Solutions to RP1 at NCC
The NCC is experiencing losses at their receiving plant 1 (RP1). Despite spending a lot for a Kiwanee dumper at the plant, their overtime costs are still very high, and this has upset the farmers. The unloading of the process fruits takes a long time, and this directly affects the growers who can do nothing but wait and idle. The chief of operations made separate meetings with the chief of operations and superintendent to come up with a solution to this concurring problem
In the years prior to 1964, the acreage harvested was over 26000 and fell. The growers resorted to the agricultural marketing act that sought to regulate the amount of land that each farmer would have as maximum. Here, the better you used your land the more you bettered your chances of having more land under harvesting after six years when the act was to reach its end. The growers also enacted the Cranberry Marketing Order of 1995 to set aside 10% of the 1995 crop which amounted to 200000 barrels and setting aside was supervised by the committee of growers and the department of Agriculture. To increase the amount of yield, the maximum amount of land should be increased to provide more people the opportunity to fully utilize their potential in the growers sector.
Cranberry harvesting also increased over the years due to water harvesting. It increased yield and lessened work though it caused damage and reduced holding time for the berries (Donald, 2002). Since its inception, amount of berries harvested has increased by at least 20% each year despite reduced area under which berries were harvested. The amount of wet berries should, therefore, increase, and more growers should utilize this and venture more in it. This will cut costs in harvesting and reduce manpower needed for it.
At RP1, fresh and process fruit was completely separated. The berries arriving in truckloads had samples taken from them for cleaning and drying to determine its quality dry weight, which determined price to be paid per truck. The trucks were weighed to determine the weight of the berries which was averagely 75lbs per truck. During this time, pictures of the berries were used to determine the color and graded accordingly. Where a matter arose the grading with the higher value was awarded but in the end only about half of the berries in No.3 (the best) actually deserved (Robert, 1984). This prompted the installation of a light meter system of color grading. It was projected to cost $40000 and required a skilled full time operator that was to be paid an equivalent of the chief berry receiver. To reduce the congestion, a separate receiving plant should be there for the fresh fruit and an independent one for the processed fruit. This is aimed at reducing time used in separating the two. Skilled operators should be hired and take shifts in operation of the meter system. However, they will each earn half the initial amount.
The truckloads were taken to Kiwanee dumper where there were 27 numbered holding bins and each holding 250lbs of berries and the last 3 holding up to 400lbs. These were controlled from a central point. It took up to 7mnutes to do empty a truck. However, delays were experienced when the bins were full, and there was no space for temporary holding. The dumpers holding 400lbs should be increased compared to those holding 250 lbs. This directly saves time and is worth every penny. This reduces amount of berries spoilt in the plant.
The holding bins emptied to conveyers for destoning, deachaffing, drying, quality grading, and bulk loading or baggage operations. Drying was for wet harvested berries only and destoning for the dry harvested. Units 24 - 27 were for wet berries only and 17-24 for either.
These wet berries were dechaffed in one of 3 units, which cold process up to 1500bbls each per hour. They were then taken to one of 3 drying units that dried up to 200bls per dryer per hour.
Bins 1 – 16 were used for storing dry berries which were then routed to 3 destoning units that processed up to 1500lbs per hour. Then they went to the dechaffing units. Here, mostly, both berries were processed at the same time. This is encouraged since parallel processing is efficient.
After dechaffing, destoning and drying, the berries are taken for quality grading. They are taken to large conveyors from the 1st level to the 3rd level. The conveyors feed the berries into jumbo separators that put them in either of three classes; first quality, acceptable second quality and unacceptable berries. This works on the principle where the good berries bounce higher than the others hence easily sifted from the rest. Unacceptable berries go to water filled waste flumes and floated away for disposal. They move down the conveyors through to the waste chutes. The number amount of the second quality berries has been consistent over the years (Cox, 2012). The separators process up to 450lbs per hour. The more the unacceptable fruit available, the slower the rate of processing. This translates that if the growers bring in more spoilt berries, the more time they spend waiting and the lesser their earnings.
Berries leave the RP1 directly to the finish processing plant or into bins for storage. They are usually stored frozen due to the wet harvesting and need to increase the time taken before consumption and to avoid loss or damage.
By increasing the number of driers and converting more of the dry bins to storing wet berries, the work would be lessened. This is because most of the berries brought in were wet and hence more bins are required to ease the work. This, in a great way, would reduce congestion and time taken in offloading of trucks and other prior activities.
Work scheduling is the most important part of the job. The RP1 should be opened well on time and the workers of a good number (Arrow, 1996). The number should increase from 17 to about 30 and shifts created to schedule work and ease backlog. The period for the 15 seasonal workers should be increased by 3 days since it approaches peak.
To avoid holding the work any longer than necessary, the workers at overtime should also be added. This will help clear the job on time.
RP1 has a good number of workers and a relative hardworking team. Amount of produce brought in per day has proven to be the main challenge since managing it in the shortest time possible seems to be difficult to do. Therefore, with a field study, the strategies necessary to have the plant working more efficiently and effectively should be put in place. This includes having more workers and buying another receiving plant. The cost of this is worth it since relative profits made are subsequently enough to do so.