Monday, 17 December 2012 12:01

Meat plant rises from ashes

Written by 

TWO YEARS ago the Te Aroha, Waikato, meat processing plant burned down, a major tragedy for a small town in a productive farming area.

 But in a Phoenix-like rise from ashes, two years later almost to the day a state-of-the-art beef processing plant has been opened by Prime Minister John Key.

As Keith Cooper, chief executive of Silver Fern Farms, owners of the plant, explained, "This was the first time our company has had the opportunity to build a new plant from the ground up. So we've... made use of advances in technology to produce the most efficient and productive plant we could."

In the intervening period, SFF had tried to find work for its staff at other plants, meanwhile the grins on the faces of the 380 people who will work at the plant when it reaches full production will be happy men and women.

A tour of the plant showed the modern inputs. Some very large bulls were being processed at the time: as the full carcases swung into view, a quick swipe with an electric saw had the vast array of innards scooped into a moving line of separate trays. These were sorted as they moved along the line, with the offal separated out for different areas of preparation. The carcases were then cut in half longways, for trimming. With health and safety being paramount in this plant, each person on the chain is standing on a grilled platform, which can be smoothly moved up and down to ensure all work is at a comfortable and safe level.

In contrast to earlier visits to older plants, we saw many of the workers were women, whose work is valued for its speed and acre.
In the vast boning room, at least four times the size of the old one, worker productivity is constantly measured. The carcases are weighed as they arrive, and management know how much product is expected from each, based on prices paid to farmers. Every piece cut from the bones is placed on a moving belt and weighed. Inefficient boning or slow progress leads to training or discussion. With a number of new staff, and everyone getting used to new premises and systems, after ten weeks productivity was gauged 65%. They expect in one month to approach the desired 100%.

With product from the plant being packed into boxes on pallets, the lifting and carrying is easier. As the pallets are filled, they move downwards to floor level, so the operators don't have to bend or stretch, but just place them at the same height each time.

» Connect with Rural News

More like this

Foreign investment is critical

Foreign investment not only brings in money but links New Zealand into foreign markets, says former Prime Minister John Key.

Fairton for final chop

It sounds like the death rattle is signalled for the former Fairton meat processing plant near Ashburton.

Not the time for tax – Key

Former Prime Minister John Key says imposing another tax on farmers now for greenhouse gas emissions won’t achieve much.

Poacher/gamekeeper

The recent announcement by Silver Fern Farms that Richard Young is the new chairman of the meat co-operative got this old mutt thinking this is a true case of ‘poacher turned gamekeeper’.

» The RNG Weather Report

Featured

 

» Connect with Rural News

» Connect with Rural News

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Useless

The Hound notes that one of the country’s poorest financially performing state-owned enterprises – the Government farming entity Landcorp (or…

Rural revolt

Your old mate hears that the antics of the Government – especially the NZ First component – are fuelling motivation…

» Connect with Rural News