How Ishida helps UK salad producer maintain its zenith
Four Ishida weighers are handling around ten baby leaf products, including rocket, watercress and spinach, packed into both punnets (from 75g to 150g) and bags (from 75g to 500g), with weighing accuracy to within 1% of target weight across the different pack sizes. Speeds vary according to what is being packed but are well within the company’s requirements.
As part of the installation of the fourth weighing and packing line, Ishida has project managed the complete re-design of Zenith’s pack house to accommodate the new line and make the entire operation more efficient.
This was a major undertaking with the Ishida project team emptying the pack house and re-installing the three existing lines, together with new steelwork and conveyors, alongside the new line. To maximise space and efficiency, the team introduced a workable product flow with all product entering the area from one end and leaving it packed at the other. Three weighing and bagging lines are grouped in a line at the far end of the pack house while a conveyor takes product packed into punnets from the other Ishida multihead weigher to the packing area where all packs are boxed and placed onto pallets.
To keep disruption to a minimum, nine days were originally allowed for the transformation of the pack house, utilising the quieter periods over two weekends. However, the Ishida team was able to complete the task in just five days with some production able to start up as early as the Thursday.
“This is typical of the support I have received from Ishida over the years,” says Zenith managing director Franco Barone. “It is one of the reasons why I will only deal with Ishida when it comes to the weighing side of our operation.”
The latest Ishida salad weigher to be installed is a 14 head 5 litre salad specification model, featuring C4 contact parts, Ishida’s recently-developed ‘easy-motion’ material that helps keep salad leaves moving through the weigher.
All the weighers are easy to set up, and changeovers between products or pack sizes can be carried out at the touch of a button on the machines’ remote control units. Zenith also implements rigorous hygiene standards and the ease of cleaning of the weighers, with parts quickly removed for washing, helps to minimise the downtime for this operation.
With Zenith operating as much as 14 hours a day, and up to seven days a week, the reliability of the weighers is another important factor. “I can be pretty certain that the Ishidas will not let me down,” says Franco. “This is very important as we would certainly struggle if one line was out of commission for any length of time.”
One of the most impressive factors in Zenith’s success is the fact that the company’s expansion has been entirely self-funded. Not surprisingly, this means that every investment in new equipment is very carefully considered. Nevertheless, says Franco, price is not the only issue.
“There is no point buying the cheapest machine if its lack of reliability means it is not working for half the time,” he points out. “Service support and back-up in the event of a problem are also essential.
“And the quality of the equipment and the high levels of service are the reasons why we continue to partner with Ishida.”