We Can Build You Any Loader From Retro To Robotics

March 2022

It's been a full year since we last spoke to George Reed, the COO & EVP of Drake, so we thought it was the perfect time to catch up with him about recent Drake happenings. George is a good person to talk with about all things Drake, as he joined Drake as a design engineer in 2001. Less than a year later, he became the Vice President of Engineering, which he headed for sixteen years before becoming the Drake COO & EVP in late 2018.

Drake: “It’s good to talk to you again, George. In the last twenty years, have many things changed at Drake?”

George: “There have been quite a number of changes, actually. However, there are three that I would like to highlight. In 2007, Drake acquired the Food Loading Division of Planet Products Corporation. Instead of solely designing and manufacturing collator style hot dog loaders as we had from our founding, Drake could now design and build launcher style loaders, as well. This allowed us to more thoroughly evaluate whether a collator or launcher style loader would best meet our customers’ unique product and process needs. Since each type of loader has their own strengths, this resulted in even better loading options for our customers.

The second significant change was when The Middleby Corporation acquired Drake in 2010. Since that time, there has been an increasing emphasis on ensuring our equipment integrates well into the complete line of Middleby Food Processing solutions. We can also take advantage of the strong corporate support we get from Middleby, which increases our ability to reach any market in the world.

The third change is the introduction of robotics into our food loading technology. For customers who want an even easier to maintain hot dog loader or who have delicate product, integrating robots into our loaders has increased the types of food products that we are able to handle. Combining Drake sorting technologies with a robotic loading head allows us to provide the fastest robotic solutions in the industry and has greatly increased the variety of customers that we can serve.” 

Drake: “That’s great to hear, George. If Drake can make robotic hot dog loaders, then why continue to build our traditional loaders with mechanical loading heads?” 

George: “We build a variety of loaders because no one loader fulfills every customer’s needs. Some customers have very delicate product, some make very thin hot dogs, some make foot long hot dogs, some use natural casing on their sausages, and some customers just prefer a certain type of loader. We are about to ship a robotic loader to a customer who is beginning their automation journey. 

In contrast, we have another customer who requested that we build a loader identical to the one we sold them in 1998. We can still provide them a familiar mechanical design along with state-of-the-art electronics and safety. In many instances, a dedicated loader with a traditional loading head provides our customers with the highest product throughput. 

That’s one of the nice things about Drake – we have a wide array of experience designing and building many different types of frank loaders, whether they are a style we’ve built for four years or forty years. 

As we like to say at Drake: We can build you any loader from retro to robotics.”

Drake – Your Partner in Automating the Food Industry.

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