Beef producer John Dee upgraded its cold storage warehouse in Queensland with automated systems from Dematic.
John Dee’s processing plant in Warwick on the Darling Downs supplies beef to more than 145 customers in over 37 export markets worldwide.
The upgrade of the facility included the Dematic Multishuttle Meat Buffer Storage and Handling System, which automates the storage and retrieval of product cartons in sub-zero conditions.
It manages products both chilled to -1°C and frozen at -20°C, reducing the reliance on manual labour in harsh cold store and freezer environments.
“In our previous manual operation, people had to understand all the product codes and pick by hand out of a cold store,” says John Dee owner John Hart.
“With over 10,000 cartons being produced a day, it became a logistical nightmare. A thousand cartons a year that would go out of date because they couldn't be located.”
Dematic business development manager Soeren Schauki says the operation of the four-aisle, 30-level Multishuttle is managed by the Dematic Warehouse Control System (WCS) software that provides full track and trace, so losing product is no longer possible.
The WCS also controls the storage duration of all cartons, allowing John Dee to set the time each carton can remain in the system. This helps to improve the shelf life of the meat products and ensuring cold chain compliance is maintained.
The solution is designed for John Dee to scale up and increase its premium beef export market share. One of the frozen aisles can also be switched to chilled in response to anticipated future growth and advancements in cold supply chain export markets across Asia.
“In working with Dematic, we ensured that our system would be able to adapt for the future growth of John Dee to increase capacity to match significant surges in demand, whilst also providing improved worker safety,” says Hart.
Since implementing the new system, John Dee reduces its reliance on labour, which in a tight labour market, has become difficult to source for harsh cold storage facilities. In doing so, John Dee has reduced occupational health and safety issues associated with employees working in a cold storage environment.
“Our recent expansion of our Warwick facility is the largest single investment in the company’s almost 80-year history, and it is supporting our business growth and competitiveness during a time when beef exports are rising significantly,” concludes Hart.