Businesses caught short by new food labelling laws

Time is running out for businesses unprepared for strict new food labelling laws, with an industry expert warning many are at risk of being slapped with fines of more than $1 million for non-compliance.

New country of origin labelling laws are due to come into force from July 1 next year, requiring food manufacturers and importers to clearly identify where products are produced, grown, made or packed.

Design execution services company Task by Kirk has been working with large and small businesses to prepare them for the change, but warns that many businesses are unlikely to meet the deadline to comply with the new Australian Consumer Law act.

“I would estimate that only half of the required changes across product brands have been completed or are in the process of being completed,” Task by Kirk General Manager John Kapiniaris said.

“It’s the small-to-medium-sized businesses that are falling behind because they either don’t have the resources available or don’t have a proper understanding of the requirements under the new laws.

“Any recall or disposal of non-compliant goods may run from the thousands to the millions of dollars, so it’s important to get it right,”  Kapiniaris said.

Task by Kirk has been working with major manufacturers such as Simplot, Riviana, and Cerebos to relabel products, and is preparing for a flood of businesses rushing to comply with the new laws as next year’s deadline approaches.

“The changes aren’t really that complex and we have been able to step businesses through the necessary changes,” Mr Kapiniaris said. “The fact that we provide a design-to-print process saves clients money – up to 40 per cent in some cases – but just as importantly in the world of fast moving consumer goods, we help get products to shelf in half the time.”

Simplot Australia creative services manager Paul Fenech said the new country of origin labelling laws presented a huge undertaking for manufacturers and importers.

Simplot engaged Task by Kirk to relabel hundreds of products across its 14 household brands, including Leggo’s, Birds Eye, John West and Edgell.

“The costs of putting everything back to design agencies and getting it to press was just too expensive and time consuming for us, so we looked for ways we could cut out steps and minimise costs,”  Fenech said.

“Task by Kirk has really been driving it to get it done in time for next July. If companies haven’t started now and they have hundreds of products, they are really going to struggle,” he said.

“If you lose food product off the shelf, it is so hard to get it back on there, so it’s not just costly fines or dumping non lawful product, the real cost for companies can be forfeited future earnings.”

From next July, food made, grown or produced in Australia will feature the image of a kangaroo in a triangle and a bar chart that shows the proportion of Australian ingredients. Food packed in Australia will show the proportion of Australian ingredients, and labels on food imported into Australia will be easier to find.

Corporations who fail to comply with the Country of Origin Food Labelling Information Standard 2016 face penalties of up to $1.1 million, while individuals can be fined up to $220,000.

The missing piece of the recycling puzzle

As Australia’s population and waste levels continue to rise, recycling matters now more than ever. This year Planet Ark’s National Recycling Week (13 – 19 November) highlights why recycling is only part of the battle. To help win the War on Waste consumers and businesses need to properly close the recycling loop by purchasing products that contain recycled content.

In the 20 years to 2015, Australia’s population increased by 28 per cent and waste levels grew by 170 per cent (i). The good news is that recycling is growing at an even faster rate than waste. What happens to those materials once they have been recycled and how everyone plays a part in the process is a key focus of this year’s National Recycling Week campaign.

Currently the Australian manufacturing economy is predominantly linear, which can be summarised as ‘take, make, use and dispose’. This is not sustainable. A circular economy on the other hand, replaces ‘dispose’ with ‘recycle, reuse and repurpose’ and keeps important materials from being wasted in landfill.

“Since the introduction of kerbside recycling in the 80s and 90s Australians have really embraced recycling. But to truly close the recycling loop, and keep valuable resources like plastic, metal and paper in circulation and out of landfills, we need to buy back the products that have been made from our recycling,” says Ryan Collins, Planet Ark’s Recycling Programs Manager.

New research (ii) from Planet Ark’s new guide What Goes Around: Why Buying Recycled MattersMatters shows 88 per cent of Australians already purchase products that contain recycled materials, and 70 per cent said they would be more likely to purchase products and / or packaging if they contained recycled materials. Most Australians also have high awareness of some products that can be made with recycled materials including office paper (83 per cent), toilet tissue (75 per cent) and paper towels (78 per cent).

However, the new research also shows there is less awareness about other products that can be made using recycled materials, such as road surfaces, printer cartridges, paving and carpet underlay.

“We’re actually surrounded by products made from our recycling, and people may be surprised by some of the recycled products out there, like wallets and purses made from tyre inner tubes; surfboard fins made from ocean plastic; eye glasses made from milk bottle lids; fencing made from printer cartridges; as well as shampoo bottles and shopping bags made from recycled PET plastic and even pet litter made from recycled paper. Also, inspiring discoveries from research and development projects are finding more and more ways to utilise waste, so the list of products made from recycled materials will continue to grow,” Collins says.

Some of those innovations include using the unique qualities of problem waste, like tyres, to create synthetic hockey or soccer pitches, or even green steel, which reduces electricity consumption and delivers productivity improvements. Other inspiring stories include research into new uses for glass, which can be used in road bases and construction.

“When consumers and businesses purchase products that are made from recycled materials, they create a demand for recycling, which supports Australian industry, allows new recycled manufacturing opportunities to flourish and creates jobs. As well as being good for the environment, the financial benefits of this closed loop cycle are significant. It’s estimated that by 2025 the circular economy in Australia could be worth $26 billion,” Collins says.

High consumer support for products that contain recycled content will grow that market and strengthen the circular economy in Australia. To make it easier for consumers and businesses to buy recycled, Planet Ark has created a handy online directory to raise awareness that these products are available and plentiful.

i) MRA Consulting Group 2016, ‘State of Waste 2016 – current and future Australian trends’ https://blog.mraconsulting.com.au/2016/04/20/state-of-waste-2016-current-and-future-australian-trends/#_edn2

ii) What Goes Around: Why Buying Recycled Matters. A Guide for Households, Businesses and Councils, October 2017 https://recyclingweek.planetark.org/media/research.cfm

Manufacturing in Australia is not dead – it’s transforming

Despite the shutdown of the automobile industry in Australia after almost a century of car making, manufacturing is alive and well, says an industry expert.

Mr Harry Mulder, the Marketing Manager for Omron Electronics, says Australian manufacturing has been going through a significant restructure in recent years.

More manufacturers are now embracing automation and new technologies to increase productivity and improve profitability.

At a special presentation at Macquarie University in Sydney last week, Mr Mulder said manufacturing in Australia still employs nearly one million people – about 7% of the total workforce.

“It’s certainly not dead,” Mr Mulder assured students from the Faculty of Business and Economics.

“In fact, some sectors, such as food and beverage are thriving,” he said.

“The bottom line is there are many opportunities out there, particularly as markets become more global.”

But manufacturers now are facing a number of challenges, he says.

“It’s no secret that Australia, like Europe and North America, has high labour costs. And with a population of less than 25 million it is a relatively small domestic market.

“Also, manufacturers often face substantial barriers imposed by would-be trading partners including import tariffs and duties and restrictive embargoes and other restrictive practises.

“They are also faced with high shipping and transportation costs due to the long distance from major markets.”

But it’s not all doom and gloom, says Mr Mulder.

Australian manufacturers can remain competitive on the global stage by producing better quality products – and making them at less cost.

“We can achieve this through innovation and improving production lines.

“Innovation is the key – and Australian manufacturers are punching above their weight in that regard.”

Mr Mulder gave students a broad overview of the Omron Group, which employs some 36,000 people worldwide and turns over more than US$7 billion annually.

Omron, a world leader in automation, has a proud history spanning 84 years.

With its headquarters in Kyoto, Japan, the company specialises in the manufacture of automation components, equipment and systems as well as medical equipment and social systems solutions.

Since its inception Omron has achieved several significant world firsts including developing the first contact-less proximity switch to detect metallic or non-metallic objects, the ATM cash dispenser, electronic ticketing gate and traffic response electronic signalling.

Omron uses its own technology in its factories, resulting in a 15% increase in production.

Over the last 250 years, there have been four main distinct stages of manufacturing, each providing a quantum leap of improvement in methods.

The industrial “revolutions” include:

  • Steam and mechanisation
  • Electrification and process line
  • Computerisation
  • Digitisation, robotics and AI

“With the new Industrial Revolution we’ve seen an explosion of connectivity and networking,” says Mr Mulder.

“This includes connection to the Internet and the advent of Cyberphysical systems. Physical locations have become less important,” he says.

New technology including handheld computing, iPhones and tablets have been a game changer.

So how does connecting to the internet help manufacturing?

“Mainly through the storage and analysis of Big Data,” says Mr Mulder.

“This data is logged (huge files stored in the cloud) and it is analysed by computers, running 24/7 which look for anomalies.

“By monitoring and analysing equipment manufacturers can find inefficiencies and improve quality.

“AI (Artificial Intelligence) means computers thinking for themselves – and there has been much development currently in this area.”

The Internet of Things (IoT) and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) refers to devices that collect and transmit data to the internet.

According to Forbes, in 2008, there were more devices connected to the internet than there were people – and this number is rapidly rising.

And according to some estimates, the IoT will add $10-15 trillion to global GDP in the next 20 years.

“Big Data will determine how efficiently a machine operates so that anomalies can be detected which could lead to breakdowns or other problems. Preventative maintenance can then be carried out.

“It is now also used for traceability where a product can be traced throughout its supply chain, for verify its origins and authenticity.

“This helps to prevent anti-counterfeiting, particularly in the pharmaceutical industry.”

Mr Mulder admits robotics and automation will cost jobs – but these are mainly dangerous, dirty or tedious jobs which humans don’t particularly like to do.

“It will mean a reskilling – humans can use their brains to take on more meaningful jobs, requiring higher level, abstract thinking.

“The main aim is for machines to work with humans, not to make humans redundant,” he told students.

Mr Mulder said there are many opportunities still available for Australian manufacturers, but some changes in the way they think may be needed.

“Quite simply, manufacturers need to adapt and innovate in order to succeed.

“But we can expect some exciting times ahead.”

Omron Marketing Manager Harry Mulder with Dr Rob Jack (Faculty of Business and Economics) at Macquarie University in Sydney.
Omron Marketing Manager Harry Mulder with Dr Rob Jack (Faculty of Business and Economics) at Macquarie University in Sydney.

Repackaging the impact of food waste

As consumer awareness of the magnitude of food waste grows, Sealed Air’s Ron Cotterman says the time for retailers to implement more effective preventive measures is now.

