As the use of digital technology to improve farming efficiency increases, it can sometimes be forgotten that advances in more traditional areas of agriculture remain as important as ever.
Machinery is the original agritech. Innovations that reduce the physical workload for farmers are as old as agriculture itself and are vital to the sector’s profitability in every market.
ProDig Attachments prides itself on doing the heavy lifting. From its base in County Carlow, the company introduced its expertise in manufacturing machine attachments for the construction sector into agriculture 10 years ago and quickly built a reputation for the quality and versatility of its machinery.
Donny Nolan, co-founder and director of ProDig, explains: “ProDig has a strong focus on multi-purpose machinery. We produce attachments that will do the job of three traditional attachments, so the farmer only has to buy one. These attachments also make the feeding process easier, faster and more economical.”
ProDig’s product range includes shear grabs, shear buckets, bale handling attachments, folding grass forks, hi-tip buckets, and bag fillers – all of which are designed and manufactured at the company’s purpose-built factory.
Donny says: “Our products are pitched generally at the top end of the market. We don’t make cheap equipment. We manufacture on a quality basis and on the basis of a long lifespan for an implement, so we look at the mid to top range of the market. There are a lot of manufacturers in Eastern Europe, China and cheaper economies that we don’t really try to compete with. We look to create implements of top-end quality, innovative products.
“We distribute through importerships. We try to have one single point of importership in a region, whether that be a state in the USA or an entire country. For example, in Germany, we have one importer for the whole country and they in turn the distribute to the dealer network.
Strong export strategy
“We’ve got nine or 10 export markets and we also have some markets that we export to on a one-off sale. For some of our unique attachments, the likes of bag-filling units, we export to markets where we have one-off sales going direct to end-user customers. This would be to countries including India, Thailand and South Africa.”
It is a model that has served ProDig well. Consistently growing sales of its broad range of products in various export markets is testament to the quality and effectiveness of the machinery ProDig makes. Indeed, the company has big plans for further growth, spearheaded by a major investment to expand its manufacturing facilities at its Bagenalstown base in County Carlow.
Donny says: “We started an expansion plan in mid-2018 and that’s really kicking into place now. We’re expanding our existing production areas. We’re installing new capital items – new fabrication bays, new welding bays, some new machinery, some new robotic systems.
“It is quite a substantial investment. Over a three-year period, we’re looking at an investment of €1.5 million in the business.”
As with the machinery it makes, ProDig has put considerable energy into planning and preparing its expansion plans and the company is confident that the demand for their machinery is there.
Donny explains: “All our existing markets are expanding all the time, as we are. Our German market is expanding, our New Zealand market is expanding. We have several markets that we’re looking to move into over 2019-2020. We’re currently looking at increasing our presence in the USA, and we’re planning to do feasibility studies on the French and Australian markets.
“This investment will give us an increased manufacturing capacity of 40% and this will help us reach these markets.”
Focus on R&D drives innovation at ProDig
For ProDig’s customers, the investment and increased capacity also means enhanced innovation to improve and create new machine attachments.
“As part of our three-year investment, starting from the middle of this year, we’re running a new R&D programme to look at several new products,” Donny says.
The focus of the R&D programme will be the same for ProDig as it has been for the past 10 years: to help farmers do the basics better.
Donny explains: “To innovate within those basic tools and come up with new ideas and faster solutions for the basics – the attachments, bailers and other tools – is vital. If you make the basics better, you make the overall better.”
Doing the basics better is very much in the company DNA at ProDig, while the company’s continuing growth and expansion plans demonstrate the importance of innovating and constantly-improving machinery for farming.
Learn more about Enterprise Ireland’s innovation supports. enabling companies to develop new market opportunities and maximise their business performance.