UK supermarket chain Morrisons has announced that it has successfully accelerated packing efficiency at its fresh-produce operations in Thrapston, North Northamptonshire, following a five-year phased automation roadmap taken in conjunction with British automation specialist Brillopak.
In total, Brillopak, which is exhibiting at Robotics and Automation 2023 at the NEC Birmingham on 28-29 March, has installed 11 fully integrated fresh-produce packing lines comprising around 40 machines, with equipment and capital investments split across three phases.
All machinery has been designed and placed linearly, and includes a variety of Brillopak solutions such as the company’s UniPAKer robotic crate packing system, PAKstation, bale arm closers, Crate DESTAKers and double stackers.
These lines handle a range of flow-wrapped and tray-sealed fresh produce, including apples, pears, tomatoes, apricots, blueberries and grapes, which comes from chillers and out to the back end for distribution, in one continuous flow
As a result of the programme, the fresh-produce packing hall at the Morrisons Centre of Excellence in Thrapston has been reconfigured to be able to prepare and deliver 130 million packs of fruit every year to 82 stores across the UK.
What’s more, the automated handling of fresh produce has reportedly reduced complaints by over 30%, according to Morrisons.
“We had a clear vision of how the linear Thrapston packing lines would ultimately look and partnered with the Brillopak engineering team throughout every phase of the process,” said Matthew Peczek, head of operations at Morrisons.
“The robotic packing solutions that Brillopak builds are extremely intuitive to operate and very reliable. As testament, our robotic potato lines in Gadbrook continue to run as efficiently as the day they went in seven years ago. We know they are always going to work and maintain their efficiency and presentation consistency.”
The Thrapston facility is the fifth Morrisons fresh produce site to be fitted with end-to-end Brillopak machinery, which the company believes has led to an important sideline benefit.
“Being able to pre-plan projects and roll automation platforms out in phases as part of a wider, aligned plan certainly helps to mitigate investment risks,” said Peczek.
Brillopak (Stand r602) will be at the co-located Robotics and Automation and IntraLogisteX on 28-29 March 2023 at NEC Birmingham. For more info, visit www.roboticsandautomation.co.uk and www.intralogistex.co.uk now!