Motion Control & Drives

Potato boom for local supplier

May 2014 Motion Control & Drives

In 2013, Sennah Handling Systems – a Paarl-based manufacturer of high quality potato bagging machines and materials handling equipment for the agricultural sector, upped its annual production from 26 to 94 machines. This means that more than 1000 SEW-Eurodrive geared motors are currently operational in the local potato and onion farming industries.

Owner Hannes Visser says, “What we envisage is for man and machine to complement each other. Whatever man cannot do is left to the machine. That complementary technology is substantiated in the machines that we offer for the weighing and packaging of potatoes and onions.”

The current machine is able to pack 480 ten kilogram bags per hour. The company focuses on end of line packaging solutions, which involves the process that follows after sizing and sorting. In the cut throat business of farming where there are so many factors playing a role in profit margins, Visser comments that specialisation is a key aspect.

“We have over the years managed to refine and optimise our process in such a way that the machine is built to an exact specification which has been tried and tested. The company has built over 300 machines which are exact replicates of each other. The machines are manufactured according to high-quality specifications, using SEW-Eurodrive products, to ensure smooth running and minimum downtime for the farmer,” he explains.

Although there is a trend towards automation, Visser points out that there will always be a human element that is vital to the local economy. “Many people will be without employment if everything is automated. People will always be part of the production manufacturing process, but without automation there can be no real growth for the farmer.”

Visser reveals that he has been doing business with SEW-Eurodrive throughout his career. “I was introduced to the company during my first employment and the relationship has grown. I selected them because of the pricing structure, low maintenance and quality.

“Sennah machines are sold nationwide, so it is key that the products used be reliable and robust to ensure not just our reputation as a machine builder, but also the ongoing production and profitability for the farmers who are our customers. Furthermore, the national presence and local stock holding offered by SEW-Eurodrive give us the competitive edge.”

The success of the new potato packaging machines means that Sennah Handling Systems has moved into the list of top 20 SEW-Eurodrive customers. “It is a partnership that is mutually beneficial. The service I receive from the Cape Town branch and in particular Eugene Vorster, my sales engineer, is excellent and I look forward to seeing even more innovation in the near future,” concludes Visser.

For more information contact Rene Rose, SEW-Eurodrive, +27 (0)11 248 7000,,


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