PROGRESS is continuing on Thomas Foods International’s new Murray Bridge meat processing facility with the installation of beef processing equipment, the wastewater treatment plant, and senior staff appointments.
The South Australian facility’s first stage is scheduled for completion later this year with an initial capacity of 600 cattle a day, with construction catering for additional expansion plans to double that and to process 15,000 lambs or sheep a day.
In a LinkedIn post, TFI managing director Darren Thomas said progress at the site is building momentum daily towards commissioning the new meat processing plant at the end of this year for operation in 2023.
The major project followed a fire which destroyed much of the original infrastructure in 2018.
“From a construction perspective, the framework for the site is complete and the main building is now under roof which positions us well to maintain momentum as we journey into Winter.”
“It is fantastic to see the continued growth in the number of contractors working on-site as they all play a significant role – no matter how big or small – in building the country’s most advanced meat processing facility,” he said.
The processing complex is about 400 metres long, under-roof from lairage to load-out and features a 10-storey high cold storage facility. Construction involves 1700 tonnes of steel work and 13,500 cubic metres of concrete.
Mr Thomas said it was a watershed moment to see MHM Automation on site to install the plant’s plate freezers that will have the ability to efficiently freeze meat and offal products to -18˚Celsius; typically halving the time it would take to freeze using conventional blast freezing technology.
“In addition to the throughput efficiencies, our plate freezers will mean our customers around the world will enjoy more efficient packing of containers as a result of uniform carton shapes and of course food safety and shelf life benefits of our perishable goods.”
Mr Thomas said since TFI lost the original facility to fire in 2018, the company has been focused on rebuilding – bigger, better, stronger.
“These are no longer words, no longer an aspiration but now an emerging reality. It is genuinely gratifying to see all the hard work to date really taking shape on site – this would not have been possible without the continued strong support we have received from our major stakeholders and the broader community – this is humbly and gratefully appreciated.”
The wastewater capture, treatment and recycling facility has ponds as big as a soccer field and is being constructed by leading water treatment company Hydroflux to meet the long term demands of the processing facility and meet industry best-practice. After primary treatment onsite, wastewater will be conveyed about 1000 metres to the existing aerobic/polishing lagoons at TFI’s adjacent property for further and final treatment and irrigation.
The new wastewater treatment plant includes a primary treatment facility, covered anaerobic lagoon, biogas handling system, emergency stormwater lagoon and interconnecting piping/services.
Integral to the wastewater treatment plant is the covered anaerobic lagoon. Almost 30,000m3 in volume, this pond will be ‘sealed’ with a floating high density polyethylene (HDPE) cover enabling the site to capture the biogas that is produced during the treatment process which will in turn be used as a power source for the operation of the processing plant.
Mr Thomas said new appointments are being made for key management, including plant manager and quality assurance manager, workplace health and safety manager, human resources manager and maintenance manager. Many of the positions were advertised on Beef Central and its Jobs Central platform.
“Critical to the success of the new operation at Murray Bridge, these roles bring new talent to our group and are currently working hard to ensure we are ready to go from day one.”
“We are currently actively recruiting other senior roles including an IT/MES administrator, automation engineer, maintenance planner and boning room manager.”