.”
Hayden’s company P&C Automation specialises in providing complete post-harvest automation solutions. The company can automate the whole process from when the fruit comes into the packhouse to when it leaves on a pallet for the retailer.
“There is a big demand for our palletising solutions, currently this is completed manually which is very labour intensive, we also offer grading and packaging solutions, in fact full turnkey systems.”
In the last few years there has been a trend towards Australian growers using offshore companies to automate their post-harvest facilities, but according to Hayden that is now changing.
“The offshore companies were usually cheaper than the Australian companies, so obviously you’d choose the cheapest option, but some clients are now seeing problems with getting parts & equipment due to a disrupted shipping schedule and also people are not traveling internationally or domestically, so having specialised people on the ground is difficult for non-Australian companies.”
P&C Automation is based in Queensland where the lockdown and movement of people has been eased. “We also work with very good partners around Australia so we can have the right people on the ground almost anywhere. We are working together to promote Australian manufacturing and engineering.”
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