Increase packing efficiency with a manual weighing system

System wag ręcznych od Milbor

During discussions with clients, we repeatedly hear that manual packing methods are inefficient and largely dependent on the skills and motivation of the employees. To address these challenges, we have developed an integrated manual weighing system to help manage the production process in the food industry.

From this article you will learn how to:

  1.     improve the productivity of workers packing food products by 30-50%,
  2.     reduce losses due to overbalancing by 3-5%,
  3.     manage better the packhouse staff, without unnecessary paperwork,
  4.     optimise the packing process and logistics.

Example of client’s history

Mr Marek runs a thriving 20ha strawberry plantation in Wielkopolska, with a yield of 25 tonnes/ha. The farm has been operating for 15 years and is the only business run by Mr Marek, so the owner spares no expense in investing in the crop. In previous years, he has tested different strawberry varieties, uses well-known fertilisers on the market, invests in new plantings and expands the tunnel system. Two years ago, he built a cold store and storage facilities that allow him to process the fruit on his own, and this year he is preparing to build a photovoltaic installation to reduce the electricity bills used on the farm.

With his own infrastructure, out of the strawberry season, Mr Marek has started to process fruit and vegetables, above all raspberries and mushrooms bought from local producers, which he then sells to the Dino retail chain. There is no shortage of goods, as there is only one company in the district with facilities for packing soft fruit.

“The bottleneck” in Mr Marek’s business is employees, or rather the lack of them. In the past, the grower had no trouble assembling a crew. In recent years, however, he has noticed that there are fewer and fewer people willing to work under harsh conditions. The employee market and freedom of migration mean that Poles tend to choose other jobs. Also, emigrants from the east also have increasing expectations of employers, and the war in Ukraine is leading to some people staying in their homeland or fleeing as far west as possible, skipping Poland. In addition, it happens that expats have communication problems, little motivation to work and a typically money-making approach to their duties. Last season, Mr Marek had to use a recruitment agency for the first time to find enough people.

The biggest challenge for the grower is not only to get people to work on the farm, but also to monitor their performance, any losses due to overweight, and to allocate specific employees to the tasks for which they are best suited. Poor assignment of a person to a task and lack of rotation of duties result in low motivation. The latter translates into a lower quality of the final product sold by Mr Marek.

Manual weighing system – necessity is the mother of invention

The automation of the sorting and packaging of food products, such as fruit and vegetables, is gaining ground. Faced with rising labour costs and huge difficulties in finding suitable employees, more and more food companies are opting for process automation. The incentive to invest in machines for sorting and packing fruit, vegetables and other food products is not only due to the growing trend. An important argument in favour of automation is the fact that the machines available on the market offer high process efficiency and repeatability, making them more efficient than humans in many aspects and generating tangible savings.

However, there are market segments where full automation is (for the moment) impossible and the human factor irreplaceable. Examples of such products include certain types of fish (salmon) and meat, as well as ready meals, which have to be packed manually, or soft fruit, which cannot be processed automatically due to its delicacy. For companies processing such products, we have developed an integrated manual weighing system.

Manual weighing system - illustration

What is a manual weighing system from Milbor?

The system consists of a selected number of manual scales with light indicators indicating weighing precision, a monitor displaying data on the work of the operators, package feeders and packed goods, and software to coordinate the operation of the system.

The key to success, and the heart of the system, is our proprietary software. We developed it with the needs of the users in mind, taking into account the specifics of the food processing industry. The software is very easy to use and our clients appreciate the user-friendly and clear interface. Its simplified form goes hand in hand with extensive content. The software delivers:

  • the ability to configure and save any production processes (so-called recipes),
  • centralised management of procurement orders,
  • real-time visualisation of production progress,
  • information on the efficiency and effectiveness of each scale and each operator,
  • estimated time for completion of the current order,
  • report after the order has been completed.

Importantly, the software can work with our scales, but also act as an integrator of the weighing infrastructure that already exists at the client’s site. Its second important feature is its modularity. This means that our software is flexible and can be extended with additional functions depending on the client’s needs.

Manual weighing system

Benefits of introducing a manual weighing system

As developers of the software, we could talk at length about its qualities and the solutions used. As a rule, however, users do not focus on the technological nuances, but rather think about the benefits of implementing a handheld weighing system. These are as follows.

