Panford Ltd has been providing grain handling and drying equipment solutions to farmers since 1965.
Established by Liam O’Brien and now fronted by his son Fergus, Panford Ltd is a leading manufacturer of grain handling equipment, grain dryers, dust, fume and odour control systems, industrial fan applications and heating systems. The family-run business offers a complete turnkey installation service from design right through to commissioning and specializes in processes that require air movement, i.e., fan technology, heating, curing and drying systems.
Additionally, the Tallaght-based concern supplies control systems, from basic push button to full PLC SCADA computer-based systems with remote access. The company employs 12 people directly and boasts a wide range of customers in the agri, composting and waste management sectors, including Target Fertilisers, Cooney Furlong, Connolly Red Mills, Avoca Milling, Liffey Mills, McGill Environmental, Thornton’s Recycling, Acorn Recycling, Milltown Compost, Waddock Composting, Envirogrind, Adesco, Comex McKinnon, Platin Grain, Whyte Bros and Farm Co.
“We manufacture and install all our own products,” Fergus O’Brien says.
“Our business is split 60/40 between graining handling equipment and dryers, and air movement and heating systems encompassing dust, fume and odour control systems as well as large composting systems. We’ve been incredibly business since October 2020, despite all that has happened with Covid-19, Brexit and the war in Ukraine. We’ve carried out a number of large grain dryer installations around the country and have continued selling some equipment to the UK, despite the challenges posed by Brexit.
“We continue to receive lots of inquiries through recommendations and word-of-mouth. That has always been the best form of advertising for us.
“Brexit remains a concern in that the paperwork still isn’t right for consignments and is leading to stock being stuck in customs. It’s important to get the paperwork right at both ends. We have had to introduce a surcharge to cover the extra cost and headache associated with deliveries.”
The affable CEO continues: “Covid and subsequently Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to massive cost increases in materials across the board. Everything from steel to motors have skyrocketed in price. It has made quoting for jobs more difficult. On top of that, there’s a labour shortage at the moment. The younger generation have more options nowadays, but we have maintained a steady crew in spite of this, and also source staff through agencies at busy times of the year.”
Panford Ltd originally supplied industrial fans, dust control and heating systems before diversifying into grain handling equipment and dryers.
“The business has evolved since my father Liam set it up in 1965. As soon as he started making fan and heating systems, the inquiries started to come in for extra fans on grain dryers. So he decided to design a grain dryer, and subsequently, provide the full range of belt and bucket elevators, chain and flight conveyors, grain cleaners, aeration fans etc., and is still involved in the business to this day,” explains Fergus, whose sister Monique is also involved in the company.
Panford’s range of Mix-Flo products – which they manufacture – include grain dryers, belt and bucket elevators, chain and flight conveyors, belt conveyors, screw augers, intake hoppers, grain cleaners, feed mills, blending systems, storage bins / outloading bins, aeration fans, noise reduction equipment, dust and odour control equipment, fertilizer plants and weighing systems. The company recently expanded its range of equipment to incorporate malting equipment, namely malt steeps and kilns.
“We offer a full turnkey installation service to all our customers,” Fergus adds.
“Material handling equipment for grain generally has to survive lengthy periods of not being in full use, but once the harvest starts it must be unfailingly reliable. We have earned a reputation for manufacturing and supplying top quality products and that is one of the reasons we have so much repeat custom.
“Grain handling systems require handling equipment that range in size, from low throughput equipment for on-farm use to increasingly high-throughput systems for transport in fully integrated large-scale storage facilities. We have manufactured belt conveyors, chain conveyors and belt conveyors up to 850 tonnes per hour.”
From its manufacturing plant in Tallaght (it also has an assembly/storage facility in Waterford), Panford supplies and installs products that are made from only the best materials.
“We manufacture our products using top quality materials that have been sourced from all over the world. At the end of the day, it is our reputation that is on the line, so it would be penny-wise, pound-foolish for us to use substandard parts that will not withstand the test of time.”
Technology plays a leading part in the day-to-day running of the business and Fergus reveals that many of the issues that may arise onsite can be addressed from their office.
“Many of the systems we install have computer-based control systems which are web-connected. This allows us to connect into the clients’ systems from our office in real time and observe the system, locate any issue and more often than not, correct it from head office without the need for any site inspection.
“We chose to design and write all our own PLC programming and computer software in-house as a lot of our customers systems operate 24/7, and as we are available to be contacted outside office hours and weekends when minor issues can be rectified immediately, and we no longer have to rely on others to answer the phone on a Friday evening. Myself and other key staff members are on the end of a phone 24/7 for our customers which they very much appreciate.”
Panford Ltd provides custom-engineered solutions designed to match the client’s exact requirements.
“In addition to designing and supplying individual fans, we design and supply bespoke turnkey systems covering areas such as industrial composting, cooling, heating, curing, drying, ventilation, pneumatic conveying, dust, fume and odour control, noise reduction and process control systems.
“We supply industrial scale drying systems for woodchip, chicken litter and compost, plastic for example.”
For almost 60 years, Panford’s aim has been to provide a top-class, professional and value-for-money product and service. Fergus would like to take this opportunity to thank his customers and suppliers for their continued support.
Whitestown Industrial Estate,
Phone: +353 (0) 1 4596756
Fax: +353 (0) 1 4610452
Email: [email protected]
First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 11 No 3, May/June 2023