AUTOMATED plates that can move faster than gravity, mobile shelves that travel 80m in four seconds and robotic arms that can lift entire pallets.

These are just some of the new additions that were unveiled today as part of Nolan Meats brand new, multimillion dollar, processing facility.

In what was described by Nolan Meats director, Michael Nolan, as the companies "biggest ever investment,” the futuristic processing plant is the culmination of over two years worth of planning and construction.

The plant's capabilities are geared towards not only increasing production on site, but export volume.

It can house 86,000 cartons of packaged meat with the potential to process twice that amount, all while chilling meat products from 38 degrees to minus 20 degrees in 18 hours.

Speaking with The Gympie Times at their East Deep Creek head quarters, company director Terry Nolan said the project was part of a long term expansion plan.

"We have a strategy where we try and double the business every five years,” Mr Nolan said.

"When we started we had four employees, and while it is quite easy to double that to eight, when you are talking about the staff numbers we have now, which is about 400; If you double that it starts to become a sizable business.

"It is ambitious to do that, but we are now in a position where we can really start to increase production,” he said.

Nolan Meats currently export to 30 countries around the world, with large client bases in Korea, Japan and Malaysia.

However, this latest expansion could see the family owned enterprise step into the lucrative Chinese market.

"It is important to have a diverse set of markets, but I would like to make the point that over 70% of our production still goes domestically,” Mr Nolan said.

"Whilst recent trading has been difficult, this latest expansion is about focusing on the future.

"It allows us to produce more and better quality products for more markets.

"We are currently on the waiting list for China.

"There has been a number of plants which have been de-listed in the last couple of weeks.

"I think the governments priority will be to re-list those plants before they look at new plants like our.”

In line with current export requirements, the company needed a post-slaughter chilling and freezing facility to be built, in order for all parts of the meat processing operation to remain on site.

Engineering firm Milmeq, provided storage plates that had the capacity to freeze 3840 cartons of meat per day.

The plate freezers are the linchpin to the increased volume of production and offer the operation the ability to freeze twice as much in half the time.

Tony Nolan said the new technology was crucial to controlling quality.

"The latest technology adopted in the automated chilling and sorting was selected to ensure full traceability and increased efficiency in high volume product handling,” he said.

"It delivers exacting temperatures and shelf life that meets the needs of our growing export and domestic sales.”

Gympie Times

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