WAMMCO International has unveiled plans for a $5 million upgrade to its boning room which is expected to be completed in time for this year’s spring lamb flush.
The upgrade will improve efficiencies and production, reduce overtime and result in 15 employees shifting from the boning room to value-adding.
Features of the new room include robotic packaging input product into vacuum bags, doubling vacuum packing capacity from 35 cuts per minute to 70 and moving from band-saw to knifesaw technology.
Three in-line weigh sorting machines will be installed as well as another PV350 autowrap machine, a new intralox conveyor system and french racks will be made using water instead of by hand.
Boning room efficiencies will reduce WAMMCO’s costs by $2 to $3 a head, which chairman Dawson Bradford said would flow back to give producers a greater return.
Chief executive Coll MacRury, who has been in the job for just over a month, said an extra $1.50 to $2 will be gained per head from value adding. Flexibility from the new boning room will allow for specific cuts for Japan as well as more rib and shoulder cuts and intricate cuts removing bone.
“There is a lot of market acceptance for breaking hind leg into smaller cuts and 100 per cent de-fatting, which takes a lot of extra labour but there is a lot of value in doing it,” Mr MacRury said.
The new boning room comes at a time of declining numbers, a fact the processor admits is worrying. It aims to get on to the front foot to develop new products, value add and convince producers to increase their prime lamb production and to convince young farmers that running sheep is worth it.
WAMMCO already has an adviser to help farmers with genetic selection to help increase their returns. Three years ago, WAMMCO expected to be processing 1.2 million lambs this financial year but only 800,000 head have been through the gate. To make up numbers, Mr MacRury said there was a strong possibility it might have to look at other species to keep its market share.
Mr Bradford said the board’s brief was to keep the plant viable for shareholders. WAMMCO will upgrade its Katanning abattoir in time for this year’s spring flush.
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