Citrus sea­son grow­ing

Central and North Burnett Times - - FENCE POST LIFE - Philippe Coquerand philippe.coquerand@cnbtimes.com.au

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.”

PHOTO: PHILIPPE COQUERAND

SWEET TIME: Que­bec Citrus oper­a­tions man­ager Adam War­wick and staff su­per­vi­sor and qual­ity con­trol of­fi­cer Tracey War­wick.

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