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.

 

Packaging as part of the food waste solution

While there are clear humanitarian, environmental and economic reasons to reduce food waste, the solutions to the problem are not as clear. We spoke to Karl Deily, President of Sealed Air Food Care to hear his views on how to best address this problem.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that one third of all food produced globally each year is wasted.

Food waste also has major environmental implications. According to the World Resources Institute, if global food wastage were a country, it would rank only behind China and the US as the world’s third largest greenhouse gas emitter.

In Australia, according to the Federal Government, consumers waste 20 per cent of food they buy, while the commercial and industrial sectors waste around three million tonnes of food annually. All this is estimated to cost the Australian economy $20 billion a year.

The Federal Government has committed to reducing Australia’s food waste by 50 per cent by 2030. It will hold a National Food Waste summit involving government, industry, academia and the not-for-profit sector in November this year. The government has flagged the possibility of introducing incentives to reduce the amount of food ending up as landfill.

In other words, there has never been a better time than now for industry to address the problem. With this in mind, Food & Beverage Industry News caught up with Karl Deily, President of Sealed Air Food Care (pictured below) to hear his views.

Karl_Deily-4720

Where and why?

First off, Deily explained that food loss and food waste are two distinct things. The former includes food that is lost during harvesting, while the latter covers waste by the processor, retailer or consumer.

While food loss is still a significant problem in the developing world, Deily explained that it is not as significant in developed economies. “In modern economies around the world most of the food is lost at the retailer and consumer level,” he said. “At the retailer it can be as high as 12 – 15 per cent, with some produce items as high as 30 per cent on a weight basis. When you look at calories wasted, dairy and meat products are significant contributors.”

There are a number of causes for the food waste problem. At the consumer level, much of it comes down to a lack of awareness.

According to Deily, while Australia ranks relatively highly in this regard, globally “most consumers don’t feel that they’re responsible for food waste, or its not high on their agenda but they feel they contribute to it.”

In actual fact, throwing out food has a significant impact.

“If a consumer throws away 2kg of meat they’re not just throwing away the meat. They’re also throwing away over 2,000 litres of water, 1kg of grain, 23kg of CO2 emission that it took to produce the product, process it distribute it and get it to the consumer,” said Deily.

At the retail level, the causes of food waste are more complex. The issue of “ugly produce” or food that does not meet the cosmetic standards of retailers (or consumers) is one important factor. According to Deily, shelf life is another. Too often, supermarkets find themselves having to either mark down prices as products approach their “best by” dates or, worse still, throw away food that has passed this date.

“Everyone is grappling with the difference between best before date, use buy date, sell by date, etc. These can all be very confusing,” said Deily. “They’re based on a statistical model, [whereby] if you have a sell by date and the food is thrown away, 50 per cent of the food you are throwing away is perfectly good because you have to determine an average life for the product.”

He pointed to a proposal to simplify the system by introducing a clear “Expires On” date which would only be used for foods such as meat where food safety can’t be compromised.

Other foods, like yoghurt, would carry only a “Best if used by” date. Consumers would be encouraged to use their discretion (and senses) to work out if such foods are still okay.

Solutions

According to Deily, reducing food waste requires an end-to-end approach.

“We have to have logistics that protect the product through transportation. We have to have technologies that enable the retailer to merchandise the product in a way that minimises waste. Then we have to come up with labelling and information that resonates with the consumer,” he said.

According to Deily, packaging can be part of the solution.

“If you show consumers a cucumer unwrapped then show them one wrapped, they’ll say they want the unpackaged product because plastic has got to be bad for the environment,” he said.

However, what they don’t factor in is the fact that the packaged item lasts two to three times longer than the unpackaged item. Therefore it is more likely to make it to the consumer and less likely to end up as landfill where it will rot and produce methane (a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2).

Deily added that in the case of meat, when the whole supply chain is considered, the carbon foot print of the product may be up to 300-400 times larger than that of its packaging. “So we look at what technologies can we use to extend the life of the product as long as possible,” he said.

Emerging technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT) will play an important role in reducing food waste.

According to Deily, IoT can help with tracking product, monitoring product temperature, and even with inventory and management control.

“IoT through connectivity and Quick Response (QR) or bar coding can ensure the oldest product is shipped and consumed first. And that there is better coordination between what is sold at retail and what is needed to be produced for replenishment of stock,” he said.

This technology can even help the consumer.

“We’re working on some QSR code technologies through the IoT which will drive an improved engagement with the consumer and the products they buy. This will enable the consumer to better understand how to use it, how to cook it and whether it’s okay to freeze at the end of its shelf-life,” said Deily.

Benefits for businesses

Apart from its humanitarian and environmental costs, food waste makes bad business sense.

“Globally, it’s estimated that 1.2 billion kg of meat is thrown out at retail every year… Businesses are throwing away over US$9b of product that they don’t sell,” said Deily.

The good news is that cost and waste reduction go hand-in-hand.

To illustrate the pointed Deily pointed to a study Sealed Air did for a UK retailer. By changing the package format in just one food category the retailer was able to reduce the amount of food they were throwing away by 350,000kg and provide a new package format that appealed to the consumer. This equated to an increase of value of US$19m from reduced food waste and increased product sales.

“We have data to show that every dollar you invest to minimise food waste there is about a $14 return on investment,” said Deily. “This is why prevention is preferred over strategies that either recycle or recover food that is about to become waste.”

Sealed Air

Deily pointed out that Sealed Air, predominantly a plastic packaging supplier, is judged by some as part of the problem. But he maintains the company is part of the solution.

For example, the company’s award winning Cryovac Darfresh on Tray more than doubles the shelf life of red meat when compared to the standard Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) process. In addition, it produces no film scrap and up to 40 per cent less material waste.

Another product, the Cryovac Freshness Plus film includes components which absorb oxygen before it reaches the product thereby enabling significant shelf life extension of products such as avocado and bakery goods.

Food waste at the manufacturing level can be effectively managed through improved process technology. Deily explained that this is because the sector operates in a closed environment and can therefore ensure that all processes are monitored and controlled.

