‘With the rapid expansion of local and international business we needed to increase our throughput and efficiencies so we looked for a packing system that could cope with varying seed sizes and weights,’ explains Danny van der Westhuizen, operations director. ‘Most importantly, we needed to dispense the correct weight of seeds per pack accurately, every time. After in-depth investigations, we committed to Ishida’s latest multihead weigher and we haven’t looked back.’
Installed by Ishida’s technical manager, André Sijstermans, the specialised Lilliput multihead weigher is said to be the smallest of its kind in the world. With 50cm3 hoppers and an ultra-compact 600mm by 400mm footprint, it’s specifically designed to handle extremely low target weights, such as Starke Ayres’ valuable seeds. Apart from its compact size, the Lilliput features short drop distances, reducing the chance of seeds bouncing out of its14 hoppers, and uses digital filtering to adjust filter time according to operating conditions, increasing overall accuracy. A special high-speed digital signal processing chip handles the rapid computations needed in digital filtering and weigh data processing.
To keep seeds flowing smoothly through the weighing machine, the Lilliput incorporates two Ishida innovations. Firstly, the dispersion table controls product feed via a highly-sensitive weight sensor. Secondly, auto feed control adjusts the amplitude and duration of feeder vibrations, helping to avoid product build-up, and minimising operator intervention.
‘The Lilliput runs seven days a week on a double shift basis with only two dedicated operators. It’s a true workhorse,’ beams Danny. ‘Not only has it dramatically reduced labour hours and costs and increased productivity, it’s also contributed to accurately managing our under- and over-packing risk.’
Using the Lilliput, flower and vegetable seeds can be fed into 0,2g to 75g packs and cleaning is easy and quick. Changeover time from one product to another, without cross contamination, is less than 15 minutes. Once empty, the weigher can be air-cleaned or vacuumed (the software allows the operator to lock all hoppers in the open position) and new job set-up is achieved by simply selecting the appropriate pre-set on the remote control unit.
‘Ishida carries out regular maintenance and calibration checks,’ explains Belinda Sijstermans-Brits, business manager for Ishida Southern Africa. ‘Most customers soon discover that our systems are very much maintenance free, requiring only specified yearly check-ups, which means less downtime and more productivity in the long-run.’
‘The Ishida Lilliput system has operated perfectly since day one and we’ve been enormously impressed by its performance and the level of service we’ve received from Ishida,’ comments Danny. ‘It’s vitally important that we provide the correct pack quantities to our customers, whether they’re commercial farmers or weekend enthusiasts, and Ishida has provided us with the peace of mind that the job is being done,’ he sums up.