What They Needed
Looking to the future, Gateway FS of Red Bud, IL saw an opportunity to simultaneously improve customer service and efficiency. By utilizing state-of-the-art liquid fertilizer and crop chemical technology, they could improve speed, productivity, and inventory accuracy. This ensured Gateway FS sprayers were out in the field servicing customers, not waiting to be filled.
Strategically, centrally-located this facility processes orders for multiple outlying locations. It was clear automation was key to realizing their goals and the reason they chose to partner with leading liquid handling equipment and automation provider, Murray Equipment, Inc. (MEI).
“The primary goal was to improve the service to our customers in both accuracy and timeliness,” explained Greg Birchler, Gateway FS Operations Manager. “We selected Murray Equipment primarily because of their experience in the industry, our experience working with them in the past, and the type of system they employ. It does what we needed it to do, but is also very user-friendly.”
What We Designed
Murray Equipment partnered with Gateway FS to design a liquid fertilizer and crop chemical facility to be constructed in phases corresponding with expected demand. The initial phase included plant food and chemistry components with a fully integrated control system. The facility incorporated 3 fully automated loading bays and a weigh system for repackaging.
“Murray Equipment provided everything from top to bottom to make this system run. Everything from valves, plumbing, meters, and pumps to the automation,” said Birchler.
Gateway FS utilizes 2 mass flow meters, 22 TCS 682 meters, MEI ICS 360, and Murray Interface to achieve precision, accuracy, and speed.
“The outlying locations create the order then send it to the new facility for order location,” Birchler continued. “The new location receives the order, processes the order, runs the calculations, updates inventory, marks the order complete, and sends it back to the originating location for billing and inventory accounting – all with virtually no added labor.”
For Gateway FS, the benefits of this facility are already clear. “One of the things we are most impressed with in the Murray system is our ability to load a traditional 3,200 gallon tender truck in less than 8 minutes,” shared Birchler. “That has improved our productivity tremendously. It keeps our sprayers moving out in the fields and not sitting waiting on tender loads to arrive. The bottom line is that it works.”
These benefits come with little to no additional overhead. “We are basically running this location with 2 people. One person running the automation and another taking care of the hand-adds, quality control, and making sure the trucks are hooked up correctly,” said Birchler.
Gateway FS customer expectations are not only being met, but are being exceeded. Birchler explained, “We have been able to streamline our routing and scheduling. Many of our customers have seen a tremendous improvement in terms of timeliness. In many cases, we are able to service customers the same day, where before it wasn’t possible.”