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Upward Farms Scales its Packaging Automation

Industry thought leaders join forces to scale sustainable, vertical microgreen production

Indoor AgTech Innovation Summit Harpak-ULMA, the industry leader in smart, connected packaging solutions, announced its collaboration with indoor aquaponic vertical farming company Upward Farms to launch fully automated, scalable packaging operations in support of the company’s rapid growth and expansion plans. Brooklyn-based Upward Farms’ state-of-the-art 250,000-square-foot facility in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania is expected to commence operations in 2023. Upwards Farms’ fresh, locally grown microgreens and sustainably raised hybrid striped bass are available to consumers throughout New York City, Westchester, and New Jersey, with plans to expand distribution throughout the Northeast and beyond. The company’s commitment to innovative and sustainable farming techniques is made possible through the use of advanced automation and digital technologies designed to transform farming techniques into next-gen, information-centric, production capabilities.

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Packaging processes represent a significant proportion of production operations for companies that produce minimally processed natural products – making packaging quality, throughput, and world-class OEE the key to optimizing and scaling output. Completing the picture with end-to-end automation (from product loading to palletization) all but eliminates operational performance variations attributed to manual or semi-manual processes. Harpak-ULMA’s smart, connected design offers ruggedized reliability for accurate high-volume, low-waste packaging applications. Minimizing waste, one of the keys to more sustainable packaging, is well aligned with Upwards Farms manufacturing strategy. The company’s autonomous, self-optimizing, and highly productive biological manufacturing platform represents sustainability at its most innovative.

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Harpak-ULMA’s platforms employ sophisticated smart controls that enable advanced self-diagnostics, remote connectivity and monitoring, as well as augmented-reality experiences for operations and maintenance. Leveraging digital technologies in packaging processes not only enhances production agility, flexibility, and scalability – it ensures a consistent digital thread across enterprise operations, the key to performance visibility and management.

“Harpak-ULMA shares our forward-looking philosophy of sustainability, innovation, and automation” notes Ben Silverman, Upward Farms CTO and Co-Founder. “We have demonstrated the difference technology creates in the controlled environment agriculture sector – as they [sic. Harpak-ULMA] create in packaging. That sort of philosophical alignment around ‘what’s possible’ creates a solid partner for our aggressive growth strategy.” Kevin Roach, Harpak-ULMA’s CEO added, “We are extremely happy that Upward Farms elected to collaborate with us on such an important advancement in food production. Vertical aquaponic farming advances food chain sustainability tremendously – including a very positive impact on food distribution and its associated reduction in carbon footprint. Combining next generation production and packaging technologies allows us to re-invent the feasibility and profitability of sustainable food production and distribution practices. We are very proud to play a role in such an important and much-needed project.”

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