Melanie Stark

Still Working – ifm cables

ifm takes pride in how robust and reliable its sensors are. In this video Glenn Thornton and Roland Denholm from ifm Australia test the products in some fun but challenging ways, all the while showing that their products are still working.

Well-maintained electric drives: the key to efficiency

Finding ways to minimise breakdowns and downtime is of great advantage. Unplanned work stoppages cost industries billions of dollars in lost revenue every year, as well as creating unsafe workplaces, accidents and health issues. There are ways you can minimise the chance of a breakdown as well as speed up repair time, find out how well-maintained motors are the key to success by downloading the white paper.

Fill out the form below to download the white paper.

Stainless steel motors: the choice for the food and beverage industry

With increasing food safety regulations and more recalls making the headlines, Lafert Electric Motors Australia knows the importance of preventing contamination is a top priority for all manufacturers.

Operating a clean production line has never been more important in the food and beverage sector. Prevention of any contamination offers significant savings in time and money, before even starting to think about the damage a product recall could have on an organisation’s brand and reputation.

Having the ability to clean and service equipment in food production the most effective and easy way is essential and can help prevent the risk of product contamination.

One key area where there is high risk of contamination is in the equipment used in food processing and the need to adhere to high standards of sanitary and hygiene across all aspects of the operation.

This is particularly relevant to the motors used on a food production line as food particles often build up in these areas. The motors need to be hosed down regularly, often using high pressure wash downs, in addition caustic cleaning solutions is often used in the cleaning process.

Depending on the materials used for the motors, this cleaning process can cause a serious issue for the equipment, with cleaning solutions eventually corroding parts of the motor as well as the risk of rust and paint flaking off, often leading to contamination.

To decrease the risks of contamination and create the cleanest environment possible, Lafert Electric Motors Australia, one of Australia’s leading suppliers of electric motors and gearboxes, has developed the Tema motor.

The Tema motor is an innovative new motor that is made of 304 grade or 316 grade stainless steel.

The Tema motor IP67 or IP69K rated can be operated and cleaned in high ambient temperatures, high humidity and with water and steam – making it ideal for the food industry. Stainless steel motors have been widely used in the food and beverage industry in the US, with the rest of the world now starting to recognise the benefits and make the switch.

The Tema motor has a specifically designed construction that avoids the use of through or end shield bolts – this makes the outer surface of the motor completely smooth, allowing for easy and thorough cleaning.

A further advantage of a stainless steel motor is that, unlike cast iron or aluminium motors, it will not corrode when hosed down.

The Tema motor was developed specifically with the food industry in mind by a leading electrical engineer in Perth and the assembly of the motor is completely unique. The design of the Tema motor features the drive end shaft fitted with two oil seals, which prevents any water getting in.

The Tema motor is also interchangeable with any other motor and can be supplied to match SEW Eurodrive dimensions – making the upgrade to Tema stainless steel motors easy.

“The Tema motor is easily one of the market leaders for wash down stainless steel motors,” said Morgan Harrington, general manager, Lafert Electric Motors Australia. “The Tema motor is unique in that it is capable of special customisation designs to suit particular customer requirements.

“The Tema motors have proven to be a wonderful success story for the food processing industry and for Lafert Electric Motors Australia.”

With a customisable design, the Tema motor works well when paired with the HydroMec Stainless Steel IP69K gearbox. The gearbox can be mounted to the Tema motor and as it is also stainless steel, it benefits from many of the advantages in cleanliness and maintenance that the Tema motor does – making the two products a perfect pairing for food processing.

With cleanliness being such a critical part of food manufacturing and production, stainless steel motors offer a significant reduction in the risk of contamination as well as a reduction in equipment replacement costs.

Lafert Electric Motors Australia has more than 50 years’ experience providing customised engineered electric motors, with a special focus on industrial automation, energy saving and renewables. The specialist technical staff can determine what product is needed and offer a wide range of options and information.

Lafert Electric Motors Australia is a force in the electric motor market and is committed to focusing on innovation and energy saving. Having serviced the food processing industry for more than 20 years, the company offers expert knowledge and advice.

SS WORMBOX

 

Investing in the cloud-ready, next generation data centre

The Consultel brand has been around for 35 years and is a leading IT consultancy that delivers expertise in hybrid cloud solutions for all businesses. Established in 1999 and headquartered in Australia, Consultel Cloud’s experience is diverse and covers an array of next generation technologies and services.

“There’s quite a few different cloud providers out there, like AWS, Microsoft, and Google. What we have here at Consultel Cloud, is a hybrid cloud solution for various industries,” said Benjamin Molloy, who heads Consultel Cloud.

“Many companies think that it is enough for one cloud provider to put everything into a single solution. I think that it is very hard with the public cloud to have calculated costs that are fairly accurate because there are many factors to consider. Some of these include time of usage, performance, the amount of network and so on.”

Consultel Cloud says that what it does makes it unique by providing choice and flexibility to their customers in how they architect their hybrid cloud strategy. “We partner with major technology vendors such as NetApp who lead in solid-state storage technology, as well as Equinix, the largest interconnected data centre globally, to offer choice and reliable cloud services to our customers. What Equinix has that is compelling is their Equinix Cloud Exchange (ECX) product. This is basically a gateway to multiple cloud service providers including SAP, Microsoft Azure and AWS across over 180+ data centres around the world,” said Molloy.

Molloy said the company is very open and precise in its offerings and its performance is assured. “We provide guaranteed performance at an exact costing. In comparison to other providers where there is shared infrastructure, it may be cheaper, but the reliability and performance that customers depend on may not be there,” he said.

Molloy cited the company’s partnership with the US-headquartered multinational storage and cloud data services provider, NetApp, as one of the keys to its success.

“Consultel Cloud’s cloud platform is built on NetApp’s hyper converged infrastructure (HCI) technology. HCI simplifies IT infrastructure immensely by bringing together separate storage, separate switches and separate compute all into the one system with network connectivity and is cloud-ready in the one ‘building block’. With the first generation of HCI technology, if you needed to increase your compute performance or storage capacity, it meant that you needed to buy more of the one ‘building block’, irrespective of whether you needed more of just the compute or storage component.”

