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The yield control module (YCM) within Marco’s Trac-It MES efficiency system has brought improvements and cost savings to Uniq Prepared Foods’s production facility at Moulton Park, Northampton.

Uniq Prepared Foods, a division of Uniq, is a supplier of sandwiches, wraps and deli products to Marks and Spencer and European airline businesses.

The Marco system features 12 semi-mobile stainless-steel Linemaster portion-control workstations operating in takeaway mode.

As the partly made sandwiches progress down the line, operators remove the required amount of individual sandwich components from trays placed on the weighing platform, guided by a red-amber-green traffic-light system.

The Linemasters are linked via a wireless network to the central Datamaster terminal, pre-programmed with information relating to all of Uniq’s products.

When line changes occur, the new ingredient target weights and tolerances are transferred directly from the Datamaster to the scales.

To minimise giveaway, Marco has developed dynamic automatic optimisation (AO) software.

The AO software package fine tunes target weights at individual workstations, based on real-time factory-floor data relating to individual operator performance.

The operators are unaware of this fine tuning as they continue to work to the ‘green light’ on the Linemaster scales.

Lee Harris, Uniq’s project manager, said: ‘The recently installed Marco system has proved itself to be a very cost-effective way of controlling our ingredient weighing and has dramatically reduced our giveaway without compromising line speed.

‘The new system has greatly improved our material usage and given us a greater understanding of our material losses.

‘We have already seen a substantial reduction in prawn losses alone.

‘It has improved our line efficiency through real-time data logging of usage, runtime, batch count and downtime.

‘The system is also very operator friendly, with operators producing consistent and accurate weighings within one minute of using the system.

‘It has dramatically reduced setup and changeover times, thereby increasing efficiency and eliminating the chance of target-weight errors.’

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