MARCO has unparalleled experience in providing fit-for-purpose pack house solutions for fresh produce operations, which have been shown to increase productivity by 30%. Recognising this experience, MARCO was chosen by Special Fruit b.v. to take on a major contract to provide a dual line packing system at its largest plant located in Meer, Belgium. Special Fruit is one of the largest importers and packers of fresh produce items in Europe. The products it processes include: strawberries, exotic fruits, berries and pome fruits, delicate vegetables and a range of specialised products. They are imported from five continents and are distributed to retailers, supermarket chains, hotels, catering services and other wholesalers in 28 countries.
A key benefit to customers is that MARCO can provide them with the right system designed for a particular application, including hardware, software, and their wider integration to existing business systems. In this installation, MARCO’s system connects directly to Special Fruit’s Microsoft’s Navision platform to provide full integration to the between their office and production facility.
The diversity and fragility of products, along with the complexities of order fulfilment requirements, require that the packaging processes at the Meer plant be manual. MARCO’s challenge was to offer Special Fruit a comprehensive system that has the versatility to meet their rapidly changing demands, but which in turn is simple to operate and manage. The resulting system ensures that the two packing lines are capable of operating simultaneously or as two separate work centers.
MARCO’s Trac-IT Yield Control Module manages the entire operation; 24 LineMaster smart scales, 12 per line, report back to two DataMaster control terminals. The LineMaster smart scales have been designed to facilitate the manual packing process and allow operators to achieve the preset target weight through a simple ‘traffic light’ system. This reduces giveaway whilst also increasing overall pack speed. Optimised product flow from pre-packaged to packaged and labeled product is accomplished by dual-tier conveyors with a smart and practical design.
Special Fruit’s Operations Director, Jeff Wouters, was impressed with the design and MARCO’s industry knowledge during the install and set-up:
“MARCO’s extensive knowledge and experience of fresh produce packaging has been clear from the outset. They understand our challenges and their ability to undertake the design and supply of the complete mechanical handling equipment, together with the seamless interface with our Navision system, will ensure optimum efficiency throughout the pack house. The yield control system will streamline our manual packing process and provide invaluable visibility for our operation. The reduction in giveaway and improved productivity will ensure we remain highly competitive whilst providing our customers with the highest quality produce.”