The Horticulture sector is booming presently and is set to have another bumper crop. However, this is posing some problems, especially when it comes to labour, both in harvest and post harvest.
Every year EQM attends various conferences around the country so that we can be kept well-informed about the latest trends in the horticulture industry. This time around, a popular idea came forth about innovating and staying ahead of the ever-growing horticulture industry. This was robotics and how it can free up labour resources which can be re-deployed to other parts of the production process.
However, the introduction of robotics comes at a cost and the sector is wary of adding additional overheads especially when at early adopter stage due to costs and a reluctance to spend too much capital.
Anthony says that a cost analysis was presented at the conference that compared a robotic track packing system to the current labour-centric system.
For example, the manual tray packing system required 2 and a half labour units and the costs was $37,500 per lane. Rather than pay the full capital price of a robotic system, it was positioned that the packing company pay the same as the annual labour cost. This then enabled the company to re-deploy staff elsewhere.
EQM launched a similar solution with our labelling equipment a couple of years ago via a lease arrangement whereby packing companies only lease or rent the equipment for the part of the season that it’s needed. This then minimises the overall capital outlay.
We see this with other systems and equipment that we are asked to price for clients. They really need the equipment so that it improves the efficiency of the process but the up-front cost is prohibitive.
We can now offer a more flexible solution with some of our equipment solutions. If you are looking at a significant project that requires capital investment, then talk to us first about the best approach.