A R Neaves, based near Newnham in Kent, are third generation fruit growers that specialise in apples, pears, and cherries. Their cherry season lasts from June until mid-August, with top fruit taking over in the autumn months. Given the brevity of the cherry season, it is of upmost importance that the fruit is harvested, packed and transported as quickly as possible. High levels of overpack can also have an enormous effect on a harvest’s profitability for products with short growing seasons such as cherries. With this in mind, A R Neaves decided to further invest in their existing MARCO Trac-IT Yield Control Module to provide increased automation and profitability for their packing facility.
YCM has two main functions- to reduce giveaway to fractions of a gram, and also to increase packing speeds so that A R Neaves can improve their harvest yield during this short season. The smart weighing devices have a coloured light display, with each light representing a single cherry. Operators are prompted to add or remove cherries to ensure the punnets are as close to their target weights as possible. With a luxury, expensive product such as cherries, this is vitally important as it reduces overpack, enabling the creation of more punnets from the same volume of fruit.
Rodica Stratan is in charge of quality control and is the MARCO system champion for A R Neaves, having received a comprehensive training course at MARCO HQ. As the MARCO expert on site, she has kept an eye on all the data and managed to double productivity in just two days;
“The first day we packed at a speed of 3.61 punnets a minute. Getting data in real time and being able to analyse it helped us make the right changes. As a result, we are already packing at an average speed of 7.24 packs a minute on only our third day of production. We are studying MARCO’s data every day and the next step will be to use this to create our specialised teams, making sure the right person is now chosen for the right job.”