Food Engineering

Produce supplier gains efficiency with MES/weighing system

January 1, 2011
System provides traceability data to help meet government regs and measures operator performance.

Agroleaf installed a total of eight dynamic average weight systems (four in view) and Vantage MES from SG Systems to control giveaways and keep electronic records for traceability requirements. Source: SG Systems.



Plant biology graduate Chris Hoggard began operating a commercial strawberry and raspberry farm in England in 1994, supplying large supermarket chains and smaller local farm shops with freshly grown strawberries and raspberries. In 1997, Agroleaf Ltd won its first order from ASDA (British subsidiary of Walmart) and continues to supply ASDA to the present day. In addition, Co-Op has joined the expanding group of nationwide supermarket chains selling his fruits. The company now has an annual turnover of approximately $3.1 million.

The fruit and vegetable packing process has been considered to be an area of huge technological advances. Despite this progress, the packaging process is still reliant on the operators and what they consider to be target weights for each package they fill. The inconsistent nature of fruit and vegetables in terms of weight, shape and size means packaging can be a complex process. Many packaging facilities are now packaging in accordance with the average weight legislation (e mark) and, at the same time, making every effort to reduce giveaway.

To get more consistent weights and comply with regulations, Hoggard originally purchased six Vantage DAWS (dynamic average weight systems) from SG Systems, but has recently added two more to the line because the investment paid for itself in reducing giveaways. SG Systems provides produce weighing and formula management equipment and software in the UK and US, and the installation of DAWS Vantage allows legal conformity of the finished packed product while decreasing giveaways. Vantage is a manufacturing execution system (MES) that provides formula control and management, traceability and operator performance metrics, and it interfaces to ERP systems.

With DAWS, operators are required to weigh each product on a scale as they are guided through an ultra-responsive and quick weighing system. The eight weighing systems are networked to a management PC where traceability and yield information is stored for average weight conformity.

Average weight legislation requires the batch average be at least equal to the declared weight. DAWS allows target weights to be continually adjusted in accordance with this legislation to ensure giveaway is reduced to almost zero. DAWS also produces a range of reports, giving a detailed and instant view of the operation at any given time. Typical reporting data relates to operator performance, line efficiency, product performance plus a variety of traceability reports for legal purposes. With the system, Agroleaf has reduced its 7 percent annual overweights to almost zero.

“In addition to providing legal compliance, traceability and stock data, SG Systems has enabled us to turn our production yield goals and ambitions into reality,” says Hoggard. “Like us, it is a company that prides itself on being flexible. The supplier took a standard product and molded it to fit our process exactly, and we’re delighted with the financial improvement that DAWS has had on our bottom line” 


For more information:
Jason Galloway, 214-819-9570, info@sgsystemsusa.com.