CASE STUDY: Weald Granary, United Kingdom
Following increased demand for wheat tonnage and with a growing membership, the Mereworth, Kent based co-operative Weald Granary has installed a Precia-Molen GeneSYS™ Enterprise Software system as part of an on-going development programme.
Owned by a membership of local farmers, Weald Granary is a non-profit making organisation functioning as a grain drying, cleaning, handling and marketing facility. Serving Kent, Sussex, Surrey and Essex, the facility is one of a number of co-operative stores in the UK and Scotland and is part of the Openfield Store Network (OSN).
Weald Granary chose the Precia-Molen GeneSYS™ Enterprise Software because it met four criteria:
To bring the entire vehicle unloading operation, including contract validation, sampling, laboratory testing, weighing and discharge on two Precia-Molen weighbridges under the control of a single PC network.
To be fast enough to cope with the increased traffic in ‘harvest time’ and ensure that they have all been tested and accepted for delivery.
Flexible enough to adapt to any future needs of Weald Granary, allowing new commodities to be added to the database if necessary.
To be fully supported with technical back-up and updates.
John Smith, Managing Director, Weald Granary, says, “The installation of the GeneSYS™ Enterprise System is proving an important part of our ongoing site expansion and development program here at Weald Granary. We increased storage capacity at the Mereworth site by 26 percent for harvest 2010 with no additional staffing requirement.”
With the impressive facilities currently handling approximately 100,000 tonnes per annum from 192 farmers alongside an annual projected growth of 4-5,000 tonnes from a projected 10-12 new members, the Precia-Molen GeneSYS™ Enterprise system has changed the fundamental time resource completely, throughout the stores, administration, marketing and stock control of the products.
A smooth transition
Currently employing seven HGV staff and five store personnel, the Weald Granary team are supplemented by casual staff in harvest time (8-10 weeks); At its peak 3,500 tonnes per day is delivered in from farmer members to the facility with each member requiring quality confirmation and weight data from the granary.
For the Weald Granary project, Precia-Molen installed one surface mounted weighbridge-type VS400, capacity 50,000kg, one RFID reader, ticket printer and a dialogue display. This has smoothly accommodated the transition to phase eight, providing total farm management through the integration of the weighing system with the stock management system, allowing the farmers easy access to their data through the web portal.
An assurance scheme
One of the key features of the GeneSYS™ Enterprise system is that it maintains the traceability of assured combinable crops after they have left the farm, which complies fully with TASCC guidelines. TASCC was developed because farmers and end users wanted to be sure that crops of grain, oil seeds and pulses were treated responsibly once they left the farm.
That includes wheat processed by flour millers and malting barley for the brewers and distillers in the drinks industry. It also provides independent verification that the trade is meeting food safety laws. The scheme is audited and certified by an independent certification body, in accordance with the internationally recognised standard EN45011.
This means that the certification body is itself independently assessed every year to ensure that the standard is implemented and administered consistently and fairly. The scheme is made up of a Scheme Manual and four codes of practice (Storage, Haulage, Merchants and Testing Facilities).
The Storage Scheme is operated to a joint scheme with the Grain and Feed Trade Association (GAFTA) covering combinable crops and feed materials.
Since the installation, the software has provided an expandable system which has provided many benefits including: increased overall efficiency; decreased paperwork and decreased management of paperwork; and remote access to the system.
Mr Smith says, “The IT platform has provided customers and farmer members with all the information they require at the time they want it. It has reduced data entry and double handling of data freeing up staff to focus on other tasks.”
A simple and effective system
Gaining access to the site is through a one-way system which directs the driver to the incoming weighbridge where the driver gains access by receiving a card from the Precia-Molen automatic card dispenser.
The driver enters the relevant information including reference number, vehicle registration, and contractor code and commodity type. The GeneSYS™Enterprise System then retrieves the contract details from the database and checks that the transaction is valid.
Should there be a query on a load, the system incorporates a search facility (truck/member/quality), which allows the operator to quickly interrogate the database ensuring minimal time delays. Having already un-sheeted the load, a sample is drawn off by a remotely operated vacuum spear sampler adjacent to the weighbridge and sent to the on-site laboratory for sampling.
By the time the sample arrives at the laboratory, the GeneSYS™ LIMS module laboratory Information Management System will already have printed off a sample document with a checklist of the quality tests required for this load. The results of each test are keyed in by laboratory staff and automatically checked against the pass/fail criteria.
If the sample passes all the quality tests, the driver is given permission to unload. If the sample fails for any reason, the vehicle is put on ‘waiting’ status and the test details are flagged up on the screen. This allows staff to contact the supplier to inform them the load has been rejected, or to negotiate acceptance below contract specification.
Having received a ‘pass’ the driver then moves forward to transfer his load into the appropriate silo. When he has completed his delivery the driver, draws away from this area and proceeds to the site exit via the outgoing weighbridge.
Any incoming load, dry or wet, can be dealt with effectively as the load can be calculated as a dry net weight through weight loss calculations within the GeneSYS™ Enterprise System (through algorithms). Through its database, the system will automatically calculate the moisture content in any grain type and subsequently provide data on the parameters of protein, (for example, Hagburg-suitability for dough in bread making), specific weight and screenings (cleanliness).
Outgoing deliveries of grain are handled by the partnership with DHL with trucks entering the one- way system passing onto the incoming weighbridge and then to the appropriate silo for loading. Exiting the site, they move onto the outgoing weighbridge for sampling and weighing of the load.
Here again a sample is then drawn off by a remotely operated vacuum spear sampler adjacent to the weighbridge and sent to the on-site laboratory for sampling. The results obtained from the outgoing load are then retained by the GeneSYS™ Enterprise System which can be remotely accessed by OSN to check the quality parameters of each individual load if required.
At Weald Granary, Mr Smith says, “The site operation is a lot more organised and less stressful now with staff having easy access to all the information they require to carry out their job roles.”