Enhancing Operational Efficiency & Maximizing Bulk Material Savings: A Real-World Case Study

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In operational efficiency and cost management are constant challenges. AZO recently collaborated with a leading confectionery company aiming to revamp their existing bulk sugar handling process. Leveraging AZO's systematic design approach, our engineers sat down with the client to thoroughly understand their current processes and related issues to build a compelling case for change. Through this collaborative effort, AZO identified key areas for improvement and prepared a business case to support the needed capital investment.  This process not only streamlined their operations but also identified significant cost savings, showcasing the effectiveness of AZO’s tailored engineering solutions to solve complex business problems.

The Challenge: Managing Bulk Sugar with Limited Space

The company was well-established family-owned confectioner, with over a century of history producing various seasonal and all-year-round treats, from chocolates to sweet candies. Sales growth is now challenging legacy faced a growing The operational challenge: managing delivery and storage sugar in big bags in a space-constrained plant environment.

The company receives its bulk sugar in super sacks — large flexible bags capable of holding two thousand of pounds of sugar on pallets. These pallets were kept on the warehouse floor which is both space-intensive and operationally cumbersome.

Production required large amounts of bulk sugar and the Relying on super sack on pallet combination resulted in considerable floor space being occupied.  Limited space is now which hindering the potential for expanding production lines or introducing new products. Additionally, the process of moving these bulky sacks around required the use of multiple forklifts, which not only increased the risk of workplace accidents but contributed to higher maintenance and fuel costs. Super sacks storage took up too much room and their manual handling added layers of complexity to the company’s operations, significantly impacting labor costs and overall production efficiency.

This logistical bottleneck was further exacerbated during seasonal peak production times, like Valentine’s Day or Easter, when the variety and volume of confectionary products manufactured increased.

The operational inefficiencies resulting from outdated handling and storage methods for bulk sugar became a critical issue that needed urgent attention to support both current needs and future growth aspirations.

The Inquiry & Initial Findings

When the Company reached out to AZO, they  articulated a clear objective: they wanted to explore alternative sugar purchasing and handling methods that could improve optimize their operations by freeing up valuable floor space and reduce manual sugar handling. Recognizing the potential for significant improvements, we AZO sales engineers arranged for an on-site evaluation to gain a firsthand understanding of the Company’s challenges and constraints.

During the site visit, the AZO our experts were immediately struck by the crowded working conditions in both the storage and production areas. Dozens of super sacks and pallets for sugar storage visibly constrained floor space and complicated the ease of movement from storage to production. This observation prompted detailed discussions between the AZO team and the company's management about the advantages of transitioning to truck load delivery, bulk silo storage and pneumatic conveying.

These discussions focused on how a truck based bulk handling system could drastically reduce the physical footprint required for sugar storage in the warehouse.  Using vertical silos and a pneumatic conveying system to move the sugar could reduce direct labor costs.  Using an automated control system to tie this system together, the Customer could not only reclaim floor space but also streamline the flow of materials through the plant.

Our on-site visit laid the groundwork for a transformative shift in how the company managed one of its most critical raw materials. The preliminary assessment was crucial in designing a system around the company's existing operations and exploring new opportunities for operating efficiencies.  additional equipment like super sack loading stations.

Cost Savings & Return on Investment

A critical element to AZO’s approach was a comprehensive cost analysis to evaluate the tangible financial impacts of transitioning to a bulk handling system. The company's annual expenditure on sugar was $8 million. Our analysis projected that by shifting from super sacks to truck load deliveries, the company could achieve significant cost reductions, on the order of 10% for annual savings of approximately $830,000.

The potential financial benefits extended beyond the cost of raw materials. Our discussions dove into other notable cost factors associated with the amount of direct labor required for the current storage and material handling. methods. Automating this process was identified as a major area for potential savings. By implementing an automated pneumatic conveying system, AZO estimated the Customer could save an additional $400,000 annually. This reduction would stem from a decreased need for manual loading, unloading, and movement of sugar bags.

The shift to automated bulk sugar handling would also likely lead to a decrease in forklift usage which would decrease fuel costs, maintenance, and driver training and certification. These changes would contribute to further savings, reinforcing the cost-effectiveness of adopting an automated bulk sugar delivery system. These savings would enhance the company's efficiency and profitability, positioning them for stronger financial performance and more space to expand production.

A Strategic Shift with Compelling Benefits

The comprehensive analysis and proactive planning in this scenario demonstrate AZO’s unique approach in solving real-world problems.  The Customer was provided not only a system design to automate the process, but also a clear cut business case to justify the capital investment.  Not only did our proposal free up space and reduce operating costs it also empowered them to handle increased production volumes more efficiently. The projected annual savings underscored the potential of this strategic shift, turning operational challenges into opportunities.

Ready to be our next success story? At AZO, we can help address the specific needs of your bulk material business with a thorough inquiry and tailored solutions. Through these efforts, we can support significant operational improvements and cost savings that support your business.

Request a quote today.

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