Across the globe, one-third of the food we produce is wasted each year. That equates to some 1.3 billion tonnes of food, causing both economic losses and significant damage to the environment, according to the United Nations.

Where and how that food is wasted differs from country to country. In developing nations, most of the food waste occurs during the production phase (due to lack of sufficient refrigeration and poor infrastructure), with very little waste on the consumer side. More developed countries are very efficient at moving food to the point of processing and retailing, but large amounts of waste is occurring at the consumer side.

To highlight this growing issue of food waste, and to explore the opportunities that using innovative packaging can bring to retailers and consumers, leading packaging company Sealed Air recently released a report, Taking Action to Tackle Food Waste Challenges, as part of its commitment to reducing food waste.

The report highlighted the current impact of food waste in Australia and New Zealand, which currently stands at 8.3 million tonnes annually, at a retail value of $9.5 billion. In the average Australian and New Zealand household, consumers are essentially throwing $1000 worth of food in the bin each year.

The leading cause of consumer and retail food waste, according to Sealed Air’s vice president of sustainability Ron Cotterman, is the increasing amount of fresh foods demanded by consumers and their inherently perishable nature. “When you look at fresh food there is more wastage because a portion of the food will typically spoil or expire before it can be consumed,” he said. “So when it comes to opportunities to reduce food waste, [one solution] is actually to protect food so that it stays fresh for longer.

“In other words, increase the shelf life or the freshness of that food that otherwise might spoil. If you could make that last a week, two weeks or even longer, and maintain that freshness, you have a greater chance of reducing the amount of food that gets wasted across the supply chain. That is either in retail or food service but also increasing the amount of food that gets consumed in our households.”

According to Sealed Air’s study, 83 per cent of retailers in Australia and 90 per cent of retailers in New Zealand believe shelf life is critical to reducing shrink. When it comes to an increase in profits by controlling shrink, Australian retailers forecast this to be four per cent, while retailers in New Zealand forecast six per cent.

Sealed Air is taking action to address this is by offering food processors and retailers packaging solutions that extend shelf life, improve food safety and consequently lower costs. One example of this is Cryovac Darfresh; a vacuum packaging that provides a unique combination of longer shelf life and more dramatic product presentation. In this innovative package, the food product itself enables the finished package to have a smooth, skin-tight appearance that appeals to consumers while also giving them more time to enjoy the fresh product.

But packaging is just one solution to the food waste problem. Today, most retailers respond to the crisis when products are close to expiration and need to be consumed or donated in some way. However, Cotterman said alternative action can be taken. “We are seeing a number of retailers participating with organisations to donate food so that it doesn’t end up going to a landfill or disposed of in another way, but there is another action that retailers can take,” he said.

“That action is to look at the food they are wasting and prevent that waste in the first place. In other words, better analytics, better inventory management to know what food categories are spoiling and why, and to then work to extend shelf life so that food ultimately does not need to be donated,” he said.

Darfresh on Tray by Sealed Air.
Darfresh on Tray by Sealed Air.

 

 

“The ability to be ahead is key to extending shelf life, labelling food properly and then informing the consumer about the best ways to store and use that food.”

Traditionally, Sealed Air has focused on its state-of-the-art methods of extending the shelf life of foods through packaging solutions. But more recently, it has been trying to understand how data from the supply chain can be utilised and what kind of data and measurements it can make within its customers’ facilities. Ultimately this will flow through to retail, and hopefully in the future to consumers to ensure transparency in the entire supply chain.

“We talk a lot about the Internet of Things (IoT) and data, but let’s apply that very specifically to the amount of food that is being wasted,” said Cotterman. “Let’s use the techniques that are available in other market sectors and apply them to the food industry to manage one of our most valuable resources:  fresh, nutritious food.”

“The retail supply chain will have a key role in reducing food waste; predominantly that’s through data management. So, understanding the sources of food waste across the supply chain and the interventions that can occur across those points is going to be absolutely key.”

When it comes to the role of consumers in reducing food waste, education is pivotal in helping them recognise the problem and to consequently drive behaviour that will result in less waste. As part of this effort, Sealed Air is investigating how it can address consumer misconceptions around packaging and its effect on the environment.

The company conducted a Harris Poll that revealed nine out of 10 consumers view packaging to be worse for the environment than food waste. In reality, said Cotterman, the opposite is true.

“If you do a very analytical study and look at the environmental impact of food waste, and compare that to the environmental impact of packaging, you can show that food waste is significantly worse, almost an order of magnitude greater than the environmental impact of the packaging used to protect it. So we have been looking how we can use information on the packaging that informs the consumer why certain products are packaged the way they are.”

“We think that by educating the consumer on the value of increasing the shelf life and providing extra time and convenience in the use of that food, will ultimately give them the ability to reduce the amount of food that they waste,” he said.

Confusion over labelling is also a big contributor to food waste. Terms such as ‘use by’, ‘sell by’ and ‘best by’ are used interchangeably by processers, and create a lot of confusion, causing consumers to throw food away before it is actually spoiling.

One solution being addressed today by governments and industry experts is standardising and clarifying food date labelling.  As a result the two standards occurring globally now are ‘best if used by’ and ‘expires on’. The first is used for food that reaches a maximum freshness by a certain time period but is still safe to consume for some period after that date.  The second tells the consumer that after that date, the food may no longer be safe to eat and consequently should be discarded.

The driving message around food waste, concludes Cotterman, is that no single company or country is capable of tackling the issue alone. Governments, businesses and organisations need to collaborate to ensure a more sustainable future.

“We are seeing large groups forming and coming together to try and determine where and why food is being wasted across the supply chain. [They are looking at] what sort of interventions, what sort innovations and what sort of technologies can be applied to the food waste they are identifying, how this can be prevented and how more food can flow through that system to the consumer,” he said.

“Innovation, education and collaboration.  By aligning efforts to prevent food waste, we can work together across the supply chain to come up with methods to reduce the amount of waste and its impacts.  This is good news for consumers, for the environment and for business.”

IoT has a role to play in reducing food waste.
IoT has a role to play in reducing food waste.

Helping build the factory of the future

Industry 4.0 is revolutionising manufacturing through the utilisation of cyber connected systems, which monitor factory processes to maximise efficiency and reduce downtime. Insignia’s Domino Cloud and Ax-Series are part of this global change.

Industry 4.0 is a global reality that is affecting nearly every industry worldwide, and is transforming how businesses operate. It introduces a ‘smart factory’, where cyber-physical systems monitor production processes and are capable of making decentralised decisions – for example, monitoring consumable levels in a printer and alerting users that a consumable changeover is required.

In an Industry 4.0 ready factory, every machine and computing device is integrated and connected to the internet, enabling them to send and receive data – this process is what’s commonly known as the Internet of Things (IoT). The interconnectivity of these smart devices is empowering a step change in productivity, efficiency and customer-centric innovation for manufacturers.

Domino Cloud

The release of Domino’s i-Techx platform and the Domino Cloud service tool are shaping Industry 4.0 in the areas of coding and marking. Both are built into Domino’s latest continuous inkjet technology, the Ax-Series. Designed from the ground up to be industry 4.0 ready, the series easily integrates into existing production lines and supports a variety of standard factory automation communication protocols such as PACK-ML and OPC-UA.

Additionally, an array of integrated sensors automate system monitoring, allowing for proactive and predictive diagnostics and remote service support through the IoT and connection to the Domino Cloud.

The Domino Cloud provides powerful remote diagnostics, remote monitoring and customer reporting capabilities. For example, Domino’s i-Techx platform collects a vast array of data on printer operation – from running performance to ink and makeup levels, to wear and tear on components. This data is can be accessed through the Domino Cloud dashboard where it can be viewed by the customer at any time, regardless of the location. This enables the customer to be alerted to any issues and forecast ink and consumable orders.  Additionally, this data incorporates Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) calculations and printer usage changes to provide insights for line improvement and lead manufacturing initiatives.

How does Domino Cloud help manufacturers?

Domino’s i-Techx platform and the Domino Cloud service tool provides manufacturers with error-free coding and system integration, as well as remote access and monitoring. This results in a smart and interconnected network of machines and processes that centralises and simplifies coding processes.

The consumption of ink and make-up can be monitored in real-time, utilising the Domino Cloud dashboard. Additionally, complications can be diagnosed from a distance by the helpdesk team and either fixed remotely or through an Insignia service technician who can find the problem on-site.

Moreover, through automation, streams of information for OEE calculations and cost structures can be closely monitored to maximise efficiency, resulting in reduced downtime and increased production at the lowest possible cost.

Decentralised systems can increase profitability for manufacturers by streamlining and speeding up decisions, resulting in increased revenue, market share and profits for many businesses.

For coding and marking processes, Industry 4.0 means that inaccurate codes and unplanned downtime caused by equipment will no longer be a problem faced by manufacturers. Coding and marking machines will become part of a single intelligent factory operation, capable of monitoring performance and assisting team members with making informed decisions.

Domino Cloud is already shaping factories of the future and empowering a step change in productivity and efficiency for manufacturers.

“We highly recommend Domino Cloud as a user friendly remote tool that gives us useful management information insight into all our connected production lines,” affirmed Dorin Cimpu, manager strategic projects, Continental Tyres.

 

Natural food colouring as the way of the future

More than just a trend, the move to natural food colouring is here to stay. Now is the time for food and beverage manufacturers that still use artificial colouring to make the switch to natural. BASF can help them do this successfully.

According to a report by Zion Research, the global natural food colouring market accounted for $1.66b in 2015 and is expected to reach $2.25b by 2021, growing at a rate of around 5.2 per cent.

In addition, Asia-Pacific is expected to be the fastest natural food colouring market, due to an increase in consumption of processed food in this region.

As Harry Haikalis, BASF’s business and sales manager, nutrition and health Australia & New Zealand (pictured below) explained, these colouring products fall into two categories – natural colourants and nature-identical colourants.

“Natural colourants are what you source from nature, colourants that come from plants, minerals, and so forth,” he told Food & Beverage Industry News. “With nature identical colourants you’re replicating a naturally occurring molecular structure. You’re taking a natural pigment or colourant and you’re basically synthesising it.”

Making the change

Given the move toward natural colourings, food and beverage manufacturers still using artificial colourings in their products would be well advised to consider making the change to natural.

Harry Haikalis, BASF’s business and sales manager, nutrition and health Australia & New Zealand.

Haikalis explained that there are challenges associated with choosing and then using a natural additive.

“The major challenges centre around light stability, oxygen stability, shelf life and colour matching,” he said.

