CPC International Apple Company is a privately held, family-owned fruit wholesaler based in Tieton, Washington. The company packages and sells several varieties of apples around the globe.
In late 2016, CPC International sought out a new packing model for their facility. The goal was to turn three pack lines into a single system, and to expand the variety and volume of apples the company could process. Hytrol and the integration partner worked with CPC International to help turn concept into reality.
“Hytrol’s integration has allowed us to tie all these systems together at the end of the day in one fluid conveyance,” said Jon Alegria, President, Owner of CPC International.
CPC International needed to increase throughput, despite labor challenges in their industry. Before the system, the company would have had to quadruple their staff. After the system was implemented, the fruit producer was able to maintain their current staffing level while also increasing the number of boxes being processed.
“On a per-hour basis on the old system we were probably 700 to 800 boxes an hour of throughput on an average day,” Alegria said. “But with this system, I mean, we’re right now at 2,500 to 3,000 boxes an hour.”
In terms of individual pieces of fruit, CPC International is now able to produce up to about 350,000 apples per minute whereas the old system only allowed for about 100,000.
Once the apples enter the facility, they are scanned, washed, and processed before being moved to automated or manual pick stations. Packaging can come in as many varieties as the apples themselves.
“We run anywhere, depending on the variety, from 40 to 60 SKUs for each variety. So, it needed to be a system that was very integratable to run multiple varieties,” said Alegria.
The system features over two miles of Hytrol conveyors utilizing EZ Logic on two stories. The boxes are then moved to cold storage areas—one featuring 52 lanes of accumulation. Hytrol’s pallet handling conveyors are instrumental in keeping the boxed apples steadily moving to the wrapping station and into the warehouse.
Maintaining the structural integrity of each box is paramount to CPC International in relation to the quality of their produce. “I believe in first appearances,” Alegria explained. “I think that if a box doesn’t look right then something must be wrong with the fruit. I think we got more uniformity through the entire system because it allowed us to have uniformity for every pallet. Every pallet looks the same. So, it’s made a big difference.”
Hytrol and CPC International have worked on previous projects dating back to 1996. The fruit company holds the products made by Hytrol in special regard.
“When it comes to conveyor systems there are not many brands in the world where you don’t call it ‘conveyor,’ you call it ‘Hytrol.’ And so, we’ve done a lot of work with [Hytrol] in the past and you guys have always been the go-to when it comes to conveyor systems,” Alegria said.
Hytrol’s integration partner, RH Brown Co., provided significant support before, during, and after the system was implemented. The Seattle-based company’s expertise and easy access greatly helped the fruit company come up with the best solutions for their needs while fixing potential problems.
“They’ve been great to deal with. It’s been more of a marriage than a partnership if you will,” said Alegria. “They were the right fit for us because of their knowledge base of what they’ve done over the last few years.”
As CPC International continues to grow, Hytrol remains consistent in its efforts to push the limits of material handling to find the best innovative solution for the company.
“Hytrol hasn’t changed and I think that makes a big difference,” asserts Alegria. “We haven’t had to change that. We’ve had to change lots of different things about our packaging lines. Lots of ways that we do things. But to this state so far, the standard Hytrol hasn’t changed.”