October 06, 2021 • 3 min read

Delivering PMC services for Rockit's coolstore and packhouse

How we built a post-harvest facility for the world's first miniature apple and then ended up designing an orchard

“Our Hawke’s Bay team has been developing, maintaining and building manufacturing and processing plants for more than 20 years,” explains Kelsey Schnell, Director New Zealand. “While our project management consulting (PMC) skills are often utilized in the New Zealand energy industry, they translate well across the country’s varied offerings.

“We’ve worked on wineries, pet food plants, food and beverage processing, lumber, fertilizer and bottling plants. As well as wastewater treatment, biofuel and infrastructure facilities.”

Working with Rockit New Zealand

We worked with Rockit and local contractors to deliver a 21,000 m2 coolstore and packhouse facility for its licensed Rockit™ apple. Certified by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, this world-first is a fully developed apple in miniature form. It’s packed into recyclable plastic tubes and exported all around the world. 

The design included an automated tube filling system, which came from a local automation company. This system alleviated the amount of manual labor needed – something which is not always readily available – and reduced labor cost, to allow the rapid growth of the business.

“The project was schedule critical. Apples are picked in February and the plant needed to be ready in time for that first harvest,” explains Ferdie Enslin, Senior Project Engineer and Project Manager. “Our scope was project management. We managed the engineering, construction, customer’s budget, and schedule. We also developed the commercial framework and scopes of work for the various contractors.”

Apples on a conveyor belt inside the Rockit apple packhouse.

Developing the orchard design

During the project, Rockit also asked us to assist with the development of 160 hectares of new orchard. This was led by Senior Project Engineer Matt Saunders, who together with his team and a local surveyor developed a digital mapping platform, which took the orchard design to a new level.

“The team layered all the different design deliverables including the seismic assessment, ground water survey, irrigation and drainage, tree support systems and planting options onto a Google Map base, which was available to present over a variety of interactive media options,” says Saunders. “This meant that investors, owners, orchard managers and engineers from various remote locations could have in-depth design reviews and discussions.”

Rockit apple branded ute parked in front of the newly-planted orchard.

Against-the-odds project delivery

COVID-19 brought some real challenges to the project.

“We were faced with some initial delays,” admits Enslin. “However, these were mitigated because of the quick transition to home working and the strong relationships we had with our contractors. We worked together as one team to keep things moving forward.”

The initial coolstore project and the additional orchard development were delivered on time and under budget, and Rockit opened its new facility in time for the first harvest in February 2021.

“One of the reasons the project was such as success was the fact that we were able to work with Rockit from the early stages,” explains Enslin. “This made it easier to define the scopes of work and the commercial mechanisms. It also allowed us to tailor the skills and expertise of each contractor involved in the project.”

“Our new facility included some cutting-edge innovations and was operational from day one, which was no easy feat. It was a pleasure working with the team from Worley, who were largely responsible for making this happen. They have continued to provide ongoing support for our development,” says Rockit Innovation Manager, Stuart Dykes.

Exterior of Rockit apple factory.

Statistic Cards


years of experience in developing, maintaining and building manufacturing and processing plants

hectares of orchard development

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