Produce distributors and repackers are making the move to automation technology for its many advantages that work to increase margins while maintaining produce quality. In this blog we look at why automation technology is more beneficial than traditional processes, what this means for repacker margins, and other reasons why repackers are now starting to use the same technology that was only previously seen in the packhouse.
View the guide “Repackers face the big squeeze” to read about trends facing repackers and distributors in the fresh produce industry
Automation technology has the ability to:
Ensure produce quality
Lower labor costs
Maximize throughput and uptime
Ensuring produce quality
Produce quality is vital to your business and brand as you strive for a great eating experience that satisfies consumers. Automating your sorting with inspection technology such as Spectrim and Inspectra can ensure this quality and works to guarantee both the external and internal properties of your produce meet the standard.
Automation also increases food safety - it’s ‘hands off’ approach, complemented by a hygienic design and materials, ensures the delivery of safe produce to the market.
Lowering labor costs
When it comes to labor, automation aims to:
Increase your labor utilization
Reduce the amount of labor required
Mitigate the effects of labor shortages
Manually sorting produce means that you must operate at the capacity of the people on the line. This often results in slowing down the process to reliably sort the produce, which affects your throughput. Manual sorting also results in good fruit being put in with the bad or bad fruit being put with the good; both scenarios have major effects on margin and brand. Automating the sorting process allows you to maintain optimal speed throughout the produce packing process, while packing to a non-subjective standard.
Utilizing technology allows your business to be able to quickly adapt to the changing demands of retailers and gives you flexibility to work with whatever produce comes your way.
Automation is crafted for pack-to-pack consistency, increasing both yield and margins. Intelligent software can allocate produce to the highest value pack by combing data from the inspection and weighing systems. This has huge business value for repackers, as a simple packing algorithm can allow a 5% increase in bags packed from the same amount of produce.
A great example of this is Mr Apple, New Zealand who were giving away an average of 50g extra fruit per bag. With intelligent software, they were able to increase the consistency of their pack weights and ensure each pack meets the exact specification. This technology has increased their revenue by thousands of dollars a day, which adds up fast for a packhouse packing 10 months of the year.
Maximize throughput and uptime
For produce packers, the costs of downtime can add up quickly, with delays being detrimental to quality and harming your supply chain obligations..
Automation enables production line uptime meaning repackers are able to pack more produce than ever before, as technology can continue to run and be controlled at the push of a button. Equipment with guaranteed uptime gives you the confidence to meet the needs of your customers.
The advantages of automation are clear for any production line, but especially fresh produce. The largest packhouses have made strategic investments in technology, especially in the areas of grading and sorting as the benefits are very quickly realized. As the world leader in sorting solutions we are now looking to bring that knowledge to the repack industry. We look forward to helping the repack industry protect and enhance its brand promise, by delivering quality safe produce to consumers.