The purchase of industrial weighing and sorting machinery for food packhouses is a high capital investment that needs to be carefully researched and considered. Naturally, pricing and costs are top of the list of things businesses want to know when they begin searching the market for their required solution. Important questions include: how much is this machine going to cost me initially, how much will it cost to operate and maintain, and is the investment worthwhile?

Purchase price

While some machines may be sold off-the-shelf, finding the optimal solution for production requirements often involves customisation. This makes it difficult for the manufacturers of the technology to give price estimates or quotes until they know the full details. The required degree of customisation can also vary each time. Generally, the more complex and bespoke the solution, the more you can expect its initial costs to be. In addition, customers requiring a complete turn-key solution rather than a single machine will be looking at the biggest investment, however, there are many other factors that dictate the equipment’s price.

Newtec is a leading manufacturer of weighing, sorting and packaging machinery for the food industry, specialising in equipment for fruit and vegetable producers. The company offers a range of machines for different types and sizes of products, all the way from small ready-to-eat fruit pots to 25kg bags of potatoes. With a variety of operating speeds, additional equipment and the option for customisation always available, price ranges vary.

There are some key details that a manufacturer like Newtec will need to define before they can offer a quote. These include what product you are weighing and its size, whether a new packaging machine is required, the type of container you want to package into, and the desired capacity / speed in terms of portions per minute.

Once the manufacturer has that core information, they will be able to discuss options such as the number and placement of outlets, conveyor belts and packaging machines, all of which will further affect price, as well as pieces of extra equipment that may be needed such as portion collection systems and platforms.

Cost of ownership

Let’s imagine you’ve worked through the project details with the manufacturer and they’ve given you an idea of how much you’ll be paying. Figuring out how much the machine will cost doesn’t end there, as there is another very important component to be considered: total cost of ownership (TCO).

“Cost of ownership is the big one because no matter how much a machine costs, if it costs the same as the purchase price every year to run it, then it is false economy,” explains Newtec Odense (UK) general manager Dean Chilvers, who adds that Newtec machines have a very low TCO.

“If a customer is going to invest with us, as a company we need to pay back that investment with a good piece of equipment, great back-up and support all the way through.”

Fruit and vegetable producers must be able to rely on the machinery in their packhouse for a constant output of saleable products. If their weighing, sorting or packaging machinery breaks down frequently or cannot easily and quickly be fixed, not only will there be a sudden drop in output but they might also fail to meet orders, with fresh produce potentially going to waste. It is therefore crucial to choose a machine that is reliable and a manufacturer that will take care of it throughout its lifetime, with good servicing and speedy fixes when needed. For Newtec, values like this are close to the company.

“We see that what we’re dealing in isn’t bread and milk; we’re dealing in heavy, capital equipment, which is a major investment for any business. So for us, it’s about the respect and trust. If a customer is going to invest with us, as a company we need to pay back that investment with a good piece of equipment, great back-up and support all the way through,” Mr Chilvers says.

Of course, not all downtime is unplanned. Routine cleaning and servicing is inevitable, but the less time it takes to do this the better. Newtec kept this in mind with the easy-access designs of its machines such as the Mini Weigher. In addition, the Mini Weigher’s low footprint, another consideration for TCO, makes it a cost-effective solution for a growing number of food producers.

Return on investment

By estimating the solution’s total cost of ownership, you have a more complete idea of how much you are investing into the weighing and sorting equipment. If the price seems high, it is often largely due to the high-quality materials used. Newtec machines are made from stainless steel to ensure durability and longevity.

The next step is weighing up the costs of the equipment against how much money it can help you save, and this is where a good, cost-effective solution really shows its worth. Firstly, businesses converting their packhouses from manual labour to machine automation can expect a large reduction in labour costs. With Newtec machines, however, cost savings go much further than this.

Anyone investing in Newtec’s weighing machinery will benefit from the machines’ high accuracy levels. This precision keeps product giveaway at an absolute minimum, boosting profits. The company’s Multihead Weigher gives away less than 0.2% of the product, meaning that if you are packaging a 1kg bag of onions it will weigh exactly 1kg. It also operates at high speeds of up to 90 packs per minute, with the same being said for many Newtec solutions. This efficiency guarantees high output for busy packhouses looking to get fresh products weighed, packaged and out of the door quickly.

When it comes to Newtec’s optical sorting machines for potatoes and carrots, further cost savings can be achieved. The powerful Celox technology grades the vegetables according to their size, shape and quality standard, then directs the product into up to 16 different categories defined by the operator. With this, food producers can optimise the full value of their entire crop by splitting their products into the most profitable selections.

With cost savings being achieved in so many ways, Newtec machines ensure a quick return on investment and will continue to perform consistently and efficiently throughout their lifetime. Businesses investing today ensure an optimised production for years to come.