The arrival of specialist milling equipment from Italy has seen construction on the new multimillion-dollar flour mill in Washdyke move to its next stage. Eight 40-foot containers holding the equipment arrived on site yesterday. Another seven will arrive in three weeks and another four or five around Christmas. The equipment is state-of-the-art and had not been seen before in New Zealand. It is designed to mill soft wheat to a higher standard...

The arrival of specialist milling equipment from Italy has seen construction on the new multimillion-dollar flour mill in Washdyke move to its next stage.

Eight 40-foot containers holding the equipment arrived on site yesterday. Another seven will arrive in three weeks and another four or five around Christmas.

The equipment is state-of-the-art and had not been seen before in New Zealand. It is designed to mill soft wheat to a higher standard than some older equipment.The mill is being built by Farmers Mill, a new company set up by South Canterbury grain storage company Grainstor.

"There are over 20 containers arriving in total, 18 of them are equipment plus some workshops," general manager Dave Howell said. About 15 Italian workers will arrive next Thursday to install the milling equipment in the factory. They will remain in Timaru until the end of January.

"These guys travel all around the world and this is all they do. They are very well travelled," he said. Construction on the mill is running 10 days ahead of schedule. The building is nearly completed and the mill's internal floors and machine floors are finished. Test runs on the mill will take place over Christmas with its final commissioning taking place in early February. Construction was on a tight deadline because its owners had customers waiting.

"It's very unusual. No one has heard of a mill that's been built with customers ready at the end of it. In general, you build a mill with an established milling company and then you gradually bring it on stream," Mr Howell said. The mill would produce premium biscuit, baking and bread flours to the specifications of high-end customers. "We've done this for the future of arable farming in New Zealand. It's good for Timaru and good for the community."

The mill would initially employ five to seven staff. South Canterbury farmers currently took their wheat to Christchurch to be milled resulting in huge freight costs. There was room in the market for another mill and using locally grown grain would provide a unique point of difference, he said.

GERALD PIDDOCK
Last updated 08:10 25/10/2012

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