A well grown relationship

The Costa tagline is a promise: well grown. It’s a simple, down to earth statement that’s completely fitting of the leading Australian fresh produce grower. It’s also apt when describing the relationship that’s been cultivated between the BSC Campbellfield branch and Costa’s mushroom farm in Mernda, located on the outskirts of Melbourne.

Costa’s Mernda mushroom farm is the largest mushroom farm in Australia. They harvest both white and brown Agaricus mushrooms and supply to major supermarkets – the punnets that readers see on the shelves of major supermarket chains in Melbourne are likely to have been grown and packed in Mernda.

According to David Quadrino, who plays the dual role of Pre-Harvest and Maintenance Manager at the farm, on average 260 Tonnes or 8 million individual mushrooms are picked every week. They also employ over 500 people onsite and run 7 days a week, 364 days a year – with New Year’s Day being the only day the farm is closed.

It’s a large operation and David is responsible for the process “all the way until the mushrooms are picked” in addition to the site equipment and staff who provide maintenance services, including the security and cleaners. The scope of his job is extensive and as such, he has come to rely on the supply and expertise of BSC’s nearby branch in Campellfield, which is managed by Mark Shaw.

“They’re always available to me when I phone and will go out of their way to supply us with the parts and equipment we need – even if it’s out of their scope,” explains David. “They’re a critical part of our operation, providing invaluable service and products that range from consumables in the workshop to motors, gear boxes and bearings.”

Being available to David and the Costa crew at Mernda is a commitment that BSC Campbellfield manager Mark Shaw and his team take seriously.

“The solutions we provide are all in one, ranging from basic consumables through to the industrial side which encompasses power transmission, gear boxes, bearings and the like,” says Mark. “We go out to the site three times a week to check their consumables and address any needs they have. They have a consumable section that we keep stocked with greases, aerosols, nuts and bolts, cutting disks, abrasives, glues and so on. They also have a hydraulic section to make hoses, and we provide all the fittings for that as well.”

The BSC branch provides a maintenance package to the Costa Mernda mushroom farm, which means they provide a regular and ongoing service, as well as parts and equipment as needed. However, Mark clarifies his team is available beyond the site visit times allocated.

“We provide a reliable service through and through. What that means is we’re available when they need us. As long as they communicate their requirements, we’ll make sure we get that product to them as quick as possible,” he enthuses. “Sometimes it may be challenging to arrange the parts or equipment on time, but we enjoy that challenge and find the result very satisfying. This type of customer is a hidden gem – we really value them and are glad to be the ‘go to’ branch they rely on.”

The level of support the BSC branch provides to the Mernda operation is certainly appreciated. From David’s perspective, the BSC team out at Campbellfield will “always go out of their way” to assist and service the farm’s needs. He provides an example of where Mark organised a replacement oven for the farm’s canteen, despite this piece of equipment being outside the scope of products that BSC typically supplies.

“A few months ago, the oven went in the canteen and I couldn’t find a supplier in our list, so I rang Mark and gave him the oven details. I asked if he could help us out by buying it and charging it to our bill – next thing I know we have a new oven here. The exact replacement needed,” David recalls. “This illustrates the lengths that Mark and the team will go to help us out, and it means a lot to us.”

Importantly, the BSC team out at Campbellfield have an understanding of the farm’s timelines and commitment to production. This translates to providing a fast and efficient service.

“A few weeks back we had an issue with our bag sealers on the spawn lab. Four of the belts were worn and the machine had stopped running. We didn’t have any spares,” explains David. “I rang Trent at the Campbellfield branch and gave him the size I needed. He located the parts out in Dandenong and had them sent to me within 2 hours. Even though I’d advised that production for the day had stopped, he knew I needed the machine to be working the next morning so he just made sure I had the parts as soon as possible.”

All in all, the relationship between the branch and the Mernda farm could certainly be described as ‘well grown’, with a mutual respect for the others’ operation evident.