Pork producers, for example, make it their business to market and merchandise almost every part of the animal. Apart from food for human consumption, they produce animal food and can even make fertiliser through blood recovery techniques.

“A lot of the loss for processors is just losing some of the economic value, so we work a lot with customers on making sure they maintain the highest value of their product by improving the yields and operational efficiency,” said Deily.

For example, Sealed Air has implemented technologies for deboning a turkey breast as thoroughly and efficiently as possible. The company works in processing plants to help in ways that (directly or indirectly) help reduce waste.

Finally, Deily mentioned Sealed Air’s efforts to reduce food waste by smarter portioning. “We look to deliver product that can be portioned in smaller portions, in a manner that is good for the whole value chain.”

Around the world Sealed Air’s new packaging solutions and technologies are being recognised. Closer to home in Australia and New Zealand, Cryovac Darfresh for fresh pork and Cryovac Freshness Plus for fresh avocado won the votes of the judging panel at the 2016 and 2017 ANZ Save Food Packaging Awards. Each solution was able to significantly extend the shelf life, enable wider food distribution and access, all while reducing food waste.

Darfresh On Tray.
Darfresh On Tray.

 

 

Taking food safety to the floor

It may seem innocuous, but the level of attention that you pay to your factory floor will inevitably improve food and human safety in the workplace. Steven Impey takes a closer inspection.

Finding a balance between product and human safety in the workplace is one of the food sector’s ongoing challenges.

Even on highly automated factory floors, the footfall still remains high wherever quality control requires a keener eye for contamination and operational assistance.

Especially in facilities such as abattoirs, dairy processors, and food factories – where human hand meets the production line – companies must maintain the highest standards for worker safety as well as product integrity.

“What food manufacturers are looking for is product safety – that is the number one issue,” said Ray Schnitzerling, design director at Wiley, who design and build manufacturing facilities.

“You have to be able to clean your floors well and they need to have good drainage; but that doesn’t necessarily solve the human safety factor.

To stop people from slipping, you need to have good flooring systems – however, when you have really good slip assistance, it is going to be harder to clean.

“There is always this conflict between trying to provide something that is easily obtainable and drains well compared to an environment that is safe for workers and is suitable for pedestrian use,” Schnitzerling added.

Among some of the most common causes for injury within Australian industry, slips and trips are still prevalent.

The challenge is to have enough grit in the flooring that makes it easy to clean but remains safe to walk on.

Under section four of the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Global Standard for Food Safety, expectations are set out for the production environment. This will include the layout and maintenance of the facility and equipment, cleaning, pest control, waste management and foreign body controls.

“It is always a struggle to provide that slip resistance rating as opposed to the cleanability of your floor,” Schnitzerling said.

“However, another thing that is an issue is where you have people standing in the same position for long periods.”

Screen Shot 2017-08-09 at 10.47.17 AM

At the top of the tree, stresses on the body are a major cause for long-term injuries, meaning a work environment must meet the needs on the people of the ground as well as the food and drink they produce.

One area that isn’t always taken into consideration is the type and standard of flooring a processing plant invests in.

For example, there are various floor materials that have rubber in them to combat body fatigue – although they are not always desirable in a food environment.

It therefore means knowing what sort of application you need to use in different work environments.

For example, in an abattoir, blood is very aggressive and requires a particular resin flooring that is not susceptible to blood corrosion.

In a milk factory, it is the same story. Whatever the food type you produce, you need to make sure that your flooring is resistant to corrosive food products.

At Flowcrete, the flooring design company based in New South Wales, its engineers work across a multitude of industries.

“Within food and beverage as well as other sectors, we try to work to educate people on what their specific requirements are,” said Ilona Osborne, Flowcrete’s marketing manager.

“Flooring is one of the most important things you can have in a food facility although, unfortunately, it really is an afterthought for a lot of businesses.

“That is why we try to work with businesses on the specification side of things and to look at how it benefits their facility.”

The non-slip issue can always be a safety problem, she explains – especially in wet-processing areas like abattoirs, which require flooring with quite a severe non-slip aggregate in it.

However, they can be quite difficult to clean so it is important to ensure that you have a good material that is easy to maintain and having the correct cleaning tools.

This may include an anti-microbial agent built into the resin which works to proactively kill bacteria on the surface of the floor and create a hygienic environment when accompanied by the correct cleaning procedures.

“We have been working with a lot of clients who have offered a lot of feedback. Traditional resin flooring systems can be difficult to clean which is why we have developed a gloss finish,” Osborne said.

“It’s all about continually looking at the facility and what the requirements are for an individual business and adjusting the flooring systems to suit.”

At Roxset, one of Australia’s leading flooring solutions providers, offering a one-to-one service is vital to getting the job done right first time and in a timely manner.

With profitability and production time now so tightly connected, knowing the ins and outs of the client’s targets is critical to making the right choice for any given floor surface.

Bruce Willan, Roxset’s managing director based in Sydney, explains why that is the company’s number one rule.

“It is a problem seen across the manufacturing industry, where people are becoming fascinated by the latest robotics and technology while the floor surface they work on is important to some but not necessarily to others,” he said.

“It is actually an integral part to any production business and, as an industry necessity, it is important that we provide a high quality food grade surface suitable for rapid installation while there is growing pressure in Australia to run your business 24 hours a day.”

Making sure that a client can easily maintain their floor and won’t need a recall after installation is a long-term investment and proves to be one of the biggest challenges across the industry.

“The time frame that we often work with is very limited – for the larger projects, it could take as few as five days to complete 1,000sqm – and requires, on our part, a good understanding of our clients and their needs,” Willan continued.

“At Roxset, we particularly like to interact with our clients directly so that they and their clients are best served rather than liaising with a third-party contractor.

“We therefore need to make sure to tailor each floor surface to each specific client and, on our part, requires a larger operation that can serve companies across the country, in any given sector, at any given time.”

Another area of importance is knowing a client’s internal traffic and the critical areas of the facility so that the architect can come up with a specific plan.

“Working with and learning from the client involved to achieve the best result means acting as one unit,” Willan said.

