At Mucci Farms, automation and robotics have helped the greenhouse grower reach its ultimate goal: delivering the highest quality product to consumers, said Joe Spano, vice-president of sales and marketing.
“Automation and robotics are of premium importance because it allows us to provide consumers with the freshest, most flavourful produce along with maximum shelf life at the lowest possible cost,” said Spano. “As a result of state-of-the-art and in some cases proprietary technology at our facilities, we are able to increase efficiencies, supply and food safety, while reducing cost and travel miles. All of these factors benefit the consumer, which is the driving force behind our commitment to make continual investments in advanced automation.”
Located in North America’s largest cluster of greenhouse growers, the Kingsville, Ontario-based operation produces tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce and strawberries. Employing more than 1,200 full-time workers, its operations cover over 200 acres of greenhouses in Kingsville as well as 24-acres in Huron, Ohio with plans for 36 additional acres by 2020.
With markets in Canada and the United States, Mucci announced last year a $12 million expansion to grow strawberries year-round using artificial lights.
M-Track Automated Harvesting System
Spano said automating Mucci’s lettuce facility has lowered labour costs. “We were able to significantly reduce labour without having an impact on how many heads of lettuce we are able to harvest.”
An M-Track automated harvesting system at its cucumber farm has enhanced food safety by reducing product handling, he added. “By using the M-Track automated harvesting system in our cucumber farm, one employee wearing a glove will harvest a cucumber and the next time it is touched by human hands is by the consumer.”
As well, Mucci employs a wide variety of robotics in its packing facilities that increase efficiencies by speeding up sorting, packing labeling and palletizing,” said Spano.“All of the automation allows us to get product to retail shelves quickly, which in turn benefits that consumer with maximum shelf life.”
Spano said Mucci will continue to invest in automations.
“We are always on the lookout for world class automation and robotics because it’s certainly one of the keys to remain competitive, not only because of the cost savings but because of the premium, consistent quality we are able to provide consumers, in an efficient manner.”
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