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Compac Sorting Equipment, an Auckland-based technology exporter, has successfully tendered for a $US15m contract to design and develop a hi-tech sorting and packing line for the world’s largest citrus company, according to

The contract with Paramount Citrus – the world’s largest grower, packer and marketer of citrus –is the biggest in Compac’s history. About a third of the contract’s value will go to Fruit Handling Systems, a Hastings based company in which Compac has 50% ownership.

Compac will be building a sorting machine the length of a rugby field and a number of smaller machines as part of Paramount Citrus Association’s new 57,000m² packing facility currently under construction in Delano, California.

The Compac equipment will sort approximately 2.7 million mandarins an hour and will run 20 hours a day during the citrus packing season.

Taking on a project of this size means Compac will need to hire more staff to create extra capacity in the business.

“We need to be able to manage this project but also the ones for other customers we have in the pipeline” says Dave Buys, Compac’s Sales & Marketing Director.

“We have taken on staff in key areas such as Project Managers, Designers and assembly staff to give us extra capabilities.”

Compac’s success is based on being the best value provider involved in the tender process. “We were able to show that over the life of the solution our technology would not only give greater performance but have a lower cost of ownership,” Buys was quoted saying.

The Compac machines have the ability to sort the mandarins based on properties such as their size, shape, colour and surface blemishes. This is achieved via Compac’s advanced suite of software known as the InVision system. Using digital cameras, mandarins are scanned as they pass under an inspection cabinet mounted on the sorter. Taking up to 30 images of each individual mandarin as it is rotated allows the software to build a complete 3D model of each mandarin in a matter of seconds. The software is then able to assign each individual mandarin to its correct packing outlet.

The project is so large that it will fill more than 40 containers which will leave Compac’s Onehunga factory at a rate of two a week, during the next five to six months. A team of installation staff and project managers will then travel to California to reassemble the machines onsite and complete the install. This team will consist of about 20 staff and will be supported by Compac’s US sales office. The installation is expected to be completed by the end of September 2012.

Compac has received assistance from both the Ministry of Science and Innovation (MSI) and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE). Since 1999, Compac have received more than $4.25 million in funding from MSI (formerly the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology) which included a $3.7 million investment, matched by the company in September 2010, to develop the high-speed sorting and grading machine that handles delicate, long and irregularly-shaped produce.

Brett O’Riley, MSI’s Deputy Chief Executive Business Innovation and Investment, says that Compac’s success highlights the government’s commitment to supporting export-focused New Zealand firms.

“Compac’s commitment to research and development has seen them maintain their global competitive edge,” O’Riley says.

NZTE Director Specialised Manufacturing Adam Bennett says the company has a strong track record in developing crucial market channels.

“Compac is an internationalising company that understands its customers and makes sure its technology and service offering stand apart from its competitors around the world. Its ability to integrate solutions to provide a full service is highly prized in the market,” Bennett says.

Source: Fresh


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