AEC Helps Family Farm Grow into Major Beverage Distributor

Arden, North Carolina-based Arcadia Dairy Farms began as a small dairy business in 1939 with 30 cows and 70 acres. Through the years, Arcadia has grown substantially and even branched beyond the dairy business into the juice and non-carbonated beverage industry. As the business has grown, its packaging and shipping requirements have grown along with it. In 2004, Arcadia began working with Scott Hovis and his team at Advanced Equipment Company to help automate processes in the now 200,000 sq. ft. facility. The aim of this initial project was to transition away from the use of forklifts to transport cartons more efficiently.

"We developed a conveyor system to transport cartons from the filler to palletizers" says Hovis.

This project was a major step forward for Arcadia, who was now able to distribute to a much broader area more quickly.

"Our first system took us from approximately six people on a line down to three," says Arcadia Plant Manager James Ward. "So we went from 8,000 gallons of product to 16- to 20,000 overnight, pretty much, once we had installed the system."

Arcadia was so pleased with this project, and with the Hytrol equipment that AEC installed, that they have not hesitated in tasking Hovis and the AEC team with additional automation projects for their facility as they have continued their amazing growth.

And as the company grew, they tasked AEC with making the most efficient use of space in a warehouse that was quickly running out of room to grow horizontally. The customer had added a new machine to its carton filler room, which necessitated the move of one of its palletizers. Together with Arcadia, AEC and Hytrol decided to relocate both of the palletizers to one location.

To increase efficiency in the process, AEC and Hytrol created a multi-level system that made use of the facility’s vertical space. The solution uses a filling operation for individual products, which are then transferred to a case pack as finished goods.

"A benefit was the ability for us to use vertical space as opposed to us being on the floor," says Jim Arthur, Arcadia’s VP of Operations. "We were able to hang a lot of the conveyors on the ceilings which made use of a lot of space that we weren’t using before."

Previous to this project, Arcadia was manually wrapping the completed pallets before sending out to shipping. Hovis and the AEC team were able to include conveyors that transported the loaded pallets to an Orion Fully Automated Stretch Wrapper. Once the pallets were wrapped, they were accumulated for a forklift operator. The increased production not only meant fewer manual touches in the conveying process but allowed Arcadia to go from one carton filler line to two.

To make this increase in production and efficiency possible, AEC worked hand-in-hand with Hytrol to install a variety of equipment, including: Hytrol Model RBI Belt over Rollerbed Conveyor, Hytrol Model 190LRC Live Roller Curves, Hytrol Model 190ACZ Minimum Pressure Accumulation Conveyors, Hytrol Model 190ACC Minimum Pressure Accumulation Conveyors, Hytrol DC60 Drag Chain Conveyor with Pop-Up Roller Transfers, and Hytrol 25CREZD Zero Pressure Chain Driven Accumulation Conveyor.

"We have four lines that are producing pallets at a pretty rapid pace," says Arthur. "The design and then the flow and programming between the exit of the palletizer and the exit into the warehouse is phenomenal."

He continues, "To go from 3 to 13 and now we’re serving 42 different DCs across the United States from this one facility? It’s nothing that we could ever have imagined when we started the company but we were able to do it with our partners. The integration partner and Hytrol really helped us achieve what we needed to achieve which was to produce quickly and move product with large weights in a durable fashion to other parts of our facility very quickly."

Because AEC has proven itself to be a capable and reliable partner to Arcadia time and time again, Arcadia has since completed three additional projects. As Arcadia has transformed from a small, family-owned dairy farm into a major player in the beverage industry, AEC and Hytrol have been with them every step of the way.

Distributor: Advanced Equipment Company
Supplier: Hytrol

Material Handling Equipment Distributors