ULMA Packaging helps farmers find their flow

Jan 22, 2019
Spanning 7000 acres across south-west Cornwall, Southern England Farms Ltd is one of the largest vegetable producers in England.

Owing to its unique location in the heart of Cornwall, the farm has become famous for growing and packaging a variety of fresh produce such as courgettes and broccoli – all of which can be found in the fresh produce aisles of some of the UK’s biggest supermarkets.

While the produce was thriving, the same could not be said for the farm’s inefficient packaging machinery, which could no longer keep pace with the rate of production required by the farm to keep up with growing demand for their produce. Southern England Farms Ltd turned to ULMA Packaging UK who helped the farm find an efficient packaging alternative that would boost productivity.

Up against it

Gordon Stokes, Head of Farming at Southern England Farms Ltd, said: “The efficiency and reliability of our packaging machinery is critical to meeting customer order deadlines. We rely on our machines to wrap our broccoli and courgettes to suit our customers prepack specifications, without which our crop cannot be delivered.

“The machinery that we used to rely on to meet customer orders provided us with just 50 packs per minute, which was no longer fast enough to meet our growing daily orders.”

Gordon added, “Ultimately, we needed a machine that was going to be efficient and dependable. Having a strong manufacturer support network on-hand should anything go wrong was another requirement. Downtime for our packaging equipment means that our customers’ orders will not be fulfilled - a situation we are always keen to avoid.”

Why the Sienna?

Following an extensive collaborative consultation with ULMA’s Business Manager - Machine Sales, Mark MacBean, Gordon chose the Sienna Hi-Tech LSBI flow wrapper and shrink tunnel, with its cross-sealing jaw station, as the machine that would be charged with increasing packaging capacity.

Mark, commented: “The innovative Sienna flow pack wrapper was chosen as it is ideally suited to Gordon’s packaging needs. The machine is controlled by a motion control system that synchronises the movements of the main axes through the UPC7G industrial PC control, resulting in higher packaging speeds. In addition, the touch screen control panel allows the operator to simply manage the system’s variable functions including the bag length, the speed of the conveyor and the sealing time.

“Improving the packaging efficiency of Southern England Farms is made easier with two of the Sienna’s standard functions. The ‘No Product – No Bag’ function ensures that when a lack of produce is detected at the in-feed conveyor, the machine will stop waiting for the broccoli or courgettes to arrive and will instead start the conveyor to bring the next load of produce to the machine. While the ‘Misplaced product safety’ function checks for misplaced veg at the cross-sealing jaws and prevents the jaws from closing on the product – preventing the creation of a double pack.”

Packaging improvements

Gordon knew that time was not on his side, the packaging season was looming and his old machines were no longer up to the job. Thankfully, the team at ULMA were able to successfully deliver and install the Sienna in just 12 weeks. The service did not end with their installation, ULMA Packaging UK provided Southern England Farms with the training that they needed to safely operate the machinery to maximise efficiency savings when packaging their broccoli and courgettes.

Gordon, said: “Since making the move to the Sienna we have increased our production from 50 packs per minute to 80, that equates to 80 extra trays of prepacked veg per hour.”

“It’s not just the savings that brought us to ULMA, it was the service. We’re in a very rural location so, having on-hand support should anything go wrong was an attractive selling point for us. It’s not an option for our machines to take unscheduled downtime. I need to know that if a machine breaks down, I have the technical backup to get it back online – fast.

“With the help of ULMA, we have managed to speed-up the packaging process and expand our output, allowing us to keep up with business growth in the fresh produce sector.”

If you are interested in how ULMA Packaging UK can help with your packaging machinery needs please contact our sales team on 01909 506504 or email us.