Fruit and vegetable pack houses with over-packing rates as high as 12% have managed to get them down to less than 1% thanks to productivity improvement expert Marco Ltd, according to its business development coordinator Becky Hart.
Speaking to ED at London Produce Show, Hart said UK-based Marco’s pack house systems have been installed in 27 countries, including Peru, Chile, Guatemala, the US, Canada, South Africa, India and Kenya.
In the fresh produce sector they are ideal for fruit and vegetables that need to be manually packed for handling or presentation reasons.
“We supply solutions for the packing of table grapes, tomatoes, berries and all soft fruits, loose leaf salads and herbs, and all pre-packed vegetables, from mangetout to sugar snap peas to stir-fry packs and baby vegetables,” she said.
“Our systems provide comprehensive data management and visibility through the packing process. Most people pack on very basic and stand alone table top scales which do not provide any weight capture, operator performance reports or batch records. Yet if one of the biggest problems for packers is high levels of overpack (giveaway), you cannot hope to reduce it unless you are monitoring and controlling weights in each and every punnet or box.
“What our system does is make every operator accountable because you have to log into the weighing station, so immediately in a huge pack house you know exactly what everyone is doing and at what speed they’re doing it, and it also reduces the overpack massively and obviously that means you can create more punnets with the same amount of raw produce. It’s this saving that pays for the system and typically following installation we are providing an extra saleable pack in every 10. We usually see a typical return on investment (for our customers) of six months or less, or one growing season” she said.
Among the hardware and software products Marco was promoting at the show were its Field Side Packing solution, which allows producer who don’t have dedicated pack houses to nevertheless meet retailers’ demand for accurately declared weights on pre-packed produce.