Milmeq project engineer Paul Black works on a piece of meat
industry processing equipment in Dunedin yesterday. Photo
by Gerard O'Brien.
''A great story'' for Dunedin's manufacturing sector is
how Milmeq chief executive Mike Lightfoot describes the
awarding of an $A18 million ($NZ21.7 million) contract to
provide processing technology to a new beef plant in
Australia's Northern Territory.
The company, which manufactures in both Dunedin and Auckland,
will provide the $90 million Livingstone Valley facility,
being built by the Australian Agricultural Company about 50km
from Darwin, with all its processing equipment.
That includes boning and slaughtering processing equipment,
refrigeration, air conditioning and chilling and freezing
systems, along with operations for materials-handling and
Work would begin on the site next month, with the plant
scheduled for completion in mid to late 2014.
The equipment would be manufactured in New Zealand and then a
team of about 12 to 15, comprising staff from both Auckland
and Dunedin, would work on-site for ''how ever many months it
takes to assemble'', Mr Lightfoot, who is based in the
company's Auckland head office, said.
It had taken a ''huge amount'' of work to win the contract,
which was the biggest the company had acquired. At the
moment, about 70% of the company's work came from Australia.
Founded in 1924, the Australian Agricultural Company was the
oldest operating company in Australia, running more than
600,000 head of cattle across 7.2 million ha. The new
facility would be capable of processing 220,000 cattle a
year, ending a need to truck stock long distances to eastern
and southern plants.
The technology would put the facility ''among the world's
leaders'' in moving to highly technological processes, which
the company had developed in New Zealand, Mr Lightfoot said.
''We are really proud of winning this contract. It confirms
Milmeq's leadership in top-end technology. We also see it as
a win for the New Zealand technology and manufacturing sector
in a competitive global market,'' he said.
Milmeq custom-designs, engineers and manufactures systems for
primary food-processing, materials-handling, chilling and
freezing within the protein industry.
The company was established in Dunedin and it began
operations in 1952 as Refrigeration Engineering.
It was established as a result of New Zealand's primary
produce markets requiring a focus on refrigeration
engineering to help make their products available to the
The primary food-processing side of manufacturing was now
done in Dunedin, where staffing numbers in the 40s were
employed in the manufacturing division, with total staff in
the city of more than 70.
Dunedin had been through a ''tough time'' and to pick up such
a contract was ''just fantastic'' for the city. It remained
''a big part'' of the company's business. Mr Lightfoot said.
''It's a great story for Dunedin from a manufacturing point
of view,'' Mr Lightfoot said. He joined the company last
December, having previously been chief executive at Buckley