New York onion grower-shipper invests in new grading & packing line

After a devastating fire that destroyed Big O Farms’ onion factory in 2016, the family-run business opted for a completely new production line from Eqraft. Over four years later, the new machines are up and running.

Maxwell Torrey from Big O Farms has been busy with the finishing touches of the installation of a new onion sorting and packaging line. "It’s going really well. We’re currently doing a few last tweaks on the software, but we can already tell the machines are performing as we hoped they would.” It’s been a long time coming: the fire of 2016 wasn’t the only setback Big O Farms had to deal with. Due to a change in management at Eqraft and COVID-related travel restrictions, the project was delayed even further. But now, in spring 2021, the new machines are finally up and running and doing exactly what they promised.

Torrey Farms is currently one of the biggest vegetable crop farms in the state of New York. They grow, harvest, package, and ship locally grown vegetables – zucchinis, potatoes, carrots, cucumbers – to retailers, food services, and wholesale and terminal markets up and down the East Coast. Big O Farms is the business unit that produces onions.

As an expert in designing, building, and maintaining smart factories, specifically for onions, Eqraft had already visited Big O Farms in the past, but it wasn’t until after the devastating fire on Thanksgiving Day 2016 at a Torrey Farms equipment barn that the collaboration really took flight.

Overcoming setbacks
Eqraft made a fresh start in 2019 with a change in ownership and new management. “That was a very nerve-racking time considering the amount of money and time we had already invested at that point,” says Maxwell. Other companies approached him about finishing the project Eqraft had started, but despite of the unfortunate situation, he wanted the exact technology that had impressed him during his trip to the Netherlands two years earlier. “I wanted them to finish it and the new management did the best they could to help us, so we decided to go for it.”

But 2020 brought along a new challenge: coronavirus restrictions made it very hard for Eqraft’s installation team to travel from the Netherlands to the United States and finish the project. Moreover, the delivery of machine parts was delayed. Maxwell: “Eqraft really did their best to get all the parts here and get the right people on-site for the installation, but corona stretched it out for almost another year.”

In order to limit travel between Europe and the US, Eqraft mobilized a company in Washington that helped with the installation. A combination of local technicians and Dutch team members managed to finally finish the installation.

For more information: eqraft.com


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