“With NetApp HCI, what makes it truly next generation in its kind for hyper converged infrastructure is that the storage and compute can scale independently of one another whilst maintaining guaranteed performance, otherwise known as Quality of Service. Licensing costs are reduced and you don’t pay for what you don’t need – so when we build our cloud services on innovative data management technology like this, it means we get to pass on those efficiencies and savings to our customers too,” said Molloy.

Molloy explained that customers can enjoy all the benefits of NetApp technology and consume it as a service, so users can turn it on and off as they please. They can only pay for as much as they need and for the time that they need it.

Consultel Cloud’s services extends across all industries of all sizes, including food and beverage, medical and even the debt collection databases for two of the big four banks.

“Our customer base is made up of all different sized companies who have different IT requirements. There is no perfect sized company and that’s why we provide tailored solutions that will help our customers find the right kind of hybrid cloud solution for their needs.”

“Whether it’s a large retail operation or a national food distributor, staff will need access to applications and data to do their job,” said Molloy. “The last thing they will want to spend time worrying about is their IT infrastructure – they just want it to be available and to work.”

When it comes to cloud-based services for food and beverage, large amounts of data need to be stored and secured. This can be with regards to the cool storage, temperature management that needs to be monitored constantly. In this case, Consultel Cloud can help since they also do telecommunications.

“We have been across many different types of manufacturing industries. We can run dark fibre and provide very cost-effective fibre products. At this point, the company is working with a renowned food manufacturer and we’ve got a lot experience with those type of industries. At the same time, for these industries, we provide not just a cloud product but a complete solution where we can actually install the high-performance fibre for type of industries that run 24 hours. And should they need to relocate, that’s where cloud comes in and can really provide support on ensuring their operations are not disrupted,” said Molloy.

Consultel Cloud also provides the manufacturing sector, in particular, with solid-state, on-premises replication. “We provide solid-state storage units on-premises because with those type of manufacturers, fibre does get cut sometimes and things do go down. And we provide the infrastructure for these situations to ensure businesses have redundancy in the event of a disaster,” said Molloy.

Should customers see the need to upscale their existing network infrastructure, Consultel Cloud also does system integration, between companies. Molloy explained that they have worked with many companies that have gone through mergers or separations; in this sense, they possess a lot of experience and they have good knowledge on how to rapidly scale their platform horizontally if required. “This is because we architect our NetApp based cloud offering to be truly next generation”. So, if have a need for a large amount of storage quickly for a customer, we can provision that in a very short period of time,” said Molloy.

A potential issue that manufacturers face today is data protection and recovery in the event of an emergency. To counter this, data that is stored and managed on Consultel Cloud’s platform is encrypted at the storage level so each customer’s data is securely segregated. In other words, space is not shared and one component of the environment for one client is never ever combined within another client’s environment.

When it comes to having any manufacturing, organisation having the right hybrid cloud strategy, it is important for it to be focused on the business they are providing for their market and worry less about things like managing IT infrastructure. Molloy said that customers of Consultel Cloud are provided with data centre technology and cloud services for the next generation, and helps to take the complexity out of the operational aspect of IT.

“We believe in investing in robust technology for our cloud platform that customers depend on. Additionally, while customers only pay for what they need, they know they will have a high-quality cloud service that provides them with the availability and flexibility that their business demands.

“Therefore, it is certainly important to have a tailored cloud solution that’s going to be reliable, cost-effective, and architected with technology that provides the best performance – that’s what we can offer them,” said Molloy.

Total Tips – design and building advice for food & beverage makers

Welcome to Total Tips, our new regular column by plant building and design provider, Total Construction. Over the coming months, we will hear from this industry leader about how to ensure businesses have well designed, well-functioning manufacturing facilities that give them the best chance to prosper.

TIP 1. WHEN SELECTING NEW PREMISES, ENSURE YOU CHOOSE SOMEWHERE WITH SUFFICIENT UTILITY SERVICES

Selecting new premises is a big step for any food manufacturer. Think about the last time you moved house and (depending on the size of your business) multiply the effort involved several times over.

If the physical logistics involved in uprooting plant, machinery, furniture, IT equipment (plus employees) is enormous; the amount of planning involved can be even more daunting.

Price is the obvious consideration. There is no point in relocating to a facility your business can’t afford. Digging a financial hole that you have no chance of getting out of is never a good move.

Also, as in the residential market, “Location, Location” is a good philosophy to follow. Food and beverage manufacturers need to locate their plants in the right place. The right place, that is, in terms of transport (be it by road, rail or air); as well as easy access to supply chains and logistics. And, of course, they need to be easily accessible by the people who actually keep the business going, employees.

The importance of utilities
However, when choosing new premises, there is one important consideration businesses often overlook. It is important to find somewhere that includes a sufficient, reliable supply of basic utilities (electricity, gas, water), not just for today but for the future.

Far too often, Total Construction sees examples of businesses who neglect to include this in their relocation check list. Then, sure enough, when they move they find they don’t have the utilities they need to run their operations. After the move is made is too late to realise you need more power or gas.

Increasing energy supply is not always an easy thing to do. The task of upping the power supply may involve the creation of a new substation. Even in industrial areas, this does not happen overnight. We have seen cases where the installation takes as long as eight months. On top of the high costs and planning involved, this is bad news for any business.

Planning & estimating future utility needs
When planning a move, businesses should study past gas and electricity bills to establish average usage. However, we recommend adding a further 20 per cent to this figure to allow for future growth. Any figure beyond that mark will likely be years down the track and can be addressed at that later date.

In our experience, many businesses who don’t factor in their energy requirements actually find that their “dream facilities” don’t have sufficient utilities to support them into the future.

In many cases, this comes down to who were the previous tenants. It’s important to keep in mind that, even though they are located in industrial areas, many buildings have never housed manufacturing businesses. Many were used as warehouses and therefore didn’t require anything like the amount of electricity or gas that manufacturers need.

While they may tick all the boxes in terms of price, location and size, they may not actually have what it takes to get your business running today, let alone grow into the future.

Setting the standard in traceability

Food safety scares and product recalls are unfortunate facts of life in the food sector. GS1 Australia provides the standards to enable organisations to effectively keep track of where our food comes from and help implement recalls quickly and efficiently.

In China back in 2008, six babies died and thousands more became seriously ill after consuming infant formula tainted with melamine, a chemical used to make dinnerware, laminates, flooring and the like.

