Barfoots of Botley is one of Europe’s largest processors and packers of fresh produce in the UK’s vegetable production industry. Their range of items includes asparagus, broad beans, courgettes, sweetcorn, rhubarb, squashes and sweet potatoes. Their wide product range has highlighted the need for packing hardware and software which can quickly be adjusted to weigh and pack different fresh produce items. MARCO were also tasked with designing a smart packing system that would increase automation and reduce labour demands within the packing facility.
The MARCO Trac-IT Yield Control Module has been specifically developed for the controlled packing of fresh produce and has a proven track record in de-skilling the packing process, whilst reducing giveaway to fractions of a gram. This became MARCO’s initial project with Barfoots. MARCO first started working with Barfoots in 2009 at Sefter Farm near Bognor Regis. This original installation included an eight-station YCM solution with dual purpose LineMaster smart scales. The LineMaster smart scales are where the vegetable items are weighed according to pre-set tolerances. Each weighed item is logged in real time on a central PC, allowing Barfoot’s management to see the performance of individual operators and batch progress. The pre-set tolerances, set by the central PC, ensure each workstation reduces overpack to the lowest possible levels whilst the weighing scales deskill the packing process for operators, leading to a 30% increase in productivity.
The following year, Barfoots purchased a single station MARCO Trac-IT Waste Management Module for the same site. This system allows Barfoots to gain a full understanding of where, when, and how waste is produced across their packing line. Having this sort of data allows Barfoot’s management to understand where and how they can reduce waste within their facility. It also logs the amount of waste produced allowing for it to be upcycled for use within the wider food supply chain. Following on from the success of the first install, Barfoots have now purchased an additional 24-station YCM system and a further two Waste Control Modules.
Barfoots’ Operations Manager, Tom Spragg, says this of the improvements the MARCO systems have brought to Sefter Farm:
“Our range of fresh produce is not the easiest to pack and maintaining target weights within legislative requirements can be difficult. The MARCO Yield Control System has reduced our giveaway dramatically, whilst our productivity has improved. Our operators find the systems easy to use and minimum training is required. With regard to the monitoring of waste, we now know when and where waste is produced and by whom. This allows us to fine tune our operation and optimise costs.”