“It takes significant expertise to be able to recommend an appropriate natural product or a nature-identical formulation. It’s both a science and an art form. We’ve invested a lot of time and energy to try and make sure we can help our customers.”

Natural colourings are, as you would expect, naturally derived. They come from plants, animals or minerals and are sourced from various locations around the world.

Manufacturers who use them need to have a reliable supply, independent of seasonal or annual changes. And they need suppliers who can help them include those natural colours into their formulations.

“This is where BASF has a lot of expertise. We offer a wide range of colours and various grades for different applications, anything from powders to oils depending on what our customers want to formulate with,” said Haikalis.

Ease of use is another important consideration. Food manufacturers should be seeking products which are not only easy to add, but also deliver consistency of colour.

“They need to be able to access colour matching,” said Haikalis. “We can provide this through several applications labs across the globe.” Only by covering all these bases can manufacturers supply the reliable, stable, consistent colours consumers demand.

BASF

BASF produces a broad range of natural colourings, from yellows through to deep reds.

“The applications are very broad. They can be used on anything from sparkling or still beverages to confectionery, gummies and hard lollies, ice cream, cake mixes, breads, pasta and noodles, cheeses, yoghurts, spreads, margarines, butters and cheeses,” said Haikalis.

He explained that BASF was an early convert to natural colouring, having produced beta-carotene, which is from algae (Dunaliella salina), that’s naturally occurring in Australia, for over 25 years.

“This product uses natural algae, sunlight and carbon dioxide. We grow it, we mechanically harvest it so there’s minimal processing, then we concentrate it,” he said.

The company also offers Xangold, a natural colouring derived from the Marigold flower (Targetes erecta) and sourced from Ecuador; and Lycopene which is typically derived from tomatoes.

“We offer proven solutions through many decades of experience and know-how,” said Haikalis. “We welcome the conversion from artificial to natural and nature identical and recognise it for what it certainly is – the way of the future.

The food factory of the future will be smart, connected and collaborative

Smart factories with efficient and fully connected supply chains are critical to manufacturing innovation.

Industry 4.0 – the fourth industrial revolution – has opened new market possibilities and enabled manufacturers to be more responsive to customer driven trends.

Manufacturing is undergoing a digital transformation.

Significant advances in technology, including big data and analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics and additive manufacturing, are changing manufacturing operations globally.

“It’s all about collecting and analyzing data to improve efficiency,” says Chris Probst, Omron’s Automation Technology Product Manager.

“The amount of data doesn’t matter – it’s what you do with the data that counts,” he says.

This was one of the key messages from Omron’s Food & Packaging Seminar “Smart Factory Solutions with IoT Technology” held in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane last week.

At the seminars Omron, a global leader in automation, unveiled its latest smart factory solutions encompassing Internet of Things (IoT) technology.

This included the latest applications in robotics, machine vision, safety, big data, traceability, PackML and IO link.

Omron’s team of experts showed how the new technologies can increase productivity and improve profitability in the Food & Packaging sectors.

Mr Probst said many Australian companies are now talking about the Internet of Things (IoT) technical revolution, but not many are prepared for it.

“Companies that embrace new technologies will be better positioned to adapt to changing marketing conditions and customer needs,” Mr Probst said.

They can also boost productivity by up to 30 percent.

“This is the next generation of manufacturing where people and machines work together,” said Mr Probst.

Mr Probst has no doubt collecting data – and using it to measure performance – holds the key to the future for Australian manufacturers.

Hal Varian, professor of information sciences, business, and economics at the University of California at Berkeley and Google’s Chief Economist agrees.

“The ability to take data – to be able to understand it, to process it, to extract value from it, to visualise it, to communicate it – that’s going to be a hugely important skill in the next decade,” he says.

Mr Wei-Jian Ong, product manager for Omron’s Sysmac controllers based in Singapore, said data collection and analysis can help manufacturers streamline their operations.

“The collection of data is now vital for industry,” Mr Ong told guests at the Sydney seminar.

“The Internet of Things (IoT) is basically a network of devices with network connectivity for the collection and exchange of data.

“With IoT you can Monitor, Analyse and Act – you can coordinate and monitor your production line. All machines work together to perform at optimum level.”

An estimated 13.5 billion devices will be connected by 2020 worldwide.

Programs such as PackML, or Packaging Machine Language, are now being widely adopted by industry globally, Mr Ong said.

PackML is a universal programming standard defined by the Organization for Machine Automation and Control (OMAC) and by the International Society of Automation’s Technical Report 88 which defines a common approach, or machine language, for automated machines.

The factory of the future will be smart_Omron smart factory2

The primary goals are to encourage a common “look and feel” across a plant floor and to enable and encourage industry innovation.

Omron PLCs can work seamlessly with databases such as SQL, which is the standard language allowing manufacturers to communicate with a database. The SQL database can collect huge amounts of data (Big Data), that can be used to measure the performance of each machine and increase yield.

With Omron’s NJ SQL version controllers you can send the OEE (Overall Equipment Efficiency) data from machine to database and then use that data with MES and ERP systems.

“Smart factories need to be more efficient and fully connected to their supply chains,” says Mr Probst.

“Omron offers the industry’s first complete and fully integrated robotic automation solution.

“All of the components are designed to work together.

“Our solutions are developed with Omron’s unified concept – to develop connected, smart, collaborative factories.”

And this is how the concept helps to boost productivity:

  • The Connected Factory – seamlessly integrating machine automation and corporate IT to generate, collect and exchange relevant data
  • The Smart Factory – intelligent data analysis and evaluation to predict maintenance issues and implement improvements to reduce resources, energy and waste
  • The Collaborative Factory – enhancing the interaction between humans and machines.

Omron’s automation solution oversees the entire packaging line, with horizontal and vertical integration, ensuring line coordination and monitoring.

To improve efficiency and improve productivity more factories now turning to robotics – using fixed (Articulated, SCARA and Parallel robots) and mobile robots (AIVs – Autonomous Intelligent Vehicles).

Omron AIV mobile robots use laser scanners and other advanced technologies that allow them to determine their own path, avoid obstacles and be re-tasked quickly.

They are now being used in a wide variety of applications across warehouses, distribution centres, manufacturing, automotive, food & beverage, hospitality, logistics, health & medical and other challenging environments.

“AIVs not only save on labour costs, they can increase operational efficiency,” says Mr Probst.

“Mobile robots are easy to deploy, with no facility modifications required.

“They work safely around people and can operate 24/7.”

Mr Probst said Smart Factories were also helping to significantly improve workplace safety.

And with improved safety employers can minimise worker injuries, machinery downtime and loss of production.

They can also save on worker’s compensation payouts, compliance fines, court costs and legal and insurance fees.

“The Smart Factory of the future will improve workplace safety, improve yield and traceability, drive down production costs and eliminate errors, says Mr Probst.

“This will enable a ‘flexible’ manufacturing revolution.”

The factory of the future will be smart_Omron-smart factory mobile-robot

High volume, high speed stretch wrappers

Food manufacturers looking for pallet wrappers that deliver speed, reliability, economy and safety need look no further than the Octopus Ring Pallet Wrapper from Signode.

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. In summary, they are looking for 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.

“Businesses which use the Octopus want to achieve a higher level of reliability, whether to cope with their current demand, or due to increased production necessitating a faster solution,” Andre de Wet from Signode (the exclusive suppliers of the Octopus range in Australia and New Zealand) told Food & Beverage Industry News.

Fully automatic, 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.

“We have a range of different Octopus machines, in various sizes to cover different sizes of operation,” said de Wet.

“We can spec a machine to particular needs, by modifying the ring diameter to match the ring size and different rotation speeds and/or dual film application to match required production output.”

Reliability

De Wet warns against businesses opting for cheap pallet wrappers. “If people are driven purely by price they will get what they pay for,” he said. “Very often we go into a facility and see that the company has invested in a machine that is not delivering – at some point in time someone has convinced them that the cheaper alternative will do the job when actually it doesn’t.”

Reliable pallet wrapping is important because it sits at the end of the production line. “If it fails, if this area stops, or is slow, everything behind it is limited. Because if you can’t get it out, there’s no point in producing it,” he said.

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 and service

“Safety is a big thing in Australia. When I came here I was truly impressed by the attitude to it,” said de Wet. “Octopus includes multiple features, such as the RCS automatic reel change system, that keep the operator away from the machine during operation without hampering production.  We also have locking mechanisms that ensure safety during maintenance and easy access to motors by driving the ring down to a comfortable working height.”

As part of the installation process, Signode provides training for operators and in-house maintenance staff. This includes direction in the safe use and proper care for the equipment.

De Wet pointed out that service is an important part of the equation. “The fact that we have a local presence across Australia and New Zealand also assures that we fully understand the customer’s requirements when setting up the machine’s specifications,” he said.

Another recent development in this is “Octoface”, a solution that allows the company’s experts to interact with an Octopus machine anywhere in the world over a secure Ethernet connection.

“The way the world deals with data and interacts with equipment has changed significantly in recent years,” said de Wet. “Octoface allows our customers to monitor their machines wherever they may be located, allowing access to useful information about the wrapper’s efficiencies and production rates.”

Fully automatic, the machines employ the "Octopus ring method", whereby the wrapping film reel is suspended from a ring and it revolves around the pallet.
Fully automatic, the machines employ the “Octopus ring method”, whereby the wrapping film reel is suspended from a ring and it revolves around the pallet.

 

 

 

Accuracy

Increasingly, food and beverage products are being delivered to retailers in “shelf ready” packaging. Spices, sauces, potato chips and so forth are packed by the manufacturer in branded cartons which are opened by supermarket staff, then placed directly on shelves for display.

“We just completed an install for a company in the food industry where the problem was damage to cartons,” said de Wet.

“The problem was that when the stretch wrapper was applying the film to the pallet, it was applying it too tightly and was corrupting the edges of the carton. They couldn’t find a happy medium between relaxing the film pressure, and still maintaining a safe product/secure pallet.”

Octopus machines were able to solve the problem by changing both prestretch of the film and lay on force. By getting both variables right, they were able to keep a stable pallet without damaging the cartons.

“What’s special about our machine is we can control that lay on force within a load, so we can start high and reduce and increase within one single pallet wrap. Our prestretch is very accurate,” said de Wet.

