November 05, 2015

05/11/2015: Case study: Boost in productivity at Askew & Barrett

http://issuu.com/gfmt/docs/mag1507_w1/78
First published in Milling and Grain, July 2015

A complete packing and palletising line from Pacepacker Services has boosted productivity by 15-20 percent at Askew & Barrett, within three months of being installed.

Askew & Barrett sources pulses from key agricultural merchants and then sorts, cleans and grades them at its processing plant in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. The pulses are bagged into 12.5kg and 25kg paper sacks and 25kg woven polypropylene (WPP) sacks, before being palletised and transported to food manufacturers and retailers at home and abroad.

Until very recently, this entire operation, from empty bag placement to palletising, was performed by up to five operators, with a weigher, bag closer and stitcher the only pieces of equipment to figure.

The problem was that in order to keep up with demand, during busy periods Askew & Barrett had to operate the line 24 hours a day, six days a week. Although the working day was split into either two 12 hour or three eight hour shifts, this was still physically demanding work, and the company didn’t want to continue exposing its staff to that level of manual handling.

“It takes it out of you standing at the end of the line, stacking sacks onto a pallet. We wanted to take steps to ensure the physical wellbeing of our employees,” explains production and warehouse manager Chris Askew.

Askew & Barrett already had Pacepacker equipment it was pleased with in another part of its factory, and knew that the Essex-based firm has a reputation for custom designing reliable, cost-effective sack packing lines. It therefore engaged Pacepacker to design a fully automated packing and palletising line that would reduce manual handling and increase productivity.

The line, which includes a T22 automatic sack placer, ticket dispenser, Total Bag Control (TBC) system and FANUC dual cell robot palletiser, was installed in February this year. It has increased line speed with a potential of 10 bags per minute, and will in time, hopefully enable the company to reduce the working week from six days to five without laying anyone off - staff has been redeployed to less physical tasks. Chris also reports that bags are now stacked more consistently onto pallets allowing for much safer storage within Askew & Barrett’s warehouse and loading these pallets onto containers has become much easier.

“Pacepacker has delivered everything we wanted - building a line that has eliminated the need for manual involvement and has already yielded double digit productivity improvements,” he says.   

Read the full article in Milling and Grain HERE.
   
   
 

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