On top of the horrendous human cost, the scandal significantly damaged China’s food industry. Imports of Chinese dairy products were banned in many countries and, as the huge demand for Australian infant formula in China illustrates, the reputation of Chinese formula producers has yet to fully recover.

The lessons here are obvious. Food safety is the top priority for food and beverage manufacturers and recalls are to be avoided. When they do occur, they need to be implemented and resolved as quickly as possible.

In large part, this comes down to traceability.

As Peter Chambers, head of supply chain improvement services at GS1 Australia told Food & Beverage Industry News, increased consumer awareness coupled with “an ever increasing channel called the Internet” mean that traceability has become flavour of the month.

“The time is right to talk about traceability, not just in food but in all areas. Anywhere where people can get injured, get sick or die, traceability is very important,” said Chambers.

Supply chain complexity
Chambers explained that true traceability is the ultimate goal. “This involves the ability to exchange information with all the actors up and down your supply chain community. Once this occurs, information of the whereabouts of affected product can be interrogated at any time,” he said.

In the real world, however, the complexity of the food supply chain makes this difficult.

“The supply chain comprises many different stages or types of organisations (or actors) who often either distribute or manufacture product that is sold to consumers,” saidChambers.

So, when food safety issues do arise, recalls can be complicated because the products involved have been widely dispersed.

On top of that, he said, different actors use a range of processes and systems to record production information. Data capture is typically manual and either stored in private ERP systems, in spreadsheets or paper- based recording systems.

“While traceability exists, it is mostly very disjointed and requires manual intervention and interpretation of data. In the case of a recall, the process of notification, product identification and so on can take days, if not weeks,” said Chambers. “The opportunity exists to improve both the notification and recall process and reduce times and accuracy of recalled products significantly.”

Chambers also pointed out that, traditionally, there has only been limited information available from each step in the supply chain.

“We now have the ability to add event data – information starting with the transformation of raw materials and produce into commercial product and the aggregation and de-aggregation, as well as the physical whereabouts as it moves though the supply chain to point of sale,” he said.

This data includes the what, where, when and how of supply chain events. It provides visibility at each point up and down the chain.

Standards are important
“GS1 is a global standards organisation. Our role is to help companies and industries collaborate in areas where a common standard, language or solution would help every participant achieve a better outcome,” said Chambers.

“Having quality traceability and product recall capabilities are critical areas that can assist any organisation deliver product safely to consumers.”

GS1 Australia provides a range of training and education services to organisations in areas such as item identification, data capture, traceability, to name a few. The company’s GS1 system of standards provides global unique identification keys for products, locations, shipments, assets, documents and so on.

On top of that, the organisation recently released a new updated version of its Global Traceability Framework to help industries and businesses implement traceability solutions across supply chains.

“Because there are major capability and even requirement differences between sectors, we are now preparing additional sector based guidelines on how to apply the framework. For example, the fruit and vegetable sector is vastly different to beef which, in turn, is different to consumer packaged food,” said Chambers.

Recall portal
One of the key benefits of having a strong traceability system involves a company’s preparedness to conduct a product recall or withdrawal. Identification of the affected product is only one part of this process.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand’s (FSANZ) Food Industry Recall Protocol outlines the legal requirements and responsibilities of food businesses with regard to product recalls and also offers advice and assistance in this area.

In 2011, GS1 Australia launched GS1 Recall (formerly GS1 Recallnet), a portal developed in collaboration with FSANZ, as well as the Australian Food and Grocery Council, (AFGC), the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), national retailers and a number of local and international food and grocery manufacturers.

According to Chambers, the portal is a community based mechanism intended to improve the communication between the two main stakeholders in recalls, namely the initiator or sponsor of a recall or withdrawal notice and recipient organisations (wholesalers/distributors, retailers, hospital networks, etc.).

The aim of the portal is to facilitate the identification and potential quarantine of affected goods as quickly as possible. It’s the link between identifying the affected product and removing it accurately.

“We are quite excited about the growth of ‘Recall’. We have well over 600 subscribers across food and beverages, general merchandise and healthcare and that is growing at 25 per cent per annum.

“This involves many major recipients including the supermarket giants, smaller grocery providers, and hospital networks, as well as many food production and distribution companies,” said Chambers, adding that food relief organisation, Foodbank is one interesting recent addition to the portal.

New technologies
Blockchain (the technology used in the crypto-currency, Bitcoin) has been much discussed of late. Because it allows users in a network to share information without it first passing through a server, it has potential for implementation in the food supply chain.

The hope is that it will help overcome the problem of data fragmentation and provide the data integrity needed to not only carry out recalls, but also prevent fraud.

Blockchain purely addresses the security of exchange of information, particularly between anonymous parties, while GS1 is more concerned with the standardisation of information within the blockchain.

Nevertheless, recognising the importance of the technology within this space, the organisation recently announced a collaboration with IBM and Microsoft to leverage GS1 standards in their enterprise blockchain applications for supply chain clients.

There are also other new technologies on the way. For example, GS1 Australia has developed a Visibility Sandpit solution that makes it possible to trial a community- based network solution that captures traceability event data at each point in the nominated supply chain using the GS1 EPCIS standards. EPCIS (Electronic Product Code Information Services) is a GS1 standard that enables trading partners to share information about the physical movement and status of products as they travel throughout the supply chain – from business to business and ultimately to consumers. According to John Szabo, manager – consulting at GS1 Australia, this will enable communities to cost effectively evaluate what does and doesn’t work in proposed traceability solutions.

He added that the organisation also provided standards for Radio Frequency ID (RFID) technology that can help capture product IDs at each point in the supply chain without direct line of sight.

“There are developments for more commercial use of RFID in food and grocery, particularly with meat which is a high end item. The higher the value and the higher level of packaging, the more cost effective the RFID solution becomes. Active tags also enable additional data to be captured such as the temperature variances suffered en route. RFID will also help traceability solutions which tie into visibility and event data. It is much better to track and trace a product,” said Szabo.

“There are a number of ‘newer’ data carriers (bar codes) that have been introduced that allow these data carriers to include additional information such as batch numbers, expiry dates and so on. One of these barcodes, GS1 DataBar, will allow the capture of batch information at point of sale in the near future. Being trialled by major supermarket chains for use with loose fruit, this has demonstrated significant benefits over the current identification,” added Szabo.

Chambers pointed out that coordinating complex supply chains is difficult and stressed that true and effective traceability requires the full participation of everybody in the chain.

