Riverford Organic Farmers, one of the UK’s pioneering veg box schemes, grow and deliver veg, meat and more to over 47,000 customers a week nationally. Although a farm, IT helps drive every aspect of the e-commerce business, from taking orders to optimising harvests.

Over the last year Riverford have embarked on many projects to improve efficiency and services. The benefits of these projects have been and will continue to be felt by staff, farmers, suppliers, franchisees and customers.

One of the latest projects saw the introduction of a state-of-the-art production line and packing system technology, which reduces the time franchisees and drivers spend at a customers’ doorstep.

As Riverford’s product range has grown, so too have the number of items each customer has delivered with the majority of customers now adding extras onto veg boxes, or building orders from scratch.

Until now, orders were packed at farm level on a delivery round basis, then picked out by the drivers at the point of delivery. The new system means that individual customer orders can be packed at the farm, and will not only reduce delivery times but also the time taken for the drivers to load vans for the day.

The new packing line follows a tote and conveyor belt system. The line receives customer orders and breaks down the extras and meat products.  Lights indicate to the workers which items and what quantity they need pick and pack into each tote. The totes reach a repack station where items are then packed into individual boxes and cool bags and labelled with the customer’s name and address.

Riverford’s franchisees are commenting positively on the change, as explained Paul of Islington & Camden home delivery “I’ve noticed a big difference to some of our longest delivery rounds. It’s reduced the amount of crates we’ve needed to load onto the vans and reduced packing time at the collection hub.

“So far it’s saving about an hour per delivery round. With the extra hours I can fit in more deliveries per day, delaying investment into a new van or employing more staff.”

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