Family Farm Grows Into Major Beverage Distributor with Hytrol Conveyor System Upgrade
Arcadia Dairy Farm, out of Arden, North Carolina, began as a small dairy business in 1939 with 30 cows and 70 acres. Through the years, Arcadia has grown and branched beyond the dairy business into the juice and beverage industry.
As the business grows, its packaging and shipping requirements grow. In 2004, Arcadia began working with integration specialist Scott Hovis and his team at Advanced Equipment Company (AEC) to help automate processes in the now 200,000 sq. ft. facility.
Challenge: To transition away from forklifts and transport cartons more efficiently.
“We developed a conveyor system to transport cartons from the filler to palletizers” says Hovis. Major first step forward for Arcadia – now able to distribute to a much broader area more quickly.
“Our first system took us from approximately six people on a line down to three,” says Arcadia Plant Manager James Ward. “So we went from 8,000 gallons of product to 20,000 overnight once we had installed the system.”
Arcadia was so pleased with this project, and with the Hytrol equipment that AEC installed, that Hovis and the AEC team have become their go-to resource for additional automation projects.
Going up! Making the most of vertical space.
As the company grew, they tasked AEC with making the most efficient use of space in a warehouse that was quickly running out of room. The customer had added a new machine to its carton filler room, which necessitated the move of one of its palletizers. Together with Arcadia, AEC and Hytrol decided to relocate both of the palletizers to one location.
To increase efficiency, the teams collaborated to create a multi-level system making use of the facility’s vertical space. The solution uses a filling operation for individual products, which are transferred to a case pack as finished goods.
“A benefit was the ability for us to use vertical space as opposed to us being on the floor,” says Jim Arthur, Arcadia’s VP of Operations.
“We were able to hang a lot of the conveyors on the ceilings which made use of a lot of space that we weren’t using before.”
Previously, Arcadia was manually wrapping the completed pallets before sending out to shipping. The new system includes conveyors that transport the loaded pallets to an Orion Fully Automated Stretch Wrapper. Once the pallets are wrapped, they’re accumulated for a forklift operator.
The increase in production means fewer manual touches and going from 1 carton filler line to 2.
To make this increase in production and efficiency possible, AEC worked hand-in-hand with Hytrol to install a variety of equipment, including:
- Hytrol Model RBI Belt over Rollerbed Conveyor
- Hytrol Model 190LRC Live Roller Curves
- Hytrol Model 190ACZ Minimum Pressure Accumulation Conveyors
- Hytrol Model 190ACC Minimum Pressure Accumulation Conveyors
- Hytrol DC60 Drag Chain Conveyor with Pop-Up Roller Transfers
- Hytrol 25CREZD Zero Pressure Chain Driven Accumulation Conveyor.
“We have four lines that are producing pallets at a pretty rapid pace,” says Arthur.
“The design and then the flow and programming between the exit of the palletizer and the exit into the warehouse is phenomenal.”
He continues, “To go from 3 to 13 – and now we’re serving 42 different distribution centers across the US from this one facility? It’s nothing that we could ever have imagined when we started the company but we’re able to do it with our partners. AEC and Hytrol.”
“They really helped us achieve what we needed which was to produce quickly and move product with large weights in a durable fashion to other parts of our facility very quickly.”
AEC made us feel like community members, and that is extremely important.
Because AEC has proven itself to be a capable and reliable partner to Arcadia time and time again, Arcadia has since completed three additional projects. As Arcadia has transformed from a small, family-owned dairy farm into a major player in the beverage industry, AEC and Hytrol have been with them every step of the way.
“AEC made us feel like community members, and that is extremely important. We were an integral part of their lives and they wanted to serve us,” says VP of Operations, Jim Arthur.
“There’s cost and other variables that come in to play but the number one thing is can we trust you and feel comfortable with you as people – first and foremost.”
Plant Manager, James Ward states, “The integration partner [AEC] was able to meet all expectations of Arcadia. They have done up and beyond what we have ever asked for.”