“Use of global standards facilitates that adoption but at the end of the day it comes down to the preparedness of each stakeholder to understand the change, see the benefits both for them and for the greater good, and want to participate,” he said.

Still, where this is achieved, it is now possible to cut recall notification times from days or weeks down to minutes, and more importantly, the safety of the end consumer or patient is enhanced.

LINAK introduces new IC actuator LA33

Many manufacturers of adjustable applications used within industrial automation are familiar with LINAK actuators like LA14, LA25, and LA36. Now a new mid-range “family” member completes the LINAK portfolio.

Introducing the LA33 – a mid-range powerhouse 
LINAK has launched a new powerful actuator. The electric linear actuator LA33. It is a mid-range powerhouse built upon the entire 35 years of specialised knowledge accumulated in LINAK. The LA33 provides a perfect fit where small actuators lack the power, or where large actuators are undue.

Being a manufacturer of machinery for strenuous environments, you will surely recognise the traits of the LINAK programme of robust actuators, and understand why the LA33 fits in so perfectly.

Shares the same features and options
The LA33 shares the same advantageous features of all the robust actuators in the LINAK family. LINAK Integrated Controller, hall sensors for relative and absolute feedback, proportional speed control, precise positioning through analogue or digital feedback, and many other things can all be part of your LA33 solution.

If you want to know more about the features of the LA33, visit our LA33 product site.

Thoroughly tested as every LINAK product
Like the other actuators in the programme, the LA33 is IP66/IP69K approved, making it able to withstand for instance powerful water jets and generally endure harsh environments throughout a long lifespan.

This world-class durability is only possible to achieve through intensive groundwork, extensive experience, and of course rigorous testing prior to release.

For further information, please contact your local LINAK subsidiary or distributor.

Your power can make a difference this summer

This summer you can earn money for your power. If you are not already involved it’s time to find out if your business should really be considering participating in demand response. In this white paper, we answer seven frequently asked questions about demand response. Learn how your business power can help the future of Australia’s energy market.

To download the white paper, fill out the form below:

10 sure-fire ways to reduce downtime

Downtime costs the world’s top companies billions in revenue every year. One report goes so far as to say businesses lose $84,000 to $108,000 USD for every hour of IT system downtime. Manufacturing is no exception.

Most are aware of the benefits of preventive maintenance in reducing planned and unplanned downtime. But what other steps can you take?

We talked with machine maintenance technicians, managers, service engineers and business optimisation experts to put together our top 10 tips for reducing downtime. What they said was surprising: empowering employees and adopting a proactive and disciplined mindset were mentioned just as much as preventative maintenance and smarter software systems and technologies.

So, we’ve separated our top 10 tips for reducing downtime into two categories:

  1. Plant operations
  2. People and culture

Downtime tips for plant operations

1. Undertake a risk audit

A risk audit is THE fastest and most effective step you can take to reduce downtime in future.

In particular, equipment obsolescence poses a significant risk to operations. Despite advancements in control systems, a great number of manufacturers still work with equipment that’s 15–20 years old, and aging PLC systems that are no longer supported by manufacturers. Parts often become unavailable, or are made out of the country and take weeks to deliver. Knowing your support networks and equipment availability can mean the difference between a few hours or a few months in a downtime event.

Other risks that impact automation infrastructure include: security, safety, and quality. A risk audit will highlight problems and solutions so that when you go down, you’re better prepared.

2. Calculate the dollar cost of downtime

Not calculating the true cost of downtime is one of the biggest errors that manufacturing managers make. Five minutes here and there adds up.

True downtime costs include loss in staff productivity, loss in production of actual goods, number of man hours devoted to rescheduling, the unexpected costs of repairing equipment, time spent satisfying customers and damage to reputation.

Downtime should always be calculated into a dollar figure. This, paired with a preventative and proactive mindset (see tip #10), is vital, because it will help focus and legitimise your prevention activities to your stakeholders.

3. Install low-cost sensors to move towards ‘predictive maintenance’

In an increasingly data-driven world, manufacturers are looking to low-cost sensors to detect, prevent and reduce downtime on the factory floor. Sensors can detect inputs like vibration, temperature, heat and light – conditions that are likely to cause equipment damage or failures.

4. Harness your data and reporting systems

It goes without saying that manufacturing and enterprise software will impact the level of insight and control you have over production. A large amount of manufacturers still report having manual methods of data collection or unsuitable software for the job, which has driven the uptake of specialised manufacturing software and integration solutions.

Evaluate your current data collection systems. Are they providing the right information? Your data should pinpoint the macro causes of downtime. A spreadsheet or report stating that ‘machine 31 caused two hours of production loss’ doesn’t solve the problem. Having access to your entire operational data in real-time does.

5. Get support for your current automation systems and equipment

Whether you are a process or discrete manufacturer on a small or large scale, most automation equipment will be from a range of different vendors and span across different eras. This requires operators and maintenance technicians to be skilled across multiple vendor hardware and software, as well as hold multiple spare parts – a challenging task, to say the least.

Automation service partners can cover maintenance, repairs, replacements, upgrades, programming and integration for a range of vendor systems. Having these services on-hand ensures you have up-to-date industry knowledge to implement prevention programs, and 24-hour support for breakdowns.

People and culture

6. Train and empower your employees

Operator error is the second-most common cause of downtime after hardware error. A good operator will not only diagnose and fix their own machine, but have the ability to prevent future downtime events through maintenance schedules and accurate documentation.

Direct your resources into specialised industrial and automation training and emphasise the importance of keeping up-to-date documentation. Empower operators to be able to diagnose and problem-solve their machines and remind them how their actions can positively impact downtime.

7. Stick to a preventative maintenance schedule

Gone are the days when manufacturing managers can say, “We’ll just run it till it breaks.”

Maintenance reduces the probability of failure and downtime, increases overall equipment effectiveness, improves safety and increases productivity.

Thankfully manufacturers seem to be on the front foot when it comes to maintenance. A 2017 maintenance study found that 78% of facilities follow a preventative maintenance strategy, while 59% use a computerised maintenance management system.

8. Do your documentation – and make others excited about it

Updating all documentation on your equipment is a simple, yet effective step to reducing the length of any downtime event. Up-to-date drawings of equipment, machine history and procedures should be kept on hand for easy reference in the event of an error. This ensures operators have the right information to quickly address issues, rather than trying to solve issues with no context.

