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Process Improvements

Raw Shrimp Packaging: Reducing Cycle Time & Increasing Quality

It is of course, every company’s goal to be operating at its fullest potential and continuously increasing efficiency across the board. As businesses become more and more efficient, they are able to manufacture products and output services with minimum effort or expense. Reaching high efficiency is attainable and requires updating/changing protocol and processes regularly. Here, at ScottTech Integrated Solutions, we assist our customers in full-circle, systems integration with a secondary focus on packaging line automation as well as warehouse and distribution systems. In one of our most recent projects, we were approached by a large-scale shrimp packaging and distribution center looking to improve their overall process from dock to freezer and increase efficiency across the board. The shrimp factory faced several key issues that would continue to hinder operations until new systems were put into place.

PSI Shrimp Factory, located in Guyana-South America, has forty shrimp boats, each producing over 35,000 pounds of shrimp per day. The main challenges faced by this level of product included the overall time it was taking to get the shrimp from the boat on the dock to the freezer, when this type of product lies idle, realistically, it is ruined. The inaccuracy of the weighing process, tied in with zero date-coding and post-freezer inefficiency all contributed to the slow turnaround time from start to finish and wasted product.

Initially, when shrimp was being offloaded from the boats at the dock, they were being piled into large buckets that were being loaded and transported manually to the plant. This was a long, laborious task at hand and as shrimp were being dumped into the washer, this slowed the process even more and caused a major backup- leaving buckets of shrimp sitting in the sun, which often times lead to wasted product that could not be used. ScottTech was able to install a conveyor system that would take the shrimp from the boat directly to the washer, which reduced idle time and created a consistent flow to the plant. Once the shrimp arrived to the plant, the sorting process began which also included weighing and bagging- unfortunately this process lacked in accurate date-coding and weighing.

Shrimp were being manually transported in gray trays throughout the sortation room and both weighing and bagging were done manually. Workers had to continuously add and take away shrimp as they were being put on the scale- which lead to a backup in the bagging process, once again, leaving shrimp to sit. By manually weighing and bagging, and lack of labeling system, it was clear this process had inherent flaws that lead to overall low quality and excessive handling of product. The solution to this was an installation by ScottTech of wide sort-tables which fed the shrimp to the PSI incline where it was then transported to the Ishida scales, weighed accurately, bagged accordingly, and properly date-coded. As these bags were sent to the freezer, the next problem presented was post-freezer inefficiency.

The defrosting process and manual packaging was causing a significant backup in the post-freezer process. Boxes were being assembled manually and pallets of trays were being manually carted to the end of the conveyor from the freezer creating a slow turnaround time. The actual defrosting unit itself was not thawing quick enough making it difficult and delayed for discharge of the frozen shrimp packages. ScottTech’s solution to this problem was to install a box erector, a conveyor unit to eliminate manually carting pallets and a modified defrosting unit. The semi-automatic box erector increased efficiency from the manual assembly. Once the boxes were erected, the conveyor system that was installed took pallets and transported them to the end of the conveyor unit to go through the newly modified defrosting unit which released more water making for much easier discharge. Lastly, a case sealer was also installed so that once the boxes were filled; flaps were folded down and taped automatically.

For PSI Shrimp Factory, their overall goal to increase efficiency across the board was achieved. ScottTech Integrated Solutions helped to reduce dock to freezer time by 85%. Staff was cut down by one hundred individuals and we were able to eliminate the pre formed bags and replace with vertical form, fill, and seal. The three Ishida scales and vertical baggers that were installed each had the capability of producing 50-5 pound bags/minute- This equated to 1,500 cases/day, 15,000 bags/day, 75,000lbs/day and a total of 15,000,000 pounds of finished product per year. This is one of many examples of how ScottTech can help to develop customized integrated systems for each of their customers in order to increase efficiency and accuracy in overall operations. ScottTech is positioned as a leader in the industry and also offers other services including: Engineering Services, Consultation and Project Management, as well as Field and Product Service.

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