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2021 Review

2021 was declared by the United Nations as the International Year of Peace and Trust, the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development, the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, and also the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour and like 2020 it has been heavily defined by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Covid-19 continues to take its toll on businesses across the globe with manufacturing no exception.

Through difficult times, Packaging Automation continued to remain operational throughout and classed as essential workers #TeamPA are delighted to have continued to support the food sector ensuring that the nation was fed during difficult times.

The vaccine roll out gathered pace giving a glimmer of hope but towards the end of the year the Omicron variant reared its ugly head! We continue to hope that 2022 will see things improve for everyone and our thoughts are with those who have suffered whether through the loss of a loved one or through financial difficulty. The United Nations International Year of Peace and Trust has never been more apt as we encourage everyone to be considerate of each other and kind to one another at this difficult time.

During the year the ‘ping-demic’ went into overdrive, coverage of the impact on businesses continued and BBC Breakfast filmed live from Packaging Automation where they interviewed our Managing Director, Niel Ashton, as well as some team members including Engineering Design Manager, Tanya Westenraad. Click here to find out more.

New Machine Launch – evolution S

During 2021, the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, we successfully launched our new high speed tray sealer, the evolution S.

Four years in development the evolution S challenged industry norms achieving speeds of to 250 packs per minute in a single lane format.

Soft fruit growers in particular, continued to experience unprecedented shortages of picking and packing staff and as many turned to factory automation to help the evolution S was launched with them in mind.

After a few false starts with launch events scheduled for key trade shows that had to be cancelled due to covid and extreme weather events, we successfully launched in the Netherlands to rave reviews and the evolution S continues to impress. To find our more click here

Business Growth

Despite everything we’re pleased to report that year end results showed another growth year with a whopping 84% increase in the number of machines built.

As we continue with our growth strategy it’s encouraging to know that our turnover continues to grow and has in fact grown year on year for the last 6 years since 2015!

Following steady growth over the last five years and as part of the wider business growth strategy, the Service and Spares team moved to a new home and relocated to Factory 3, the newest addition to the Packaging Automation property portfolio.

With a newer bigger site came more staff as they expanded the team to handle the business growth they envisaged. Now busier than ever, this year they reported record growth of 12.5%.

New machining centre

August saw the installation of another new high speed machining centre to accommodate business growth and increase throughput of tooling and machine parts through the machine shop with Ian Mayo, Manufacturing Manager commenting: “We now have extra capacity on our fleet of high speed machines, it will be run alongside the other machines on a 2 shift basis. We have also recruited two extra team members to help us ensure we maximise output on all machines.

Exceptional Employees

Our quarterly Exceptional Employee Awards received some fantastic nominations this year and the quarterly winners in 2021 were:

This year Ashley Hunt, Systems Engineer went on to win our Annual Exceptional Employee of the Year Award in recognition of his outstanding effort and support in stepping in to cover on-call service at short notice to meet customer needs during a very busy period.

Here is Ashley Hunt receiving his Award from Dave Schumacker, Operations Director.

MD Neil Ashton commented: “I am genuinely delighted for Ash the exceptional effort and commitment he has shown this year has made a huge difference and it’s wonderful that we have recognised it in this way”

Apprentice Programme

Our apprentices continued to make good progress during 2021 and received their certificates in December 2021 for their academic achievements so far.

This year we welcomed four new apprentices: Isiah Wood, Lewis Wild, Shaun Gregersen and Harry Sharp.

We also welcomed a new distributor giving us a presence in the Middle East, we’re looking forward to working with Kaydee Food Processing Solutions to expand our global reach.

September 2021 saw us exhibit at the PPMA show at the NEC Birmingham, for what was our first live event in over 18 months and now we’re hoping for many more exhibitions in 2022 – Fruit Logistica, Farm Shop & Deli Show, PPMA Show to name a few, but for now, we’ll just wait and see!

As we head into 2022 it’s not without a little trepidation given the current situation but nevertheless, we do so with gratitude, positivity and enthusiasm.

See you all in 2022!


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