The challenge is cultivating a culture where people care about this. The trick? Show people how documentation impacts on their time and overall plant performance.

9. Don’t forget backups

This one requires discipline and continuous staff involvement. Regular, site-wide backups of control systems is integral to safeguarding any operation. In one worst-case scenario, a large manufacturing company with a complex servo-driven cut-to-length machine erased their entire PLC system by accident. The company had no backup copy of the PLC system and the provider had gone out of business 10 years prior, so no external support was available. They had no choice but to rewrite the program, halting production in the entire factory for over two weeks.

A simple, regular backup regime of all PLC systems, SCADA drives and control systems will safeguard against worst-case scenarios. After all, restoring a month-old PLC system is better than having to rewrite it from scratch.

10. Change your thinking from reactive to proactive

Lastly, but most importantly, consider your mentality. Thinking and culture will play a large part in determining whether preventative maintenance, staff training and other measures are successful in reducing downtime.

Summary

Whether it is a preventative maintenance schedule, operator training, sensor technology or doing your backups, there’s one common factor that will determine its success – employee mindset.

  • No program will work if staff aren’t committed to taking the steps every time.
  • No amount of data will make a difference if it’s not acted on.
  • No amount of policy will ensure equipment is checked and maintained.

It’s people who make the cogs turn, day in and day out. So work your way through this list with culture and staff empowerment front of mind.

Giving your team adequate training is part of this empowerment. See how SAGE worked with Coca-Cola Amital to do just that.

Ten reasons why it’s time for the food industry to adopt digital time and attendance solutions

The food industry is vibrant, complex and fast-paced. In an industry where every minute counts it is increasingly important that organisations make the switch to the most accurate and efficient way of managing employee time and attendance.

Food organisations often support a large, diverse and mobile workforce, therefore implementing a process that allows you to track and monitor hours worked digitally and in real time can offer significant benefits.

Digital time and attendance solutions enable organisations to accurately track employee timekeeping, reduce labour costs and minimise compliance risks. There are also numerous economic advantages to be gained. A recent report by the American Axsium Group found that companies saved an average $2,072 per employee in the year immediately following implementation of an automated time and attendance solution.

Here are ten reasons why food businesses should be implementing digital time and attendance software:

  1. Efficiently manage a remote workforce
    As much of the food industry workforce is based in multi-site locations, with digital time and attendance software employees can clock in wherever they are using a mobile device. In addition, by using GPS tracking managers can view the location of all employees remotely.
  2. Accurate reporting
    Manual timekeeping processes often result in costly inaccurate reporting. Inaccuracies can often result in overpayments, rota mistakes, holiday errors and incorrect legal compliance. Digitising the process ensures there is less room for human error.
  1. Improve compliancy
    Digital time and attendance software is configured to automatically ensure that employees leave and shifts adhere to company, federal, state, local and industry regulations. This eliminates the risk of costly fines and penalties associated with noncompliance.
  2. Spot trends
    Supervisors and managers are able to access real time information about their employees. At a glance, managers can see patterns in lateness and sickness as well as the productivity and efficiency of an entire workforce.
  1. Empower employees
    By digitising the time and attendance software employees are able to access their sick leave, timesheets and leave entitlements without having to bother managers or HR. Employees are also able to request holidays more efficiently by using the system.
  1. Go paperless
    A digital process replaces the need to print, email and ship documents. Manual attendance systems lead to mountains of paper timesheets and wasted time on filing, as well as accessing and retrieving paper documents.
  2. Manage absences and shift cover
    With real time data it’s possible to track and enforce employee attendance, reduce instances of absence and improve productivity. It also allows managers to have an at a glance view of the availability of their entire workforce and manage shift cover.
  1. Stop time abuse
    An added feature of many time and attendance software solutions is the ability to use biometric scanners. Biometric time and attendance systems work by measuring features of the body that are unique to each person, and thus offer greater accuracy in attendance tracking and access control. They also prohibit employees from borrowing keys and entering controlled areas, this also reduces time theft by eliminating the possibility of an employee clocking in on behalf of another.
  2. Customisable solutions
    As every business is unique and has a variety of different time and attendance requirements, as well as specific legal guidance and regulations for different roles within the food sector, time and attendance software solutions can be fully customisable for any business, large or small. There is no one size fits all approach.
  1. Save time and money for HR departments
    Automated data collation and real time displays save time and money for HR and payroll departments by cutting down on the time it takes to access information that is not kept in one central program.

Mitrefinch – intelligent employee management

 Mitrefinch, one of Australia’s leading time and attendance software providers, has extensive experience in the food industry. Mitrefinch has knowledge and expertise to work with different food providers and customise unique time and attendance solutions for each business.

With over 30 years’ experience, Mitrefinch’s project team assists in every step of the way and has a dedicated consultancy team that combines project management skills and technical expertise.

To find out about time and attendance solutions for your business, visit: https://www.mitrefinch.com.au/

 

A month to celebrate high quality stretch wrappers

Load containment manufacturer Signode has declared October “Octopus Month” in honour of its Octopus Ring Pallet Wrappers.

As the last step of many food manufacturing processes, pallet wrapping helps ensure products are not only secure and ready for shipping but also that they arrive at their final destination in good condition.

Businesses which use pallet wrappers want the process to be completed with a minimum of fuss and without putting staff in physical danger. They need machines that are reliable, accurate, fast and safe.

Haloila, a member of the Signode Industrial Group, has been manufacturing the Octopus automatic rotary ring stretch wrapper for over 30 years. With over 6,000 units installed world-wide, these high speed systems are capable of wrapping up to 135 pallets an hour.

Fully automatic and available in various sizes, the machines employ the “Octopus ring method”, whereby the wrapping film reel is suspended from a ring and it revolves around the pallet. The ring is raised and lowered according to the wrapping program.

Because the pallet remains stationary throughout the process, the system can easily handle unstable or lightweight products. There are no centrifugal forces to cause stress or strain on the load or equipment.

As the ring can be accurately positioned in the vertical direction, wrapping can be started and finished at any height required. In addition, the Octopus provides optimal load containment while optimising film usage.

Reliable pallet wrapping is important because it sits at the end of the production line. As such food manufacturers need to avoid cheaper, less reliable options and choose quality pallet wrappers that do the job well.