“More food processors are now dealing with clients on an international stage and want to look the part, so making sure your flooring is up to standards is the first step to making your factory look the part too.”

One of the misconceptions Osborne has recognised from events such as foodpro is the role resin plays in the maintenance of different industrial flooring.

At Flowcrete, they are offering cementitious polyurethane resin flooring that can be used as an alternative option in the food and beverage industry across a variety of sub-markets.

These flooring systems are designed to work within a punishing environment and provide wear, impact and chemical resistance, which is a benefit to areas where implements can drop on to and cause damage to the floor.

Cementitious polyurethane resins are also able to withstand thermal fluctuations from -40°C to 120°C, which are often found at different stages and zones of production.

Furthermore, they can also feature natural antimicrobial additives, which provide additional protection against bacteria and fungi.

“In one facility, you may have smoke rooms and you may have areas where you are pulling out hot trolleys or you may have cold rooms for process packaging,” Osborne explained

“They all require different flooring technology – and you are not going to use the same flooring you use in a commercial kitchen as you would in a packaging area.”

The introduction of robotics into the workforce has also changed the way companies think about the surface they work on.

For example, processors may consider using their flooring to create zones where it is safe and not safe to work.

This could include painted patterns or lines in the floor’s material that show where people can walk and therefore requires a little bit more slip resistance.

“Factories will probably move to a lights out situation where there are no people within the factory during a period of time,” Schnitzerling said.

“Although there will be supervisors, who may only be allowed to enter the production area at a certain time, you are always going to have some manual processes in place.”

While most manufacturers are trying to replace manual work with automation, you still need floors that can be cleaned.

“That’s what food manufacturers are looking for most of all – a hygienic environment for the production of their food,” he added.

 

Guarding the keys to the future of dairy research

The University of Sydney Dairy Research Foundation at Camden, south west of Sydney, is a vital guardian of the keys to the future of dairy science, according to director Professor Yani Garcia.

The foundation, he says, is a modest building with the future of dairy research inside in the form of a committed group of hard-working PhD candidates and teachers.

The DRF is a pivotal part of the university’s Dairy Science Group, a breeding place which has developed more than 100 PhDs and rolled out more than 500 heavyweight scientific papers since its establishment in 1959.

“The foundation’s purpose is to help the university develop more resources to re-invest in future research,” said Garcia.

“We are also the university’s arm for engaging with dairy farmers and the broad industry, by comparison with other foundations that focus primarily on fundraising activities.

“As part of the University of Sydney Dairy Science Group, we bring together academics and students for dairy related research and teaching.

“We make a strong science-based contribution to industry in what is a classic win-win scenario.”

Garcia said some of the income that supports the foundation each year comes from its annual dairy farmer-focused DRF Symposium which is expected to attract around 200 delegates to Port Macquarie in late July this year.

Other income sources include donations, memberships and providing laboratory services. Most of his research has been supported by Dairy Australia through the industry-driven program FutureDairy.

Garcia also leads the Sydney Dairy Science group, which carries out the research and teaching activities at Sydney University.

Garcia was born into a crop and beef farming family in Argentina. He graduated from university with an agronomy degree, before completing a Masters’ degree in animal science and finally a PhD on pasture-based dairy systems in New Zealand.

He joined the University of Sydney in 2003 to work with past director Prof. Bill Ferguson with whom he co-developed FutureDairy, a national program still ongoing. Garcia was appointed director of the DRF after Bill Ferguson retired in 2008.

“I’m driven by change and new technologies, by finding solutions through innovation and I have a passion for seeing young scientists developing and gaining traction in this vitally important industry.”

 

The bread of the future

Food & Beverage Industry News looks at how sequencing of the wheat genome is set to open new doors in the development of bread for the health conscious.

Vivienne Stein, marketing services manager for Newly Weds Foods, has experienced some benefits from a side effect of the functional foods movement.

Working in the coatings and breadcrumb market, Stein says Newly Weds Foods was competing with major bakeries supplying into retail, as they collected returned bread from supermarkets to create cheap breadcrumb from their excess stock.

“However over time, developments of different types of bread with functional ingredients and additives made management of ingredient listings for crumb from returned bread very difficult. Ingredient listings became far too long for chicken and seafood processors using this crumb to include on their packaging. This became an opportunity for us as we had the ability to custom bake with a shortened list of ingredients to produce crumb.”

Stein’s insight into the increasing popularity of functional food can be painted into a trajectory of what’s to come in the future of bread manufacturing. The latest report from IBISWorld confirms that demand for basic bread is going down while “one significant growth area has been functional breads that have been enriched or fortified with nutrients”.

But will this trend come at the cost of a laundry list of ingredients in every bag of bread, or could the future of bread be the best of both worlds? A solution to boosting the nutritional value of bread without all the additives might not be too far away. Earlier this year, a comprehensive analysis of a wheat genome was published in the journal Genome Research.

The United Kingdom-led consortium provided the most complete map and assembly of the wheat genome to date. The project included input from University of Western Australia researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology.

The ARC Centre’s Owen Duncan, a co-author of the study, explains that this mapping will have significant ramifications for the bread industry, with the potential to breed new wheat strands that can naturally offer the benefits of functional foods, in the very near future.

Owen Duncan from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology.
Owen Duncan from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology.

“When you know the sequence of a gene, it’s a bit like knowing the instruction manual, on how you can get the traits you want,” he explained. “Traditionally, to breed a new wheat gene from concept to commercial variety, it takes about 10 – 20 years, depending on the trait you are looking to exploit. With the sequencing we’ll see this speed up greatly. Now that we know exactly where those traits are in the genome, it could take as little as two to four years.”

This is especially good news for celiacs looking forward to better gluten-free bread products in the future. Through this study, Duncan and other researchers traced gluten proteins back to the wheat genes, and identified more than 100 gluten genes. This analysis will be vital to changing gluten content in wheat.

“We’ll be able to see what gluten is immunogenic. These are the peptides that the immunity systems of people with celiac disease react to,” says Duncan. “We might be able to modify the sequence and create glutens that are not immunogenic.”

