Citrus season growing
IT’S predicted to be a better season for Quebec Citrus owners Troy and Ainsley Emmerton, who only a week ago had their new packing shed up and running.
The multi-million-dollar machine can take multiple images of the fruit before it is packaged, ensuring top quality mandarins are delivered to its stores across Australia.
It’s a far simpler method and can save hours of hard labour, although understanding the technology can take some time.
“We started the design last year, we ordered it on July 1 with sections built in Spain, France and Melbourne. The contract was won by (MAF Oceania) to do the job, to build the machine from start to finish,” Mr Emmerton said.
“The headquarters are in France and they’ve got manufacturing plants all around the world.”
Operations manager Adam Warwick said the machine was safe to handle and could do multiple tasks that helped ensure fruit was always the best.
“The machine is very user friendly, I can adjust speed, stop and start any section of the machine with the touch of an iPad,” Mr Warwick said.
“The picture quality using LED light is of exceptional standard which makes it easy to get great results.
“It goes through one full revolution of the fruit, counts the blemish all the way through and computes that and then grades accordingly.”
The exciting technology presented at Joey Citrus offers a modern way of producing goods and services.
“At the moment we do a premium down one table which is solely determined by camera, the second table is a blend of grades and the third table is second grade fruit,” Mr Warwick said.
The machine was first operated on April 10 and is now fully operational, however some work is still needed with the final touch-ups.
“There’s a few areas that need to be complete, to run domestically we’re all functional, we just need a few belts and a few elevators and conveyors but that should be completed in the next few weeks,” Mr Warwick said.
For Quebec and Joey Citrus owners, Troy and Ainsley first started in Mundubbera in 1988.
“We purchased the farm in 1986 and planted the first trees in 1988, our businesses have been expanding since then,” Mr Emmerton said.
“Since 1988 we’ve always had something to increase the business, and in 2011 we purchased this place (Joey Citrus) as we saw potential, we bought it for the infrastructure.”
Mrs Emmerton said they believed it was a viable business which could see growth expand in the coming years.
“The infrastructure facilities were bought with a plan for the future and over the years our own fruit supply would increase to achieve economy of scale,” Mrs Emmerton said.
“It’s been a packing shed for the past 60 years and was originally owned by the Benham family who sold the property in 2011.
“We’ve done a few renovations including loading docks and upgrading cool-rooms since then and put in a new machine and brought it back to life.”
SWEET TIME: Quebec Citrus operations manager Adam Warwick and staff supervisor and quality control officer Tracey Warwick.