Features of the Octopus Ring Pallet Wrapper include a load stabiliser to ensure unstable loads remain intact throughout the wrapping operation and an integrated top sheet dispenser which provides automatic weather-proofing without taking up floor space.

Optional add-ons include the “Logowrap System” which automatically inserts printed stretch film to a pallet load during the normal wrapping cycle and the “Octomax” performance monitoring system which is designed to reduce film costs, eliminate downtime and simplify maintenance.

Safety is another benefit of the machines. For example, they feature the RCS automatic reel change system, that keeps the operator away from the machine during operation without hampering production, and locking mechanisms that ensure safety during maintenance and easy access to motors by driving the ring down to a comfortable working height.

Add the ability to change variables like film prestretch and lay on force – and the accuracy this delivers – and you have some good reasons to celebrate these stretch wrappers.

Happy Octopus month!

Click here to find out more about Octopus Ring Pallet Wrappers, which are exclusively distributed in Australia and New Zealand by Signode.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Challenges Faced in Beverage Canning Environment

Manufacturers can experience a range of challenges when coding in challenging beverage canning environments. Production speeds, harsh environments and the coding surface are some of the requirements that must be considered when investing into a suitable coding solution for your production environment.

Every industry presents its own set of obstacles when it comes to coding and marking, and beverage canning is no different. When investing into a coding solution for challenging canning environments, there are certain requirements that must be considered to ensure your technology can provide optimal uptime and reliability.

Production Speeds

To satisfy customer demand, companies have to deliver a high volume of canned units on a daily basis, which means that speeds on canning lines are high and prone to changes (high output during summer months, lower productivity off season). Continuous advances in technology mean production line speeds are rapidly increasing, resulting in higher numbers of cans being processed. For example, a typical soft drink canning line is capable of running up to 6,000 cans per minute, all of which require codes. The coding system must be able to keep pace with these high production rates.

Harsh Production Environments

It is important that the quality of the coding is of a high standard, despite the harsh production environments in the beverage canning industry. The production environment can be wet and sugar-laden, with temperatures capable of reaching 45⁰C on the production line, ultimately affecting coding quality. Which is why the best suited coding and marking systems should be able to withstand such a demanding environment and deliver the high-quality codes that businesses expect from their equipment supplier.

Coding Surface

The majority of codes are printed on the bottom of cans, where the surface is concave and therefore uneven. This challenge is aggravated by the speed of the production line. A code that appears stretched or smudged is often linked to the speed of the production line however, it can also be the result of the coding system’s unsuitability to the packaging surface.

Smooth Integration

For a coding system to be effective, it needs to easily integrate on the canning line. This requires optimal print head design and a small machine footprint enabling installation in a location that will not cause bottlenecks or downtime along the production line.

Environmental Awareness

A growing number of companies are committed to their social responsibility and prefer to invest in technologies that advance their environmental credentials. Coding and marking technologies can be energy-intensive, as well as consuming volatile organic chemicals. A coding system that minimises energy consumption and waste will therefore be the preferred choice.

Late Stage Customisation

Developments in the supply and distribution of beverage cans are stimulating a growing need to promptly modify codes on the production line. Late stage customisation enhances marketing capabilities and also allows manufacturers to be more flexible with decision-making on site. With this in mind, manufacturers could potentially change the ‘best before’ dates and production data or add in promotional codes that encourage interactions with customers, as well as raising brand loyalty and running sales campaigns.

A suitable coding technology for beverage canning environments should enhance processes and increase supply chain efficiency. The coding technology should
be equipped with features to meet these requirements not only for today,
but also for future requirements.

For more information on how the F720i fibre laser and how it can answer your coding requirements in challenging production environments, please contact the team on 1300 467 446 or visit https://www.insignia.com.au/domino-f720i

DOSIC – The compact stainless-steel sensor for flexible flow measurement

The new non-contact DOSIC ultrasonic flow sensor is used to detect the flow volume of conductive and non-conductive liquids. With its measurement channel and stainless-steel housing, the ultrasonic flowmeter is suitable for measuring tasks in hygienic and highly demanding environments.

The rugged and compact model combined with a hygienic design ensures highly reliable measurement results. This makes the sensor ideal for a wide range of application possibilities, including those where space restrictions or aggressive media play a role.

Two configurable digital inputs and outputs and up to two analogue outputs, as well as an IO-Link interface to a superordinate control unit, ensure that you get just the right start position. The IO-Link reduces cabling and also enables complete control and monitoring of the sensor in Industry 4.0 machine environments.

A compact stainless-steel sensor for flexible flow measurement

The absence of moving parts in the sensor eliminates potential contamination risks in the demanding hygienic environments of the food industry. Also, the sensor has a straight, seal-free, and self-emptying measuring tube made of high-quality stainless steel (316L with Ra ≤ 0.8). The high-quality stainless-steel housing also provides the necessary ruggedness and resistance. It, therefore, goes without saying that the sensor has EHEDG certification and demonstrates FDA conformity. Since there is no contact between the sensor and the flowing media, and the flow volume is determined in a non-contact manner, aggressive cleaning agents in CIP and SIP operations are not a problem either. The sensor can easily withstand temperatures up to 143 degrees Celsius in SIP processes for up to one hour.

Also, the sensor automatically adjusts its parameters if the medium is changed. This “Plug & Measure” solution eliminates the need for initial medium calibration and reduces installation and operating costs.

For more information, visit: https://www.sick.com/au/en/fluid-sensors/flow-sensors/dosic/c/g409851

SICK Pty Ltd
1800 334 802
www.sick.com.au

Meet the manufacturer taking on unchartered territory

Seeing an opportunity in the market creates the foundations for a successful manufacturer yet it sometimes takes a leap of faith to help the business thrive. At Inoxpa, a small team in Victoria is taking its specialist food and dairy technology to a new stage.


For a manufacturer that already adds value to the food and dairy industries in Australia, the pumps and valves specialist Inoxpa has a business model it can count on.

The company’s general manager, John Fois, would be forgiven for resting on his laurels, especially when they have been delivering precision technology to help the market search ways to be more efficient for 20 years.

On the contrary, the company is ready to take on a different market in the manufacturing arena – a move to expand into the pharmaceutical sector in Australia where John Fois sees a wealth of opportunity.

