Horticulture products producer and distributor T&G Global has commissioned its new apple packhouse in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand.

Located at the company’s Whakatū site, the advanced automated facility is claimed to be one of the largest apple packhouses in the Southern Hemisphere.

The facility is worth nearly $100m with 1.7ha of roof space and is being commissioned in two phases.

Once fully commissioned, it will double the volume of apples currently being packed to more than 125 million kilograms of apples per season.

It features robotic apple/soft fruit packers to sort and place apples into trays alongside the Automac wrapping machine that can ready the empty carton for packing and subsequently close and correctly label it.

The packhouse also includes robotic carton palletisers to combine or stack the cartons onto a pallet for shipping.

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T&G CEO Gareth Edgecombe said: “This state-of-the-art postharvest facility will be instrumental in enabling us to manage increased volume growth, lift productivity and ensure our fruit arrives in market in an excellent condition.

“The completion of the facility and the installation of the first 220m packing line is a real testament to the team. It’s been a remarkable team effort to build the packhouse and deliver it on budget and on time, while dealing with labour and material constraints during Covid-19.

“The new facility will enable our Whakatū team to pack 90-100 bins per hour on the one line, lifting the productivity rate up to one bin per person per hour. When the second line is installed, we’ll be able to pack up to 190 bins per hour, with a similar number of people.”

In line with the company’s ‘kaitiakitanga’ sustainability strategy and commitment, the packhouse also features 1,200,000 litre water tanks in order to help redirect rainwater from the public stormwater system.