Peterborough firm to create robotics hub to transform food production

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A Peterborough company is investing £2 million to construct a state-of-the-art facility that will help transform food manufacturing.

OAL, in A1 Parkway, Southgate Way, will use the building to support its APRIL Robotics Systems, which will automate repetitive manual handling tasks.

Harry Needham, owner of OAL.

Harry Needham, owner of OAL.

This includes common tasks such as weighing dry “micro” ingredients - a job that is carried out by 529,800 people globally.

The new facility is expected to create 55 engineering jobs over the next three years.

The engineers will support the development and implementation of APRIL robotics.

But as part of its recruitment, OAL admits that experience in these technologies is limited and so will take on students with no prior knowledge and put them through a training program.

The factory development comes as orders for OAL systems pour in from food manufacturers keen to improve productivity in ways that will stem rising costs in the UK and Europe.

Harry Norman, owner and managing director, said: “We’re committed to eliminating manual handling in the front end of food processing.

“The new APRIL facility gives our team a great space to develop and demonstrate what that means for food manufacturers.”

He added: “We have a strong reputation for building large scale material handling projects and advanced manufacturing software. The APRIL developments complement these thriving parts of the business.”

Food manufacturers will be able to see demonstrations at the factory, when it opens on January 18 next year.

The opening will coincide with the Food Manufacturing 2030 Conference tackling changes in food production.