MHM Automation has recently commissioned the 200th Milmeq plate freezer at Fletcher International Exports’ sheep meat processing plant in Dubbo, New South Wales.
MHM Automation sales manager Australia, Chris Carter, said the project was the result of a longstanding relationship between the companies.
“Fletcher International Exports has always been an innovator in the meat industry. They’re constantly looking for new technology to improve the quality of their product and the performance of their business, and we’re proud to work with them to develop and deliver industry-leading equipment.
“It’s fitting that this milestone installation is for Fletchers,” Carter says.
The development and provision of plate freezers to the meat industry was led by Milmeq in the 1990s. Today, according to MHM, Milmeq plate freezers are the largest horizontal plate freezers in the world as well as one of the fastest and most energy efficient systems for freezing cartons of meat.
The latest project saw the installation of two new plate freezers at Fletcher International Exports’ Dubbo plant. Each freezer is 12 meters high, with a capacity of 2560 cartons and the ability to completely freeze cartons of cold boned product in less than 24 hours.
The new installations bring the total number of Milmeq plate freezers installed for Fletcher International Exports across both its plants to 18, three of which feature the latest technology innovation, single station opening (SSO).
The SSO plate freezer model was a collaborative development between Milmeq (now part of MHM Automation) and Fletcher, with the first commercial prototype being commissioned at the Dubbo processing site in 2015.
The SSO mechanism allows products to be automatically loaded and unloaded one station at a time, keeping the remaining stations closed and product in those stations in contact with the plates to continue the freezing process. The SSO design increases the effective refrigeration, to ensure regulatory compliance.
Fletcher International Exports owner, Roger Fletcher says the technology delivered by MHM Automation was second to none.
“The MHM Automation team share our pioneering spirit and have worked closely with us to help scale-up our operations and cement our reputation as an industry leader. Their plate freezers are enabling us to deliver a superior product to our customers, while also reducing our environmental footprint,” Fletcher says.
Milmeq plate freezers are a key contributor to reducing the plant’s electrical energy consumption, delivering savings of up to 30 per cent over the blast freezing method traditionally used. Freezing in plate freezers more than halves the time required to freeze cartons of meat, which results in better shelf life for the export meat products.
Cartons frozen in the plate freezers have completely flat presentation, allowing 10 per cent more cartons to be stacked into each 20-foot shipping container, effectively reducing shipping costs.
Completely automated loading and unloading operation, with integrated infeed and outfeed conveyors, reduces the plant’s reliance on manual labor as well as the health and safety risks associated with manual handling and working in a frozen environment.
This story first appeared in the August issue of Food & Drink Business magazine.