Meat processor MAP WA says the $35 million investment at its Bibra Lake facility has doubled its capacity and enabled the installation of the latest thermoforming technology from Multivac to reduce packaging waste.
The project included $10 million in construction and $25 million for state-of-the-art robotics and equipment, which have increased product lines from six to nine and the facility’s capacity to 400,000 kilograms per week.
MAP WA was established in 2011 as a joint venture between Western Meat Packers Group (WMPG) and Coles Supermarkets. The factory supplies retail-ready, chilled raw meat products to every Coles Supermarket in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
The upgrade features Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) technology from Multivac, which maintains the visual, textural, and nutritional elements of meat products for about twice as long as traditional packaging.
The Multivac thermoforming packaging machine is the first of its kind in Australia to run a reduced edge trim, which reduces packaging waste.
The benefits for MAP WA include the ability to handle high output quantities, allow a high degree of customised machine design, process quick product and format changes, and have complete line integration.
Stuart Patterson, Multivac WA state manager, told PKN that two of the new machines installed are RX4.0 Thermoformers. He said that the machine offers high production output and pack quality, which due to multi sensor control can achieve a 10 per cent increase in machine output.
It also features IPC control with graphic HMI 3 user interface, efficient use of film and energy, 10 per cent reduction in plastic waste with the implementation of narrower edge trim, and X Tools for quick and efficient change over between different pack sizes.
The RX4.0 is part of the X-line, which Patterson said offers maximum packaging reliability, more consistent pack quality, and a higher level of process speed. Its overall operation is easier and more reliable as well, he said.
"Thanks to a seamless digitalisation, a comprehensive sensor system and networking with the Multivac Cloud and Smart Services, the X-line redefines thermoform packaging and sets new standards in the market.
"All the expansion and installation at the facility was completed with no negative effect to the production output and the supply to the end users. It was a great effort by MAP WA and all the contractors involved," he commented.
WMPG CEO Andrew Fuda affirmed the upgrade was completed without impacting existing production.
“We’re incredibly proud to have completed this innovative project in partnership with Coles, without disrupting our current output of one million meat packs each week. We now have one of the country’s most technologically advanced meat processing facilities,” Fuda said.
This upgrade expands the range of products and doubles the number of retail-ready packets of beef, lamb, and pork to 2.1 million packs for Coles a week. The products are packaged in a variety of forms including vacuum skim packs, map packaging, and flexflex.
The carton picking and robotic lifts have been custom designed and made by Contech on A & A robots,” Fuda said.
Coles chief Operations and Sustainability officer, Matt Swindells, said Coles was fully supportive of the upgrade.
“This site processes exclusively for Coles, so it’s an important one for the supply of meat for our customers across the state. We’ve been working with the team as a partner for more than a decade now and it’s been great to support this expansion,” Swindells said.
State agriculture and food minister Jackie Jarvis said it was a positive development for the Western Australian meat industry.
“This development illustrates how processors and retailers can work together to capture new markets and employment opportunities,” Jarvis said.
Multivac will be exhibiting its latest technology at APPEX 2024.