Cost-efficient logistics drives in three preferred configurations

In plants with many drive units, the total cost of ownership can be reduced by up to 70 per cent through intelligent management of variants. Therefore, NORD DRIVESYSTEMS has established three preferred sizes for efficient variable-frequency drives in materials handling and conveyor applications. These cover the typical functional and performance requirements in postal hubs, intralogistics applications, and baggage handling systems. The standardized drive systems greatly simplify purchasing, engineering, commissioning, and spare parts stocking. Moreover, they are particularly easy to install, operate, and maintain.

Limiting the number of variants can yield greater total cost of ownership (TCO) savings than any other measure except for lowering energy consumption. Therefore, drive manufacturers should be able to provide viable drive system standardizations for specific industrial segments. Preferred variants will also benefit customers by simplifying the procurement process, from the first drive purchase to any orders that may follow. Fewer variants also make inventory management much easier.

Furthermore, they make planning and engineering processes less complex for everyone – the drive supplier, the OEM, and the end user. The challenge is to select as few drive configurations as possible in such a way that they adequately fulfill the varied tasks without being oversized. Drive engineers therefore need to thoroughly analyze sector-specific patterns of drive operation and application-specific needs.

NORD DRIVESYSTEMS has been designing efficient drive technology for intralogistics and airports for many years. Based on this wealth of experience, the German manufacturer has developed the LogiDrive line of three preferred drive variants optimized for these applications. LogiDrive systems ensure leaner purchasing, engineering, system maintenance, and staff training processes. Only very few spare parts must be kept in stock. As a result, the TCO in postal hubs, warehouses, and baggage handling systems can be reduced by up to 70 per cent.

1.LogiDrive systems are equipped with IE4 motors which pay for themselves very quickly in applications with frequent partial-load operation.
1. LogiDrive systems are equipped with IE4 motors which pay for themselves very quickly in applications with frequent partial-load operation.

 

 

Three variants, much flexibility

The LogiDrive line is the solution for conveyor systems spanning many hundred meters. The variable-frequency drives (VFDs) allow for simple daisy-chaining; short power lines can be connected from one drive to the next. NORD has tailored this line to intralogistics and airport technology. Three geared motor variants meet all typical performance requirements. IE4 permanent-magnet synchronous motors with power ratings of 1.1 kW, 1.5 kW, or 2.2 kW are combined with efficient two-stage helical-bevel gearboxes in two sizes for torques up to 260 Nm. Robust frequency inverters from the NORDAC LINK series enable a wide range of speeds. The systems feature a high overload capacity and offer a uniquely versatile range of functions. Interfaces for all commercially available communication protocols are available, including PROFINET, Ethernet POWERLINK, EtherCAT, and EtherNet/IP.

Extremely user-friendly and efficient

LogiDrive systems are easy, quick, and safe to install thanks to coded plug-in connectors. Maintenance switches, key switches, and direction switches on the devices allow for flexible direct access to individual drive axes for setup or service. Sensors and actuators can be connected via M12 plugs. Sensor data collected by the inverters can be passed on to higher-level systems, which reduces otherwise necessary wiring. Plug & play, pre-parameterized inverters also simplify maintenance. Drive components can be easily replaced. Instead of swapping out entire drive units, for instance, only the geared motor can be exchanged. Thanks to their light-alloy housings, the compact drives are easy to handle as well: on average, they are about 25% lighter than steel-alloy drives. The LogiDrive systems’ IE4 or Super Premium Efficiency synchronous motors take their energy-saving potential to its full extent in conveying systems with frequent partial-load operation. By consuming significantly less energy, they pay for themselves in a very short time.

Integrated safety

LogiDrive systems efficiently and safely power horizontal, inclined, and vertical conveyors. A load monitor protects the driven equipment by stopping the motor in case of blocked applications. NORD can even implement the STO and SS1 safety functions according to EN 61800-5-2 for every single drive axis by means of TÜV-certified electronic modules. Employing field-oriented vector control, the inverters achieve high-precision control. In hoist applications, for example, they provide full torque from zero speed and reliably deliver set speeds even under load fluctuations. Standard inverter features furthermore include connection options for incremental and absolute encoders. The drives manage absolute and relative positioning as well as smart braking. Positions and distances can be programmed via the bus or directly on the device. Multiple drives in master/slave operation can synchronize speeds or positions. Featuring integrated PLC as well as PI controller functions and a wide range of sensor interfaces, these systems can even be used to drive fully autonomous modular equipment in a larger installation.

Conclusion

NORD DRIVESYSTEMS has extensive practical experience in the field of conveyor technology. The drive manufacturer has designed efficient drive systems for hundreds of intralogistics plants and airports worldwide. The company draws on a large modular program of drive components that are manufactured in-house. The energy-saving motors are suitable for worldwide use and available in all common efficiency classes. The NORD gear portfolio comprises numerous gear types and covers an extremely wide range of torques and gear ratios. The VFDs provide enhanced intelligence in plant segments and ensure high efficiency especially in partial-load operation. Furthermore, electronic inverters enable highly flexible speed adjustment. This allows for limiting the drive variants in a larger installation to only a few sizes and gear ratios. The new LogiDrive systems for airport and other logistics applications demonstrate the benefits of greatly simplified variant management and the major cost savings associated with it.

 

Upgrading F&B manufacturing facilities to minimise contamination risk

Maintaining hygienic conditions when introducing new equipment plants can be a challenge for food makers. However, as the case of a chicken processing plant which introduced new equipment from SEW-Eurodrive shows, it can be successfully achieved.

Food processing companies set high standards for cleanliness in their production facilities. While they can control their own production environment by implementing strict processes, the installation of externally sourced equipment that keeps the production lines rolling is a different matter.

HACCP compliance

To guarantee that these standards are met, the food processing industry and its suppliers typically adopt the hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP) risk management methodology. The methodology can be applied at any stage of the food manufacturing process.

Many retail food sellers insist on their suppliers being certified by an independent organisation such as HACCP Australia or its international equivalents. It is not only the ingredients and food processing plants that require evaluation and risk analysis. If the equipment within the plants is certified as fit for purpose, this gives suppliers, manufacturers, retailers and consumers alike extra assurance that the food that reaches our tables has been processed in a suitably hygienic manner.

According to John Gattellari, national industry specialist – food and beverage at SEW-Eurodrive, this certification is critical for the motors and gear units driving the equipment in food processing plants.

“SEW-Eurodrive realised this early on, and is endorsed by HACCP Australia in the manufacturing equipment category. Certification demonstrates that the mechatronic drive system Movigear type B variant for wet areas that we supply for these projects can be successfully cleaned by the high-pressure hoses and chemicals without any difficulty or detriment to the units,” he said.

Frequent audits

In the wet areas and tightly-controlled clean areas of food-processing facilities, these standards are upheld rigorously.

Food manufacturers conduct their own audits and also bring in external auditors to ensure that their facilities meet their own standards and those required by the organisations they supply.

The auditors typically inspect the whole plant, paying attention to all systems and manufacturing processes, including those that govern use of the conveyors, motors and gear units.

According to Gattellari, the food industry now prefers drive systems that are HACCP certified. This is in addition to being easy to clean, reliable, and being able to meet the necessary technical and performance requirements.

Applying the knowledge

One site where this approach has been put into practice is the Golden Farms chicken processing plant at Geelong, in Victoria. Joe Cammaroto, maintenance supervisor at Golden Farms, now uses the Movigear type B drive system throughout the large facility, which employs around 400 people and processes up to 100,000 chickens a day.

He agrees that the cleaning step is critical, and says that the whole plant is cleaned every night after production ceases. The consequences of hygiene issues arising in the clean areas of a food production plant are substantial. At the very least, they could mean delays in production, with associated financial losses. Even more importantly, if contaminated food were sold to the public, public health could be put at risk.

 

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Cammaroto says that a number of previously-installed drives remain in the plant. These must be covered up prior to high-pressure cleaning and uncovered again afterwards. Without the covers, the chemicals used in the cleaning process eat the paint away, so each unit must be cleaned separately from the rest of the plant. This extra handling of equipment every day is time consuming and inconvenient.

These older drive systems – which are traditionally in two pieces rather than a single sealed unit – also have the potential to cause contamination. Removing the peeled-off paint and rust from the older drive systems is time consuming and costly. The process has to be thorough to overcome the risk of contaminating the food product.

Frequent independent audits assist Cammaroto and his colleagues to check that this risk is minimal. A comprehensive system provides for different audits at three and six-monthly intervals, in addition to annual checks. Auditors verify that processes are being adhered to, and look at the preventative measures that are in place.

To further alleviate the risk, Golden Farms is systematically replacing all the older drive systems as they age and wear out.

“We were looking for an alternative motor and have been introducing the Movigear type B to power our conveyors because it is designed and certified for use in hygienic environments,” said Cammaroto. “With its special coatings, it is washable and the food product can’t stick onto it.”

As well as using them to replace the older style motors, Golden Farms now installs them whenever a new conveyor line is added. Cammaroto says that there are now more than 19 of the HACCP-certified units installed.

Installation has proven to be a simple process and has been carried out by the technicians at Golden Farms. The drive motors are horizontally mounted on the left or right side so they can be placed wherever needed within the conveyor system.

“The long-term upgrade project has been straight forward. Several of the motors have been operating for about three years already, and I’ve been impressed by how long they have lasted. They’ve been excellent. The units we used prior to the upgrade would have lost paint and begun to rust in that time,” said Cammaroto.

No more fiddling in the roof

Hygiene is not the only benefit of the plant’s refurbishment. The controller of the Movigear drive system is attached in a sealed housing and the speed of each drive can be adjusted in situ.

At Golden Farms, the conveyors move a mix of fresh product and boxed product, so the speeds of the conveyors vary according to where they sit in the manufacturing process. The convenience of being able to adjust the speeds of the drives directly at the conveyor was another reason for upgrading.

“We can adjust the speeds of the conveyors and match them up so you can go from slower to faster. It’s more convenient than having a speed controller up in the roof space where you’ve got to get up and change it,” said Cammaroto. “With the Movigear, we just undo a bolt at the back of the unit, adjust the speed and replace the bolt. It’s a lot easier – very simple.”

Designed for the job

Behind the scenes, SEW-Eurodrve’s engineers had been working for many years to perfect the design of the Movigear for use in wet areas and hygienic environments. Gattellari says that the result of this endeavour was the mechatronic drive system Movigear type B, a compact and totally enclosed system, comprising the gear-unit motor and electronics.

The Movigear drive system complies with the international energy standard, IE4 (Super Premium Efficiency), the finless and fanless design eliminates air swirls usually associated with fan cooled motors. There is no distribution of germs and bacteria – a vital requirement in a hygienic environment.

