A question of viability

Expertise and sound advice are key to leveraging automation, writes Trevor Reardon


Packhouse automation, in the eyes of many farmers is associated with images of large capex, which may not be recouped for a number of years. This in turn makes them hesitant to invest. However, it’s important to note that with computerized weighing and automatic bagging systems from Goldpack, this does not need to be the case!

 Using Goldpack’s Newtec computerized linear weighers, it is possible to reduce average “portion overweights/give-away” substantially from the order of 10 to 15% to less than 4%.

In addition to the other efficiencies gained from installing Goldpack`s automatic optical grading, weighing and bagging systems, this feature alone contributes from “day one” towards paying for this investment. Let’s take a recent packhouse installation Goldpack implemented for a customer who had abandoned farming potatoes for some years.

Hand grading, weighing and packing, by traditional methods could not effectively and profitably process a large-scale potato crop.

He believed that the systems available would not make it possible for him to process his crop cost–efficiently. On the contrary, he wanted an acceptable profit, in return for the time, effort and investment involved. Hence he stopped planting.

However, after some on-site visits to local Goldpack automated installations, he reevaluated his position. In fact, he concluded, these packhouse systems could make large-scale production of potatoes a viable and profitable business.A recent installation of Newtec weighers with sack clamp bagging systems by Newtec now processes up to 200 tonnes of potatoes per day.

Newtec computerized linear weighers are available for other crops such as carrots, onions, tomatoes, citrus and deciduous fruits and will consistently effect an average saving in portion overweight/give-away of 7-10% !

Over a six- or twelve-month production period, this alone results in a considerable financial saving to the farmer.

Alternatively, over this production period, this saving in overweight will enable the farmer, with no additional product input, to increase the value of his sales by 7-10%

The Newtec computerized linear weigher forms the heart of Goldpack’s packhouse systems, ensuring that crops are processed consistently, steadily, and efficiently without the need for tea breaks or lunch breaks or sick leave.

These packhouse systems can be scaled to and tailored for the farmer’s needs and pocket and can be upgraded as and when required.

The reality is that any method of crop processing in a packhouse, be it manual, semi- automatic or fully automatic, carries costs with it.

What automation offers is process control in terms of predictable efficiency, lowered downtime, faster processing and accurate weighing in return for these costs.

A viable pack-house requires expertise and sound advice to ensure that every rand is spent wisely. Goldpack has the expertise to do just that.

If you would like to assess the viability of automation in your packhouse feel free to contact Goldpack. 

Trevor Reardon is the pack-house systems director at Goldpack, which is a major supplier to the South African root crop industry.

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Issue 46


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