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Automated case packing reduces costs and increases consistency

05 June 2024

A fruit grower that packs its own products has reaped the benefits of automation on its case packing line.

Edward Vinson is an expanding fruit grower in the South East of England, producing strawberries, raspberries, and blackcurrants. Its products are packed in its own facility, with another unit under construction to handle ongoing growth. On average, the company packs around 14 million punnets of fruit every year.

The main challenge faced by the company when in relation to its packing operation is the rising cost of labour and a difficulty in recruiting and retaining staff. Labour costs associated with packing lines were becoming extremely high, with some lines requiring five operators to pack product into cases and crates.

For this reason, along with the goal of increasing packing line efficiencies, the company sought to automate its end of line packing processes to increase efficiency and lower costs. The company did, however, have some concerns about the space that an automated line would require.  

Orhan Rahmi, Packhouse Manager at Edward Vinson, had heard positive reports about Brillopak and had seen one of its machine in action at another site. This led the company to speak to Brillopak about its own requirements. Brillopak suggested an automated case packing line, which was installed in December 2023.

Rick Cook, Managing Director at Edward Vinson, ultimately made the decision to partner with Brillopak after considering a number of other machines. One of the biggest factors in the decision was the size of the Brillopak machine (without sacrificing quality), along with its capability of handling multiple products in a shift.

Ease of use
“The automated line is really easy to use,” confirmed Orhan. “All we need to do is select the recipe from the screen and the machine will do the rest automatically. I didn’t expect it to be that simple.” The fact that the machine was running live at full speed the day after installation is a testament to this. 

Orhan recalled that when the company first started talking about investing in automated case packing, he was concerned that the need for lots of changeovers would post problems for us in production.” I was worried we would lose 10-15 minutes every changeover with tooling changes. However, with the Brillopak machine, this was not the case at all.”

The design of Brillopak’s robot heads and end effectors means that the machine is able to adapt easily and quickly to pick-and-place a variety of packaging during a shift without the need for any tooling changeover.

Edward Vinson also opted to use the remote support provided by Brillopak and the staff have found this invaluable. Orhan is able to call a Brillopak engineer who can then access the machine remotely and, on most occasions, resolve the error promptly.

The biggest benefit for Edward Vinson of a more for automation has been the reduction in labour cost on the packing lines. That, and an increase in product consistency. 

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