In recent years, the agricultural industry has rapidly automated itself. Whether in sorting, processing, weighing or packaging - fully automated solutions are increasingly being used. The purpose of this automation is to save personnel and thus labour costs. This demand has only increased because of the current Corona requirements - such as social distancing and mouth & nose protection, says Oliver Werner - Sales Manager Germany of the machinery and equipment group Upmann.
Regional, agricultural products are valued more, especially in times of Corona. Many of these foods - such as fruit, vegetables and potatoes - are now increasingly purchased from regional farm shops. "The direct marketing sector is experiencing an obvious boom. This is reflected in the need for suitable mechanical equipment," Werner says.
From individual processes to complete solutions: the Upmann company offers plant technology for every need, and about 70 per cent of its sales are in the agricultural sector.
Innovative packaging process
He cites as an example the packaging system for paper bags type 4405, a recently presented optimisation of the 4404 model launched in 2018. "With the help of this machine, potatoes, onions and co are quickly and conveniently packaged in the desired container - from 0.5 to 5 kg." The process is suitable for both the large packer and the smaller direct marketer with an area of around 10 hectares. "Even for the latter user, the machine pays for itself within a few years, because the goods are packed three to four times faster compared to manual packing."
Noticeable automation trend
In general, automation is the key word in today's agricultural industry, says Werner. "High-bay warehouse technology is one of our hobbyhorses. But the optical sorting processes of our partner, Visar, for carrots or potatoes, for example, are also well received." The demand for highly automated solutions is not limited to the conventional market. "The willingness to invest among organic and Demeter farms has developed strongly in recent years - in parallel with rapidly growing consumption."
The Upmatic type 4405 paper machine (here at a direct marketer) with increased output. For potatoes in 1 kg containers, up to 22 cycles/minute are possible.
"Corona has again significantly accelerated the demand for highly automated solutions, because the need to save more personnel has only increased due to the more difficult working conditions." The automation trend will continue after the crisis, Werner predicts. "Any area that can be automated - whether sorting, processing or packaging - will continue to develop in my view."
Managing directors Johannes Richter, Poul Henningsen and Oliver Werner at Fruit Logistics 2020.
Differentiation in potatoes
Upmann celebrates its 225th anniversary next year and finds its roots in the potato and stored vegetable sector. Especially in the potato-onion and carrot sectors, accuracy during processing has increased significantly, he says. "You want to work more accurately on the one hand and produce less waste on the other. Instead of three or four categories - normal potatoes, oversized potatoes and triplets, for example - modern potato grading plants are now equipped with six outputs. The differentiation of the product to be marketed has accordingly become more emphasised."
For more information:
Upmann Verpackungsmaschinen GmbH
Burgsteinfurter Damm 185
Tel: +49 (0)5975/9281-43
Fax: +49 (0)5975/9281-10