International fruit marketing and distribution company Worldwide Fruit, supplier of quality fruit products to UK supermarkets, has boosted its capacity to load flow wrapped apples into crates while maintaining product integrity. The result is a more efficient end-of-line loading process and increases efficiency.
The improvements are credited to the installation of an ergonomically and innovatively designed Brillopak semi-automated PakStation for loading crates at Worldwide Fruit’s Spalding facility.
Worldwide Fruit sources apples, pears, avocados and stone fruit from the UK, New Zealand, South America, South Africa, USA and Europe. Roughly, 380 staff are employed across two facilities, where 65 million packs of fruit per year are graded, processed and packaged, ready for distribution.
Last year, the company replaced its crate loading soft touch roller belt system for a Brillopak semi-automated PakStation. The investment was to increase capacity but also strengthen the overall flow of the process by eliminating bottlenecks.
The Brillopak machine relieves these issues and enables more throughput with fewer line stoppages, increasing OEE on the packing
Prior to the Brillopak installation, Worldwide Fruit used a roundtable system before moving to a roller belt, which was fitted at the end-of-line onto a flow-wrap machine. Although the product exits from the sealing system efficiently, the packing operators weren’t running to the same capacity. The real issue, recalls Sam, was that operators were in control of packing speeds, not the line, which caused productivity issues when it came to flow.
“Packing operatives couldn’t keep up with the pace and it became quite a bottleneck. This led to a build-up of product, more stoppages and potential fruit quality issues,” notes Sam Roberts, Senior Production Manager.
When searching for the ideal solution, the team were quick to single out Brillopak’s PakStation. Neal Collishaw, Operations Director at Worldwide Fruit, confirmed trials after observing the equipment in action in 2017. Soon after, the machine was attached to the flow-wrapper at their Spalding site in January 2018.
“Brillopak were very willing to listen to our specific requirements. Quality of fruit is important to us and making sure that our product is not damaged during any of the processes. Overall, the semi-automatic packer reduces the issues we had and we saw more throughput on the line with less downtime,” says Sam.
The packer is ergonomically designed and feeds product to staff at an ideal height and orientation, enabling the team to load at a suitable pace. Because of this, workforce health and injury risks as well as physical and mental stress levels are reduced.
A further improvement was the installation of an additional guard sensor, making it safe if an operator needs to go into the machine for maintenance. Brillopak has already fitted the same safety device onto the second PAKStation. “They’ve listened to recommendations we’ve made and adapted to our needs” adds Sam.