It’s been a complicated year for many businesses in the fruit and vegetable sector. One of the big trends that became even more obvious during this pandemic was automation. We spoke Daniel Ghadiri (CTO & president) and Nick Maglio (marketing director) of ProEx Food, LLC about the challenges and chances of 2020.
“Overall, we had a good year and were able to deliver multiple turn key solutions to our customers globally, despite everything. We’re also glad to see some businesses returning to us to extend the automation of their operation even further,” Nick says.
While they are specialized on solving production issues for their clients, ProEx Food had to deal with some extra challenges this year: “Travel restrictions were definitely making our lives harder,” Daniel laughs. “It’s always nice for new customers to see our solution in action, but travel between countries has become very difficult all around the world. In terms of installation, we were lucky to always find a way with our local partners.” The company was also planning on visiting a number of trade shows which sadly had to be canceled or moved online.
“The second big issue was the supply chain,” Nick adds. “Material and labor impacts extended out delivery times longer than anticipated. We spent a lot of time and effort working on fulfillment. This was especially tough on parts availability, even those that are commonly available from even the largest, more well-known suppliers.”
Long before the pandemic hit, ProEx Food had planned to focus on automation in 2020, a good choice: “There has been a lot more attention to automation and many inquiries. The interest ranges everywhere from general equipment, to design engineering and conveyance to X-ray, optical sorting and grading. It also extends all the way to robotics. Producers, processors and packers knew labor scarcity would be a big problem going into the pandemic, and that’s likely going to continue well beyond it.”
So in 2021, while COVID will hopefully be less of a focus, automated and robotic solutions will still be the main market for this business, Daniel knows: “We’re adapting to the demand on the market and this demand always comes back to labor. The cost and availability of labor, and now, newly added, the concern about pathogen transmission among human workers.”
Nick concludes: “In reaction to this demand, we are planning to expand our manufacturing capability early in 2021 and have updates to our robotics, X-ray and other technologies. There are also a few more direct projects we are contracting for and will be announcing. In the end, it’s about our commitment to constant evolution and refinement. We know that this market needs attainable solutions to long-term trends, and we are prepared to deliver.”