Food Production and Distributor

Food Production and Distributor

A major local food manufacturer and distributor’s growth was causing cramped and unsafe working conditions. Workers were getting injured and production was being adversely affected. SSI answered the call with less disruption and allowed for beyond expectation expansion.

The Who

This major local food manufacturer is a standalone in making and distributing quality food products by using innovative supply chain tools and state of the art manufacturing methods. This facility serves as one of their main production sites and a primary distribution hub to supply thousands of supermarkets and restaurants across the United States.

And although we cannot refer to them by name, we’d still like to think you know who they are and you love what they do, too.

We very much enjoy working with this client. They are willing to listen to new ideas they hadn’t thought of and to take a chance on something that may be unfamiliar to them.

The Challenge

This client’s facility configuration was causing them trouble mainly because:

  • their physical space to move product was limited and cramped
  • workers were having problems keeping up and sustaining injuries because of how they interacted with the product (bending, twisting, lifting) and how it traveled
  • throughput was not meeting the needs based on their continued growth

The client’s product was being palletized by hand and the amount of product coming off the multiple production lines exceeded the speed at which the workers could safely and successfully manage.

Additionally, physically moving pallets into and out of the space was its own challenge as space was too tight to do it properly and more importantly, safely.

The Results

At this facility, our complete multimillion dollar turnkey automated solution:

  • saved the client the labor of around 50 full time employees; they had at least one worker at the end of each line and ran 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • resulted in a stark reduction in worker injuries
  • exceeded their set growth goal increase of capacity of 25%

With our system in place, they increased production by 50% and the solution kept working for them as they cruised past their initial expectations.

In addition to all this, the visual aesthetic we achieved from automated palletizing was striking. Some product types fit 250+ small boxes to a pallet. Automation made for cleaner lines and more consistent stacking and stretch wrapping. It also reduced damage to product sustained from the byproduct of inconsistent stacking.

Proposed Plans of Attack

This client had initially been in contact with another vendor to design a solution for them. They were given a design and price that just didn’t fit their needs. Additionally, the other vendors plan was going to consume more of their facilities limited real estate than they were comfortable with. It would be difficult to implement and would have likely impact the client’s production in a negative fashion.

Because of these issues, they were looking for fresh set of ideas and additional potential solutions.

After being referred our way by a previous customer, they called us in to talk with them.

What Made SSI the Best Choice

Unlike other solutions companies, we think outside of the box. Our team can visualize various configurations, determine routing methods and put it all on paper. Every customer is different with different constraints in their facility. For us, it’s imperative to be able to visualize a system like this. Cookie cutter solutions rarely work well for end users.

For this client, we were able to provide a plan that would include much less intrusion to their production.

The other guy’s plan was to punch through key production office spaces, eat up additional warehouse space and relocate a large portion of their in-production supplies storage area. That meant bags, labels and other urgent production material would all have to move further away from the production lines.

SSI’s plan involved NO disruption to these spaces and ultimately gave them the ability to not only meet their goals but to exceed them

Implementing the Solution

A few things were unique about this client during implementation:

  • Implementation required us to install equipment in the production areas during very limited downtime windows.
  • Implementing the solution for this client involved moving some manpower around. No personnel lost their jobs due to this system upgrade. Personnel were shifted to other tasks throughout the facility.
  • Some employees were promoted to a higher paying task operating the new automated system. We ensured those employees received proper training for this equipment during implementation phase.
  • The system entailed Installation of 9 multi-line palletizers and several miles of conveyor of various types is as short a timeframe as possible.

We were able to design and fully implement everything for this client from the extensive supporting structures, palletizers, stretch wrappers, conveyor system(s) and extensive controls systems over the course of two phases in about 18 months.

How It Works Now

At our client’s facility, product that used to manually move into a box and then onto a pallet is now being palletized. With the process being automated, we saved them lots of time and money on the packaging lines.

Automating more of the process meant fewer human touches and huge benefits to their production.

SSI was able to produce a fully-fledged plan that enabled work to be done quicker, cheaper and safer all while the client achieved doubling their increased production goal.

We’re looking forward to the next chapter with them as they continue to push their growth goals into the future.

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