The same theory of altering the wheat gene flows into functional foods, where extra nutrients may be able to be included in the wheat. With bread a staple of diets across the planet, this could improve the health of people the world over.   

“As for the bread of the future, I see bread as being able to be a complete nutritional source, naturally filled with all the vitamins and minerals we need, rather than having to add these in, and depend on processing,” says Duncan “We can create a wheat that could be a complete dietary source.”

Advances in wheat genome research could also help the bread industry manage input prices, by stabilising production with a more resistant strain. Duncan explains that other members of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology have been able to trace back the sodium transporter – the trait that allows wheat to grow in saline fields. As a result, they increased the yield of wheat by 25 per cent.

This is all welcomed news for an industry that is suffering from decreasing margins. The IBISWorld report puts bread production revenue at $2.7 billion in 2016-17, with annual growth for the past five years at just 2.8 per cent. The report estimates annual growth for the next five years will be just 1.8 per cent.

“Profitability in the market is currently low, competition is high, and major players are having to adapt to lower prices,” said Sam Johnson, a senior industry analyst with IBISWorld. A lower wheat price would be welcome, as the domestic price of wheat is a key external driver in determining profitability.

IBISWorld’s report Bread Production in Australia aptly pointed out that “Higher flour prices therefore do not always result in higher revenue”. Although flour costs have dropped since their peak of 2014, they remain a risk for bread manufacturers in an increasingly competitive market.

Johnson’s advice to bread manufacturers looking to the future is to continue along the path of functional foods and premiumisation, rather than trying to compete with in-house supermarket brands on price.

“Companies need to be looking at incorporating newer, healthier ingredients, or even just promoting natural ingredients that are already in their bread,” said Johnson. “Customers need to perceive that the products are healthy.”

Sam Johnson, a senior industry analyst with IBISWorld.
Sam Johnson, a senior industry analyst with IBISWorld.

 

Brewer goes for smooth-surface motors in the malt house

In the selection and configuration of drives for the food and beverage industry, food safety is only the most obvious major concern. Various other issues must also be addressed with common challenges including adverse environmental conditions that must be kept under control from the outset. A knowledgeable specialist in this field, Nord Drivesystems has configured clean and resilient systems based on efficient smooth-surface motors for a Czech malt house.

Traditionally, beer brewers used to prepare their own malt. Now, specialized malt houses often handle this job for them. The processes in these facilities are largely automated and carried out with state-of-the-art equipment. One large, modern malt house can be found in Nymburk near Prague, the Czech capital. The people of this region remain very committed to the high standards that make Czech beer famous all around the world. In the first phase of processing, grain is steeped in water until it is ready to germinate. Next, the grain is placed in a so-called Saladin box, where it sprouts leaves and roots. Enzymes are formed and enriched. They convert the starch into malt sugar. All the while, the grain is regularly raked and aired. After about five days, the green malt is transferred to a drying kiln.

Retrofit with over 100 new drives

Before the advent of automation, turning the barley and clearing the malting floor were strenuous physical tasks that took many hours to complete. Modern malt houses have long ago switched to large mechanical turners, which enable production volumes of tens of thousands of tons per year. When the Nymburk malt house required a full-scale retrofit of these machines, they turned to Moravské potravinářské strojírny (MOPOS), a Czech OEM for the food industry with a particular focus on malt house and bakery machinery.

Eight turners, each over 7 m wide and weighing over 7.5 tons, were refurbished. A total of 120 drives had to be replaced with new, state-of-the-art systems. Each turner includes a main drive which moves the machine on rails that span the length of the Saladin box – over 53 m. These boxes are about 2 m deep. In addition, there are 14 individually driven vertical screws per turner. These rake the germinating grain once or twice per day as needed to keep it cool and aerated. Finally, a scraper mounted on the machine serves to discharge the green malt.

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New smooth-surface motors preferred

In this project, Nord was the single source of drive solutions. NORD supplied 112 geared motors for the screw agitators as well as eight main drives with drive electronics for speed control. The drive manufacturer’s Czech subsidiary, NORD-Poháněcí technika, s. r. o., worked closely with their long-time customer MOPOS to configure these systems to suit the application. The ambient conditions in the malt house are tough. The atmosphere is saturated with 100 percent humidity. Moreover, water vapor reacting with carbon dioxide also leads to the permanent presence of weak carbonic acid (H2CO3). Given these very tough operating conditions, MOPOS selected smooth-surface motors, which NORD has been manufacturing since 2013, for the very first time. In contrast to conventional motor types, the casings of these motors have no cooling fins, which eliminates typical dirt traps and surfaces prone to attract condensation moisture. The standard versions of these systems already provide IP66 ingress protection. Their terminal boxes are filled with solid resin. Both the rotors and stators are treated with a special, moisture-resistant lacquer.

Efficient thermal management

The smooth cases of the motors provide extra resistance against harmful influences as noted above.

However, this design requires careful thermal management, especially since the drives in the MOPOS machine run in continuous operation. The smooth-surface motors on the screw agitators feature a temperature sensor and a cooling fan. This allows for smaller sized motors without a risk of overheating. The motor on the main drive is non-ventilated and therefore solely cooled by surface heat dissipation. These motors are controlled by frequency inverters to be run at different speeds at various stages of the process.

Like all AC vector drives manufactured by NORD, the SK 500E units on the main drives use field-oriented vector control and partial load detection. Due to the harsh environmental conditions, the inverters are installed in a control cabinet.

Sturdy, food-grade drive configuration

Robust BLOCK series parallel-shaft gearboxes were selected for the main drives. These multi-stage gearboxes feature a high gear ratio to enable slow and gentle agitation of the grain. The parallel-shaft gearboxes on the agitators are filled with a fully synthetic oil certified for the food industry. They feature stainless steel output shafts. They ensure corrosion resistance as well as high resistance against cleaning chemicals used in the facility. All drives were supplied with a special coating adapted to the wet environment in malt houses.

