St Merryn Foods

Lamb on the Line

By installing SF Opal pace lines and new packing and warehousing systems, red meat processor St Merryn Foods has significantly improved operational efficiency, yield, and productivity.

A part of the VION Food Group, St Merryn Foods process and pack high quality beef and lamb for the UK retail market. Working with UK – based SF Opal, they installed new lamb processing lines that have increased productivity, helping to maintain their position as a leading UK red meat processor.

Production line redesign

“As a long term customer of SF Opal, St Merryn Foods consulted with us when they decided to redesign their entire lamb and beef retail packing lines last year,” explains Jon Christie, Technical Director of SF Opal. “We had installed a new lamb pace boning system to replace their traditional table boning system in 2007. Our pace line worked well for them and we have been very happy to assist them in their redesign process over many years.”

In a radical overhaul, the Merthyr-based plant – which employs around 1000 people – installed new lamb boning and offal lines with packing and warehousing solutions from SF Opal.

“To get what we wanted out of the facility we saw that we needed to revise our entire plant layout, incorporate new lines, and install new equipment,” says site managing director Gary Hughes at St Merryn Foods. “This was a significant investment for VION UK and we were also fortunate to receive a grant to proceed. The project completely revamped our sorting and packing with new equipment which smoothed out and increased production flow by removing waste and downtime.”

Increased productivity

The investment was aimed not only at increasing the volume of productivity but ensuring the plant’s place at the forefront of meat processing technology.

According to Ian Woods, finance director of VION UK’s red meat business unit, the 2010 redesign was the biggest single project in any of the VION UK red meat business unit processing facilities, since the initial construction of the Merthyr Tydfil site. “The redesign of our operation in Merthyr was aimed at increasing the efficiency of the plant, improving production procedures and creating a high-tech facility that would enable us to maintain the business’ competitive position with its customers well into the future,” says Mr. Woods.

New equipment, new methods With the implementation of SF Opal’s new boning lines St Merryn Foods has moved away from table boning to embrace pace boning as the new method for lamb. “The changeover came about after a two year discussion period ending up in a trial installation of our line,” explains Christie. “The trial was an outstanding success resulting in a successful turnkey project.”

“It is a pleasure working with the people at St Merryn Foods as their approach is well thought out and our two companies interact with the overriding factor of co-operation and commitment,” continues Christie. “This always leads to a successful well planned conclusion and a very easy start up after the installation of all their projects.”

Fast paced packing

SF Opal improved the layout of the packing lines by implementing a new warehousing system delivering to the end of the line. This included modifications to some of their existing equipment as well as the installation of new higher tech equipment and conveyors to help streamline the process.

The new packing lines have greatly improved packing efficiencies with automated production and streamlined conveyorage including computerised yield checks. New tray lidding machines were installed. They operate at higher speeds with much more efficient waste levels than before. The areas around the OCM packing were also updated resulting in a much better product flow to order picking.

Efficient & Economical

The partnership has enabled VION to implement advanced technology and production methods that have reduced costs and increased operational efficiency. The new streamlined process has minimised giveaway, improved labour costs and employee satisfaction. The new facility simply runs better, is more efficient and easier to manage than before.

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