A unique, new end of line system, designed to handle random case sizes, has boosted a case packing line within a leading UK egg producer’s new state of the art egg packing plant.
For over 40 years family run Ballygarvey Eggs has been packing and supplying free range and intensive eggs fresh from laying farms around their base in Northern Ireland. Today, with flocks totalling 840,000 birds, Ballygarvey are annually supplying 250 million eggs in a 60/40 split to supermarkets and foodservice customers respectively – throughout the UK and Ireland. Faced with this growth Ballygarvey realised that their original packing plant, which was manually operated, could not sustain the volume of output required. “The company is continually expanding so we designed and built a new packing plant just 5k away from the original unit.” Explains Mark Davison, Managing Director of Ballygarvey Eggs, “While this site would remain manual handling small volume lines we wanted the new site to be a fully automation state of the art egg packing plant to deal with the number of variations in packs for our larger customers.”
With 25 different configurations of egg boxes Ballygarvey needed an automated line which was reliable, high speed and, above all, flexible to deal with the changing demands from supermarkets. Following global demand for its 744 fully automatic random case sealer, Endoline designed and built RACE – a random automatic case erecting system to boost their SMART machinery portfolio and meet the needs of Ballygarvey.
Designed with dual opposing hoppers RACE not only allows for different sized cases to be run at any one time but downtime is eliminated as one hopper can be re-loaded with cases while the other side continues to operate. Capable of feeding up to three packing lines at any one time RACE also incorporates Endoline’s unique dual opposing vacuum technology, which ensures each case is opened positively to overcome any tearing.
Andrew Yates, Endoline’s Sales Director explains: “Two different case sizes can be run on the RACE system at any one time so each hopper is loaded with cases – one size per side – and during the packing operation a sensor, fitted to the packing line conveyor, will communicate which case size is required. The RACE then automatically adjusts itself to form the case required and send it down the relevant line – all of this can be completed at a speed of up to 14 cases per minute. Significantly the time it takes to change or load more cases into a hopper are eliminated as, while one hopper is re-loaded, the other hopper can still be in operation.”
Once all the eggs, within the new Ballygarvey site, are checked and graded, and packed into egg boxes via Moba systems they are run through one of two packing line types. One is low speed manual operation with workers manually erecting outer boxes and filling them, via six packing lines with egg boxes. The second line features RACE which feeds formed outer boxes to a further six packing lines, which are operated by robots. However once all the cases of eggs are filled at the 12 packing lines they all feed into the Endoline 744 fully automatic case sealer – at a rate of 126,000 eggs per hour.
“Our new facility is the high-spec packaging plant I envisaged and it offers Ballygarvey scope for future growth. While all of the systems have contributed towards this the new Endoline RACE machine is has been a significant contribution and, for a brand new design, it has not missed a beat.” Mark concludes.