Drive partner with extensive industry expertise

MOPOS, a major customer of the Czech branch of the Nord Drivesystems Group, has been using NORD solutions for many years in numerous machines and plants. “We appreciate working with NORD and acknowledge their share in the technological advances we have achieved for our machines”, says Jan Kubáček, managing director at MOPOS. “I am especially delighted that the success of this recently completed project has caught the attention of Pilsner Urquell Plzeň brewery.”

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Millennials and their snacking preference

Millennials love to snack. In fact, many millennials see snacking as a necessity and snack foods make up the dominant meal of the day for many in this generation. They are more likely to snack four times or more a day, according to Mintel research[1]. In addition, they are expected to have a major impact on global consumer market as their average income will more than double from USD5,900 in 2014 to USD13,000 in 2024.

The Asia Pacific region especially, with its comparatively younger population and burgeoning middle income group, is poised to be the fastest growing snack market in the world[2]. It is no wonder that food and beverage businesses across the globe are scrambling to cater to this target market. For example, fast food chain McDonald’s had introduced snack items like twisty pasta soup in Hong Kong, cheese and egg served in a Filipino-style bread roll in the Philippines and wholegrain muffins in various markets including Singapore.

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What do millennials want?

So, millennials want easily accessible, simple to consume convenient food — also known as snack food. However, that is not all. Millennial consumers want their snacks to be flavourful, and they want them to be healthy and nutritious. Why is this so?

That is because this group of consumers grew up in the information age and most of them have participated in school nutrition programmes. This makes them aware of the importance of eating healthy and subsequently, cultivate a preference to go for snacks that offer lower calories or are high in nutritional value. For example, global confectionary company Mondelez is enjoying huge success after they introduced Oreo Thins[3], a slimmer version of their classic cookie product with less cream filling and fewer calories per cookie.

At the same time, millennials are a well-travelled group, compared to the generations that came before them. Many millennial consumers are looking for exotic foreign experiences. A recent survey[4] revealed that millennial travellers want to fully immerse themselves into new cultures, and feast on local cuisine. This trend is also driving a strong influence on the food industry as manufacturers strive to offer creative products with international flavours. Snacks that come in flavours like Indian tandoori, French truffle, Japanese teriyaki, Korean kimchi, Mexican Salsa, Thai tomyum, etc. are not uncommon now.

Simply put, snacks that offers exciting flavours and good nutritional value would do well with this group of consumers.

The market makes its move

 Food industry players who understand their millennial customers are offering healthier snack products with exciting flavours. One way they have been going about this is through the application of functional ingredients.

Slow release carbohydrates are popular with manufacturers looking to offer snacks with lower glycaemic profiles. There are two ways in which manufacturers tap on functional ingredients to offer products that solicit lower blood glucose responses:

  • Modifying the glucose supply with fully available, yet low glycaemic carbohydrates, such as Palatinose (isomaltulose)
  • Replacing sugar with partially available carbohydrates such as the sugar replacer isomalt

Palatinose is an innovative, next generation sugar derived from pure beet sugar. It is the only low glycaemic carbohydrate that is fully digestible, while still providing sustained energy. It is hydrolysed four to five times more slowly by the enzymes in the small intestine as compared to common sugars like glucose or sucrose. This allows it to guarantee a balanced energy supply without sharp peaks and dips in the blood glucose response curve. As a result, snacks such as cereal bars, donuts and muffins that contain Palatinose help consumers get through a busy day without feelings of tiredness or cravings shortly after eating.

On the other hand, manufacturers may take the approach of replacing fully available carbohydrates with partially available or non-available ones in their snack products. Numerous studies have demonstrated that blood glucose and insulin levels rise only minimally after the consumption of isomalt due to its low glycaemic index of 2. It has a very similar organoleptical profile to sugar with only half the calories (2.4kcal/g). As a bulk sweetener, isomalt allows for a 1:1 replacement of sugar in snacks and with its low hygroscopicity, it helps to enhance the storage stability of various snacks such as candies, biscuits and cookies.

Other than carbohydrates, manufacturers are also using functional fibres such BENEO’s prebiotic dietary fibres Orafti Inulin and Orafti Oligofructose to create a ‘sugar out, fibre in’ approach in their snack products. Inulin and oligofructose are naturally extracted from chicory root and not digested by stomach enzymes, allowing them to have minimal impact on blood glucose levels.These chicory root fibres have a prebiotic effect on our digestive system, which means that they can positively influence our gut micro flora by supporting ‘good bacteria’. This results in a healthy intestinal environment with improved stool frequency.

Food and lifestyle choices

Like most consumers, millennials want to get the most out of life, whether it is about caring for the family, building a successful career or aiming for personal achievements — like climbing a mountain or running a marathon. Modern day life for millennials is often fast paced and many naturally turn to snacking to keep their energy levels up throughout the day.

Innovative food manufacturers can cater to the demands of their millennial customers by coming up with creative and nutritionally balanced snacks through the use of functional ingredients such as Palatinose, isomalt and prebiotic dietary fibres. These healthier snacks are able to support consumers in their efforts to stay on a low glycaemic and high- fibre diet while providing sugar and fat replacement benefits.

ISO standards and safety – can you afford to be without?

Managing the risks associated with the use of machinery and equipment in manufacturing forms part of critical legislation in Australia, New Zealand and around the world. Today, eliminating and reducing risk in terms of manufacturing safety is of utmost importance, with ISO13849-1 setting the standard.

Through the millions of life cycles that SMC’s products travel, protecting people and production by delivering on quality safety solutions is on the top of SMC’s priority list. From individually constructed machines to highly complex systems, SMC looks to flexibility and productivity coupled with trouble-free user and operating safety.

James Graham, SMC Australia|New Zealand Manager of Mechatronics and Control Systems explains that safety is its own unique language which requires extra care and expertise. “In the event of an emergency, most if not all applications will require for the release of all stored energy including compressed air. This must be released in the safest way possible and safety solutions must be considered to minimize risks,” he said

“Much like in everyday life, safety helps to establish trust. More and more, the industry demands safety and industry experts need to be able to walk you through the entire process – holistic safety engineering begins as early as the design phase.”