“I’m a phone person. Many people tend to stick to email these days, but I prefer to speak to someone over the phone,” adds David. “The guys out at BSC in Campbellfield always answer my calls. They’re always there to provide support. It’s a level of service that we take personally because we know they will go above and beyond for us.”

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BSC opens the Gates to quality hoses for Australian premium winemaker

For a winery with a history as rich as South Australia’s Oxford Landing Estate winery, choosing the right equipment is essential to ensuring the wine’s quality. This is why when BSC Sales Representative, Robert Harris first introduced Gates’ food-grade hoses to the winery, he did not expect the winemakers to approve the product right away.

Robert says he knew about the stringent quality assurance process that the winery had in place, but he also had great confidence in the quality of the product he was offering.

Robert says when he called Oxford Landing Estates’ cellar manager to set up an appointment to introduce Gates’ hoses to him a couple of years ago, he was told to not keep his hopes high. He took his shot and went in with samples of the high-end Gates hoses. The winery agreed to test the wine transfer hoses and soon placed their first major order, forging a relationship with BSC that has flourished over time.

Chris Leggett, the Logistics Manager at Oxford Landing Estate, says the winery has one of the most stringent quality control processes in the industry.

“Any product that comes into any form of contact with the wine, such as the inside surface of the hose, needs to go through a quality control process and be approved for use before we can purchase it. Once we purchase a hose, it will go through a cleaning process and then through the quality control verification process,” he explains.

Chris has worked at the Oxford Landing Estate winery since the winery was built in 2004. He says he’s quite happy working with BSC as a supplier.

“BSC supplies us with quality hoses, as well as other equipment such as chains, bearings, seals and spare parts. We have never had any issues or concerns working with BSC. Their response time is very good and they understand what we need,” Chris says.

“The Gates’ hoses being of very high quality, it saves us time when it comes to testing the products. Robert visits us regularly on behalf of BSC and offers consultation to the maintenance department regarding any components that they need,” he adds.

Gates is one of the key suppliers of hosing solutions to the food and beverage industry in Australia and they work closely with BSC as a trusted partner to deliver those solutions.

Gates Australia Product Manager for Food Products, Kent Clark, says the Gates FOOD MASTER XTREME 250SD CR is an ideal hose for transferring wine, as well as any other beverage that could have its taste tainted if run through a lower-grade transfer hose.

“A number of well-known wineries only trust this particular product for transferring their wine. This is mostly based on their experience of being able to maintain the wine’s taste and flavor when it passes through the hose. We also sell the hose to manufacturers of beer, ale, milk, yoghurt, juices, soft drinks, cosmetic and pharmaceutical products.

What makes the FOOD MASTER XTREME 250SD CR unique, Kent says, is the proprietary Sanitron developed by Gates for use in the Food Master premium series.

The tube material, Sanitron provides a glass-smooth interior surface for efficient product flow – a smoothness competitors can’t match. It will not discolour foods and beverages or impart any unusual taste or odour during product transfer. And Sanitron is a snap to clean using open-end steam or high-temperature cleaning solutions up to 110°C. which meets the requirements of Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 3A-Class 3 and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“The hose is also reinforced with a conductive filament and a monofilament helix, which provides crush and kink resistance. This means the hose can be run over or hit up against hard surfaces without any impact to the structure of the hose,” he adds.

Gates also offers a range of other hoses particularly designed for the food and beverage industry. These include, among others, the light and flexible FOOD MASTER BEVERAGE 150SD CR and FOOD MASTER OILS and DAIRY 150SD, which is ideal for transfer of animal fat, vegetable oil and dairy products.

Kent says working with BSC, Gates is able to provide flexible and custom-made solutions when required.

“For example, our hoses are often available in the standard 30-metre lengths. But we also have a custom-length program with BSC, wherein we can provide customised hose lengths to customers on a case-by-case basis,” Kent says.

“We hold our customers in high regard and support them as best we can. We understand that pricing and product availability are top priorities for our customers and that is why we work with BSC to provide quick turnarounds for customers,” he concludes.

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How Nestlé came out on top during COVID-19

When you’re a big conglomerate like Nestlé, reputation is key – not just in terms of the products  you produce, but how you look after staff.

