Getting cutting edge, labour-saving technology for the packhouse and seeing them pay back in just 2-3 years for equipment which has a 15-year life span, sounds like a no-brainer! But it is not that easy to convince people that the investment is going to be worth it.
James White, Marketing & Sales Director at Select Equip, a food equipment company which has been in business for over 35 years, explains that some growers do not see the bigger picture. They are content to go along as before, busy thinking about the day to day investments, but not seeing the long-term and bigger picture of investing in labour-saving technology.
James advised that “We have seen that European packhouses are generally much more advanced in automation than those here in Australia. As a company we want to make sure that Australian businesses have the same technology and machinery, purchasing this innovative technology from various European companies, installing and offer ongoing support and maintenance to our Australian growers and packers."
“Our business is very strong in meats, ready meals and growing in the fresh produce sector for the last 3-4 years. What we’ve noticed from our experience in other industries, which have a high level of automation, is that the automation level in fresh produce is not to the level it could be. What I do see out there in fresh produce is that some of the automation is very clunky and low tech compared to Europe. The Australian attitude is a bit of ‘if it works why change it?’” What we have to offer is more hi-tech and the results are better with higher efficiency and lower cost of ownership.
“As a new player to be accepted is difficult because everybody has systems from established companies which have become the industry standard. You basically need to wait for someone who is looking for something better and wants to change, with the flow-on effect of other people seeing new technology and want to change too. Its very relationship-based and people buy on trust, with word-of-month playing a part too. If one packer gets an efficiency improvement of 10-15% through innovative technology then everyone else has to keep up to stay competitive”
There has been a rise in demand for automation with the availability of labour or lack of, has been a factor. Automation reduces labour, but with fresh produces a wide variety of very different products need to be handled, equipment such as Marco’s productivity solutions can help reduce labour by 30%!
Select Equip is all about looking at how best to optimise a business’s operations with innovative and flexible packing systems which are equipped for the future while doing the job that needs to be done today.
Select deliveries automation for a lot of different products because of their wide variety of suppliers, such as supplying end of line weighing systems for fresh produce, but also bigger more high tech suppliers like Lan Handling Technologies who can deliver robotic systems for the handling of bagged products, open/move or load bags and palletise ready for shrink wrapping. There are several robotics arm suppliers, but what makes the difference is how well the rest of the system is integrated around it and the stability of the integration is what makes a difference.
What needs to be top-of-mind in purchasing decisions is that capital expenditure is a fixed cost, but it is the cost of ownership which is the unknown. If you have a breakdown, maintenance, or such, it is hard to budget for, that is why one supplier is an easier handle.
It’s critical having someone who can deliver a whole system and can support you throughout your growth cycle with your business, otherwise, you’re relying on a range of suppliers to keep the whole thing going, whereas if you buy a ‘system’ you can get far more efficient and that’s why Select Equip is your packaging equipment partner that’s easy to grow with.
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