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. With this in mind, A R Neaves have decided to further invest in their existing MARCO Yield Control system, in order to have complete control over their packing operations.
The Yield Control System 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 productivity during this short season. The yield control workstations have a coloured light array, 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. 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.’
“Our cherry season is a very important, busy time for our farm. Last season the scales had a proven track record of reducing our giveaway, as well as improving our productivity. The return on investment was within one season as promised, which made further investment the next logical step.”