How we became the main referent in the pumpkin supply in Europe through constant innovation.
Tell us about the story of Monliz:
Monliz – Produtos Alimentares do Mondego e Liz, Lda, is a facility dedicated to the production, packaging and commercialization of frozen vegetables. We have a workforce of 100 permanent workers and up to 135 temporal workers. With a strategic ubication in Alpiarca, located in the centre of Ribatejo -a region with agricultural tradition- we maintain close collaboration with local pumpkin producers, and the producers of peas, zucchini, pepper, broccoli and tomato, among others.
Around 70% percent of our production is destined to exportation, and the rest is used to supply the national market.
Why did you decide to acquire one of the intelligent cutting machines for butternut squash from Ait?
We had been checking and investigating the different existing technologies to get an idea for our objective.
Since we couldn’t find anything that satisfied us, we decided to take a bigger part and participate in the creation of an optimal solution for our process, so that’s how we began to work with Ait to develop our solution.
We always saw ourselves as a socially committed company with excellent results, partly due to our bet for continuous improvement and innovation.
We had it clear:
We wanted to turn our brand into the best pumpkin supplier in Europe.
What had you planned to do before knowing this machine? which alternatives did you have?
The costs were quite high. We needed much workforce for the cutting operation. Our options were: leaving the process behind, getting more profit from it or rising the selling price. Our only possible alternative was to improve our process in a way that we reduced costs without losing quality.
Tell us how was your experience before using this machine:
In the beginning we did everything manually. Gradually we improved the process, adding some auxiliary elements to help us work. We got some results, but we weren’t satisfied, it was required a lot of workforce and the process was too manual.
Also, butternut squash is an extremely hard product, and it’s difficult to work in these conditions, which are not the best, it involved exhaustion and even lesions.
What steps did you take until you got the machine?
First, I contacted with the company that would build the machine (Ait), which we already knew from the broccoli and cauliflower cutting machines. We gave them the information for what we wanted and we made several appointments until we got several possible solutions.
It wasn’t an easy decision since it was an important investment and the machine didn’t exist, but finally we trusted Ait and it was done.
How did you prepare for the incorporation of the machine?
Once the decision was taken, it was a relatively easy process. We defined our specifications and signed the buying contract for our first machine. We received it and we coordinated its implementation. It’s a very compact machine and it doesn’t take up much space.
How did your work improve after the installation of the machine?
In the beginning we found a bit hard to know how the machine worked, its adjustment points or how to feed it adequately, etc.
Once we solved these problems we added some own improvements and with the help of Ait everything went fine. We got to save our workers a lot of hard physical work.
And at the same time, we got to reduce the workforce load and so the costs without losing neither quality nor performance!
This allowed us to maintain our compromise of supplying with the lowest cost, making MONLIZ the best vegetable supplier in Europe.
And now, after a year, how have you felt towards the manufacturer?
Every time we needed their assistance they have been with us.
How have your company improved since then?
We have a bigger market, and we have consolidated our position as the company supplying quality pumpkin at best price.
We also got to increase our benefits and to improve our working conditions. It’s difficult for us to think on working as before since de acquisition of the AIT cutting machine.