Engineers taste success with olive oil business

However, Sanders was familiar with the chemical-dosing pumps used in modern power plants

“Those pumps are designed to measure the flow rate of the water in real time and to pump the exact amount of chemicals required to achieve consistent concentrations,” she said. 

She purchased several dosing pumps, and with help from her husband Keith Sanders — a commissioning engineer — configured them to interact with the bore pumps. 

The fertigation problem was solved.

Sathya Olive Company grew steadily, and by 2019 it was producing 5000 L of oil per year. Although Sanders continued to project-manage for energy and resources companies in WA, she spent much of her time developing the business.

Encouraged by their early success, the couple decided to ramp up production by adding 6000 new trees in a super high-density configuration with a plan of replacing the existing plantation progressively over five years. 

Sathya Olive Company founders Tanuja and Keith Sanders.

But another problem loomed.

“Because we were on a farm that only had single-phase power supply, we were restricted to using pumps that can run on single-phase power,” Sanders said. “To grow, we needed even bigger pumps.”

They approached Western Power to see if the property’s power supply could be upgraded to three phase and were shocked when they received a $500,000 quote. 

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So they began to brainstorm alternatives with their electrical engineering colleagues.

“We came up with a method by which we applied variable speed drives to convert the single-phase power supply to three phase,” Sanders said. “That enabled us to run a three-phase motor from a single-phase input.”

As a result, Sanders has been able to scale up production without compromising her precise fertigation process.

“I’ve learned as a project manager that to create a sustainable operational model, you have to give before you get,” she said. 

“So we give a lot of love and attention to the trees.”

The production of the oil is undertaken just as carefully: the olives are stored in shallow bins to prevent bruising, then cold pressed within six hours of being picked.

Among the awards won by Sathya’s olive oil are a gold medal in the 2019 Los Angeles International Extra Virgin Olive Oil competition and a trophy at the 2019 Australian International Olive Awards.

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