Ben Hill Griffin Fertilizer Division, located in Central Florida, foreseeing the growth of liquid fertilizer purchased a liquid fertilizer plant. Soon, they found they reached capacity. They were going to need a new facility to keep up with the still-growing demand.
The demand for liquid fertilizer was due to the emerging problem of greening. Greening, a pest-induced disease that attacks orange trees, was introduced into the area a few years back. It quickly became apparent that pushing the groves was not going to be an economical solution. When it was discovered the disease attacked the root system first, agronomists realized that plants could be spoon-fed nutrients via liquid fertilizer to increase the life-span of the affected trees.
In setting priorities for the new plant, Ben Hill Griffin realized what they needed was flexibility, efficiency, and speed. Flexibility was critical due to the large variety of area crops and subsequent formulas and recipes that needed to be mixed.
“Ours is a very different market. We’re a custom blender,” explained Mike Roberts, Director of Sales & Marketing. “We have numerous different products, so you got to have flexibility. You start introducing flexibility, you can also have contamination issues.”
By achieving efficiency they would be able to off-set the cost of the new facility by leveraging as much as their existing staff as possible. Through speed, they wanted to maintain their high levels of customer service, and win new business from area growers.
Ben Hill Griffin reached out to Murray Equipment, Inc. (MEI), a leading supplier of liquid handling equipment in North America, to help them design new liquid plant, complete with automation and controls. Their existing liquid fertilizer facility had been automated by Murray Equipment many years prior. While they were happy with their current relationship, they wanted to make sure they did their due diligence and explore all options. In the end, they chose Murray Equipment.
“We found a company in Murray that took the time to listen to what we needed and also the experience in the Florida market to understand what we were trying to accomplish,” said Mr. Roberts. “We had talked to other suppliers, but they didn’t seem to get what we do or what our business is.”
Ben Hill Griffin was very happy with the results, particularly with the follow-up. The final system incorporated a lot of complex tools and automation. Murray Equipment, Inc. continued to partner with them after the installation to ensure their goals were met.
“They didn’t just take our check and leave us,” shared Mr. Roberts. “They’ve been back and helped us worth through some of the challenges we’ve had just trying to understand how to completely utilize all these new tools.” Murray Equipment has the ability to solve customer issues remotely over the phone. They can take control of the computer to see and solve issues and walk customers through how to do a procedure.
“It’s been a great help knowing we’re not alone down here,” said Roberts.