For Heeren Brothers, one of America’s longest-established wholesale fruit and vegetable distributors, hygiene control has always been integral to the company’s ongoing success. Looking for ways to improve on existing procedures and products is vital, particularly when complying with strict Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations.
As part of the development of a new facility at Heeren Brothers’ headquarters outside Grand Rapids, Michigan, the company was looking for alternatives to traditional concrete and steel barriers. Over time, these barriers chip and rust, creating flakes or debris that are potential hygiene hazards.
A-SAFE’s collection of protective barriers are made from an innovative, patented material called Memaplex, which is highly durable (no need for repainting), impact absorbent and flexible (no chips or need for costly repairs) and capable of dissipating collision forces (no damaging of the facility’s floors) – the products seemed ideal.
A range of A-SAFE products were selected for installation, including Double Rack End Barriers, Bollards and Kerb Barriers – but Heeren Brothers also had a couple of other logistical barrier issues that A-SAFE could assist with.
First, they wanted to properly protect personnel at a huge state-of-the-art apple sorting and washing system - a complicated network of conveyor belts, canals and liquid wash baths. A-SAFE’s flexible and integrated Traffic Barriers were installed, protecting both personnel and company vehicles from collisions but, just as importantly, providing clear and highly visible segregation between moving vehicles and people. Heeren Brothers had found and installed the ‘people friendly’ barrier system they were looking for.
The second issue really tested A-SAFE’s innovation and problem solving skills, and was, in fact, a world first. A quirk of facilities at Heeren Brothers saw one room with a doorway almost on top of another ground floor doorway. The upper level doorway was the entrance to a storage facility and fork lifts would raise pallets and insert them through this doorway in order for another fork lift on the upper level to then move the pallet into the upper room.
A-SAFE designed a unique Double Height Restrictor (see image) and custom-built it for Heeren Brothers to use in this particular area, protecting the doors from vehicle impacts on both levels at once.
Mark Heeren, owner of Heeren Brothers said: “I knew the minute I saw the A-SAFE barrier product at the Pro-Mat show that it would be a great fit in our new facility. We installed a small section of the A-SAFE barrier and instructed our industrial lift truck drivers to drive into the barrier. It was a ‘smashing’ success. The A-SAFE barrier absorbed the impact, deflected the industrial lift truck and there was no damage to either the lift truck or barrier. The operator was safely restrained by the seat belt on the industrial lift truck. Our most complicated barrier was a double height restrictor. The barrier arrived with good installation instructions and fit perfectly. We plan to make A-SAFE barriers our choice for protection of staff, equipment and structures in the future.”
A-SAFE barriers are now protecting vehicles, machinery and personnel at Heeren Brothers, providing savings in maintenance costs and, of course, offering huge assistance to hygiene controls. No doubt the fruits of these labours will offer benefits for many years to come.