With no fan, there is an added benefit of reduced noise in the production environment. The drive system complies with air cleanliness class 2 according to the international standard ISO 14644-1 and consumes about 50 per cent less energy than conventional drive solutions.

A major issue for gear units and motors in wet areas and hygienic environments is the choice of materials and coatings. While stainless steel components and fixtures are the preferred choice for food-manufacturing facilities, traditional motors and gear units are often supplied with housings made from aluminium or steel. This is due to cost pressures, weight restrictions and component availability.

Traditionally, motors and gear units are coated with a paint system that is prone to premature failure when exposed to the harsh and abrasive cleaning regimes. Exposure to the caustic cleaning agents can also cause corrosion within the drive systems. An alternative approach is to employ surface finishes such as Nickel or Teflon, or use of anodising for Aluminium substrates. This gives the motors and gear units superior corrosion-inhibiting properties and abrasion resistance.

The smooth housing of the Movigear type B is finished with an “HP200” treatment which is burned into the surface during application. Highly resistant to the cleaning chemicals and high-pressure wash-down the surface finish eliminates the possibility of flaking paint.

These inherent anti-stick properties contribute to a reduction of debris build-up, resulting in faster cleaning times and less system downtime. The standard inclusion of stainless steel shafts, fasteners and auxiliary fittings further enhances the Movigear type B anti-corrosive properties.

At facilities like Golden Farms, this means that standard cleaning routines can be continued, without the need to cover the drive units before the wash down and uncover them again afterwards.

It was this approach to design that has made the Movigear type B eminently suitable for the Golden Farms upgrade project. By introducing a program to replace the older drive systems with HACCP-certified units, the facility has improved efficiencies and minimised risk – a move that satisfies the twin goals of reducing costs and ensuring the health and wellbeing of its customers.

Movigear Type B variant for wet areas.
Movigear Type B variant for wet areas.

 

 

Food-grade range providing recipe for success

While all manufacturers need to use silicones, greases, lubricants, sealants and so forth, those in the food and beverage sector have special requirements for these products. CRC Industries offers a full range which meets these high standards.

As a manufacturers of chemical maintenance products for nearly 60 years, CRC Industries has made a commitment to providing the best solutions for customers in the food and beverage industries.

The company recognises the issues facing today’s food processors and manufacturers as they relate to the use of maintenance chemicals, which is why many of Australia’s well-known brand manufacturers use CRC Food Grade.

In manufacturing its range of solutions for the food and beverage sector, CRC has successfully anticipated and adapted to changing regulations to ensure compliance standards are not only met, but exceeded.

CRC understands that food safety is a primary concern across the entire supply chain. Food processors and packaging manufacturers have an obligation to keep their plants running efficiently, while preventing contamination of their goods.

To help minimise the risk of maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) chemicals across all food processing and non-production areas, CRC developed the HACCP Certified Greenlight Food Safety Program – a visual identification labelling program that ensures maintenance employees use and store MRO chemicals in the proper locations and in accordance with audit requirements.

The CRC GreenLight Food Safety Program involves the use of separate cabinets to store only food specific products, posters to show where these products can be used and folders of SDS, allergen certification and other useful information to assist with internal and external compliance.

In conjunction with the GreenLight Program, CRC offers a wide range of maintenance chemicals that are registered by standard developer NSF International, HACCP Certified and approved for use in food processing.

The company also works closely with maintenance departments across the food and beverage sector, offering food safety training courses, industry-leading food safety solutions as well as third-party certification of products enabling plants to reduce the number of chemicals in use.

CRC Industries Australia managing director, Shona Fitzgerald said the company brought a strong and diverse product offering, tailor made for applications in the food and beverage industry.

 

Image 2

“CRC can help meet the challenges of today’s highly regulated environment by offering a full line of specialty chemical products custom-matched to meet every application need,’’ said Fitzgerald.

“CRC always has the right solution for our customers’ MRO and audit challenges based on our commitment to innovation and industry compliance, strong process understanding, vast product range, distribution networks and training programs.”

“Through these measures, we take great pride in providing food and beverage customers with competitive advantages in productivity, labour management, equipment maintenance and above all safety,’’ she said.

Starting with one product, the multi-purpose lubricant CRC Corrosion Inhibitor, CRC Industries began in a Pennsylvania garage in 1958 as Corrosion Reaction Consultants.

Today, CRC has evolved into a global supplier of speciality chemical solutions, manufacturing in excess of 1,300 products to meet the unique needs of the industrial and electrical, automotive, marine, food and beverage, mining and manufacturing sectors.

CRC Industries services a vast international client base with the manufacture and distribution of its specialty products throughout Australia and the Asia Pacific, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East. The company operates 26 facilities around the world, producing more than 80 million aerosol products each year and is a leader in product quality, performance and regulatory compliance.

The company places strict controls on its product development and manufacturing processes, starting with the finest raw materials and continuing with consistent, high quality manufacturing techniques and rigorous testing.

CRC Industry’s speciality products for the food and beverage industry include food grade silicones and greases, chain lubes and belt dressings, anti-seize compounds, sealants, machinery oils, gear oils penetrants, lubricants and more in a range of sizes and delivery systems to suit individual needs.

With an uncompromising commitment to safety, innovation, service and customer satisfaction underlying everything that it does, the company understands the knowledge, expertise and processes needed to succeed the food industry.

The company is pleased to be playing its part in helping food and beverage operators succeed through the delivery of safe, reliable and proven technologies and services.

Food colouring goes natural

Chr. Hansen has the natural products, along with the expertise, and experience to help food and beverage manufacturers deliver consumers visually enticing products.

Food and beverage manufacturers go to a lot of trouble to ensure their products meet consumers’ aesthetic expectations. After all, if it weren’t for food colouring, hot dogs would be grey, margarine would be white, and red gummies wouldn’t exist.

But why do they bother? After all, isn’t food all about taste?

No, says Lisa Flower, marketing manager for Australia and New Zealand at Chr. Hansen. “People eat with their eyes – and the visual appeal of a food is strongly linked to its colour,” she told Food & Beverage Industry News.

“Colour has an important role to play in the first impressions that are made. Colour also plays a role in the expectations of the consumer of the food. In fact, it can even be the reason a consumer chooses one product over another.”

While historically most food colouring has been artificial, things have changed. Natural food colouring is one of the major trends in the industry.

“The release of the 2007 Southhampton study on the impact of certain artificial colours on children’s behaviour really fast-tracked this conversion,” said Flower.

Though contentious, the study suggested a link between artificial colours and hyperactivity in children; and prompted the European Union to require some colours to carry the statement: “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children” on labelling.

Although there is no such labelling requirement in Australia and New Zealand, the move away from artificial colouring has also taken hold here.

Aldi, Woolworths and Coles responded to the demand by ensuring all of their private label products did not contain artificial colours. And most manufacturers in Australia and New Zealand have also converted their products to natural colours.

According to Flower, there is now another option for brands who want even cleaner labels.

“This is known as colouring foodstuffs. While natural colours are typically extracts from a natural source and may attract an E-number (a European code used to list permitted food additives on labelling), colouring foodstuffs are concentrates of the juice of a fruit or vegetable and can simply be labelled as this, for example red beet concentrate or sweet potato concentrate,” she said.

Chr Hansen

Chr. Hansen offers a spectrum of natural colours (including curcumin, paprika, cochineal, annatto and beta-carotene) and colouring foodstuffs (including red beet, sweet potato, black carrot and spirulina).

All are either extracts or concentrates of the colour from a natural source. These could be from fruits, vegetables and even fungi, algae, seeds or insects.

These products are suitable for everything from beverages and confectionery to cheese, desserts and ice cream.

While acknowledging that it is sometimes difficult to replace an artificial colour with a natural one, Flower maintains it doesn’t have to be.

“There are some formulations and interactions between ingredients that make conversion tricky or more expensive to implement. But with the right conversion partner, you can find the natural colour or colouring foodstuff alternative that makes sense for your brand and product and gives your consumers what they are looking for,” she said.

Chr. Hansen considers itself well placed to be such a partner.

“Natural colours lend themselves to most applications, although it is very important to consider the different factors such as processing conditions, temperature, light exposure, pH, acidity and the other ingredients to ensure the right colour is selected for the product,” said Flower.

“Chr. Hansen has a highly experienced sales and technical team based in Australia along with global application centres that offer full technical support to customers to assist  conversion and application questions.”

The first step in this process involves establishing if the client is looking to avoid E numbers completely, or is simply looking to avoid artificial colours.

Further questions revolve around what colour and shade the client is looking to achieve, the desired shelf life of the products, the type of packaging to be used and storage conditions; as well as processing conditions like high temperature, time, pH and other ingredients, fortifications or flavours used in the formulation.

The building journey starts early

When it comes to building and design, food businesses can minimise the possibility of problems and defects by working with builders through the planning process. Total Construction is well-equipped to take them on this journey.

Plant building and design – just like lean manufacturing, automation, and food safety – are critically important for food and beverage makers. Having a well-designed, well-functioning manufacturing plant is crucial to their success.

So when these businesses are looking to either construct a new facility or upgrade an existing one, they need to find a good builder. On top of that, according to Rob Blythman, business development manager – food & beverage at Total Construction, it is important they find someone who is willing and able to work closely with them.

“The client is key in deriving the ideal design and process flow. We involve all stakeholders (including chefs) from the client side to develop the design and layout that fits perfectly with their operational needs,” he told Food & Beverage Industry News.

“Total Construction likes to become part of the client’s project team as early as possible, and not be just a ‘supplier’ of services.”

The company prides itself on the “value add” it can provide to clients. It doesn’t just do the building but provides full design and process engineering services. According to Blythman, medium-sized businesses in particular are attracted to this model.

Total Construction

Total Construction was established in 1995 by current directors Steve Taylor and Bill Franks. From this time, when it operated out of an 8m² office in Sydney’s Wetherill Park, the company has grown to the point that it now has three state offices, employs 120 staff, and has an annual turnover of $150 million.

The food and beverage sector accounts for about 20 per cent of the company’s work. Apart from this, it also operates in the aged care, hospital, industrial, renewable energy, and education sectors. Within the food and beverage sector, most of its clients are medium-sized business with an annual turnover of $10 – $30 million.

“Having process engineers on staff and our experience in live food and beverage projects puts us ahead of run-of-the-mill builders,” said Blythman.

