Whether you operate a hobby farm or a large cropping venture, packing operations can play an important part in achieving your business success. The quick and efficient movement of produce from the field to packing and then distribution to the end customer is necessary to ensure that the product remains fresh and undamaged.
Unfortunately, however, the reality of packing operations is that they can attract unwanted pests like flies. They can also be expensive, due to the large amounts of energy used. This article identifies various strategies for improving efficiency and profitability in your packing shed. We look at segregation techniques, fly control methods, and steps you can take to save energy, all of which can contribute to helping you achieve better results in your operations.
Keeping your packing operations running smoothly is of great importance. Providing any visitors to your facility a good impression if you have a farm shop, is also a significant contribution.
Separating these activities is of benefit to both, improving user experience on the one hand, and efficient operation on the other.
Likewise, it is wise to separate your different types of produce when processing them for packing. Segregating your produce into separate dedicated areas within your packing shed can reduce the possibility of cross-contamination maintaining the quality of your produce during the packing process. Establishing different, separated process areas for your various types of produce reduces the likelihood of error, and helps to improve efficiency, positively impacting both quality and delivery times to the end customer.
You can achieve segregation with next to no capital outlay. Segregation can be achieved in your packing shed, without inhibiting access to areas by using strip doors.
Strip doors comprise of vertically hung plastic strips that can be of varying widths that provide a physical barrier between areas, but allow people, vehicles and other machines to pass through while at other times, inhibiting insects and other foreign airborne matter from entering your premises.
Additionally, installing PVC strip curtains on your farm shop door prevents visitors from seeing your backroom activities. This maintains customer comfort in your farm shop, and process efficiency in your packing room. You can even customise the strip doors to your brand colours.
2. Insect and Rodent Control Methods
Produce quality is essential for the health of your business. Produce spoilage due to bacterial contamination is one of the greater threats to your business. Insects like flies and rodents are a common source of bacterial contamination. So it is essential to maintain clean facilities and thorough hygiene practices within your facility and the surrounding area to minimise the opportunity for insects and rodents to flourish.
All waste generated on site should be disposed of regularly and appropriately. The facilities likewise should be cleaned regularly.
Anything that might provide habitation for insects or rodents should be removed. This includes packaging material, which should be stored appropriately to avoid this scenario. Packaging which is clean can be reused, but likewise needs to be stored appropriately.
Sticky traps or fly paper placed in strategic positions within larger spaces in your facility can be effective in catching any flies that come near. Smaller spaces are best served using fly baits or electric zappers.
3. Energy Saving Tips
Because it is necessary for the facilities housing packing operations to have cooling systems, fans and other machinery installed, energy costs associated with the operation can be very high.
Energy costs can be reduced by adopting the following measures:
● Limit your reliance on artificial lighting by taking advantage of natural light. Adding extra windows or skylights can increase the amount of natural light in the workplace.
● If it is necessary to use artificial lighting, install the most energy efficient options like LED lighting.
● If you are purchasing new farm equipment, select the most energy efficient models possible. Energy efficiency should be prioritised when purchasing freezers, refrigerators and air-conditioning units. While initial investments may be higher for energy efficient models, running costs will prove the units to be the most economical in the long term.
● Use motion detectors or timers to ensure that artificial lighting is only powered when required.
● Passive energy saving measures like insulation of ceilings and walls to maintain stable temperatures within your facilities will save on energy costs and maintain quality through reduced spoilage.
● Shading of walls and windows facing the sun will likewise help to reduce energy costs by reducing the amount of cooling required in your facility.
● And, an added benefit of strip door partitions means you can cool only the areas that need it.
4. Measuring and Setting Targets
Making incremental changes to streamline your packing operations allows you to monitor and assess whether changes have had the desired effect.
Don’t try to do everything in one go, just take things one change at a time. This makes implementation easier and also allows you to measure the effectiveness of each change. Remember to take a baseline count, before you implement a change, then make the change, and lastly measure the count afterwards to determine the effect of the change. For example, this could be measurement of spoilage / lost produce, energy consumption or customer satisfaction.
In conclusion, efficient packing operations play a critical role in the success and profitability of your farm. By implementing segregation, insect and rodent control, energy-saving tips, you can make your packing shed more streamlined, and a better place to work and visit. By implementing some of our tips, we hope you can make your packing operations more effective and efficient, and boost your farm’s success.