  1. The system increases productivity by 30-50%. Monitoring the performance of each operator makes people work more efficiently. What’s more, thanks to the reports, the employer can easily identify the best employees and redirect those having difficulty weighing quickly to other tasks.
  2. The system provides the ability to save selected production processes (so-called recipes), containing key data for a given order (e.g. number of pieces to be packed, tare, target weight of the final product). In this way, configuring the packaging line requires a few clicks on a laptop, rather than manually editing each system component individually. Automatic taring reduces the time needed to set up the line and reduces the risk of incorrect weighing. This possibility is particularly appreciated by companies packaging different assortments for different retail chains.
Manual weight control system conveyor

3. The system predicts how many packs are left for a particular order. This minimises the time to prepare the packaging and products needed for a new order. Information on how much time is left to complete the process is also important for the logistician preparing to transport the packages. It also makes it easier to optimise staff breaks.

4. The system reports on the progress of each process, so that the shift coordinator knows at what speed and accuracy the individual weighing operators are weighing.

5. The system minimises the risk of overruns, and therefore losses for the employer, through colour-coded communication between the scale and the operator. Our observations show that the reduction in product loss due to overruns thanks to the system is 3-5%. These few percent errors can mean tens of thousands of Euro lost per season. Beacons indicate to the employee whether the weight of a particular pack is correct (green LED), underweight (red) or overweight (orange), which reduces the number of errors and makes work much more efficient.

6. The system optimises the planning of the packaging of different product types, enabling production to be designed by one person, from one location. This prevents planning chaos.

Technology designed with ergonomics in mind

Our handheld weighing system is also praised by the operators. Working in a food packaging plant is not the easiest job. Cold temperatures, repetitive tasks and long hours spent standing mean that there are not many people willing to do this type of work. And even when they are, their level of motivation and accuracy is not always what the employer would expect. This is why, in this industry, any innovation in the subject of work is worth its weight in gold.

The manual weighing system streamlines the work of operators on several levels.

The first is the aforementioned built-in lights, which provide information on weighing precision. The signals make it easier for staff to act quickly and without error.

The second involves gamification. On a monitor that is part of the system, the performance of individual operators is displayed live, such as the speed and accuracy of weighing. Such a solution stimulates motivation to work, which is due to the fact that, as a rule, people do not want to be inferior to other team members and stand out from the rest. Above all, however, it gives the employee concrete information about how he or she is working. A given operator’s good performance can be an argument for giving him or her a bonus or praise.

Thirdly, the shift coordinator can see on the monitor how the efficiency of the operators has changed over the last five minutes. If this efficiency is declining, it may mean that the team needs a recovery break.

Manual weight control system monitor

Who is this product for?

We address our solution to manufacturers and processing companies that are keen to optimise costs and productivity, while at the same time companies that cannot switch to fully automatic operations. The manual weighing system from Milbor combines manual work with technology and the concept of Industry 4.0.

It is certainly an option worthy of consideration by businesses looking for ways to improve work efficiency and avoid losses associated with overweighting. We have highly accurate scales that colour-code the correct weighing by operators. This generates a double saving – it prevents overweighting losses and allows the employment of efficient staff.

The software can be used independently, including with other weighing equipment. For companies that want to test how this product will perform in their conditions, we offer system rental.

Going back to the case of Mr Marek at the beginning of the text, thanks to the implementation of the manual weighing system, the grower:

  • knows which of his employees work best and which people are worth betting on,
  • thanks to a smaller number of efficient and meticulous employees, it can handle the same volume of production for which it once needed a larger number of less precise people,
  • does not worry about the increasing quality requirements of the retail chains, because he knows that the best people, additionally motivated by a reward system, only pack fruit with the right parameters.

Is the weighing system for you?

Experience shows that in the food industry, one-size-fits-all tools rarely work. Tailor-made products and services, developed with the needs and objectives of a specific client in mind, are much more successful. Such is the handheld weighing system from Milbor.

To experience its full capabilities and see how the system can help your specific case, fill in the form below and our advisor will contact you shortly to answer questions or discuss your business project.


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