For the fruit packing industry, the ‘clear-span’ concept is a game-changing development with the ability to build a processing facility without any internal posts at unprecedented sizes. Packing sheds are evolving rapidly with fruit and vegetable growers refitting their workspace with increasing automation and bigger plant and equipment.
The biggest clear-span in Australia is being fitted out in the Yarra Valley at Coldstream for Red Rich Fruits. At 80 metres wide and 128m long, this facility has an enormous workspace down the centre of the shed whilst still having space for three cool rooms in each corner and office space down the length of one side.
The shed was designed and built by Entegra Signature Structures, a business known for their innovation in the horticulture sector. Entegra project manager, Brian White, said unencumbered workspace is the latest trend in the industry and this shed is the biggest space without central posts that the he knows of.
"An interesting feature on this Red Rich Fruits shed is that the cool room sits on the rake of the roof truss," Mr White said. "At the northern end there is a drive-through for the trucks, 6m sliding doors with a total opening of 16m. The roof is insulated between the roof cladding and the top of the trusses with 55mm blanket and mesh."
The push to innovate is also changing the make-up of shed builders. Entegra has overhauled its operations with unprecedented resources afforded to the design and engineering teams operating all in-house to spearhead their manufacturing efforts.
Growers looking to modernise with the latest trends should heed word from the general manager, Laurie McCalman said there is a continued push for economies of scale and efficiencies in capital and operating costs.
"We've developed the 'passive box' design that will drive down energy costs with capacity to maximise solar loading to produce between 650kW and 1000kW on a roof space of 10,000 sqm," Mr McCalman said. "Furthermore, they're designed to harvest 100% of the rainfall that can be collected and harvested for various uses."
The rapid growth story doesn't come without challenges. The increasing size of packing facilities is making it more difficult to find suitable locations that abide by local and state government planning requirements.
Entegra's buildings can be found in Northern Territory, Far North Qld, NSW, Victoria and South Australia. For clients interested in touring one of the facilities, the company can arrange for that to happen at the right stage of the purchase decision.
It is clear: according to goodfruitandvegetables.com.au, bigger sheds are just part of the innovation story.