New Zealand based company Milmeq specialises in providing a complete design, manufacturing, installation and maintenance service for primary food processing operations. Having firmly established itself as the industry leader in its homeland, which is renowned for its dairy and meat exporting industry, Milmeq is now recognised in the global market as offering world leading processes and support systems.
The multi-award winning company is armed with more than 60 years’ experience, a pioneering spirit and incomparable Kiwi ingenuity. Its reputation for innovative thinking and delivery of quality chilling and freezing, materials handling and primary food processing systems strengthens as it continues to pioneer new technologies that significantly improve efficiency and product quality.
Milmeq CEO Mike Lightfoot says Milmeq has a strong culture of innovation and applies this to every project, from design to delivery. “We work closely with our clients to identify their needs and objectives, and then challenge ourselves to develop the best possible solution to meet those,” he said.
One of its latest innovations is a robotic storage and retrieval system named Milmeq Fully Automated Stock Transfer, or 'MFAST', developed to help large primary food processors achieve labour, space and time savings in materials handling. The system ensures complete management and turnover of stock by sorting and prioritising cartons of perishable chilled or frozen product as they enter the storage enclosure, allowing efficient retrieval of certain product types to create customised pallets of multiple SKUs depending on the client’s requirements.
The initial MFAST concept was developed in response to a customer’s unique requirements. A pork processing company in Ireland was looking for a solution to manage its wide range of frozen product types effectively. Customer conversations identified a need that went beyond a freezer tunnel to incorporate full frozen product management at the ‘back end’ of their food processing operations. Based on Milmeq’s original in-house conceptual design, a fully working solution was delivered with the full endorsement of the customer.
A second, larger chilled product MFAST unit has since been developed for an Australian beef and lamb processor. Having originally approached Milmeq for a conventional chiller tunnel, close and on-going discussions ultimately identified a solution to their needs that incorporated an active chiller with full order sortation and the ability to deliver rainbow pallets (multiple products per pallet) to customer demand.
Mike says both installations have returned strong commercial margins, with one of the clients noting return of investment in less than three years, savings of nine FTEs, three forklifts and the elimination of product “giveaway” as their major benefits.
“Our clients are seeing the results straight away, which is testament to the accuracy, efficiency and reliability of the system,” Mike said.
Since then Milmeq has received enquiries from a number of clients requiring MFAST systems, each with their own unique and specific production characteristics. To meet these demands, Milmeq has developed a flexible concept design that utilises multiple cranes to deliver the necessary product throughput for a wide range of product types.
The MFAST was released to the US market for the first time at the recent Process Expo in Chicago, where Milmeq received a number of enquiries from meat processing companies, demonstrating an appetite for the product.
“As with a number of the leading technologies we have pioneered over the years, I would anticipate that in time the MFAST will be recognised as setting the industry standard for the handling of chilled and frozen product,” Mike said.
AT A GLANCE - MFAST Features and Benefits