On June 5th Loch Duart Ltd purchased its own fish processing facility for the first time in the company’s 21-year history. The aim was to provide the company with greater flexibility and control than ever before.
Loch Duart Ltd acquired the fish processing facility in Dingwall on the Black Isle, previously owned by The Edinburgh Salmon Company. The facility was mothballed in 2018 and Loch Duart plans to refurbish the 52,000 square foot facility before opening. The move will result in the creation of up to 40 new jobs initially.
This is great news for Loch Duart and for our customers. It is an investment in our future. Having our own processing facility will eventually allow us to be more flexible and responsive to our customers’ needs as we adapt to changing consumer behaviours in the new world that we all face.Mark Warrington, Managing Director of Loch Duart
Loch Duart produces 6,000 tonnes of high-quality salmon each year from its farms in Sutherland and the Outer Hebrides. Before this development, the company employed 100 people, mainly at their farm sites in Sutherland and the Outer Hebrides This new facility provides the ideal location for processing in relative proximity to the farms as well as being on the route to Loch Duart’s markets.
As well as purchasing and installing the necessary equipment to de-slime, gut and grade the fish, Loch Duart needed a Packing system that would enable them to seamlessly move from having their fish packed at a third party processor to own production. The system needed to integrate to the companies Microsoft Dynamics Nav ERP system, which is hosted in Aberdeen, but also be able to operate on a purely local basis should the Aberdeen connection be lost. In order to maximise their flexibility Loch Duart needed a system that could pack their own fish against sales orders raised in Nav, returning the production data to Nav. They needed a system that offered more than the system that was used at their previous third party processor, which had restrictions on the size of orders accepted and the size ranges that the fish could be graded into.
Take a note of the date (June 5th), Loch Duart’s initial target was to be packing fish by the middle of August. A significant thing about June 5th was that we were right in the middle of the COVID 19 lock down situation, No visits to site could be made, so all discussions regarding specification of the system and decisions on purchasing needed to be made remotely via telephone or on line meetings.
Following initial discussions, the competition was filtered to two companies. MWS of Leicester using the WeighLogic Production Management System and Marel, the almost de-facto supplier of Salmon Packing systems and the incumbent at the 3rd Party processor Loch Duart were using at the time. The easy decision would be to buy the Marel system as it was already being used to process their fish and would seemingly be a safe choice, given they wanted it up and running in less than 10 weeks.
Further discussions revealed that by purchasing the Marel system they would have the same limitations as they were currently experiencing with their 3rd party processor and they would have to pay extra to have the Nav integration built into their project. This opened the door for WeighLogic and following multiple on-line teams’ meetings, Loch Duart were confident that the WeighLogic team could provide the flexibility they wanted in the time scales agreed and at a price agreed.
With regular on-line meetings to discuss finer points and demonstrations the WeighLogic team configured the system. By the start of August, it was completed in line with the order specification, and then a bomb was dropped.
Loch Duart informed WeighLogic that they wanted to maximise their investment by packing fish for other third-party salmon / trout processors. For these processors there would be no connection to Nav and all order entry, system set up and reporting would need to be done at the processing site. At the same time another major change to the order specification was announced whereby rather than packing being driven by order, it would be driven by the size and grade of fish arriving at the scale. The result would be the same, but this required a reconfiguration of the shop floor user interface.
A quick redesign was made and documented in the form of a new order specification detailing the modification and cost. The only thing that did not change was the go live date.
Eventually the on-site implementation did slip by a week and from 17th to 20th August the WeighLogic team were on site to implement and train on the system. Dummy production runs were completed and on 19th of August the first Harvest took place on behalf of a third-party sea reared Rainbow Trout producer.
Formatted printable reports were completed ready for the first production and Loch Duart were surprised that the reports could be saved as PDF’s and emailed directly to the producer direct from WeighLogic.
On 21st August, WeighLogic had left site and were available as telephone on-line support. Orders were entered into the system by site staff and the harvest was packed without any requirement for support from WeighLogic, a testament to the ease of use of the system and the design of the user interface.
Since then the WeighLogic team has been supplying on-line support as required and has even added a few out of specification enhancements to make the system even more user friendly. One issue was that the system was originally designed around processing orders placed as a quantity of boxes. Some of the third-party producers that Loch Duart is packing for, accept orders by weight. Whilst this information is available via the WeighLogic office client, finding the information meant leaving the processing area, getting changed before getting the data from the office client running on a PC in the processing office, and then getting changed again before returning to production.
The WeighLogic team came up with an answer and now have a production monitor screen, available on the shop floor terminal, showing production for each order by number of boxes and weight.
This allows the total order weight to be entered as a notes field in the order. The operator can compare the order weight to the current weight processed and close the order when appropriate.
The WeighLogic solution on site is fully managed by Loch Duart staff, who can set up new customer, products, quality grades, size grades and tags.
Featuring full integration with Bar Tender 2019 Automation label design, the system is tuned to minimize time from saving transaction to print. Being capable of labelling up to 14 boxes per minute.
This figure will never be achieved in production as the time to move boxes on and off the scale will inhibit it to around 7-8 boxes per minute maximum. However, the scale will not be a bottle neck.
The system has a built-in transaction grids that can be grouped, sorted, filtered and totalized as required and saved back as grid report templates. Specific formatted reports are created by the WeighLogic team and inserted into the system. The user can filter the data required in the report.
This is a fantastic system, operation is so simple, I used to inspect our fish going through the system at the 3rd party processors, we expected to have to learn hundreds of PLU’s but we don’t need one. The only thing the user enters are quality, size and tag. Typically, 90% of our Harvests are Superior fish, so that means we only enter the size and tag. As the on-screen buttons are dynamic it only allows a selection of tags for which we have orders.Alec McMillan – Processing Manager at Loch Duart
Our scale operator picked it up in minutes.
We expected to be checking off against orders on spreadsheets, we do not need to, all the information we need is available on the screen. The post-harvest reporting we do can be done in minutes and emailed directly to the producer. When we have needed support from the WeighLogic team it has been there, any issues we have had have been fixed quickly and efficiently.