Business Profiles

CR Automation raises the bar in post-harvest performance

CR Automation is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with as a post-harvest engineering specialist.

Founded in 2002 as an automation contracting company CR Automation has a track record of supporting local and international businesses in post-harvest produce handling, water & waste water, food & beverage, and manufacturing.

CR Automation director Peter Richards says in 2016 CR expanded into Turnkey Solutions with the establishment of a team comprising of mechanical design, project management, robotics, automation, electrical design and a dedicated team of highly skilled assembly engineers.

Since then CR has undertaken post-harvest food processing projects for Taylor Corp, Malbec, Mr Apple, Mt Erin and now Rockit Global.

CR was the principal contractor for the fit out of the just completed Rockit packhouse and responsible for engaging a range of trade based contracting companies as partners.

The team lead by John Mitchell CR’s Engineering Manager spent over 14,000 hours since May 2020 on the design and equipment fit out of a state-of-the-art apple sorting and packing facility, as well as software development and controls systems to automate the cool storage facility at Rockit.

“The new production facilities plant equipment layout was designed by our industry specialists. We relocated everything from the former packing facility in Cooper Street, Havelock North, refurbished and modified it as well as providing new equipment to the larger packing area footprint”.

“We then developed all the supporting control system software and other vendor equipment interfacing providing a user-friendly computer-based operator interface”.

The logistics team were challenged with overcoming the longer lead times for sourcing equipment and componentry due to COVID19.

However, no hurdle could get in the way of a commitment to the client of having the packing facility ready for the first Rockit apples to be picked in early February.

“The challenging timeline required a huge effort across the team which was well recognised by the client. Our management team kept moral high throughout the project under tight timelines which was excellent”.

“The team at Rockit, were excellent to deal with throughout the entirety project”.

Rockit Global chief executive Mark O’Donnell says as the main plant integrators “CR Automation worked very hard to hand over a plant that worked from day one under a tight schedule.”

Peter Richards says CR Automation is held in high regard for its automation expertise which has been complimented by assembling a team of industry experts providing confidence in undertaking a project of this significant scale.

In 2019 leading fresh fruit labelling and packing innovator Jenkins Group, which has a significant presence in the Bay’s horticulture sector, took a 50 percent stake in CR Automation.

Peter says the two companies, with the same family values came together to deliver a range of automation services to post-harvest operators across Australasia keen to enhance efficiency, meet compliance needs and overcome labour shortages.

Peter says the project tested CR’s talented team of multi-discipline engineers and designers, but it’s given them further confidence after its successful completion and added to their track record of taking on a project lead role.

“Our driver is to have close relationships with our customers and working with them to understand their business removing barriers to process automation so they can reduce cost, improve reliability, increase production capacity, and improve the health, safety and wellbeing of their workforce.”

To find out more about CR Automate visit