Irish food and agribusinesses turn to automation to help solve manufacturing challenges, mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and get ready for Brexit

10 Dec 2020

Our Food and AgriBusiness team have joined forces with Reliance Automation to support Irish food businesses considering automation.

Recent advances in technology mean robotic automation is now more accessible, cost-effective and safe, and less complicated than in the past. The automation opportunities that now exist can enhance businesses of all sizes; cobots (collaborative robots) can now take on a wide range of repeatable production tasks from the end of production line inspections and packaging to tray handling and loading products onto pallets.

Automation can also help to address a wide range of manufacturing challenges including increasing productivity, improving efficiencies and product quality, and redeploying teams to higher-value work. By addressing these challenges, businesses can achieve higher margins, improve competitiveness, manage staffing shortages, enhance their health and safety management, and mitigate the impacts of Covid-19 and Brexit.

Ifac and Reliance Automation have partnered to produce a practical guide for business owners and CEOs to help them manage the funding process from start to finish. The publication covers planning and implementing automation projects, return on investment, funding your investment in automation, and business process automation.

Speaking at a photocall to launch the publication, Robert Troy T.D., and Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation said:

“I am very pleased to see positive momentum in Ireland to assist businesses to adapt to new digital technologies and embrace digitalisation. As we navigate the road ahead, we must ensure our SMEs are able to adapt to new innovations and reap the benefits of digital transformation.

“My Department recognises that investment in Advanced Manufacturing and Digitalisation are vital to ensuring that Irish companies remain competitive. Specific financial and advisory supports are available to the food sector through its agencies, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland, for the advancement of technologies in the area of robotics, cobotics, automation and industry 4.0.

“We are committed to supporting companies to mitigate the challenges presented by both COVID-19 and Brexit, and now, more than ever, it is important to look at ways to improve both business and manufacturing processes, to make your business more resilient and competitive.”

Head of Food and Agribusiness at ifac, David Leydon said:

“Business transformation makes up a big part of the work we do at ifac and now we’re seeing businesses move faster towards automation than ever before. You don’t have to be a big business to put in industrial robots - cobots are now available to any SME and the cost is coming down all the time.

“We are delighted to collaborate with Peter and the Reliance Team on this guide. There are things in the guide that some businesses aren’t fully aware of so we hope it will be of some assistance. At ifac, we will work with business owners every step of the way on their automation journey to help them future-proof their businesses.”

Managing Director of Reliance Automation, Peter Creighton said:

“There is no doubt that we are seeing a rise in the number of automation enquiries. Smart automation solutions are now easier, faster, and more cost-effective to employ in all types of industry. Jobs that are not suitable for people to do, repetitive or dangerous processes are very suited to both collaborative and industrial robots. Implementing sensible automation solutions frees up experienced employees to be redeployed to do more rewarding and productive work.

“This approach also enables manufacturers to grow and achieve important economies of scale, very cost-effectively. Reliance Automation is delighted to be partnering with David and his team at ifac to help manufacturers make sensible decisions about intelligent automation solutions that will help their businesses realise their true ambitions.”

In September, ifac published its 2020 Food and AgriBusiness Report – its third annual sentiment survey of Irish food and agribusiness small and medium-sized enterprises conducted during June and July. The findings revealed that one in four respondents believe increased investment in new technology and automation will be one of the long-term impacts on their businesses from Covid-19.

Download Automation for Food & Agribusinesses

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