Tuesday, July 2, 2019
I got up early and left the hotel by 6:45 am to meet Daniel at his house in Hindsville. From there we went to visit an egg packaging plant in Berryville.
We arrived there at 8:30 am. Everyone at the plant is treated to a freshly cooked breakfast at 9 am, every Tuesday and Thursday, so we were fortunate to be invited to join the employees for a breakfast of freshly cooked eggs, bacon and hash browns.
After breakfast, Erik, the shipping manager took us for a tour. The plant floor is restricted. It requires special access codes and everyone entering the plant area is required to wash their hands as soon as they enter.
The egg packaging plant was very impressive. It was very clean and well organized. The robots were very delicate and precise with the handling of the eggs.
The line starts with a tow motor driver bring the skids of egg trays packaged by the farmers to the start of the production line. An employee enters the farm information for each skid into a computer and then positions the skid for the loading robot. The loading robot delicately picks up a row of trays and places them on a conveyer belt.
Another robot takes the eggs off of the trays and places them on a conveyer belt so they can be washed. At the same time it recycles the trays to be washed and packaged so they can be returned to the farmer.
The eggs then go through a wash cycle.
Then, they are dried.
The eggs are scanned with ultraviolet light for any imperfections such as blood in the yoke and then digitally tagged for quality control according to their location on the belt. The eggs are picked up in individual baskets from the bottom of a conveyor and individually weighed for size. At this point the computer knows the farm that the eggs came from and the size of each individual egg and the quality of the eggs in the baskets.
The eggs are then sorted and put on packaging conveyors depending on their quality and size.
Eggs that are good, but less than perfect, are put in green packaging for use in products like mayonnaise.
The whole process is monitored and controlled by an operator who can see the packaging system below and is able to determines which size and quality of eggs will go on each conveyer by using a touch screen.
After the eggs are placed in the cartons, operators place the cartons in boxes and the boxes are placed on a skid for wrapping.
The skids are then placed in a cooler until they are ready to be loaded on a truck. Daniel scanned the bar code from one of the boxes to get the information about the farm where the eggs had originated.
Erik, our tour leader, is in charge of coordinating the ordering of supplies and shipments.
The complete tour took approximately 1 hour, after which we drove back to Huntsville where Daniel gave me short tour of area, before returning to his house. From there I drove back to the hotel to meet my friend Don Woods, who had driven 3 hours from Cabot, Arkansas, to meet me for lunch and a short visit.
Don and I stopped at an Applebee’s for lunch and then he showed me the area in Fayetteville where he had grown up, including the fish hatchery and adjacent river where he sometimes still goes fishing.
We drove back to the hotel and before he left we had our picture taken.
From the hotel I walked to the ” MarketPlace ” restaurant, where I met Daniel and Karen Swartzentruber, Peter and Mary Hochstetler and Micah Miller for supper and a visit. I had worked in Saipan, rebuilding homes, with Daren, Peter, Mary and Micah in September of 2016.
It was a long day for me, but very enjoyable.