Nestlé is a world-renowned food and beverage company, which means it is a vital industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. This also means it has to go through a lot of adjustments when it comes to the processing and manufacturing of products.

Alain Riesterer is the company’s Technical and Production director and has worked all over the globe in many different environments. He knows how important it is to keep staff safe, which is why the company implemented strategies before the pandemic hit that in turn meant the teams were anticipating a number of challenges that lay ahead.

“Since the beginning of COVID our operations have run full,” he said. “We have not had a single day of shut down because one of our main reasons of existence is to supply food to the population. That is very clear in this situation of crisis. We have seen several countries where there were potential food scarcity situations, which is why it was important for us to be able to supply food to the communities.”

From an operations point of view in, the company’s seven factories in Australia started with best hygiene practices and standards – that included additional hand washing and sanitation for hands with alcohol-based solutions. Also, from the beginning of the crisis, Nestlé implemented mandatory temperature control at the entry of all of its premises.

“We have also created a Team A and Team B structure in every single one of our operations in order to ensure the social distancing,” said Riesterer.

“We have a rule of two metres, some companies have a rule of 1.5m. In some places in our operation we could not ensure the 2m, so we went into physical barrier installation such as plexiglass separation between our employees.”

Team A and Team B were implemented by the company’s head office first. It has also implemented shift patterns on site at its factories – a morning shift, afternoon shift and night shift. Senior staff ensure that the shifts are consistent with start and end times with the same people so there is minimum cross-over. This means less risk of any cross-contamination between a staff member who might inadvertently come to work infected.
Riesterer said that a lot of the practices that the company has implemented, such as social distancing and physical separation between its employees, will stay and probably never go back to the way things were.

“At the end of the day, it is part of good hygiene practice. We also learned a lot and we proved that we could operate with these new circumstances,” he said. “We also ensure that between the shifts – the cross over – is limited to the bare minimum so we don’t have any potential cross-contamination between the different people.”

Panic buying can produce its own set of problems, mainly in terms of the supply chain and with raw and packaging materials. Luckily, Nestlé was also prepared in that instance, too.

“We did have some raw materials that were coming from overseas and we reacted very fast at the very beginning in increasing our stock cover,” he said. “Fortunately for our factories in Australia, we did not have any major disruption. We followed closely what was happening with raw and packaging material in different countries worldwide. At the moment we have certain raw materials coming from the US and we will increase our stock cover in advance. We have managed a very fluent supply during these last three months without major disruption.”

With a lot of uncertainty around the markets in many industries, some would think it might be time to sit back, take stock of the situation, and perhaps even pare back some activities. Not so, with Nestlé – it’s business as usual.

“Planned maintenance and capex are continuing,” said Riesterer. “From a crisis, there are a lot of opportunities. And I think the mindset of the people and how to embrace that change. This is where we have been very good – at all levels of the organisation from the shop floor up to the management of our factories in our organisation. Nobody wants to go through something like COVID-19 but at the end of the day it’s the adaptability of the organisation that will make it successful.”

A lot of the company’s maintenance needs are met by its own technicians. Being an international conglomerate, Nestlé does have parts suppliers from around the world but this has hardly affected its Australian operations, although like a lot of companies at the moment, it is careful about who it allows onsite and when.

“We limit access to third parties because we want to minimise risk. The health and safety of our people is our key priority, we therefore implemented remote support via
web based technologies, such as, video-conferencing.

Nestlé also did something extraordinary for a conglomerate with a huge workforce.
“We implemented a special 14-day COVID-19 leave, which is additional to the sick leave and holiday leave that is paid,” he said. “At the end of the day, it is to keep the workplace safe. A lot of industries have taken similar steps to ensure that frontline employees are safe, are motivated. We need them. Without them, nothing happens.”

Riesterer said that the company is malleable when it comes to how things will be in the future. He knows that COVID-19 will probably have a lasting effect on how a lot of companies are run. However, he isn’t ready to hang his hat on any one aspect that will change, only that the way things are done will not be the same.

