Grange Growing Solutions

Grange Growing Solutions has simple coding requirements, but outputting millions of bags a year in just a couple of its lines means the coder needs to be spot on.

Chief Operations Officer Simon Grange says, “Our staff are very good at what they do; fiddling around with complicated coding equipment doesn’t need to be one of their tasks. So we need a coder that’s user-friendly, but it also needs to be robust, because our potting mix is a dusty environment.”

With their “big, cumbersome” coder causing issues, Simon says they looked around for an alternative supplier.

“It was starting to cost a bit of money – nothing lasts forever – but we’d had a few issues with that and the service levels, so we always knew we weren’t going to go that way again. We looked at a few printers, and with similar prices, it came down to which one we thought would do the job better, so we chose the Linx from Matthews.”

Simon says Grange Growing Solutions uses the coder on its bag line.

“We do very simple printing: a batch number and a date for traceability goes on anything that runs through our bag-packaging machines. This includes our Grange Garden Health home-garden bags and then we contract pack for another company, doing another dozen products for them. Across all those products we do seven different bag sizes – 15 litres, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60 and 70 – all on the same line.

“The bags all come in rolls and are formed at the start of the machine. They are coded with the batch and date, get filled and sealed then put on a palletiser and go through a stretch hooder, making each pallet fully waterproof and weatherproof.

“Because we have so many different products and sizes within those, we try to run only one, maybe two, products a day, otherwise it’s not economical on the machine because you do lose bags in the initial setup, just realigning with knives and seals under the filling shoots. In spring, we can run the same product for two to three days, and on the biggest day we can send out 400 pallets.”

Simon says over the past 10 years, output numbers have grown.

“Last year we processed millions of bags, just on the home-garden bag line. The margins are very, very small though, so you’ve got to do a lot. That’s why we really need reliable equipment that keeps our production running smoothly.”

GRANGE GROWING SOLUTIONS

INDUSTRY: NURSERY & GARDEN INDUSTRY
APPLICATION: DATE + BATCH CODING ONTO BAGGED PRODUCT
PRODUCT: LINX CJ8900
 

BACKGROUND

Grange Growing Solutions is the largest potting-mix manufacturer in NSW. Under its own label, the company supplies Bunnings (and formerly Masters) as well as several large, Sydney-based independent nurseries. It also occasionally exports for specific requests, including to Dubai and Noumea.

Since its establishment in the mid 1980s, Grange Growing Solutions has pioneered new products for the mushroom industry and home garden market, knowing that product innovation is a key to business sustainability. And with such tight margins, Grange finds efficiency, robustness and ROI across all its equipment, backed up by good service, equally as vital.

SITUATION

Grange Growing Solutions has simple coding requirements, but outputting millions of bags a year in just a couple of its lines means the coder needs to be spot on.

The manufacturer had a “big, cumbersome” coder that was causing issues on one of its bag lines that produces its own brand and contract-packed product. With very small margins, downtime was quickly becoming costly. On top of increasing repair bills, Grange was also having issues with the service levels they were receiving.

With both those factors as drivers, they looked around for an alternative supplier of alternative equipment.

BUSINESS NEEDS

Grange needed a coder that was robust enough for its dusty industrial environment. Reliability was another key need, to minimise downtime on its high-output, low-margin goods.

PROCESS NEEDS

A new coder needed to be able to mark date codes on varying-sized bags, with legibility a must throughout the industrial supply chain. The coder also needed to be simple to use, to reduce the amount of time staff spent setting up for different products.

SOLUTION

Having compared several coders and suppliers, Grange chose a Linx 8900 small character inkjet coder from Matthews to print a batch number and date for traceability on all goods running through its bag-packaging machines.

OUTCOME

Grange Growing Solutions uses the coder on its bag line that includes its Grange Garden Health home-garden bags and contract packing a further dozen products for another company. Across all those products they do seven different bag sizes – 15 litres, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60 and 70 – all on the same line.

Bags all come in rolls and are formed at the start of the machine. They are coded with the batch and date, are filled and sealed then put on a palletiser and go through a stretch hooder, making each pallet fully waterproof and weatherproof.

The coder easily keeps up with current output speeds; which in the prime season of spring can be 400 pallets a day. It also allows for future growth, with output numbers having grown in the past 10 years to several million bags.

“Our staff are very good at what they do; fiddling around with complicated coding equipment doesn’t need to be one of their tasks. So we need a coder that’s user-friendly, but it also needs to be robust, because our potting mix is a dusty environment.”

— Simon Grange, Chief Operations Officer, Grange Growing Solutions

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