MARCO has designed and installed a variety of productivity-improving packing systems for fruit and vegetable growers across Southern Africa. The Southern Farms group, a South African based fresh produce grower and exporter of quality seedless table grapes are the latest company to task MARCO with designing an innovative factory automation system to streamline their packing process. With a vision that has made them one of the leading growers and exporters to the United Kingdom and Europe, the Southern Farms group operate multiple large grape packing facilities in the Orange River. The group sees large volumes of table grapes each season and employ numerous local workers to keep the packhouses in operation for much of the year.
To continue with their ambitious expansion plans Southern Farms engaged with productivity improvement experts, MARCO to create state-of-the-art packing lines within their five facilities in the Orange River. The purpose of the new investment was to reduce giveaway, increase packing speeds and monitor operator performance with the aim of improving their overall productivity. Prior to the start of last season, each packhouse had a MARCO Trac-IT Yield Control Module installed and commissioned. This consisted of multiple smart weighing devices and packing stations each reporting live data back to a central PC at each site. This central PC (or DataMaster) is then able to provide Southern Farm’s packhouse managers with real-time data as to how each individual operator is performing. It also provides real-time reporting for the entire operation, ensuring each manager knows the progress of each batch.
The installation also included MARCO’s factory efficiency screens as part of MARCO’s Production Data Display module. PDD allows for the live factory data to be displayed across the entire packhouse. Displaying operator performance data has been proven to increase operator performance through a sense of competition. PDD also allows for quality control images, videos and messages to be displayed factory-wide.
MARCO’s Trac-IT Production Data Capture system was also provided to Southern Farms which enables the field pickers’ productivity to be monitored by capturing weight data by field and by team.
As a result, overall yield can be assessed through the combination of accumulated data from the field and packhouse all summarised on the user-friendly management reports.
Southern Farms’ Managing Director, Morne Steenkamp had this to say about the five installations across the Southern Farms network;
“MARCO has far exceeded our expectations by delivering a system that not only has delivered the promised reduction in overpack but has also provided a great deal of visibility and control across the whole of our packing operation. This has resulted in a significant uplift in overall productivity”.