“Are we rethinking the way in which we work in the office? Yes. What is the future? I do not know,” he said. “It has been a very interesting period for everybody. I think we have found out that by using new tools, it allows us to achieve a lot, of which maybe in the past, we were not so convinced.”

Woolworths’ helping hand for community initiatives

The last 12 months has been one of the biggest on record for Woolworths’ support of vulnerable Australians, particularly for the many individuals, families and farmers impacted by drought, then bushfire, and more recently COVID-19.

“Supporting the communities in which we operate has always been part of Woolworths Group’s DNA. However, in the current crisis and during recent natural disasters, community takes on a much broader definition,” said Brad Banducci, Woolworths Group CEO.

“We have recently doubled down on our commitment to work together with partners like OzHarvest, Fareshare and Foodbank to provide food to Australians who need it most, while our eCommerce business has remained focused  on continuing to support vulnerable customers.”

Being part of almost every community in Australia means that store team members within Woolworths play an integral role in responding to immediate needs of their local community.

They provide the on-the-ground support for national community initiatives, particularly during times of disaster.

“Our store teams should be an integral part of their local community and are often directly impacted themselves by a disaster. They experience first hand what it is like on the ground, and this knowledge plays a key role in informing where our support should be directed in our national initiatives.

“It is about us listening to our team, customers and the community more broadly and uniting over the outcomes we all wish to support and achieving that through collaboration,” said Banducci.

The past year Woolworths and their major charity partners have been particularly busy.

The effects the ongoing drought has on the food industry are measurable in many ways, such as shortages of supplies and price fluctuations.
In 2018, what began as support at a local store level in regional stores in New South Wales and Queensland for communities impacted by drought, turned into Woolworths’ largest national fundraising appeal of the decade.

A combination of customer fundraising and corporate donations saw Woolworths raise over $8 million for Rural Aid, enabling them to deliver 37,231 tonnes of hay on 806 road trains to 3,233 farmers, as well two additional, full-time, on-the-ground counsellors.

In late 2019, with the drought worsening, bushfires were out of control, which saw businesses, homes, communities and habitat across multiple parts of the nation destroyed.

In response to the bushfires, Woolworths Bushfire Appeal in partnership with the Salvation Army was launched in November 2019 and raised over $5m.

When these bushfires hit, the Salvation Army sent in over 3,000 officers and volunteers to support the frontline emergency workers with hundreds of thousands of meals and light refreshments, many times teaming up with the local Woolworths store on the supply of goods and preparation of meals.

On New Year’s Eve and into early 2020, as the bushfires continued to devastate towns and communities, they also destroyed the habitats and food supplies of many vulnerable and endangered native species such as the Mountain Pygmy Possum, Brush-Tailed Rock Wallaby and Grey-Headed Flying Fox, which is so critical to pollination of many critical plant species.

New partnerships were borne out of the impacts the fires were having on wildlife in local communities.

“Our teams in the affected areas and our customers raised the alarm bells on what this loss of habitat could mean to the environment and asked for action to support the rescue and recovery of these animals,” said Simon Tracey, Woolworths community manager.
Woolworths began working with the NSW Government’s “Save our Species” program, to donate tonnes of fruits and vegetables directly into dozens of National Parks to feed these endangered species.

“We also extended our food rescue and recycling program to launch the ‘Woolworths Food for Wildlife Initiative’ with WIRES. This sees many of our stores donating surplus fresh food directly to the many local carers that nurturing these native animals back to health and returning them to new or old habitats as their naturally occurring food sources return,” added Tracey.

Woolworths earlier this year also expanded its S.T.A.N.D. (Support Through Australian Natural Disasters) program to incorporate four major partners – the Salvation Army, Rural Aid, Foodbank and Lifeline. Twenty cents from each sale of Woolworths Spring Water 24-pack and Woolworths Spring Water 10-litre pack is being donated to support the natural disaster work of these charities.

The initial spread of the coronavirus saw many people change their shopping behaviours and led to stockpiling of many essential products. At first it was toilet paper, but then the many key staple foods that Woolworths’ hunger relief partners rely on.

