John Dee, a family-owned Australian beef producer, has implemented an automated storage and retrieval system to streamline the processes in sub-zero conditions using product cartons.
has transformed its operations to enhance efficiency, productivity, accuracy, safety and competitiveness to ensure its readiness for the evolving demands of global beef markets.
Warwick-based processing plant in Queensland is a critical point in its supply chain and distribution network for its more than 145 customers across nearly 40 export markets worldwide.
“We’ve been a beef processor in Warwick since 1945 and today we’ve transformed into a full-blown beef export and processing operation,” said John Hart, owner of John Dee, Warwick.
“In the early days, we sold full sets of meat parts, whereas today we break them up and send different components to Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan, the EU and America.”
“With the way we’re operating today, trying to get product into the right place at the right time, it was becoming almost impossible to do it by hand.
“In our previous manual operation, people had to understand all the product codes and pick by hand out of a cold store. 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 A thousand cartons a year that would go out of date because they couldn’t be located.”
Due to increases in demand, the company outgrew its existing storage capacity, with manual operations proving inadequate to meet the complexity and scale of its production.
In response to these challenges, the beef supplier engaged in a multi-staged facility upgrade project, partnering with Wiley and Dematic to design and implement bespoke automated systems.
A central focus of the project was the introduction of the Dematic Multishuttle Meat Buffer Storage and Handling System, which was specifically designed to address the needs of meat processing.
The system can be used for products both chilled to -1°C and frozen at -20°C, which reduces the reliance on manual labour in harsh cold store and freezer environments.
Operation of the four-aisle, 30-level Multishuttle is managed by Dematic Warehouse Control System (WCS) software, which provides full track and trace, meaning each carton is followed throughout the supply chain.
This reduces the risk of losing product, John Dee has said, with the WCS also being used to control the storage duration of all cartons and to set the time each carton can remain in the system.
The meat supplier wanted an efficient system to elongate the shelf life of the meat products and ensure cold chain compliance is maintained throughout the supply chain.
One of the frozen aisles can likewise be switched to chilled, a feature intended to help John Dee respond to anticipated future growth and advancements in cold supply chain export markets across Asia.
Some of the benefits reported by the company include reduced reliance on labour, as well as fewer occupational health and safety issues associated with employees working in a cold storage environment.