Safety forms part of the bigger picture in sustaining not only components but machines too. With advanced R&D at the forefront, SMC offers products and technical expertise throughout from supporting customers during risk assessment to helping find the appropriate safety product in relation to current safety regulations and providing all the necessary parameters.

Safety Solutions

To meet ISO13849-1 standards, SMC introduced its range of VP544/744-X555/585, Dual Residual Pressure Release Valves with Soft Start-up Function, designed to join its existing range.

“Adhering to international machine safety standards is a must for manufacturers and designers following the introduction of this ISO standard. The standard sets out safety requirements and guidance on the principles for the design and integration of safety-related parts of control systems, including the design of software,” explained Graham.

“The design of these valves features an integrated soft-start up function that gradually builds the pressure of the pneumatic system, delivering performance consistency and excellent safety.”

Boasting a reliable construction, the valves have two stations, so if one fails to operate, residual pressure is released by the remaining valve to maintain the safety function. Further features include a selectable throttle and fixed orifice that allows the pressure to be easily adjusted. In addition, they come with IP65 enclosure protection, a safety limit switches to ensure that the main valve position is automatically checked and the ability to connect to modular type FRL units, offering superb flexibility and versatility and allowing the valves to be used across a broad range of applications.

Safety valves are also integrated with the free SISTEMA software tool which helps to reduce risk by feeding information through rapidly so that operators can react quickly.

“The beauty of these valves is that while risk is reduced, high flow rates are still achieved. It’s great for high-risk application such as in automatic machines, pick and place and progressive start-ups such as those found in most industrial operations,” said Graham.

 

Automation and craft beer making

In recent years the craft beer industry has grown to become a competitive $160m industry, with brewers now turning their attention to exports.

When an industry gets competitive, players look around for ways to grow and get ahead of the competition. Automation can play a major role in lifting production and increasing profits for the brewers in this segment.

According to Mark Emmett, Managing Director of HMPS, craft brewers have traditionally been sceptical about automation and weary of the costs. “The fact remains craft beer is a labour of love and automation means more distance between the brewer and his beer” he said.

However, to grow market share and remain competitive, automation needs to be considered.

While it is seldom that any craft brewer would go all out on automation in one go, the stages need to be investigated and engaged. HMPS specialises in packaging and understands that a craft brewer is a different breed of customer all together. A noticeable trend is to start small with bottling conveyers and capping machines and work up to case packer and palletisers.

The degree of automation often depends on the size of the craft brewery.

For all sizes, consistency is a primary goal. Fewer brewers always leads to higher consistency because there’s less chance for human error. In smaller breweries, consistency comes with the nature of the job as a limited number of refined experts have control over the process. But as breweries grow, automation enters the picture to maintain this consistency and reduce how many hands touch the product.

“The ideal is that we grow the automation as the business grows. We are very happy to meet with craft brewers and provide automation advice by doing a study of their current production facilities. We would be able to provide them with output speeds and productivity improvement figures so that they are able to measure the level of profitability they may achieve using various case scenarios” said Emmett (pictured).

HMPS is able to repurpose old machines, integrate existing machines into new systems and sometimes even sell old machines. The company specialises in bespoke solutions so the automation is scalable according to the customer’s requirements. Furthermore, they offer maintenance on machinery, even if it is not their own product.

“The planning phase has become longer because machines need to have the longevity to cope with consumer demands and future growth. For example, a brewer may be packing bottles today but when they move into an export market they may need to change over to cans,” said Emmett.

“And then we understand that whether it is a bottle or a can, there are various sizes and packaging materials and configurations to consider. We spend more time with the customer working out the various scenarios and possible configurations, and designing to accommodate these.

“Consumers are driving manufacturing. Manufacturers are responding to consumer demands at a more rapid pace, and machines need to keep up with these changing demands.”

HMPS is a wholly owned Australian company which specialises in the design, development and manufacturing of high quality machinery for packaging processes. The company serves customers across all industries.

Starting out as a result of the key wine industry in South Australia, the company designed and developed the first Bag in Box machinery back in the eighties and has since grown to offer case packers, RSC, palletisers, carton erectors and sealers, pick and place applications and specialised robotic solutions.

HMPS can offer innovative and specialised machinery which has been adapted to the client’s unique requirements.

“Through our extensive experience in the design and manufacturing of packaging machinery, not just for the locally but also the international market, we are able to advise customers on tried and tested methods to ensure the smooth operation of their business,” said Emmett.

HMPS will be exhibiting at the CBIA Craft Brewers Conference in the Adelaide Convention Centre from 25 – 27 July 2017.

 

Skycargo delivering for perishable food producers

Australia’s advanced logistics is helping perishable producers get a leg-up in the Middle Eastern Market.

For Wade Bollard, Export Manager of CT Freight, getting his customers’ product to the growing Middle Eastern market is a race against time.

Australian lamb is the latest fashion in that part of the world, and the Middle East is one of our most rapidly growing export markets. In addition to the inherent challenges of transporting lamb overseas, when exporting to a largely Muslim country a few additional challenges emerge.

“A number of our customers have specific requirements about when products such as meat can be consumed,” explained Bollard. “This means keeping our product secure at an appropriate temperature and making sure that it arrives at its destination within 72 hours of us delivering it.”

For these prime Middle Eastern markets, meat must be consumed or salted within a limited time frame from slaughter for it to be considered halal. From the moment an animal is killed, Bollard’s customers are relying on his speedy delivery to ensure their eagerly awaiting clientele can consume these products.

Bollard isn’t alone in needing consistent, speedy delivery of perishable goods. Australia’s produce is gaining an international reputation for its quality. Greg Johnson, Cargo Manager Australia for Emirates SkyCargo, has seen first hand how consumers globally are gaining a taste for fresh Australian perishables. In 2016 Emirates SkyCargo exported more than 40,000 tonnes of perishables from Australia, including more than 16,000 tonnes of meat.

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“Consumers around the world are becoming accustomed to high quality fruit and vegetables produce, irrespective of the season,” he said. “We’re seeing this trend in line with hospitality as well, with restaurants offering perishables that need to be shipped by air. Although it may seem that the world is getting smaller everyday, physically it’s not. The logistical challenges aren’t changing.”