Total Construction has extensive expertise in delivering food and beverage projects throughout Australia.
Total Construction has extensive expertise in delivering food and beverage projects throughout Australia.

 

 

On top of that, where necessary, Total Construction works with other businesses on construction projects. To date, these partners have included Beca Engineering, Northrop Engineering, MCHP Architects and more.

The company has extensive expertise in delivering food and beverage projects throughout Australia. Its capabilities in the industry include cost planning, design, construction, and fit-out. On top of that, there are plans to soon add “asset management/equipment supply” and “install” to this list.

To date, Total Construction has completed projects in the beverage, bakery, dairy, and meat sectors. One of its major clients has been Alpha Flight Services, an in-flight catering provider owned by Emirates Airways.

Projects for Alpha have included design and construction of  extensions and the construction of a new catering facility at Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne; construction of a new flight catering facility at Sydney Airport; roof replacement and refrigeration of the production area at Alpha’s facility at Brisbane Airport; design and construction management of a new purpose designed in-flight catering facility at Adelaide Airport; construction management of new extensions at Perth and Brisbane Airports; and construction of a new flight catering facility at Cairns Airport.

Total Construction’s clients in the bakery sector have included the likes of Goodman Fielder. One notable project for this client, “Project de Vinci”, involved upgrading works and management of plant and equipment installations at an existing facility in NSW.

Also in the bakery sector, Total completed the design and construction of a new Tip Top bakery facility for George Western Foods in NSW.

The total package

Rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach to building projects, Total Construction tailors services to clients and offers a range of project delivery models. Experienced at working in “live environments” (i.e. operating factories), the company knows how to take the necessary precautions to eliminate safety risks as well as minimise noise, dust and vibration.

With every project, the company looks for innovations to improve “buildability” and offers value engineering solutions, where possible, to ensure the best possible outcome for clients. It values safety in design as a top priority and takes the responsibility to raise safety issues throughout the course of construction and suggests methodologies to reduce them.

In other words, as the name suggests, Total Construction delivers the total package. “Our key positioning is we are not just a builder, but a solutions provider for the food and beverage industry,” said Blythman.

The company’s client retention rate of 80 per cent suggests this approach of value add, communication with clients and starting the building journey early is just what the food and beverage industry is looking for.

Combing the latest process automation technologies with local assistance

Food makers looking to improve the operational performance, reliability, and safety of their plants are right to seek out the latest innovations from around the world. But sometimes there is no substitute for local assistance.

The Rosemount range of measurement and analytical technologies had an illustrious beginning in the 1950s.

“Emerson’s Rosemount sensors were selected by NASA for the Mercury capsule and [later] installed on-board the Columbia space shuttle.” Justin Ellis, business manager, Rosemount at Emerson told Food & Beverage Industry News.

“In 1969, the 1151 pressure transmitter revolutionised industrial pressure measurement and since that time Emerson’s Rosemount technologies have continued to innovate and redefine industrial automation and measurement.”

According to Ellis, some of the most critical of these innovations have not only improved the reliability and quality of the products, but also helped improve the overall safety and efficiency of automation solutions.

In other words, the Rosemount range has an impressive pedigree. Representing the cutting edge of process automation, devices from the range find use today in the oil and gas, metals and mining, sugar, power, food and beverage, and water industries.

Local capabilities

However, as Ellis said, sometimes the latest internationally-proven technology is not all businesses are looking for.

“Something we’ve come to learn over the last 10 or so years is that organisations are really challenged these days,” he said. Western companies, in particular, are feeling the effects of globalisation and competition from low-cost offshore manufacturers.

Ellis explained that he often hears organisations say things like, “We need companies like Emerson and brands like Rosemount to be more than just products. We need greater support and we need you to help us overcome these challenges.”

Emerson has responded to this feedback by providing clients with support and local capabilities. Firstly, the company has a large service technician and service specialist network across Australia and New Zealand with technicians in almost every capital city as well as key industry areas such as Newcastle and Gladstone.

On top of that, in 2014, the company invested $1 million in building the Quick Ship and Repair centre, a manufacturing and service centre that is a small scale replication of the Rosemount global manufacturing facilities.

Located in Melbourne, the centre can manufacture brand new pressure, temperature and DP level remote seal solutions specifically for Australia and New Zealand industrial operations and deliver them in very short timeframes. This includes specific solutions for local sugar, dairy and beverage producers.

Not only can the facility manufacture new automation equipment but it can also repair, overhaul and return to original performance and specifications existing Rosemount instrumentation assets and save significant replacement costs for operations.

“A big part of building the manufacturing facility was that it meant we could help customers repair their devices,” said Ellis. “Three or four years ago, if a product was broken most companies would just rip it out, throw it away and put a new device in. Now we can, in some cases, repair instruments and automation solutions for only 30 per cent of the cost of a new unit.”

Education

Ellis pointed out that the automation field has an aging workforce. The prevalence of the so-called “greybeards” of instrumentation combined with a reduction in government accredited instrumentation courses means that businesses often struggle to attract and retain workers with the right skills sets to suit their plant assets.

In response to this problem, Emerson collaborated with the International Association for Continuous Education and Training (IACET) to develop a range of educational programs. Professionally designed and developed to conform to the ANSI/IACET Standard for Continuing Education and Training, the programs deliver real outcomes for both students and employers.

They are intended to help businesses better operate, manage and support their industrial facilities.

“Each course combines theory and hands-on practical exercises to ensure that the learning process is consolidated through experiential learning. In addition, each student must pass an assessment phase to ensure that they meet the competency requirements of the course,” said Ellis.

“All instructors have been certified by IACET and have undergone rigorous training not just on the technical aspects of the educational program but also on the soft skills side to ensure that they can competently train and empower students to successfully develop new skills and outcomes.”

Expertise and experience

As mentioned, Emerson has an illustrious history. As a designer and manufacturer of automation equipment, the company holds significant intellectual capital.

“Our organisation has a huge amount of experience and expertise around not only the types of automation equipment available in the market place but also how these automation assets can be used to benefit operations from a reliability, operational and safety perspective,” said Ellis.

“Recently, we have started partnering with progressive companies to help map out programs that help them reduce the amount of inventory that they hold, reduce the amount of wasted emissions and energy usage or improve the safety of their facilities.”

Working at a local level with clients, Emerson representatives can conduct focus groups, or simply sit with engineers to better understand their needs and help develop outcome based solutions combining automation equipment and process expertise.

Called Operational Certainty, the program delivers industry expertise and consulting services at a local level. Combined with Emerson’s automation technologies portfolio and new Industrial IoT solutions, it can help businesses achieve top quartile performance in the areas of safety, reliability, production and energy management.

The products

Emerson’s Rosemount range of measurement and analytical technologies are used in industries ranging from mining to water. Food and beverage manufacturers across Australia and New Zealand use many products from the range including:

  • Pressure transmitters and manifolds
  • DP Level transmitters and remote seals
  • Radar level sensors
  • Vibrating fork level sensors
  • Liquid analysers and sensors
  • Gas analysers
  • Temperature solutions

Rosemount has several hygienic specific solutions, including:

  • 3051HT hygienic pressure transmitters
  • Hygienic temperature transmitters and sensors
  • Hygienic DP level remote seals & FDA approved fill fluids
  • Hygienic pH, conductivity & dissolved oxygen sensors

Using water wisely in the food sector

If Australia is to continue its agricultural tradition and also take advantage of future food opportunities, we can’t afford to waste our natural resources. As Matthew McDonald reports, Xylem Water Solutions can help make sure we don’t.

According to the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare, Australia produces three times the amount of food we need to sustain our population. Quite a feat for the driest continent on Earth, in large part this can be attributed to how we use that most important natural resource, water.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics state that in 2014-15 agriculture was far and away the biggest consumer of water in Australia. The sector accounted for 10,410 gigalitres or 59.9 per cent of all water consumed. Next on the list was water supply, sewerage and drainage services at 2,163 gigalitres (12.4 per cent).

For the same period, Australian households consumed 1,852 gigalitres (10.7 per cent) of all water, while manufacturing accounted for 595 gigalitres (3.4 per cent) of water consumed.

Things are looking up for Australian food. The rise of the Asian middle class, combined with recently-signed free trade agreements and our “clean, green” image overseas mean that demand for our food is growing.

However, at the same time, our own population growth and the uncertainties of climate change mean that it won’t be all smooth sailing for farmers and food makers. If we are to fully capitalise on future opportunities, we are going to have to use water wisely.

Xylem Water Solutions

Jim Athanas, managing director Oceania Xylem Water Solutions, knows something about wise water usage. “That’s our ultimate purpose and goes to our tag line which is ‘Let’s solve water’,” he told Food & Beverage Industry News.

US-headquartered Xylem was created five and a half years ago as a spinoff of ITT, a manufacturer of highly engineered, critical components and customised technology solutions for the energy, transportation and industrial markets. The company is made up of about 30 brands, some of which have been around for 50-plus years, which share a focus on water management solutions across a range of industries.

“The end game of what we do is to build a sustainable world. Our commitment is that we care more,” said Athanas. “We care more for our people; we care more for our customers; we care about doing things sustainably through commercial excellence. We look at being innovative and creative and we also want to enrich our environment by creating sustainable communities.”

The Lowara GHV series booster sets are fully automatic booster sets for water supply.
The Lowara GHV series booster sets are fully automatic booster sets for water supply.

 

 

Focusing on food and beverages, he explained that the company provides water management solutions for all stages of the production process.

“From the farm to the fork you need to irrigate plants and livestock to provide food. Whether you’re a farmer growing wheat or you’ve got cattle, water is essential,” he said.

“Then all the way through the processing plant, whether you’re using it for heating, cooling, utility needs water, or as a raw material. We transport water to where it’s needed. We treat it so it’s suitable for use and also monitor and control it to make sure it’s of the right purity, the right quality and the right quantity.”

Products and applications

Some Xylem brands used by the agricultural industry and food manufacturers include Flygt submersible pumps and mixers, Lowara centrifugal pumps, Wedeco UV and ozone disinfection systems, Sanitaire aeration and wastewater treatment products, WTW online water quality monitoring equipment and Jabsco hygienic rotary lobe and flexible impeller pumps.

“We manufacture equipment to treat water to a potable standard, treat wastewater for reuse or to a standard safe enough to return to the environment, transport water and other liquids to where it is needed and monitor water usage and water quality,” George Anastasiadis, national business development manager of Xylem Water Solutions Australia told Food & Beverage Industry News.

