A Lincolnshire manufacturer best known for designing and manufacturing vegetable harvesting equipment has won a prestigious business award for its diversification into a new market.
Scotts Precision Manufacturing’s range of potato toppers has sold in record numbers this year, as has its Evolution Separator, which removes soil, haulm and clods from harvested potatoes. But it was its latest invention – the Vergenair – that, last week, won Best New Product / Innovation in this year’s East Lindsey Business Awards.
Commissioned by Lincolnshire County Council as part of a pilot project to assess the feasibility of harvesting grass clippings for use in AD plants, the Vergenair was conceived and built in just six months.
Scotts has designed the Vergenair in such a way that it can be easily connected to a conventional tractor. A large front-mounted boom mower cuts the grass, with the clippings sucked into a trailer by a powerful centrifugal fan. Scotts has designed the Vergenair so that it works with a demountable, two trailer system. This allows the operator to fill a second trailer, while the full one is delivering the grass clippings to the AD plant for converting into electricity.
The judges felt that Scotts had demonstrated an original and innovative approach to solving from scratch a challenge that was both affordable and versatile. Working to a tight timescale, they turned theory into practice to develop a solution that is both of benefit to the environment and has strong commercial potential.
“This project has been amazing to work on,” says Derek Scott, managing director of Scotts Precision Manufacturing. “It was a tough challenge with no time for mistakes, but the feeling of satisfaction when we cracked it was brilliant. The idea that Nick Cheffin and Lincolnshire County Council came up with was so simple but turning it into a reality took a lot of hard work, but we did it. The verge harvester has attracted a lot of interest with several other local authorities investigating its potential. The machine has featured on national TV, with Countryfile coming down to see us, and now, to be recognised in our home county is simply fantastic. I need to thank all of the team at Scotts who worked so hard to bring the idea to life.”
Scotts Precision Manufacturing has recently celebrated its 25th year in business, with its milestone being its best ever. The company has sold out of its market-leading range of toppers and has sold 70 of its Evolution Separators to growers across the UK, Europe and North and South America. The increase in demand has led Scotts to seek support from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Lindsey Action Zone LEADER Fund, to undertake a £275,000, 6,000 square feet expansion of its Lincolnshire factory. Building work will be completed next month, and four new members of the team have been recruited including two apprentices, allowing the Scotts to increase production output for 2020.