Australian exporters, however, are gaining a major competitive advantage thanks to the development of some of the most sophisticated logistical services available on the planet. Although the world isn’t shrinking, services like Emirates SkyFresh – launched in April – are cutting out the geographical barriers that used to limit Australian producers.

“We’ve recognise that the key to our growth is our customers’ growth,” said Johnson. “What we’ve done is develop a range of products and solutions to meet market demands, and they come under the umbrella of SkyFresh.”

The two main logistical challenges that make up getting fresh produce overseas are time and temperature. On the temperature front, Emirates has put together a number of services and products to create a completely unbroken cool chain. Here, three levels of service Emirate SkyFresh, Emirates SkyFresh Breathe and Emirates SkyFresh Active have been designed to meet the levelled needs of their client (see breakout box).

For the SkyFresh Breathe service, Johnson said Emirates is especially proud of its Ventilated Cool Dolly. Possibly the first of its kind in the industry, the Cool Dolly maintains a constant temperature and has a ventilation system to allow it to bring in fresh air from outside.

“The dollies are set to the right temperature while they are waiting for the planes to land,” he explained. “They can fit a complete aircraft pallet, so the perishables are not exposed to the weather.”

When the cargo lands in Dubai, quick ramp access brings it to the Cargo Mega Terminal (CMT) with independently controlled chambers that can vary in temperature, depending on the product.

On the time front, ground staff give the fresh produce quick ramp access and prioritised ground handling. One advantage that Emirates holds above its competition, Johnson explained, is the fact that the airline’s full fleet of aircrafts is wide bodied, and can fit a wide-bodied pallet. This is a major leg up over other services, that will often dismantle pallets to fit them onto smaller aircrafts for the last leg of their journeys.

Thanks to this innovation, Johnson says SkyFresh can deliver fresh produce overnight to the Middle Eastern market.

“Our flights leave every evening, and arrive the next morning in Dubai at around 5:30am – 6am. From there, the goods can be cleared and delivered locally in two to three hours – that’s next day delivery,” he said.

Johnson said this advantage is particularly helpful for Australian producers. Although the nature of our market means we can’t compete on price, we can stay ahead on freshness.

“Australian producers are competing with South American producers, we’re seeing it now with fruit and vegetables. Their costs are a lot lower, but thanks to our logistics, our products are much fresher than what these competitors can provide,” said Johnson.

Johnson advised interested exporters who haven’t yet discovered the Middle Eastern market to start looking.

“There is a big expat community in Dubai. It’s turned into a major trading port. Most of our Australian goods are not easily produced locally – things like beef, lamb, and cheese,” he said.

“Australians can really compete on quality. Thanks to these temperature controlled containers, we can pride ourselves on serving this market while preserving quality.”   

Emirates SkyCargo Cool Chain Image 1

Food safety and the laws of attraction

New magnetic separation technology is set to save food and dairy manufacturers from detrimental product recalls.

Braden Goddin (pictured below), Product Manager for Aurora Process Solutions, has the unpleasant task of sitting down with food producers and talking about product recalls.

“It’s a difficult topic to bring up,” he said. “A recall is one of the worst things that can happen to a food producer. There is the tangible cost of actually pulling the food off the shelves and disposing of it, and the intangible cost to a brand and its reputation in the marketplace.”

Sadly, product recalls are becoming if not common, at least regularly covered in the media, as companies find themselves in terrible situations. At best, a food recall costs a firm thousands of dollars– at worst, the recall can affect the health of consumers, leading to a public outcry against a brand.

Goddin is having these conversations, however, because he’s part of a team dedicated to helping companies avoid food recalls. His company is working to popularise magnetic separation in the Australasian food processing industry, specifically among powdered milk products. It’s what he called a “very cost effective insurance” for companies that risk contamination from metallic foreign objects.

“Keeping foreign matter out of your product it massive, it’s something you want to avoid at all costs. Just think about a food processing factory; say you’re making an infant formula. It’s a complex process. You might be pushing out tonnes of product an hour, moving through thousands of metal parts,” said Goddin. “Then you have the end consumer, the parent, literally sifting through the formula one tablespoon at a time. Then they find a black particle in the formula and their outraged reaction is understandable.”

In addition to risks to a producer’s reputation, and consumers’ health, Goddin said food producers must consider the risks to their processing equipment.

“Some products need to be ground, milled, minced, and mixed. This machinery operates at high speeds and tolerances and can become extremely dangerous if metal contamination is processed. This can escalate the impact of foreign matter,” explained Goddin. “In some situations there is the risk of explosion from sparks ignited from pieces of metal that are not supposed to be there. It’s not just about protecting the brand, but also about protecting your people, plant and equipment.”

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He adds that by ensuring cleaner product is passing through a machine, manufacturers should be able to reduce the maintenance that’s needed on the equipment.

The use of magnets in food processing on its own is nothing new. Goddin explained, however the performance expectation of magnetic separators is changing considerably. Micro particles of foreign matter that used to be seen as acceptable are now targeted with consumers and regulators lifting the bar in terms of quality expectation.

Aurora stands out from its competitors as having developed its magnets hand in hand with actual food processors, working with major food & dairy manufacturers. The magnets themselves are rare earth magnets, meaning they require no power or consumable to operate. Traditionally, companies have just worked to make these magnets as strong as possible. What Aurora has done is work closely with its clients to develop a magnet that fits manufacturers’ needs, in terms of hygiene, design, product flow, and capacity requirements.

“We realised pretty early on that we had to design a range of magnets ourselves, utilising our global connections,” said Goddin. “We worked directly with the people on the floor, the people who were working day in, day out in these factories right through to laboratory technicians to come up with something that would revolutionise magnets from both a technical and operational perspective.”   

The result of that work is the Force10 range of magnets (pictured top), one of the industries only HACCP-endorsed magnetic separation systems. Although it works across most processing operations, Aurora has focused on the needs of the food and dairy industries.

