A DOZEN receival sites within the CBH Group’s State network are in line for upgrades this year, as the bulk handler officially enters the construction phase of its five-year Network Strategy.
The 12 sites have been flagged for expansion and maintenance projects, which will increase capacity of the network by 300,000 tonnes in 2017.
Projects that have been confirmed to Farm Weekly include the second stage of the new Mirambeena construction, and work at sites in Canna, Cascades and Marchagee, with the other sites to be announced in the near future.
It’s part of CBH’s $750 million five-year investment to boost throughput capacity by up to 20 per cent, and increase tonnes to port to 2.2 million per month.
Investments are targeted at 100 of the 202 CBH receival sites across WA, with plans to phase out the remaining 102 sites within the next decade.
CBH operations general manager David Capper said the initial planning stage of the Network Strategy was complete and phase two would now begin.
He said priority projects had been influenced by grower feedback following last year’s record 16.6 million tonne harvest.
“In particular, the northern Kwinana area has come under pressure for a number of years,” Mr Capper said.
“To help manage similar situations in the future we’ve brought forward projects earmarked for this area so they’re completed sooner.
“These were projects we always planned through the Network Strategy but over the past couple of years we’ve been disappointed with the level of service we’ve been able to provide growers in that area.”
He said although a below average season was expected in the Kwinana zone, this season’s outlook had not affected the program of works in the zone.
“Of course – particularly in Albany and Esperance – if those crops continue to grow and we get really good finishing rains and need to go and build additional harvest storage as we did last year, then of course we’ll go and do that but we don’t want that to distract us on delivering on the long term plan.”
Mr Capper said a further 25 sites would be upgraded in 2018.
He said projects were focussed on driving efficiencies by increasing storage and throughput capacity and boosting tonnes to port.
“At the moment improving that harvest service and the throughput time is really important to growers to make sure that they get through the sites quickly, they get back into the paddock and headers don’t stop during harvest,” he said.
“The crop has been growing pretty substantially over the past 10 years, so we’ve got to have the capacity to receive that crop and provide enough segregation’s to give growers the capacity to maximise the value of the crop.
“Also the focus from here on is really about building up the front-end capacity – so in January, February, March, April, May – maximising the capacity that we can offer to the market in that period because that’s generally in most years the period that the market can get the best value for WA grain.”
Mr Capper expected the construction phase of the Network Strategy to take several years to complete.
He said CBH would continue to consult with its 4200 growers to ensure the investment was meeting grower needs.
“There’ll be a few years of really ramping up the construction, and in parallel with that we’re also really ramping up our innovation to find how can we continue to drive efficiencies in the network through the infrastructure, through the way we manage sites,” he said.
“That’s a third phase that we’ll run in parallel with this early construction and once we get to the end of that, it’s always about review and understanding how the growers needs change and how the network needs to change to adapt to that.”