DODGE CITY, Kan. – Cargill announced plans to add an automated order distribution system at its Dodge City, Kan. beef-processing plant. The project will cost $48 million.

Construction on the 62,000-sq.-ft. facility will begin during the fourth quarter of 2013, and the system is scheduled to be operational by spring of 2015, the company said. Once completed, the order distribution system will hold 155,000 boxes of beef. This will increase the boxed beef capacity at the Dodge City plant by 130,000 boxes, the company said.

“This new distribution system will benefit our customers by improving order accuracy and on-time delivery, in addition to providing better capability to handle the ever-increasing complexity of product offerings shipped to domestic and international markets,” said John Keating, president of Wichita, Kansas-based Cargill Beef. “Installation of this new system will help us better meet our customers’ expectations, something we have demonstrated as a core competency through similar investments made in recent years at our Schuyler, Neb.; Friona, Texas; and High River, Alberta, Canada, beef-processing plants.”

The new system will use Retrotech automation and Viastore equipment, which replaces a system used at the plant since Ronald Reagan was president, Cargill said. The advanced equipment will make the facility more efficient and reliable; reduce maintenance, lower operating costs, and increase capacity all in a more sustainable way, the company said.

The Dodge City plant supplies beef products to retail, foodservice and processed foods customers throughout the US and internationally. The facility spans 1,400 acres and processes 6,000 head of cattle per day. Nearly 2,700 employees work at the Dodge City plant.