“We deal a lot in the food, wine and dairy industries and they seem to be happy with our equipment and what we do,” John Fois said, speaking from Inoxpa’s Australian division in Mornington, Victoria.

“The pharmaceutical sector is an area we would like to look at more, however.

“It is going to take big investment and we are probably going to cop some losses but they are the sorts of risks any company needs to take if they want to move forward and try to achieve bigger things.”

Inoxpa already owns items that are certified by the European Hygienic Engineering and Design Group (EHEDG), which works to ensure safe food processing.

Their stainless steel pumps are used Australia wide, and can be found on the factory floors at food processing companies such as Mondelez, Palmer Technologies and Fonterra.

Its RV-65 pump, designed and manufactured at Inoxpa’s global headquarters based near Girona, in northern Spain, is one of the industry’s more efficient technologies.

The design of the impeller on the machine’s centrifugal pump is designed in such a way that, while it is more expensive, it is more productive and, in turn, saves on energy.

To move into unchartered territory, John Fois is confident the company can eat into a different sector and help smaller pharmaceutical and cosmetics processors, which he believes have the capacity to invest in a motivated market.

“I would like to see pharmaceuticals become at least 30 per cent of our business here in Australia,” John Fois said of Inoxpa’s ambition.

“The equipment we are building helps companies to work more efficiently, which means you are saving on the cost of energy.

“What we are finding is that a lot of people are using our pumps and designs because they are more efficient and energy friendly.”

However, to get the right people on board, the business is seeking investment from its umbrella company, the Italian giant Interpump, to build a new showroom in Victoria to host prospective customers.      

“Businesses will usually commit to our products if they can see it in operation and know that it actually works, which is quite difficult to do here in Australia because the product is made in Europe,” John Fois said.

“Therefore, what we are trying to do ¬– and it is going to take some time – is to expand and bring some of the equipment over here into a new showroom and send invitations out to clients across Australia.

“The more people are aware of what you do, the more interested they are going to be in our products.”

And to do that, John Fois wants to market more than the company’s pumps and valves – and will introduce its skid technology, which has been adapted to create mixtures for anything from soaps and toothpastes to face creams and lipsticks.

The technology is also used to process milk and make cheeses – but it’s their ability to adapt that John Fois hopes will open new doors.

“We could have said no to all of that and continued quite happily by increasing our sales in the food sector,” he continued, “but I think we need to take the next step and this will hopefully take us to another level.”

And, like the company’s founder, the late Candi Granés, John Fois isn’t thinking small – he would like to see the company expand further still, with branches in Western Australia and Queensland in the pipeline, where he admits they have struggled to capitalise on a hungry market.

“We will also start to exhibit at events such as foodpro,” John Fois continued. “Our distributers are the ones who have been active mainly but the next step is for us to promote our own image and have a bigger presence.

“Mr Granés had a dream to expand the company all over the world because he wasn’t going to rely on his own economy.

“He was prepared to cut costs to keep people working. In Australia, we have three people on the team at the moment but, with new offices around the country, it will enable us to grow the workforce.

“There is a huge market out there and, by expanding into a new area of processing, we will soon reap the rewards for taking that leap.”

Automated tomato harvesting at KAGOME

Most of us enjoy the great taste of nutritious tomatoes – as pure and fresh crops, tomato sauce, or with pasta. Around 20 million Australians eat 22 kg of processed tomatoes per head annually. Founded in 1899, the Japanese tomato processor KAGOME boasts more than 100 years’ experience in the tomato growing and processing industry. Since 2010, KAGOME Australia’s factory based in Echuca has been cultivating and processing tomatoes, by providing high-quality tomato products to food companies in Australia and other countries.RFID technology from SICK allows KAGOME to ensure product traceability and leads to increased efficiency in the production process.

On the Echuca fields, KAGOME operates 12 harvesters loading tomatoes into more than 300 huge bins, each with a capacity of 14 tons. Once a bin is full with fresh tomatoes, it is unloaded at a bin pad, waiting for one of 12 trucks to pick it up and take it to the weighbridge close to the factory. One trip from the fields to the KAGOME factory takes approximately 90 minutes, and each truck can load three bins – that is an average of around 42 tons of tomatoes per truck. Three years ago, there used to be long truck queues at the weighbridge, and the truck drivers had to wait for 12 minutes until they could get out of the truck to have the tomatoes weighed. As part of KAGOME’s quality control process, three samples from each bin had to be processed in the laboratory because it was not obvious which tomatoes came from a KAGOME farm. In addition to that, the drivers had to prepare paperwork to document the harvesting process as well as the quantity and quality of the yield. This process increases the potential for human error in a paper-based quality control system, which can result in contaminated products reaching the consumer, conceivably creating widespread foodborne illness. So to ensure traceability, it was time for KAGOME Australia to look for a paperless, automated identification solution to be implemented at the weighbridge.

Guaranteeing traceability: What is the best solution for identifying tomatoes?

Food traceability is the process of tracking a product’s history and sharing that data along the entire processing path – so-called “farm-to-fork” or “paddock-to-plate” programs. While traceability has always been important for the food and beverage industry, in recent years the need for real-time recalls has increased in Australia, due to plant processing errors or recalls from Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ). In the ideal case, there is no need for product recalls; however, in the event of a recall, minimizing the impact is a major focus of any food manufacturer’s program of compensation. An effective tracking and tracing program comprises a number of components, starting with accurate and fast identification. For years, the identification workhorse has been the ubiquitous barcode. As foodstuffs move through the production process, they are identified by a unique code; on containers when in the process, on packaging for the finished product, on cartons and pallets during transport and on shelves when they finally hit retail stores. The KAGOME specialists were looking for a real-time identification solution that can handle mud and tomato juice as well as heat, wind, and rain.

Streamlining harvesting processes  with RFID

RFID technology (radio frequency identification) is increasingly found in food tracing as technology improves and prices come down. Implementation is not uncommon in the case of large containers containing raw products and in the mixing of bulk materials. It offers companies a number of ways to streamline and manage their capacities, focusing particularly on the issues of trace-ability and process reliability. Using wireless technology for identification purposes opens up a new dimension in automatic data recording. The automotive industry has been utilising RFID for years, where a tag is attached to the car body and is encoded with data options for each vehicle.