The food and agricultural industries rely on the company’s solutions to not only supply water, but also to treat and analyse wastewater, sometimes under challenging conditions. For example, irrigators use borehole pumps to transport water from dams, rivers or lakes. This water needs to be transported by piped or multistage, end-suction pumps to the crops or livestock that need it.

Elsewhere, manure handling is a significant challenge when dealing with livestock such as poultry. Flygt provides liquid manure technology as well as submersible chopper pumps to handle this.

As Anastasiadis pointed out, dairy processors typically experience high organic loads in their effluent streams that need to be treated prior to discharge into municipal sewage systems or receiving bodies of water.

“A combination of anaerobic systems followed by Xylem’s aerobic biological treatment systems will reduce COD/BOD effectively while minimising footprint and reducing maintenance through advanced process controls,” he said.

He pointed out that fruit washing applications benefit from water reuse through Xylem’s tertiary treatment technologies. “For example, our UV and ozone disinfection technologies are applied to chlorine-resistant microorganisms like Cryptosporidium and Giardia without concern for disinfection by-products,” he said.

Wastewater discharge limits pose a challenge for meat processing plants due to the high organics, chemical oxygen demand (COD) and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) in the wastewater stream. “Xylem’s aerobic biological treatment technologies can be utilised to bring COD and BOD into compliance while improving on-site economics,” said Anastasiadis.

UV disinfection systems

With so many brands under the Xylem banner, new product releases are frequent. Anastasiadis was pleased to highlight one new range, Wedeco Spektron Industrial UV Disinfection Systems, which have been designed specifically for food and beverage manufacturers.

Process water disinfection, he explained, is important to the industry because it helps ensure products are fit for consumption. The use of UV for disinfection has the added benefit of providing high levels of effectiveness without adding unwanted taste or odour.

The systems deliver efficient and environmentally sustainable disinfection via closed-vessel UV reactors. Their features include a smooth electro-polished inner surface finish <0.8 µm Ra, hygienic flanges (DIN 11864-2 or tri clamp), a compact stainless-steel control cabinet, and FDA compliant seals.

Towards a sustainable future

Athanas said that Australia is at a crossroads. Pointing to the Murray-Darling scheme, which has not only failed to secure the water supply of the eastern states but also opened up claims of non-compliance and rorting, he said that Australia needs a stronger national water framework.

“Whether you’re a cotton farmer, a dairy farmer, or you run a processing plant in an urban environment, there’s competing priorities for that precious resource,” he said. “It’s the availability of the right quality and quantity that puts pressure on the entire food chain. From the farm all the way back to your home to get that breakfast cereal on the table takes a lot of water.”

Xylem Water Solutions, he said, has an important role to play in ensuring this precious resource is used wisely.

Blockchain technology and the food supply chain

Though food supply chains are sometimes complex, if we are to keep on top of issues like fraud and food safety, it is important that we know where our food comes from. Blockchain technology can help us do this.

In 2008, one or more programmers operating under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto invented Bitcoin, an international currency that operates without any need for an intermediary or regulation.

The technology behind the currency, called blockchain, allows users in a network to share information without it first passing through a server. In other words, even though there is no master copy, updates made on one node are independently updated on all other nodes within the network.

In turns out that Bitcoin is not the only application for blockchain technology. It may prove useful in a number of other areas such as financial services, personalised health and food provenance.

Food & Beverage Industry News caught up with Mark Staples, group leader software and systems at the data innovation group, CSIRO’s Data61 to learn about blockchain technology and the food supply chain.

“Blockchain technology can help because it provides integrity for shared data across different organisations,” said Staples. “The food industry is highly fragmented, and needs data integrity for fraud prevention, food safety, and financial transactions.”

The latest statistics emphasise Staples’ point. According to the CSIRO, food fraud costs the global economy an estimated $40 billion a year. Along with financial security and safety, it is now a major area of concern for the industry.

Staples explained that blockchain technology could provide evidence for the history of the production and handling of food, from the farm to the consumer. “Each of the events in a supply chain could be recorded in a logically-centralised blockchain ledger,” he said.

In cases of food poisoning outbreaks, blockchain would make it easier to track and identify the origins of, say, contaminated vegetables or meats. Similarly, in a food fraud context, it would make it harder to pass off a cheap red wine as a well-known product.

Financial services in the food supply chain also stand to benefit from the new technology.

“Evidence about supply chain performance can support greater access to trade finance, and to better price insurance premiums. Blockchain smart contracts might also enable new kinds of payment mechanisms, for example automated escrow payments tied to independent quality assessments,” said Staples.

Food supply chains can be complex. Will this make it difficult to implement blockchain technology in this context?

“Yes, but the complex and dynamic nature of business in food supply chains can be naturally mirrored by the kind of ad-hoc participation in transactions supported by blockchains,” said Staples.

He conceded that when implementing blockchain, it will be a challenge to directly support commercial confidentiality; and that the technology has some performance limitations.

Blockchain has potential as a tool to combat food fraud.
Blockchain has potential as a tool to combat food fraud.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“These issues need to be overcome by combining blockchains with other technologies such as encryption and traditional web services, and by making sure that blockchain solutions are used to address appropriate problems,” he said.

In June this year, CSIRO’s Data61 delivered a comprehensive review of how blockchain technology could be adopted across government and industries, including the food sector, to deliver productivity benefits and drive local innovation.

The group has engaged extensively with industry and government to deliver two reports on the regulatory, technical and societal implications of using blockchain-based systems across various industries. It says that Australia is in a good position to be at the forefront of the technology.

“Australia has active blockchain ecosystems, with activity across research bodies, startups, large enterprise, government, and standardisation,” said Staples.

Examples include the work of the Australian Securities Exchange in collaboration with Digital Asset Holdings, to examine the use of the technology in its clearing and settlement system for the Australian equity market.

Agridigital

Then there is Agridigital, an Australian software provider which has been experimenting with blockchain and distributed ledger technologies across agri-supply chains.

“Primarily we have been using our agri-blockchains in pilots and proof of concepts targeting either the transactional or provenance space,” Bridie Ohlsson, Agridigital’s external relations manager told Food & Beverage Industry News.

In December 2016, the company ran a pilot in which it successfully executed the world’s first settlement of a physical commodity on a blockchain. Using a private ethereum blockchain and a pilot customer, they settled the delivery of a load of wheat on the blockchain, simultaneously reserving any levies and royalties applicable and paying the  grower.

“While the pilot simulated payment to the grower’s digital wallet in real time on the blockchain, for the purpose of the pilot the grower was paid using traditional banking methods in a parallel transaction,” said Ohlsson.

According to Ohlsson, the company’s vision is to continuously work on developing agri-blockchains as part of its goal to digitise agricultural supply chains.

“This year we are conducting a number of blockchain pilots with some of Australia’s most significant participants in the grains industry,” she said. “We are expanding on our pilot work from last year, as well as directly working with blockchain technologies to provide end to end supply chain provenance in the grains industry.”

MEGATRANS2018

Given its supply chain potential, blockchain technology will feature prominently at MEGATRANS2018, an exciting new international trade event that will bridge the gaps between supply chain industries that have previously been operating in isolation.

The show makes its debut 10 to 12 May, 2018 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, based in the heart of the one of Australia’s major logistics hubs and one of the world’s most liveable cities – Melbourne.

Connecting the Australian and international supply chain, the three-day expo, delivered in partnership with the Victorian Government, will bring together those who plan, implement and control the efficient and effective forward flow and storage of goods, services and related information between the point of origin and point of consumption.

A number of main sections comprise the show’s 30,000 square metres of space – Logistics & Materials Handling / Warehousing & Storage; Road Transport, Air, Sea & Rail; and Infrastructure; with a strong emphasis on technology right throughout.

Other features of MEGATRANS2018 include the Global Shippers Forum, the Logistics & Materials Handling Mercury Awards, a Ministerial Breakfast delivered in partnership with the Victorian Government and Transport Certification Australia’s (TCA) Technology Hub.

The Port of Melbourne is a Supporting Sponsor of the show, with Enirgi Group and Linde Material Handling backing the event as Sponsors and DB Schenker as Logistics Partner.

MEGATRANS2018 is also supported by a range of Association Partners, including: the Australian Logistics Council (ALC); Victorian Transport Association (VTA); the Australian Peak Shippers Association (APSA) and the Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA); the National Transport Commission (NTC); the International Cargo Handling Coordination Association (ISHCA); and TCA.

Collaboration with Guardian Bandsaw delivers for meat processing industry

Recognising a pressing need for improved and comprehensive safety systems in the meat processing sector, Auckland-based innovators, kanDO Innovation founded Guardian Bandsaw in 2015.

With its history of developing vision detection systems coupled with the experience of building rugged, robust solutions for an industry such as this, Guardian Bandsaw was formed based on superior expertise by engineers with years of experience in the meat industry.

Fast forward to just two years later and Guardian Bandsaw offers the most advanced safety system on the market!  Recognising that software does not operate in isolation, the team at Guardian Bandsaw designed a new, hi-tech bandsaw from the ground up as an advanced solution to old-fashioned bandsaws.

The state-of-the-art Guardian Bandsaw today offers customers complete peace-of-mind with real-time feedback and a host of industry-first benefits such as; a unique 3D vision system which incorporates a protection zone around the blade, higher speed of vision and braking systems, no damage to the blade during braking, automatic tensioning of the blade for blade changes and after braking events, an automatic safety check prior to operation, video capturing of trip events and E-stops for review which helps improve productivity, e-mail alerts when trips occur and much more!

Answering to the call of Industry 4.0, Guardian Bandsaw looked to suppliers such as SMC to advance its already sophisticated system. Keith Blenkinsopp, Director of Guardian Bandsaw was intrigued by SMC’s offerings and had previously worked with the pneumatics company on a project for kanDO Innovation. Keith now looked to SMC to for the latest technology to ensure efficient control of its pneumatic technology. “At Guardian Bandsaw we are constantly looking for ways to improve efficiencies and deliver on the best possible technology out there.”

“Based on our requirements, SMC recommended a perfectly suited solution and offered us a unit for trial purposes which met our expectations without a glitch” explains Keith.

On the other side of the spectrum, SMC looked to Guardian Bandsaw as its perfect partner in automation with SMC focused largely on the meat processing sector in ANZ. SMC Branch Manager for New Zealand, Peter Wilson elaborates on the collaboration: “In listening to Keith’s requirements, the brief was to offer a compact tidy and efficient system to control the pneumatic requirements of the machine, thus we recommended SMC’s EX260 Ethernet module mounted on our SY3000 series Valve Manifold”.

