Marco yield control system brings profitability improvements for leading prepared fruit packer
Natures Way Foods in West Sussex are reaping the rewards from a Marco yield control system, installed to streamline the high speed manual packaging of their fresh and exciting prepared fruit range.
Natures Way Foods are a pioneering supplier of high quality pre-packaged prepared fruit and salads to major supermarkets, restaurant chains and food service outlets.
Initial consultative site trials carried out by Marco showed that operators on the prepared fruit packing lines were consistently overpacking by 4-6%, which clearly has a direct negative impact on bottom line profitability. The size and weight of individual fruit components, which include apple, pineapple, mango and orange, can vary considerably in each pack. Therefore without an effective feedback system constantly monitoring individual pack trends and operator performance, companies find it very difficult to reduce this level of giveaway and so run the risk of producing underweight packs and packs with unnacceptable ingredient inconsistency.
Marco have considerable experience in fruit and vegetable packing efficency and their TRAC-IT system has been specifically developed to reduce pack giveaway to almost zero, whilst improving productivity. Their packing line system at Natures Way is based around custom-built mobile stainless steel Linemaster III portion control workstations. The operator displays give clear information relating to the particular product run and high contrast multi-section bar graphs, changing from red through amber to a green acceptance zone, indicate whether the correct amount of product has been accepted. It has been proven that operators rapidly tune in to such systems which are language transparent, making the systems ideal for multi-national workforces.
Weight data from these user-friendly scales is transmitted via a robust wireless network to the central Datamaster terminal, running Marco’s Software Editor Suite. When order requirements are sent to this terminal from the main ERP system, the required target weights are automatically transmitted to the Linemaster stations.
To achieve almost zero giveaway without going outside allowed tolerances, the Marco system features their unique Automatic Optimisation (AO) software module. This continually fine tunes pack target weights based on real time factory floor data. Operators are unaware of these subtle ongoing adjustments and continue to pack to the ‘green light’ on the LineMaster scales. Results from dozens of Marco installations demonstrate that giveaway can be reduced to fractions of a gram per pack without affecting fruit balance and line speed.
Natures Way Foods’ Head of Operations is delighted with the Marco system and concludes: "We recognised our levels of pack giveaway were unacceptable, but prior to talking with Marco we couldn’t find a company who could guarantee a sustainable yield control solution. Marco listened to our concerns and within hours of their system going live, giveaway had been reduced to below 0.1 g per pack. This level continues to be maintained without affecting the ingredient balance and savings go directly to our bottom line. In parallel our productivity has increased and we now have full tracebility from the packing line. The operators find the system very easy to use and the mobility of the LineMaster stations allows us to change line layout with minimum disruption. All this is good news for us and good news for our customers and consumers."
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