Press Release Summary:
Providing system engineering, modeling, and optimization of custom conveyors and distribution systems, Fabco offers custom job shop, millwright, and equipment installation service to food, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries. In-house engineering capabilities allow crossover benefits to create innovative solutions from two or more different industries.
Original Press Release:
Planning to the 'Nth Degree' Ensures Minimal Disruption to Plant Operations in Food & Beverage Industry
Custom job shop, millwright and equipment installation service helps online grocer and system integrator with quick-turnaround engineering solutions, integration and installation
When the core management group of FreshDirect met with Fabco Equipment Company, Inc. and other prospective material handling suppliers in 2000, they began planning the conveyors and other distribution systems - 18 months before the business was launched. "We were conceptualizing how we were going to build this magical system that would be flexible enough to carry us from a startup with few orders to the high-volume capacity that was our goal," says David Weber, Manager of FreshDirect's Meat Department.
Mindful of dot-com Webvan's spectacular crash and burn a few years earlier, FreshDirect management decided that success would hinge on providing superior products to a limited geography through highly customized material handling systems.
"We knew that system engineering, modeling and optimization were critical to the success we hoped to achieve," says Weber. "As the supplier of conveyor systems to our Meat Department, Fabco would have to perform all those things. And they did."
Today FreshDirect is itself a model for the online marketing of fresh-cut meats, premium produce and gourmet groceries to residential and business customers, which it does throughout metropolitan New York. Order volume has shot up to 5,000 daily orders compared to the 500 per day when they opened for business in July 2002.
"The amount of growth that is still supported by the original conveyor configuration bears testimony to the system's durability and flexibility, and our supplier contributed directly to that design," says Weber. "Fabco's management is committed to people and they do what they say they are going to do."
"Getting it right the first time" is crucial to the success of many food and beverage producers, where investments in properly engineered and integrated material handling can save millions of dollars and even hold sway on survival. However, the proliferation of custom material handling equipment has created some new challenges to accomplishing this.
"Many food and beverage producers are plagued by material handling problems that detract from automation, system integration and other productivity solutions," says Mark Ligler, Vice President of Factory Automation Systems, Atlanta, GA, a full-service engineering and integration services company with expertise in a broad range of automation techniques. "In most instances, those problems can be avoided through the right combination of expert engineering, fabrication and installation. Value-added services such as post startup adjustments and round the clock service can be very important, too."
The burgeoning need for customized material handling solutions is turning systems integrators away from suppliers such as conveyor and carousel manufacturers who prefer to sell only off-the-shelf products that are touted as being more economical.
"We prefer to deal with flexible suppliers who work creatively and will collaborate with our designers rather than simply try to push garden-variety products," says Ligler. "Integrating optimum systems often requires that we have a design partnership relationship with suppliers, including those in the material handling industry. This means working with our engineers and oftentimes our clients to ensure that the right solutions are developed and that they are installed with knowledge of the project site to help ensure minimal disruptions to plant operations."
"It is frustrating when your conveyor supplier decides it will take four additional weeks to deliver a system simply because you've incorporated some features that are not standard to their products," says Ligler. Ligler's company prefers to deal with conveyor suppliers who are experienced with the business of their clients, and who can provide customized equipment with quick turnaround.
"We were aware that Fabco had previously done another major bottled water project," Ligler says. "So we decided to consult with them. It turned out that we were on the same page, and that a customized conveyor solution would best meet a conveyor-to-conveyor transition application. That's the approach we took and it worked out very well."
Downtime is the ultimate nemesis of food and beverage producers. So, in addition to being durable and reliable, it is vital for conveyor systems and related equipment to be delivered on time and installed efficiently.
Conveyor system installations can be very complex, often requiring the integration of dozens of pieces of equipment and weeks of tying up facilities. Therefore, installation expertise and efficiency are also important criteria when choosing a conveyor supplier.
"Protracted installation time is tough on a food processor," says Rocky Frazier, Fabco CEO. "We work to estimate accurately how long installation will take. We supply the crew and expertise to handle it, including post startup adjustments." Fabco recently provided a system for a 200 X 300-ft. poultry processing room that involved 161 pieces of equipment. From design to start up, that installation was up and running efficiently in 11 weeks. More importantly, the demolition was complete in 24 hours, and the entire $9 million expansion only required a 10-day shutdown.
Another important factor in the choice of a conveyor supplier is support after the sale. This includes not only repair service and parts supply, but also reconfiguring or expanding conveyor systems.
"When a conveyor system goes down, it usually results in a business interruption. Which results not only in production fall-off but also delays in meeting delivery requirements," says Frazier. "Both of these problems can be very detrimental to business, so we make it a policy to provide service to customers everywhere on a 24/7 basis."
Today's custom conveyor systems can not only maximize production, but may also be one of the few remaining ways to reduce head count. Optimization of these systems often requires occasional reconfiguration, expanding or replacing equipment to meet higher volume requirements or production changes. Here again the demands on expertise, dependability and high service levels of conveyor suppliers may be crucial.
With a growth rate of 1000 percent in just over two years, FreshDirect is already looking at retooling its conveyor systems and other order processing equipment. "This will be a very interesting challenge for us and our suppliers, including Fabco," says David Weber. "We hand-cut all meat orders, so we're not expecting to improve order handling velocity as much as order filling efficiency. And that will result in not only accommodating our huge growth potential, but also provide a significant savings on overhead."
As a leading supplier to the poultry processing industry, Fabco Equipment Company, Inc. has been involved with reconfiguring conveyor and other processing equipment to meet changing trends in the poultry industry all over the world.
Even the demolition that may be required to upgrade or replace a conveyor system is an important consideration. "We have become experts at demolition and installation because it always has a direct impact on our customer's business. That means planning the job to the nth degree, including removal of existing equipment and material without unnecessarily interfering with other business operations," says Frazier.
Fabco's extensive in-house engineering capabilities cover a wide range of conveyor- and material-handling technologies. In addition to high-volume, heavy-duty applications that are common in the food and beverage industry, the firm's expertise also covers many specialized industries such as pharmaceuticals, where proprietary systems or unique equipment such as vibratory conveyors are needed. "There is a "cross-pollination" benefit from the diversity of our experience," Frazier says. "It enables us to create innovative solutions that are sometimes hybrids from two or more different industries."
Since 1988, Fabco has grown to a leading global supplier in material handling, process design, millwright, and installation services for the food processing industry. Today, Fabco offers a wide range of stainless steel evisceration equipment, offal handling equipment, workstations, platforms, and material handling products, including conveyor systems, overhead rail systems, dumpers, pallet lifts and destackers, as well as some unusual specialty products. Fabco's implementation of laser and CNC technology has taken food production processes and quality control to the highest level, greatly improving on manufacturing process time and overall faster turnaround from order to delivery.
For more information about Fabco products and services, contact Fabco Equipment Company, Inc., 1009 Portwood Drive, Albertville, Al 35950; Phone: (256) 878-5010; Fax: (256) 878-7879; E-mail: email@example.com; or visit the web site: www.fabcoinc.com.
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Karim Shah, Power PR