SMC’s sleek SY series of unique, all-purpose valve manifold offers next level flexibility, improved space savings of 29%, increased flow rates of up to 1500 litres and greater cost savings while boasting up to 200 million cycles.

Designed to match with SMC’s EX fieldbus system, it offers an array of compatible protocols, reduced wiring time, an IP67 rating and a self-diagnosis function. The units are set with rubber and metal seals. In fact, the metal seals last for decades and would even outlive the machine – perfect for safety.

“It speaks volumes when you are confident enough to offer a perfectly matched solution on trial and know that it will 100% deliver. Rather than offering a sales pitch, SMC allows our products to speak for themselves,” says Peter. “Having already established a relationship with kanDO Innovation, we trust that this is the beginning of a very successful relationship with Guardian Bandsaw!”

 

Ensuring pH control in sugar refineries through automation

A solution from Alvi Technologies is helping sugar refining plants ensure efficient processing through proper pH control.

The sugar refining process begins with the extraction of juice from sugarcane and sugar beet. The juice is then purified by passing it through several processes in the refining plant, during which the solution is adjusted several times to achieve stabilisation, separation and dehydration.

Liming, carbonation and the addition of sulphur dioxide are the three critical stages of the entire process. For complete and efficient processing, pH control is very crucial during these three critical stages. Sugar refining involves severe process conditions such as very high pressure and temperature as well as fluctuating pH levels. When the pH is not accurately maintained, the operation runs the risk of potential losses due to a failed batch.

It’s important for the sugar refinery to select and use the correct pH sensor that is able to withstand these harsh process conditions without affecting the accuracy. The pH sensor also needs to be cleaned several times.

Alvi’s solution addresses all of these issues while measuring and controlling pH. The Ceramat WA150 sensor lock gate together with Unical 9000 automatic cleaning and calibration system allows complete automation of this difficult measuring point with maximum availability.

Healthy gut, healthy life

The Asian diet is filled with fermented ingredients such as fermented cabbage (kimchi), fermented soy beans (miso), and salted duck eggs just to name a few. Not surprisingly, Asia-Pacific is expected to be the fastest-growing market for the global microbial food culture market between 2017-2022[1].

Fermented foods are naturally rich in probiotics, which are good bacteria that aid in digestion. An additional way of improving gut health is through prebiotics. While probiotics introduce foreign bacteria into the gut, prebiotics act as ‘fertilizers’ that promote the growth of good bacteria[2] already present in our bodies.

Prebiotics are naturally available in some foods such as onions, garlic or bananas, but are typically present only at low levels. This is why foods enriched with prebiotics and prebiotic supplements are the best way for consumers to conveniently and efficiently increase their prebiotic intake for a healthier digestive system.

Bad lifestyle habits affect gut health

Gut health is essential for us to lead a healthy life, as the small and large intestines help our bodies absorb the nutrients it needs to run smoothly. However, bad eating habits like consuming large quantities of fatty foods, and drinking too much caffeinated or carbonated sugary drinks, can lead to the depletion of healthy gut bacteria[3], especially as we age.

Furthermore, more people are living fast-paced, busy lifestyles these days due to rapid urbanization. This also means that many are leaning towards convenient, easy-to-consume foods that are usually highly processed, laden with saturated fat and/ or sugar, and low in fibre – in other words, foods that neither promote gut health nor contribute to overall wellbeing.

Studies have linked the lack of our dietary fibre intake to health issues like obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease. In Asia, one of the most common dietary problems is digestive discomfort, which includes symptoms like constipation and bloating[4]. Although health authorities recommend a daily fibre intake of about 25g for adults,[5] many consumers only manage to take in about half of what is required. This lack of fibre can lead to ‘lazy and silent guts’, as the intake is too low to move digestion processes along.

Helping consumers eat smarter

Manufacturers have been boosting the fibre content of their food products using functional fibres, which helps consumers increase fibre intake without the need for major dietary adjustments. Prebiotic fibres like inulin and oligofructose can restore the balance of our intestinal flora by stimulating beneficial bifidobacteria growth – an important element of good digestive health.

BENEO’s Orafti Inulin and Orafti Oligofructose, for instance, are of 100% vegetable origin since they are derived from the chicory root. In fact, inulin and oligofructose are the only existing prebiotics derived from herbal sources. The prebiotic fermentation of inulin and oligofructose leads to the production of short-chain fatty acids, which help to stimulate bowel movements in a mild and natural manner. This beneficial effect has been acknowledged by the European Union Commission, which has approved an exclusive health claim for BENEO’s Orafti Inulin in the promotion of digestive health.

These natural and soluble prebiotic fibres can be easily incorporated into many popular products, including baked goods, baby food, dairy products, and cereal bars. With a mild, sugar-like sweetness, oligofructose can be used to reduce sucrose in food and beverages, provide all the nutritional benefits of fibre, at just half the calories of sugar. On the other hand, inulin’s fat mimicking properties can be used to replace part of the fat content in foods, thus creating healthier products while preserving desired textures and tastes.

Christian Philippsen, Managing Director of BENEO Asia Pacific.
Christian Philippsen, Managing Director of BENEO Asia Pacific.

 

This natural way of achieving digestive health is particularly important to many children and elderly, who often face poor bowel movements. Toddlers might be at particular risk of constipation due to changes in diet (overall low dietary fibre intake), toilet and potty training, as well as more exposure outside of the home (kindergarten) – factors which may negatively influence their digestive well-being.

Such prebiotics with 100% vegetable origin also stand out as viable options to naturally achieve a healthy and balanced digestive system. They are highly suitable for all age groups, including elderly, young children and infants.[6]

A healthy life from the inside out

Consumers today long for tasty, easy-to-consume foods that can simultaneously bring proven health benefits. Functional fibres offer manufacturers the flexibility to enhance the fibre content in their food products without major changes in their formulation. At the same time, they deliver a host of nutritional benefits. Manufacturers who apply Orafti® Inulin and Oligofructose in their recipes can confidently market their products with scientifically proven health benefits that are in line with their customers’ demands for better nutrition.

[1] Business Wire, Global Microbial Food Culture Market – Growth, Trends & Forecasts (2017-2022) – Research and Markets

[2] International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics, Prebiotics

[3] TODAY Online, Take note of that gut feeling

[4] BENEO, Matching today’s expectations – Digestive health and prebiotic fibers

[5] BENEO, Health claim available: Orafti® Inulin improves bowel function

[6] BENEO News, Studies show further digestive health benefits for BENEO’s chicory fibre

 

The latest in spray technology for food makers

When it comes to spray technology, food processors are spoilt for choice. We talk to Spraying Systems Co’s Kerry McPhail about what types of spray solutions work best for various applications and what is new on the market.

Spray technology is an essential part of food and beverage manufacturing operations. It is used for everything from cleaning tanks to glazing cakes, and from sanitising bottles to portioning vitamins.

As Kerry McPhail, Senior Sales Engineer at Spraying Systems Co told Food & Beverage Industry News, spray technology is not a one-size-fits-all proposition.

“We actually make in excess of 100,000 spray nozzles for use in a wide range of industries including food and beverage,” he explained. “We’re continuously working with clients in designing new nozzles, because as clients improve and expand their processes they often require variations or improvements to their spray solutions.”

McPhail explained that bakeries are big users of spray technology. These operations use air knives to clean baking trays, air atomising electric guns to apply oil to trays as a release agent, and fast electric guns to apply glazes to cakes, doughnuts, buns and and other bakery products.

Within the meat processing industry, spray technology applications include carcass washing, screen cleaning, boot cleaning, spray chilling, and sanitising evisceration tables, while dairy processors use spray technology for applications like apportioning preservatives to cheeses. Beverage processors use spray technology to sanitise bottles, clean tanks with caustic solutions and so forth.

Each application is unique so each is best performed by a specialised product. As McPhail pointed out, there are a number of factors to consider when using spray technology.

Repeatability and accuracy are two of these. For example, food processors often use spray nozzles to apply vitamins to their products. “These have to be sprayed in the required dosage,” said McPhail.

Using spray technology ensures even and accurate coverage of the target or product.

When attempting to clean a tank, you need force and power to remove food build-up. A mist with a very small drop size would not work for this task.

Precision Spray Control

Asked if there are any new technologies making a difference in the market, McPhail spoke about Precision Spray Control (PSC) which is often used in conjunction with Spraying Systems Co’s PulsaJet spray nozzles.

“I’ve been in the company for over twenty years. I’ve seen a lot of things come into the industry but this sort of technology has always been missing,” he said.

An AutoJet PulsaJet scoring dough.
An AutoJet PulsaJet scoring dough.

Similar to fuel injectors in motor vehicles, PSC is a technique for controlling a device by turning it on and off – or “pulsing” it – very quickly. It allows users to significantly change flow rate automatically without varying the drop size or changing spray angle and coverage.

“It was very hard in the past to change the flow rate through a tip and still get the same result on the product,” McPhail said. “We used to do it in what I would now call very agricultural ways. If you wanted to change the flow rate, the best nozzle was an air atomising nozzle.”

This wasn’t an adequate solution because it produced unwanted additional mist.

In contrast to this old technique, PSC makes it possible to control the duty cycle of the spray gun nozzle via a control panel. (It can be turned on and off as often as 30,000 times a minute with the latest technology). While to the naked eye there may appear to be a continuous spray, the spray gun nozzle may actually only be operating five percent of the time.

The absence of misting, along with the fact that spray nozzles do not operate continuously, mean that wastage is minimised. On top of that, the lack of misting means overspray onto surrounding machinery is also minimised. This reduces the need for cleaning and the associated costs and downtime.

As McPhail pointed out, oil mist can even affect the electrical operation of surrounding machinery. Guarding against this is another clear benefit of using spray technology.

Applications

PulsaJet spray nozzles work best with fast, complex, variable or constantly changing applications using less viscous liquids. For example, they are recommended for spraying natural antimicrobial agents onto meat to ensure safety; applying surface colouring with protein, egg or caramel; spraying oil to improve mould release; and moistening bread rolls with water to add sesame seeds or other toppings.

Although PSC has been used in spray technology for about ten years, according to McPhail it is just now coming into its own. “We are now fully trained and equipped to use this technology in manufacturing. And as we understand we’re able to pass that understanding to our customers,” he said.

Click here for more information about Spraying Systems Co.

Pulsajet manifold controller.
Pulsajet manifold controller.