Gateway FS Achieves Customer Service Goals with New Murray Automated Facility
What They Needed
Greg Birchler, Operations ManagerLooking 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.”
FACILITY PHOTO GALLERY
In addition to the indoor crop protection storage, the facility includes diked fertilizer tanks at the rear of the facility.
The new facility is central to a new 18 acre location with room for additional large UAN storage tanks.
The efficiency of the Murray System means that the entire facility can be run by 2 people – 1 managing the software and the 2nd for managing the hand-adds and truck hookups.
The new facility includes 3 bays to ensure the capacity to fulfill orders originating at multiple outlying locations in a timely manner.
The system uses 2 premix tanks to introduce dry flowables and service 2 bays at once.
The large bays were designed to accommodate vehicles of various sizes.
The facility incorporates 22 TCS 682 meters to produce precise hot loads and include hand-adds.
To achieve speed, the facility has 2 mass flow meters for filling 2 trucks at once. Murray Equipment supplied both the automation and the pumps, meters, hoses, and other equipment.
Area growers are also serviced at the new Gateway FS location.
Gateway FS’s latest facility is fully automated with Murray Equipment’s ICS 360 and Murray Interface. Orders are electronically sent from other locations, fulfilled, and then sent back to the location for billing and accounting.
To store crop chemicals, Gateway FS installed 9 stainless steel tanks and 1 poly tank accessible via catwalk.
The floor plan was designed for efficiency, speed, as well as customer service. The large control room is air conditioned and employee-friendly.
Greg Birchler, Operations Manager at Gateway FS, Inc.
The efficient floor plan can simultaneously supply 2 of 3 bays and repackage totes.