Gabe and Nick Dellios are a father and son team who market their fruit under the name ‘Bacchus Marsh Apples’,'Dellios Apples'.
Their business ~Gab & Nick Dellios Pty Ltd~ started its life in Bacchus Marsh, in the early 1950’s. As a family run operation, the business has grown and changed over the years but, one thing has always remained the same, the family’s commitment to supplying the very best possible fruit to market.
From a modest beginning, first growing vegetables and then moving into orchard fruit, the business has expanded to 200 hectares with enough onsite storage to handle 16,000 bins (6,000 tonnes) in a controlled environment.
Apples are the predominant crop, the main varieties grown are Granny Smiths,
At Gab & Nick Dellios, partnerships have played a vital role in the growth, development and success of their operation.
In their words ‘The people we work with are our business. Our staff are brilliant and work extremely well as a team. Taking a wider view, our customers, suppliers and industry groups such as AFFCO all make a significant contribution to the success of our business.’
It was one of these partnerships, with prominent Bacchus Marsh company, Colour Vision Systems, that’s resulted in a new packing facility that will take their company
right into the 21st Century.
Nick explains ‘Our old Colour Vision System
With these issues playing on his mind, Nick realised to maintain creditability with his customers (including the major supermarkets) he would have to increase the visual presentation of their fruit and also dramatically increase his efficiency and capacity.
As Nick says ‘The penny dropped when we installed a new bin dumper in 2005 which counted the number of bins emptied. That year we harvested around 12,000 bins, but the machine did 18,000 actions. It didn’t make sense, until he realised that all the lesser grades that were being put back into bins to be regraded for a different market. He states that 30% of their time was wasted on double handling!’
With the Global Financial Crises impacting around the world, it didn’t seem the time to be spending a million dollars on a major equipment upgrade. However, taking the back seat has never been a Dellios family trait, so tackling a big decision didn’t faze Gab& Nick and they went ahead to find the solution.
Nick approached Colour Vision Systems, a company he knew and trusted and together they came up with a plan to completely upgrade the packing facility. The new facility would include a brand new, purpose built, state of the art packing room and the most modern and efficient grader that Colour Vision Systems could manufacture, a 4 lane Integra capable of doing colour and blemish sorting, with the capacity to pre-sort fruit in the event of major damage such as hail etc.
With the new machine, the team at Dellios’ have 3 lanes for 1st grade and the 4th lane for composite down graded fruit. The new sorting table is better lit and more user friendly. The control of the entire machine is via a touch screen. The speed of every component can be adjusted to minimize damage via the touch of a finger. Even wash down of the infeed is done via the push of the screen eliminating time. The wash cycle then dry’s itself and shuts down when the cycle is complete.
Sorters take the 2nd grade fruit out, this fruit then goes onto the 4th lane for sorting and packing via one pass, eliminating any further mechanical damage. These improvements mean that the Dellios’ can pack two or more grades at once and eliminate the double handling. This makes even the lessor grade more presentable and saleable.
Nick says ‘With a couple of extra staff, we’ve more than doubled production. The Integra is only running at about 50% of its capacity, so we can improve on output even further.
Nick explains that when he approached his bank manager to finance the new equipment, the bank manager asked what the new machine was going to do for their business. Nick explained that the new machine would eliminate damage, improve the waxing and presentation and enable him to process more fruit, more quickly and to a higher standard and last but most important possibly achieve a higher $ return per carton.
All of these factors added up to a cost/benefit ratio that even the bank manager couldn’t argue with! Even though there was no up front labour savings the improvements in efficiency carried the bottom line.
To run the new machine, 2 new staff were employed and as production reaches full speed, the family plan to employ another 2 operators. Feedback from the staff has also been extremely positive. While it has been quite a learning curve for the team, they’re much happier because they get through their orders quicker. We have also had overwhelming response from our customers, with even their sales increasing due to the improved visual appearance of our fruit.
Everyone at G & N Dellios is seeing the benefits of the commitment that Gab & Nick have undertaken. Even at this early stage of operation, the Colour Vision Systems
This new packing facility will also enable the business to perhaps consolidate their operation with other fruit growers from nearby areas to strengthen their positions, mutually, in the market place. They also believe that to remain viable into the future, growers in Australia need to grow, pack and market fruit jointly, instead of individually. Nick believes that growers shouldn’t be juggling their time between growing, packing and marketing. The cost of maintaining a high standard Quality Assured facility to supply the standard that is required, when it is required can prove to be a difficult task if not managed successfully, which ultimately could cost you customers.
Gab and Nick are all too aware of the cost of building a high-tech packing shed and know that many growers can’t afford to update to the levels required in this day and age. Nick believes that growers should consider sending their fruit to an efficient packing facility like theirs, enabling themselves to concentrate on growing better quality fruit, increasing pack outs, and ultimately improving their bottom line. We all know that regardless of how good a grader you have, fruit quality is determined out in the orchard, so the more time and effort spent there the bigger the reward.
Nick concludes ‘With the new Colour Vision Systems
ABN 33 007 381 875
487 Main St Bacchus Marsh,
03 5367 5297