Grain handling equipment and grain dryers from Panford Ltd have been making tillage farmers’ work easier for over 50 years. Managing director Fergus O’Brien explains more.
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.
“We manufacture and install all our own products,” Fergus starts off by saying.
“Our business is split 50/50 between grain handling equipment and dryers, and air movement and heating systems encompassing dust, fume and odour control systems as well as large composting systems. A few of our customers in the agri sector include Red Mills, Drummonds, Nitrofert, Liffey Mills, Avoca Milling, and Cooney Furlong Grain. We also deal with waste management and composting companies such as McBreen Environmental, Thornton’s Recycling, Acorn Composting, Waddock Composting, Envirogrind and McGill Environmental Systems to name but a few.”
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 the late 1960s. As soon as he started making fan and heating systems, the inquiries started to come in for grain dryers. So he decided to 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 a director in the company.
Panford’s range of Mix-Flo products 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 continues.
“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 a 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 the affable managing director 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 hours a day 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 wood chip, chicken litter, and compost for example.”
While Brexit hasn’t impacted as much as anticipated on Panford, which has many customers in the UK, Covid-19 has led to staff and supply issues.
“Recruiting staff has become a big problem both during Covid and post-Covid. A lot of non-nationals went back to their home countries and haven’t returned. We have eight staff at the moment who are predominantly involved in manufacturing and are very good at what they do. We also employ fitters on a sub-contract basis and use agency on a regular basis.
“The other big issue is the delivery delays caused by the pandemic. The cost of everything has skyrocketed too.
“Despite all that has been going on in the world, this year was incredibly busy. There has been a huge demand for big dryer systems in particular. We’re expecting 2022 to be just as busy and our order book for next year is already almost full. We continue to receive lots of inquiries through recommendations and word-of-mouth. That has always been the best form of advertising for us.”
Since its inception, 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 10 No 1, January/February 2022