PACE to celebrate successful year at British Potato

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PACE Mechanical Handling, one of the UK’s leading suppliers of automated packing solutions will celebrate a record-breaking year at British Potato in November.

The company, which designs and installs robotic and automated packing lines, has revealed that 2023 will be the company’s best-ever year.

Orders received in the first eight months of 2023 have exceeded the company’s previous best-ever year, and with four months remaining and enquiries still coming in, PACE is looking forward to celebrating in Harrogate.

According to PACE’s managing director Nick Cesare, interest from the potato industry has played a significant part in the company’s success. “Orders from potato growers and packers represent about a third of our sales in 2023, so it’s a very important sector for us, and we’re looking forward to exhibiting at British Potato,” he said. “We’ve had an excellent year so far, and in the first eight months of 2023, we have beaten our previous best year, which was 2018, when we saw turnover reach seven figures.

Nick Cesare

“I think we’ve benefited from several factors. Potato packers and growers are looking for ways to cope with labour shortages, and they’re looking to pack more quickly and effectively. Automation and robotic packing and palletising are therefore increasingly popular with them.”

Mr Cesare celebrated 40 years of working in the fresh produce and potato sector earlier this year and has been pioneering automated packing through PACE Mechanical Handling since 1996.

PACE uses four core products to develop reliable, efficient and cost-effective automated packaging and palletising solutions: the Gemini twin head weigher, Orion Weigher, Orion Weigher and sack placer and the CBC sack placer and stitcher line.

Thanks to its long-standing partnership with Motoman of Japan, PACE Mechanical Handling offers a wide of robots, from pick and place up to specialist heavy lifting models. By having its own team of fabricators and software engineers and extensive experience in designing and installing complete production lines, Mr Cesare and his team can deliver everything from a small automated packing robot to a complete turnkey solution.

One potato grower who has benefited from installing a bespoke PACE packing line is OGE Chapman & Son, which supplies potatoes to fish and chips shops.

“We installed the PACE palletising system five years ago, and it was one of the best things we’ve done,” said Jamie Chapman. “We needed to reduce our labour costs, so, with Nick’s help, we installed a sack placer and stitch line.

“Our potatoes come into a hopper, over the grader, through Nick’s equipment which packs them into 25kg sacks, which are then placed on the pallet.

“By installing the sack placer, we no longer needed a man there to do the job. As that person was checking the quality of the stitching, we installed a stitch line too. Stitching can be temperamental, but the PACE machine never lets us down.”

As well as reducing labour, the PACE solution has increased Chapman & Son’s capacity and throughput.

“On a good day, we can have up to 100 tonnes being packed. Before we automated the process, this would have been two days’ work! Nick’s double-headed weigher is also more accurate than our previous weigher and increases our output,” said Mr Chapman.

To learn more about PACE Mechanical and its automated solutions for potato packing, visit stand 223 in hall 2 at British Potato.

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