Demand was steady enough to enable Wimpak to undertake a $3 million site overhaul in 2014, increasing production capacity from eight tons per hour to 20.
The acquisition of a new LMC cleaner necessitated a $1 million power upgrade. The result is a system that’s 20 per cent more energy-efficient than its predecessor.
Wimpak also invested in a larger weighbridge and site office, a drive-over hopper for unloading grain trailers into bins and a Browntree container loader that eliminates the need for manual handling at the packing stage.
A single touchscreen is used to control operations. It’s synched to iPads and mobile devices down the line and the result is a system that’s able to monitor production down to an individual bag level.
The purchase of a hammer mill enabled Wimpak to begin turning wastage, generated by the cleaning process, into profit. The waste is milled to create pollard, which is sold to stock mills for use in the manufacture of animal feed.
The project was expensive but worthwhile, according to French.
“We were hard hit in that we had two years of drought straight afterwards, but having that slack in the system allowed us to take the bugs out of the system when we weren’t flat out,” he says.
“Then 2017 was our biggest year ever and that really showed that the shareholders made the right choice. Where other people were having issues with cleaning enough product, we were able to keep things ticking.”
The plant currently runs between eight and 15 hours a day and storage capacity will need to be increased before production can be ramped up further. It’s the next item on the investment agenda: there are plans to build additional sheds on an adjoining seven-hectare property purchased in 2018.