SealesWinslow has turned to a Spanish robot called Aurora to boost employee job satisfaction and ease the effects of the national labour shortage, which has had an impact at its Morrinsville site.

The animal nutrition company manufactures pelletised feed for dairy herds in Morrisville where it employs more than 18 people. SealesWinslow has commissioned a new robotic unit to bag the feed called the Aurora ILERSAC W. The new technology means SealesWinslow now has one of the fastest bagging plants in New Zealand.

Aurora will boost SealesWinslow bagging capacity by 30 percent and has eliminated a lot of hard manual labour for its team, allowing them to focus on more value-added tasks.

SealesWinslow National Operations Manager Tyler Stuthridge says, like many businesses in the primary industry, SealesWinslow was affected by a shortage of staff post-Covid, particularly for more manual roles like bagging stockfeed.

“It was a real challenge to find staff and turnover is naturally higher in these types of roles. Bagging can be a very manual job and can involve long hours. It can also take a fair amount of training and time to do it well. We had to start thinking outside the box,” says Tyler.

Their search led them to Spain where they found Aurora, whose touch screen controls are so intuitive that very little training is involved to use her.

“The primary industry is moving more and more towards robotics and automation to not only solve the labour force challenges we face, but also become more sustainable and far more efficient,” says Tyler.

“Robots like Aurora also mean we can free up staff from manual roles to work in higher value and more rewarding positions, which is a win for everyone.”

Aurora needs just one person to run her. Their job is to present the bags in packs of up to 450, and she does the rest. Her simple design makes cleaning and maintenance between jobs easy. She is also equipped with a dust management system, which makes the process a lot cleaner for our site and our team.

“The packing system sets the bag, fills it, and sews it as it moves through the machine. The bag then gets picked up by a stacking arm and stacked onto pallets of 50 bags and wrapped. The only input needed is someone adding the bags at the start and the forklift driver at the end taking the pallet away,” says Tyler.

Auroa was also specially configured to use SealesWinslow’s new recyclable bags, which it has implemented as part of the company’s partnership with Agrecovery.

“That was a big consideration for us in choosing the unit. Sustainability is a priority and Aurora helps us achieve our goals, both from an operational and human resources perspective,” says Tyler.

Tyler says, despite the change, SealesWinslow customers will still get the same top-quality product delivered on time, every time and to specification.

Photo: Horowai Brown has honed his expertise as one of the supervisors of the new bagging unit.