When a leading provider of turf dressings and topsoil needed to improve the throughput of its line, the solution needed to be speedy, but also address the back-breaking task of manually stacking bags onto 5,000 pallets within a six week period.
Essex based Binder Loams counts Lord’s Cricket Ground and the Oval as its esteemed clients, in addition to thousands of local cricket clubs and county grounds. For the last 10 years, the firm has used a Pacepacker Sack Placer and Total Bag Control (TBC) system to pack and seal its topsoil into 25kg bags. Up until this year, palletising the bags was a manual process. However, due to the seasonal nature of fulfilling orders, the company has just a short window to process and distribute these cricket dressings, making it a labour intensive task for the team. With business booming, Binder Loams took the leap and invested in an automated Blu-Robot palletiser from Pacepacker Services.
Binder Loams’ director, Frank Marta, explains: “We spend six months of the year getting ready for six weeks in September when the cricket club season ends and they do their end of year renovations. The soil cannot be left in the bag for too long, not only because it could germinate, but also because it takes up a very large amount of space in our modest yard. There are around 5000 pallets a year, all in the yard, waiting for one big rush of collection and delivery.”
Binder Loams once again turned to Pacepacker Services in a bid to complement the sack placer and TBC. As Binders are a seasonal producer, Pacepacker recommended installing a second user Blu-Robot, which is half the cost of a new robotic palletiser. “I knew I wanted a robot from the get go but affordability was an issue,” Frank explains. “Our work is very seasonal and we didn’t want to employ extra people for the whole year just for the task of palletising.”
Since the Blu-Robot installation, not only has speed increased, but employees’ backs have been relieved. “Once the robot was installed, we were able to have two men working around the robot and the bagging line as opposed to four.”
Pacepacker’s Blu-Robot has not only dramatically increased throughput but also helped to reduce wastage, which often occurred during the rush of manually palletising the bags. Previously the pace of the system was controlled by the operators manually palletising the bags, with natural pauses as they changed pallets and loaded more bags. “It took three or four men on a 10 hour shift to palletise around 100 pallets,” Frank notes.
Now the pace is controlled by the bagging line and robot, with the operator being able to change pallets and load bags onto the system without interrupting throughput. This means around 140 tonnes can be palletised in the same 10 shift period with just two workers manning the line.
While in retirement from its original profession as an automotive industry robot the Pacepacker Blu-Robot is certainly not ‘put out to grass’ as it is approximately just a third of the way through its 100,000 operational hour lifespan. In fact the Blu-Robot installed within Binders Loams has become such a popular feature that the team have affectionately christened it ‘Peter’, after one of their colleagues who retired in October after 40 years’ service – a fitting moniker for the system!