New machine proves a good sort for apples
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.