AGRIBUSINESS Elders will use autonomous guided vehicles in two new wool hubs in a $25 million world-first wool handling initiative.
Elders today said the automated wool handling business with hubs in Melbourne and Perth will be launched in July 2023.
The hubs will complement Elders’ existing wool offering, providing a full end-to-end service that will improve efficiency and outcomes for clients, and offer industry-leading innovations and improve sustainability outcomes within the supply chain, the company said.
The $25 million investment will also include developing its own industry-leading software to deliver a more efficient end-to-end selling process for its clients.
Elders said the wool handling operation will be based around the two centralised hubs, supported by its extensive network of receival centres. Its existing three selling centres in Yennora, Brooklyn and Spearwood will remain in operation.
The first in the world, the Melbourne warehouse will move wool bales using Autonomous Guided Vehicles (AGVs). The AGVs and supply chain optimisation will provide significant long-term operational and safety benefits for both Elders and its clients.
New initiative will revolutionise wool handling
Elders managing director and chief executive officer Mark Allison said that the new business will revolutionise wool handling.
“Elders is committed to providing exceptional customer service and contributing to the future success of our growers and the wool industry.
“We are demonstrating this commitment by continual investment in supply chain optimisation, including the logistics, sampling, sales and storage of wool through automated warehouse operations,” he said.
“Elders is an integral part of the fabric of regional communities and has played a key role in the Australian wool industry for over 180 years – indeed Elders began wool handling and financing in the mid-1800’s.
“Elders recognises that the landscape of the Australian wool industry has changed dramatically in the last three decades and it is critical to adapt and change for Australian fibre to remain some of the best in the world,” Mr Allison said.
“To this end, in making the largest single supply chain investment in the Australian wool industry this century, we stand with our customers to deliver the best sustainable wool supply globally.”
Elders said environmental sustainability a key objective and it is aiming to minimise greenhouse gas emissions from its hubs through the use of solar power, LED lighting and energy efficient equipment.
The Melbourne greenfield facility is strategically placed one turn off the Western freeway at Ravenhall, Melbourne. This location creates the link from key regional growing areas to Australia’s largest concentration of buyers and access to the port through which over 75 percent of Australia’s wool on the east coast ships to global markets.
“This business is a result of Elders constantly looking at ways to improve outcomes for our clients, the environment, our shareholders and communities.
“We want to ensure we deliver the best results for the next generation of wool growers across Australia,” Mr Allison said.