Braden notes that processors that are already looking at their foreign matter, through the use of metal detection and X-ray technology, will still need to consider integrating the use of magnets, as they pick up critical brackets of foreign matter that are not captured by other means and also provide protection right through the process from intakes to packing.

“The magnets work hand in hand with these systems. Metal detection, X-ray, filtration and sifting technology have limitations, depending on particle size, orientation, product and process characteristics, and so on,” he said.

By implementing these systems, Godin said processors can rest easier at night, knowing that the products that travel out of the factory, onto retail shelves, then into a consumer’s pantry are clean.

“Foreign matter is a critical and escalating issue right now, it’s at the front of the market’s mind,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to add value to your brand.”

Built for success – plant design in the food & beverage sector

Plant design should be one of the first things food makers consider when looking to maximise operational efficiency. Getting the right design is all about asking the right questions.

Torino Food Service, a growing import and distribution business, recently consolidated its operations into a single facility at Ingleburn in South-Western Sydney. Previously, the company’s operations had been spread across multiple sites.

At the time, the company forecast that the relocation would result in a three per cent reduction in running costs per dollar of sales over its whole operations, as well as an additional 12 per cent reduction in servicing costs on associated equipment.

The move, in other words, was well worth the effort and goes to show that operational efficiency isn’t all about supply chains, management expertise, lean manufacturing, automation and a well-trained workforce. While such factors are crucial, having a well-designed, functioning plant, plays an important role in bringing them all together.

Vaughan Constructions

Torino’s new facility was built by Vaughan Constructions, a company that is known for specialised design and construct, particularly of medium to large scale  complex facilities.

Established in 1955, Vaughan built its first facility for the food and beverage sector over 35 years ago.

Initially, the company worked for drink producers. “We designed and built production facilities for brands like Patra and The Original Juice Co. They’re brands that have been around for a long time,” Vaughan’s Managing Director, Andrew Noble told Food & Beverage Industry News.

“Nowadays our clients include all spectrums of the food and beverage market, from soft drink to juice, the full range of dairy products, right through to all of the bakery and protein class of foods.”

Noble said that the fast-changing nature of the sector makes it an exciting one to be involved with. This pace of change is not confined to product development. “The technology on the production is also evolving,” he said.

This has implications for the buildings needed to house that technology. “It means, for any building, what we did yesterday isn’t necessarily the complete answer for tomorrow,” said Noble.

According to Noble, Vaughan is able to keep up with these changes by partnering with clients over many years and integrating specialist consultants where required.

He said that the relationship with clients is paramount.

“The most important thing for the client is that they have a single point of contact that they can trust. That’s critical because they have to look after their core business,” he said.

“We make sure that the right questions are asked right from the very beginning. We will gather all the necessary information, and provide options. The client gets the opportunity to evaluate the balance between  performance improvement versus capital investment.”

Noble added that Vaughan’s value management processes have a track record of delivering substantial project savings for clients. “Figures of 15 – 20 per cent improvement on the bottom line is not uncommon,” he said.

ASRS warehouse

Vaughan built an automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) warehouse for PepsiCo in the Adelaide suburb of Regency Park . The facility (pictured above and below) is dedicated to the company’s Smith’s snack foods brand.

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“It’s the first fully automated plant that we’ve put into Smiths and it was done to drive improvement,” explained Steve Reilly, PepsiCo’s Australia & New Zealand’s Senior Engineering Manager.

“It’s allowed us to store more product at our manufacturing site. It’s allowed us to deliver to the central warehouses of our major customers, like Coles, Woolworths and Metcash. And it’s allowed us to better facilitate that delivery method.”

On top of that, the automated facility has helped the company minimise labour costs.

Reilly said that PepsiCo decided on a height of 30-pluse metres for the warehouse and added that, for a building of that height issues such as wind loads and seismic events have to be taken into consideration.

In addition, he said, there were some complications at the site.

“It was deemed that – given the soil substructure – we needed to do a little bit more in our foundation work…to ensure that the slab that was put on top of that was going to meet the specifications of the automation company,” he said. “So the floor needs to very flat and it needs to stay flat over a long period of time, otherwise there would be the potential for the automation to go out of kilter.”

“So they had to work to some pretty critical specifications and I thought they did that pretty well,” he said.

Seamless factory warehouse

Langdon Ingredients is a family business established way back in 1852. With operations in Australia, New Zealand, South East Asia, UK and South Africa, the company is a supplier of food ingredients and value added services to food manufacturers.

“Vaughan recently completed stage seven of our main facility in Melbourne, which we started ten years ago and this is the final addition to the site,” said Chris Langdon, Managing Director of Langdon Foods.

“The last stage was a client and humidity controlled warehouse that was of a specialist nature and in combination with ourselves they selected the appropriate contractors for the specialty works.

“It all connects and now works as a seamless factory/warehouse under one roof.”

Contracts

There are three main types of contracts used in the building industry.

The first type is a “straight tender”. In cases where this type of contract is signed, the client is responsible for all the design documents.

As Noble put it, this can pose a risk to the client  where, in extreme cases,   if the drawings show the doors in the building  but door handles aren’t nominated, they will be built without handles.

The second type of contract is the “Design and Construct” contract. Using this methodology, the builder is responsible for the design and gives a price to the client for the entire design and construction process which is generally based on a performance brief. If there are no door handles on the drawing, it is the builder’s responsibility to include them if they’re required.

The third type of contract is called “Early Contractor Involvement” (ECI). Using this methodology, the builder comes on board when the project is at an embryonic stage and takes full responsibility.

According to Noble, ECI is a methodology that more and more clients, particularly in specialised industries like food and beverage are adopting.

“If I were to predict the next twenty years I’d say 75 per cent of specialised projects will be completed under an ECI methodology,” he said.

“It allows the client to tap into the latent knowledge, resources and specialisation within the organisation they’re partnering with. The client maintains visibility of the pricing and as much  control as they desire.”

In a fast changing, dynamic industry like food making, this is invaluable.

“With an ECI methodology the clients can actually stress test where things are at throughout the process before they’re over committed,” said Noble. “So they’ve got the option to either turn back or to change tack..”

These are great advantages for any business looking to maximise operational efficiency.