Case study: David Smart of Greenhalghs talks about his production challenges and the success robotics has provided himGreenhalgh’s is a long-established family Craft Bakery which was founded in 1957 and they currently employ approximately 950 staff and is one of the largest employers in the Bolton area. They have a chain of 61 retail shops, along with a wholesale and fleet sector, supplying high quality bakery products to convenience stores, high street retail stores, farm shops and sole proprietorship’s, through to nationwide providers including major supermarket chains.

David Smart, the Managing Director of Greenhalgh’s in the U.K, took some time out of his busy schedule to discuss automation and their choice for going with Apex Motion Control.

“After many years of struggling with trying to produce our seasonal decorated cookies, we knew it was time to seriously consider automation. While we did invest considerable time and money into training pipers (decorators with piping bags) throughout these years the fact was that hiring and training staff for only several months a year, each and every year simply did not make economic sense.

One particular year we could barely keep up with the demand and so began my search for an automated solution. My research came up with a machine called the Deco-Bot made by Apex Motion Control just outside of Vancouver, Canada.

We found out about Apex Motion Control after trying to manage our highly skilled cookies and biscuits. We struggled for many years tried to find trained pipers (decorators) in for short periods after training them and spending time and money only for them to walk away. We could barely keep up with the demand and after doing research online I came across the Deco-Bot on You Tube. I contacted Rob and Martin and by pure coincidence I was in Seattle during holidays and then came across to see Apex and the machine. On the second visit we were able to see a mock machine put together but we needed the machine to be up and running in a very short period.

When we installed the machine in our plant, we literally plugged it in and it has been working great ever since. We were a week behind schedule at the time but with the machine working we caught right up! This machine saved up from training and employing about 25 people. The machine runs from late August to mid-January at 18 hours per day on 2 shifts. We are getting a consistent product at the end of the line and the deco-bot consistently decorates our biscuits at the right time, every time.

The market place that we’re in we have to make sure that we can compete with a level price of only a few big players here. Our biggest advantage is the consistency or product and the speed of the consistency of product with the increasing costs such as labor and ingredients.

We would definitely buy from Apex Motion Control again. Our plan is to become more automated in order to control labor costs, labor shortages. We have to automate more to mitigate the increasing labor costs, lack of labor force. People will not pay more for a loaf of bread but yet our costs keep increasing, the need to automate is top of the list.

We wouldn’t be able to do what we do if we didn’t have the Deco-Bot from Apex Motion Control."