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An inspirational conveying and packing solution

At Fresh Direct’s chilled ‘Inspiration’ warehouse, Conveyor Systems Ltd has provided a conveying and packing system that has increased efficiencies, improved order picking times, and given the company the capacity to meet increased demand for its services with the same number of staff

In order to meet the growing demand on the services of Fresh Direct, the company returned to Conveyor Systems Ltd (CSL) which had successfully provided it with handling solutions in the past. CSL was awarded the contract to design and install a new conveying and packing system to enable quality fresh produce to be order picked and delivered to UK caterers, independent chefs and fine dining restaurants on a daily basis from Fresh Direct’s chilled ‘Inspiration’ warehouse at Bicester, Oxfordshire.

From bulk deliveries of produce into Fresh Direct, pallet loads of fresh vegetables and fruit are transported on a twin track gravity roller conveyor into a packing area to be decantered into orders and smaller trays. These trays are then conveyed on gravity roller track to one of several stainless steel decked packing tables, which feature a shared and raised centre shelf and film reel magazine.

Alongside the packing table is a four-tier powered line-shaft roller conveyor that is designed to feed and present different heights of plastic trays (small, medium and large), allowing the operative to select the appropriate sized container according to the order content. Film is used to line the trays into which orders are packed and over-wrapped. The second conveyor up from floor level is designed to be in line with the height of each packing table, enabling operatives to easily slide the full transit tray onto the roller conveyor to be transported to the palletising and dispatch area.

In order to remove packaging waste and ensure the area is kept clear, CSL designed and installed two automatic 13.5m and 9.5m long waste removal belt conveyors that feed and transport waste at an overhead level to a collection point for recycling.

Above this packing area, fresh produce is also picked on a mezzanine floor. CSL co-ordinated the project, designing and installing a system to provide accumulation and a controlled flow of completed and packed orders through to palletising and dispatch.

In order to provide a continuous, smooth vertical transfer of plastic trays in either direction, CSL provided a cost-effective solution, installing a refurbished spiral conveyor that features a space saving small footprint.

Colin Harris, operations director of Fresh Direct, says: “Prior to the installation of the new system, we manually picked product from racking and shelving to fulfil orders.

“CSL has provided a conveying and packing system that has increased efficiencies, improved order picking times, and given us the capacity to meet increased demand for our services with the same number of staff.

“CSL completed the installation to time and within budget, with minimum disruption to the ongoing business. Since being installed the system has operated with a high degree of efficiency and reliability.”

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