RFID tags offer more functionality than barcode technology, as they are read/write devices and no visual contact of the tag is required. Moreover, they are very robust so that they can even survive harsh ambient conditions such as high temperatures, mud, or wetness. In January 2013, KAGOME in-stalled six RFU63x units from SICK, each equipped with three antennas for double stacked bins, at the weighbridge and discharge hill at the factory in Echuca. Resistant and stable RFID tags were attached to the tomato bins, accompanying them right from the start of the harvesting process. As a result, the RFU63x entirely meets KAGOME’s requirements set out for paperless, automated identification of tomatoes. In this way, RFID helps to prevent the typical errors made during inbound and outbound goods processes, for example, incorrect quantity and quality data, or missing accounting entries.

RFID allows real-time identification of where the tomatoes come from. Due to the paperless identification, no truck driver has to leave the truck at the weighbridge anymore, and the driver safety is enhanced. This efficiency gain means that the truck is spending less time at the weighbridge and that truck jams in front of the weighbridge and the tomato drop hill have become a thing of the past. As the truck time at the weighbridge has been reduced from previously 12 minutes to two minutes, the truck driver can go for an extra trip per 12-hour shift. This means a productivity gain of 504 tons in total, which is achieved thanks to using the new RFID.

Thanks to the increase in reliable real-time data made available by intelligent identification technology from SICK, KAGOME gained the possibility of making better decisions thereby increasing productivity and efficiency.

For more information, click here.

Australian Food Labelling Regulations: Are You Ready?

Given the recent changes in food labelling regulations in Australia many companies are now presented with the difficulty of navigating through the complex world of food labelling regulation and compliance. This webinar will look at the current changes in food label regulations in Australia and will discuss the new rules around country of origin labels and how Infor can assist with meeting the changes in compliance requirements.

To download this recorded webinar, click here.

Magflow meters with IO-Link

ifm electronic has now added SM4000 with integrated IO-Link 1.1 to the already proven and successful SM2000, SM6000, SM7000 and SM8000 magflow range.

These units feature high accuracy, measurement dynamics and repeatability. They are suitable for conductive media from 20 µS/cm and feature a totaliser function. The 4-digit alphanumeric LED display is highly visible.

Variable use

The magnetic-inductive flow meter operates on Faraday’s law of induction. Conductive media flow through magnetic field, the voltage generated is proportional to the speed or flow rate. This voltage is tapped via electrodes and converted in the evaluation electronics.

SM4000 measures liquids from 5ml/min up to 3000ml/min and measures temperatures of -10…70 °C. Furthermore, an additional measuring point is no longer needed thanks to the integrated temperature monitoring.

The robust compact housing, use of resistant materials and pressure rating up to 16 bar allow flexible use.

Reliable and efficient thanks to IO-Link

By means of the IO-Link technology, the process values are now available digitally. Conversion losses during measured value transmission are a thing of the past. Saving all sensor parameters not only allows an easy replacement of sensors but also a simple and quick configuration and remote parameter setting. The user is well prepared for Industry 4.0 with the new IO-Link functionality.

To find out more on the topic, click here.

Ten reasons why it’s time for the food industry to adopt digital time and attendance solutions

The food industry is vibrant, complex and fast-paced. In an industry where every minute counts it is increasingly important that organisations make the switch to the most accurate and efficient way of managing employee time and attendance.

Food organisations often support a large, diverse and mobile workforce, therefore implementing a process that allows you to track and monitor hours worked digitally and in real time can offer significant benefits.

Digital time and attendance solutions enable organisations to accurately track employee timekeeping, reduce labour costs and minimise compliance risks. There are also numerous economic advantages to be gained. A recent report by the American Axsium Group found that companies saved an average $2,072 per employee in the year immediately following implementation of an automated time and attendance solution.

Here are ten reasons why food businesses should be implementing digital time and attendance software:

  1. Efficiently manage a remote workforce
    As much of the food industry workforce is based in multi-site locations, with digital time and attendance software employees can clock in wherever they are using a mobile device. In addition, by using GPS tracking managers can view the location of all employees remotely.
  2. Accurate reporting
    Manual timekeeping processes often result in costly inaccurate reporting. Inaccuracies can often result in overpayments, rota mistakes, holiday errors and incorrect legal compliance. Digitising the process ensures there is less room for human error.
  3.  Improve compliancy
    Digital time and attendance software is configured to automatically ensure that employees leave and shifts adhere to company, federal, state, local and industry regulations. This eliminates the risk of costly fines and penalties associated with noncompliance.
  4. Spot trends
    Supervisors and managers are able to access real time information about their employees. At a glance, managers can see patterns in lateness and sickness as well as the productivity and efficiency of an entire workforce.
  5. Empower employees
    By digitising the time and attendance software employees are able to access their sick leave, timesheets and leave entitlements without having to bother managers or HR. Employees are also able to request holidays more efficiently by using the system.
  6. Go paperless
    A digital process replaces the need to print, email and ship documents. Manual attendance systems lead to mountains of paper timesheets and wasted time on filing, as well as accessing and retrieving paper documents.
  7. Manage absences and shift cover
    With real time data it’s possible to track and enforce employee attendance, reduce instances of absence and improve productivity. It also allows managers to have an at a glance view of the availability of their entire workforce and manage shift cover.
  8. Stop time abuse
    An added feature of many time and attendance software solutions is the ability to use biometric scanners. Biometric time and attendance systems work by measuring features of the body that are unique to each person, and thus offer greater accuracy in attendance tracking and access control. They also prohibit employees from borrowing keys and entering controlled areas, this also reduces time theft by eliminating the possibility of an employee clocking in on behalf of another.
  9. Customisable solutions
    As every business is unique and has a variety of different time and attendance requirements, as well as specific legal guidance and regulations for different roles within the food sector, time and attendance software solutions can be fully customisable for any business, large or small. There is no one size fits all approach.
  10. Save time and money for HR departments
    Automated data collation and real time displays save time and money for HR and payroll departments by cutting down on the time it takes to access information that is not kept in one central program.

Mitrefinch – intelligent employee management

 Mitrefinch, one of Australia’s leading time and attendance software providers, has extensive experience in the food industry. Mitrefinch has knowledge and expertise to work with different food providers and customise unique time and attendance solutions for each business.

With over 30 years’ experience, Mitrefinch’s project team assists in every step of the way and has a dedicated consultancy team that combines project management skills and technical expertise.

To find out about time and attendance solutions for your business, visit: https://www.mitrefinch.com.au/