Post-Covid labor challenges continue to drive automation push

BAADER North America CEO Nils Rabe at the company's booth at Seafood Expo North America.

The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent challenges of keeping workers safe and on the job in seafood processing plants led to a push for further automation in processing.

Now, three years on from the pandemic, the challenges may have shifted a bit, but BAADER North America CEO Nils Rabe told SeafoodSource the processing sector's labor issues haven’t gone away. 

“Lots of the issues remain the same,” Rabe said. “Labor is still extremely difficult to get, and finding the right labor is by far more difficult than that. And that’s driving lots of processors into automation.”

The core push, Rabe said, has companies looking for solutions that allow them to do more with the employees that they have, as they look to “use the human labor at positions where required” and not for repetitive tasks that an automated piece of equipment can handle. 

In the processing-equipment market, Rabe said BAADER has seen a lot of traction for big-scale projects in the U.S. and in Canada as companies look to increase the level of automation they use in processing facilities.

“We are in a good position for the coming years for major projects,” Rabe said.

As company, he added, BAADER focuses on more than just major, full-scale automation.

“Fully integrated solutions are available through BAADER. However, small and medium projects, as well as individual machines sales, are equally important for BAADER as the big ones. Finding the right solution for each customer is most essential," he said.

Many seafood companies, Rabe added, aren’t at a stage where they require a massive, full-scale automation push. Many just need individual pieces of equipment that fit in to the overall processing line.

“There is not the one piece of automation or the one piece of a facility where you would say, ‘I want one piece of that’ and then you’re done,” he said. “Everyone is so individual that we need to figure out together with the customers what the right stuff is, what the right amount of automation is, and what the right process is for those companies.”

The types of work that can be automated have ... 

Photo by Chris Chase/SeafoodSource

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