This article was among Farmers Weekly’s most read in 2022.
An $11 million fully automated lamb processing system to be installed at Silver Fern Farms’ Finegand plant is seen as a small answer to addressing the labour shortages plaguing the meat industry.
SFF has signed an $11.2m contract with Dunedin engineering firm Scott Technology to deliver a new primal processing system, which will enable about 10 staff to be redeployed.
SFF chief executive Simon Limmer said the company is spending about $100m in capital expenditure this year, some of it on addressing staff shortages.
“Because we are so short of staff, whenever we automate or improve processing, staff can be redeployed to other tasks.”
The system being installed at Finegand uses advanced x-ray and vision technology to find the optimal position for primal and further specific cuts on each individual carcase. It can process 600 carcases an hour.
Limmer said the new system will enhance quality and health and safety by removing much of the manual heavy cutting activity.
The system will be designed and built in Scott’s Dunedin-based meat processing centre of excellence, with delivery anticipated for late 2023.
Scott Technology CEO John Kippenberger said in the late 2000s it collaborated with SFF to develop an early iteration of automated lamb processing technology and is now installing the latest system.