Improve harvesting and Packing Efficiency
Brady Brewer, Stephen Eller, David Haury, Michelle Jones
J-M Farms is a mushroom production business located in Miami, Oklahoma. J-M Farms has a central mushroom production facility, along with five satellite farms located at various distances from the main facility. Of the five satellite farms, four grow white mushrooms and one grows portabella and brown mushrooms. Together they harvest the majority of J-M Farms total product. All of the mushrooms from J-M Farms are handpicked and placed into containers, known as tills. Tills are typically a foam material, but some are clear plastic containers, similar to strawberry and other small fruit containers. Tills fit into returnable plastic containers, RPCs, which are rented and used to ship the mushrooms to corporate buyers, such as Wal-Mart. An RPC can hold twelve, six ounce tills. RPCs are the primary method used to ship mushrooms. Bulk mushroom orders are sold in five or 10 pound boxes. Currently, all of the mushrooms harvested at the satellite farms must be shipped to the main facility for packaging. This process can result in several problems. It increases the amount of time it takes to get mushrooms directly to a supermarket shelf. Additionally, bruising is much more likely since the mushrooms are handled up to eight times before it is a finished product, resulting in a shorter shelf life. At this time, mushrooms also are picked by volume, not weight. Therefore, the mushrooms must go through a Quality Assurance weighing station in the packing room. If pickers were able to pick by weight, not volume, the Quality Assurance line could be eliminated at the main facility. If J-M Farms were able to use a mechanism, device, or cart to package mushrooms in the picking room, the above mentioned problems would be eliminated.
Our project is to improve the harvesting and packaging efficiency at J-M satellite farms. The most important factors affecting design are: ergonomics, cost effectiveness, maintenance, and simplicity.
Scope of Work
At present time, the main buyer of product from J-M Farms is Wal-Mart. Because of this, J-M must adhere to certain packaging and sustainability standards. Meeting sustainability standards is a priority especially since Wal-Mart has developed a sustainability index. J-M is a regional leader in mushroom production, and the company’s primary competition comes from Texas. However, with this lack of local competition, J-M still needs to be cognizant of the other competition as losing a few key buyers such as WalMart could be very detrimental. To help in maintaining J-M’s current sales positions, steps must be taken to offer a lower priced product with a higher quality.