As one of Australia’s largest fruit growers, family-owned fruit producer Montague had three elements in mind when it built its newest facility in Narre Warren North, Victoria: the efficient throughput of apple and stone fruit packing, a reduction in operational costs and sustainability.
The $66 million development of the 53,200 m2 site carries some of the most advanced technology and sustainability initiatives seen in the country, Montague says.
On the outside, the building’s design and materials aim for thermal efficiency by maximizing natural light to reduce electricity use. It has 100kw of solar panels, underground chutes to transfer organic waste to worm farms and animal feed, and two 500,000-litre rainwater tanks for amenities use, cooling towers and orchard irrigation.
On the inside, it includes an automated storage retrieval system (ASRS), three grading systems to inspect apples and stone fruit, a JASA Sleever – a 100 per cent recyclable packaging solution, aiming to replace plastic punnets with paper and cardboard punnets – as well as an Oporo automatic carton box filler.
Most notably, this Montague site is more than meeting the challenges when it comes to heating and cooling. A vertical cold storage room, which is 60 per cent smaller than a traditional room, can still store 3000 bins typically seen in such settings, while minimizing the energy footprint of the site. The introduction of a custom heat exchanger now uses heat from the refrigeration to heat water for wax drying tunnels.
Foodanddrinkbusiness.com.au quoted Nicole Townsend, Montague’s director of marketing, as saying: “Montague is committed to ongoing energy efficiency and sustainability within its business operations.”