40 years serving the sector


16 March 2023
Nick Cesare celebrates four decades of providing solutions to growers, packhouses and processors.

THE owner of one of the UK's leading automation companies is celebrating 40 years of working with potato growing and other agri-businesses.


Nick Cesare, Managing Director of PACE Mechanical Handling, will mark four decades of supplying robotic and automated packing and palletising lines to growers, packhouses and food processors on March 30th.


Mr Cesare's career in agricultural sales began in 1983 at Darenth Automation Ltd, a company he had joined in 1980. After selling Darenth’s machines to farmers for just a year, Nick became so convinced of the importance of automation to agriculture that he joined Walthambury Agricultural Equipment in 1984. After 13 years at Walthambury, Nick decided the time was right to set up a family business and left to establish PACE Mechanical Handling.


Four decades later and with over 250 successful installations, PACE Mechanical Handling is thriving and today develops bespoke automated packaging and palletising solutions utilising three core products: the Gemini twin head weigher, Orion Weigher, Orion Weigher and sack placer and the CBC sack placer and stitcher line. PACE also integrates Motorman robots with custom-made grippers for pick and place packaging systems.


"I set out with the aim of helping improve the packing process. PACE allows growers, packers and food producers to be more efficient. Our systems allow them to pack more quickly, reliably and profitably," says Nick. "We've seen a great deal of change over the last forty years, and we will continue to see change as we constantly seek to improve.


"I am very proud of my team and our success, it's been a joint effort, and I would like to thank everyone who has put their faith in PACE and asked us to design and install a packing line for them."


One farm that has been using a PACE packaging system is OGE Chapman & Son. Established in 1957 by Oliver Chapman, the South Lincolnshire farm grows cereals, peas, sugar beet and potatoes, with the latter being packed on-site and sold to fish and chip shops across the country.

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"We installed the PACE palletising system five years ago, and it was one of the best things we've done," says Jamie Chapman. "We needed to reduce our labour costs, so, with Nick's help, we installed a sack placer and stitch line.


"Our potatoes come into a hopper, over the grader, through Nick's equipment which packs them into 25kg sacks, which are then placed on the pallet.


"By installing the sack placer, we no longer needed a man there to do the job. As that person was checking the quality of the stitching, we installed a stitch line too. Stitching can be temperamental, but the PACE machine never lets us down."


As well as reducing labour, the PACE solution has increased Chapman & Son's capacity and throughput.


"On a good day, we can have up to 100 tonnes being packed. Before we automated the process, this would have been two days' work! Nick's double-headed weigher is also more accurate than our previous weigher and increases our output."


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