Westcoast invests $1m into local industry
WESTCOAST Wool & Livestock is preparing for its next growth phase in WA with a $1 million investment into the local industry, installing some of the latest wool testing equipment available in Australia.
The locally-owned company has expanded its wool team with new appointments at Narrogin and Brookton and is targeting a further 10 per cent increase in wool receivals, a strong performance considering the recent decline in the State’s wool production.
Westcoast’s new O’Connor Wooltech core machine at its Bibra Lake wool store represents the first investment in a core line system in WA for many years and is set to dramatically increase testing capacity and efficiency for the business.
The company also has invested in a modern forklift fleet at the Bibra Lake store, while the existing core machine and forklifts at the site will be transferred to its Katanning facility, where there has been further upgrades and refurbishment.
Westcoast Wool & Livestock Director and WA Wool Manager Brad Faithfull said thanks to increasing support from growers, the company was pleased to invest in the local industry and some of the most modernised testing systems operating in Australia.
“It’s also good to extend from our Bibra Lake operation with another core line at Katanning to beef-up our testing there,’’ Brad said.
“We are looking to get wool to market in the most efficient way possible.’’
Operations Manager Mal Edinger said the new core machine recently tested 180 bales in two hours. The average lot size was 6.5 bales, equating to nearly four wool sample grabs per bale. International Wool Textile Organisation (IWTO) standards require a minimum 20 cores and 20 grabs per lot.
“With 10-19 bale lot sizes, which require two cores and two grabs per bale, a bale will come out of the pusher every 20 seconds,’’ Mal said.
“In a full day of coring, it will have the capacity to do 750-800 bales. It is a minimum 25 per cent quicker than the existing core machine, which had a maximum of about 450 bales a day. We rarely did 400 bales in a day with it.’’
He said the core tube configuration in the core head and pressure sensitive hydraulics with the latest model machine also would help address the problems encountered when testing light bales.
“Light bales can spin out and bend the tubes.’’
“The pressure sensitive hydraulics allows the bale to be pressed harder in the core chamber, so the bale is a lot more compact and there is less chance of the tubes running out. It presses down before the cutters come in, so you get a better grab out of the bale.
“There are four different depths that you can send the grab in at. If you are testing something like locks, you can also choose the grab opening time to get a better grab.’’
Mal said the new bale grab also was on linear bearings rather than roller bearings, providing for a smoother operation.
Safety is another strong feature of the latest model core machine, with auto-locking gates, no operator access while the machine is running and complete shut-off when gates are opened.
Australian Wool Testing Authority (AWTA) WA Sampling Operations Manager Rob Hallion said the new Westcoast system was outstanding.
“It’s a very impressive machine. It’s state-of-the-art and is the most advanced piece of equipment of its type in Australia,’’ Rob said.
“Like any business these days, safety and productivity is king, so this type of investment from Westcoast shows a real commitment to their operation.
“The Westcoast machine is next level. You could call it a smart machine. It’s fully computerised and self-adjusts its operation to accommodate light and heavy bales. It also takes digital images of every bale as they travel through the sampling line. ’’
The transfer of the existing core machine at Westcoast Wool & Livestock’s Bibra Lake store to its Katanning facility will free up space for the increasing bale numbers at the site, as well as improve the efficiency and speed of testing at Katanning.
“It will enable a lot more wool to be channelled through Katanning and to be quickly tested and ready to market,’’ Mal said.
The AWTA-accredited facility already offers significant freight savings for southern area growers.
Brad said the company was looking at a 50pc increase in receivals through the Katanning site, where an additional concrete pad also had recently been constructed and the offices refurbished. A painted mural by a local artist is a feature of the latest refurbishment.
Meanwhile, a new fleet of Linde forklifts with hydrostatic drives has replaced the existing clutch-driven forklifts at Westcoast’s Bibra Lake store.
Mal said the new forklifts saved about one-third of the gas used by the previous machines and offered better servicing periods.