The corona crisis created a reckoning for the food & ag industry, which has been forced to come to terms with its overdependence on human workers. Automation is the answer, but it’s not that simple: different players have to work together to provide the wide range of solutions the industry needs to secure a stable future.
Dinosaur mindset in the food & ag industry
For many years the mindset in the food & ag industry has been one of confidence that there are more than enough people to keep the industry going. This has led to complacency. If you look at the sector, you see that they are lagging behind on automation: in terms of harvesting vegetables, fruits and commodities in the field, of driving forklifts, of picking things out of the inspection line, and more.
At the same time, the minimum wage of industry employees is systematically rising. This has made the food industry realize that it’s getting very expensive to have humans as the main answer to any problems that may arise.
A new receptivity to technology
Then COVID-19 came along. Suddenly, even if someone was willing to pay to have a lot of employees, they just couldn’t keep enough of them on board. Many workers were out sick or had to care for relatives or children, exacerbating a growing shortage. Emergency unemployment benefits in the US gave more people in lower income classes the choice to stay home.
These factors combined forced more companies to consider automation. Whether it be a fruit picking machine in the field, or a tractor that rides through fields spraying trees. And of course also machines to automate factory processes. That’s why we got a huge uptick of interest in our Qcifeye.
The problem in the current market
But suddenly automating everything is not that simple. A lot of companies are having to make investments in automation at the same time. There also isn’t a company or supplier like Qcify to meet all the automation needs for the entire food & ag sector.
That’s why at Qcify we see a lot of potential in partnerships. These can provide a lot more value than stand-alone machines. However partnerships aren’t that easy in practice. We see a lot of companies that are developing solutions who want to be the standard for what they do. But you can’t set a standard alone. That’s why we talk to a lot of different parties, and try not to be biased. We even cultivate relationships with (potential) competitors.
The more people are aware of what a company does, the better they can determine whether there is value in collaborating with them. It’s a bit of a puzzle: you know that working together can lead to great things, but you have to see how the pieces fit together.
Are you interested in working together to automate the food & ag industry? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us.