New ma­chine proves a good sort for ap­ples

Myrtleford Times - - News -

THEM’S GOOD AP­PLES: Nightin­gale Bros have re­cently fi­nalised the in­stal­la­tion of a pre-sizer ma­chine and di­rec­tor Ross Nightin­gale couldn’t be hap­pier. PHO­TOS: Justin Jen­vey or 20 bins of ap­ples in one hour.

“With the other grader we would be flat out do­ing 60 bins in a day and with this one we are do­ing at least 80 and have even done 120.

“Sixty bins a day equates to 300 bins a week and now if we do 80 bins a day it’s 400 a week.

“We can do those 100 ex­tra bins with the new ma­chine in just three days, too.”

Mr Nightin­gale said a pre-sizer had be­come es­sen­tial for the com­pany which ev­ery year was deal­ing with a greater vol­ume of ap­ples from its or­chards.

“The whole process started about two years ago when we re­alised our old ma­chine just couldn’t han­dle the amount of fruit we were grow­ing,” he said.

“I got in touch with some peo­ple about what we should do and they said you’ve got to look at pre-siz­ing.

“We looked at a se­cond hand pre-sizer in Ade­laide but it was just go­ing to be such a huge job to trans­port it all the way here that it wasn’t worth it.

“About 12 months ago we signed for the pur­chase and it ar­rived from France 10 weeks ago.

“It took seven weeks to set up, we had two blokes come and un­pack it and an­other few started putting it to­gether along with half a dozen blokes from Global Engi­neer­ing in Wodonga.

“We had one of the boys from Bright and Dis­trict Elec­tri­cal do all the wir­ing and then in came the com­puter pro­gram­mers.”

The ma­chine is just the sixth of its kind in Australia and in­cludes an in­ter­nal ‘brown­ing’ cam­era for rot de­tec­tion.

In the past three-and-a-half years Nightin­gale Bros has in­vest- ed heav­ily in new in­fra­struc­ture and prod­ucts.

At the start of 2014 the firm spent $1.2 mil­lion up­grad­ing re­frig­er­a­tion be­fore open­ing a new sales fa­cil­ity early in 2016 as well as launch­ing its own cider la­bel.

Mr Nightin­gale said th­ese were ex­cit­ing times for the fam­ily-run busi­ness.

“We’re cer­tainly grow­ing,” he said.

“It got to the point where we had to up­grade our age­ing re­frig­er­a­tion sys­tem and im­prove our en­ergy ef­fi­ciency, while the new shop has been tremen­dous and the cider is grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity.

“This year we grew 15,000 bins (of ap­ples) and in three years’ time we ex­pect to grow 20,000 bins.

“The bot­tom line is we have to get our pack­ing more ef­fi­cient and more con­sis­tent.” CLEAN SKINS: The pre-sizer washes and dries fruit be­fore it’s graded for size, colour and qual­ity.

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