The Scenario

A large international dairy producer was expanding a local butter production and packaging facility as part of an effort to increase throughput, consolidate the packaging process, reduce costs, and improve worker health and safety.

The existing facility was made up of four lanes for four different types of butter. Conveyors were at ground level and limited the movement of workers and equipment around the facility. Workers manually packed and palletized cases of butter using vacuum assist equipment, leading to strain and repetitive motion injuries as well as lost productivity. Finished product needed to be brought outside across an uncovered parking lot to be stored in the refrigerated warehouse, making it difficult to keep temperatures within the facility consistent during winter and summer months.

As part of the ongoing expansion, the dairy producer wanted to reorganize and redesign the facility to streamline operations and increase efficiency across the entire production process.

The Requirements

The dairy producer had a number of requirements that needed to be incorporated into the final design, including:

  • Reducing costs and improving efficiency in the packaging department
  • Improving logistics and making it easier for workers and equipment to move around the production floor
  • Consolidating multiple lines and products into a single process
  • Improving worker safety and reducing the risk of injuries
  • Eliminating the need to move finished goods and work in progress (WIP) outdoors

The Engagement

JAE Automation had worked with the dairy producer since 2001 on various projects and had developed a strong reputation for designing and delivering the right solutions.

The dairy producer solicited proposals and designs from a number of automation companies before ultimately choosing JAE Automation. JAE Automation was chosen over other proposals due to the value they brought to the project, their local presence, their previous relationship with the client, and the quality of the solution that was presented.

The customer also appreciated the flexibility JAE Automation built into the design, build, implementation, and maintenance phases of the project, as well as their ability to anticipate future requirements and design machines and processes that could be adapted as business requirements evolved over time.

The Solution

JAE Automation worked closely with a Project Manager at the facility throughout the project and went through various design iterations. The turnkey solution was designed, delivered, and installed by JAE Automation within the client’s schedule and budget.

Four separate pallet lanes were implemented at the facility, and elevated conveyors were installed to bring cases of product up to the ceiling. This significantly opened up space and allowed workers, WIP, and equipment to move freely around the production floor.

Cases of butter were packed, conveyed, loaded onto pallets, and stretch wrapped. Workflows were redesigned so that the loaded pallets could be brought to the warehouse without leaving the facility, improving temperature control and maintaining the quality of the product.

The Results

The new workflows increased speed and throughput, reduced bottlenecks, and eliminated the need for workers to bring the product outside.

By automating the palletization process, workers experienced fewer injuries and issues related to strain and repetitive motion. They were able to move more easily around the facility, which in turn increased productivity. Indoor temperatures were more consistent, improving the quality of the product and reducing energy consumption for heating and cooling.

The project reduced overall costs for the dairy producer while simultaneously improving the production and packaging processes. Through automation technology, new equipment, and a reorganized process, JAE Automation helped the dairy producer make things better.