In March, Woolworths entered a new partnership with Meals on Wheels to supply toilet paper to help support their elderly and vulnerable clients across Australia.

“With the elderly being the  most vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus and being asked to self-isolate, this partnership allowed us to  work together with the entire  supply chain and replenishment team,” said Tracey.

Woolworths worked with dozens of local Meals on Wheels centres to distribute 320,000 rolls of toilet paper, which was two packs for almost every Meals on Wheels client in the country, across hundreds of towns and cities in urban, rural, regional and remote locations.

One of Woolworths key commitments is to addressing food insecurity and food waste.
“That is why we have a number of food relief partnerships, but it was our relationships and support of our three largest partners – OzHarvest, Foodbank and FareShare, that we immediately increased to support those in immediate need as a result of COVID,” said Tracey.

FareShare, who operate Australia’s two largest community kitchens in Melbourne and Brisbane, could not rely on its army of volunteers, so Woolworths Group stepped in to provide support with chefs from its shuttered ALH hotels business to work within the kitchens through April, May and June.

Woolworths’ national Fresh Food rescue partner, OzHarvest, likewise saw a fluctuation in food supply  and demand.

With an initial dip in available volumes of fresh food from donors, it then broke records with April being the largest volume of food they have ever rescued and distributed.

Foodbank, also saw an immediate impact on supply as the public stocked up on the many essential items such as rice, pasta, pasta sauce, tinned food and toiletries, that are always of the highest demand with the thousands of food relief charities they support.

“To assist our food relief partners without disrupting our stores during a period of increased product demand, we provided additional financial support to help them with their operating costs, then set up parallel supply chains, often purchasing food directly from our suppliers to donate directly to our partners.

“This operation ran from late March through to the end of June, with over $8 million of funds injected and many new and agile business solutions in place to support such needs in the future,” said Tracey.

Why metal free anti-seize is a suitable choice for food manufacturers

Excessive corrosion and the subsequent seizure of metal connections is a common problem with assemblies in all industries, particularly so in high-moisture environments in the food industry. When nuts and bolts in the equipment seize up, it makes their disassembly and reassembly a challenge, resulting in unnecessary downtime during maintenance.

According to industry specialist Michael Rowe, who is the Product Manager of Adhesives and Sealants at CBC, using Anti-Seize lubricants while assembling the machinery parts is the best way to avoid maintenance issues down the line.

“There are many reasons why metal assemblies get corroded and seize-up over time. Obviously higher exposure to moisture, heat and pressure accelerates the deterioration of metal assemblies. But by applying the right Anti-Seize products on the bolt treads, the rust and the subsequent seizure can be avoided.”

As a key distributor of lubricants and adhesive solutions in Australia, CBC works closely with Henkel Australia to facilitate the sale of LOCTITE products, with the brand offering a number of safe, metal free Anti-Seize formulations for industries that have safety as a top priority.

But what constitutes Anti-Seize products and why is it important to purchase the right grade of the product for each purpose?

“Anti-Seize lubricants are specialty lubricants that reduce friction between threaded and matted metal parts as well as prevent corrosion and seizure of parts under pressure and at high temperatures. Essentially, they are two-part systems that comprise of a base grease and special fillers that provide the compound with its Anti-Seizing, anti-corrosion properties,” explains Michael.

While most Anti-Seize lubricants used widely in industry user copper, nickel, aluminium and zinc, as well as other heavy metals as the filler compound, LOCTITE is among very few brands that offer the metal free formulation.

Stefano Giacometti, Application Engineer at Henkel Australia, says not many people are aware of how much Anti-Seize products have advanced over time and that metal free Anti-Seize compounds can offer the same benefits as the metal-based grades while being safer for the workers as well as for the environment.

“Quite often when I go to a maintenance facility that is using a traditional copper or nickel-based Anti-Seize product, I find that they are not aware that better choices are now available. LOCTITE is at the forefront of introducing new technologies and our portfolio of Anti-Seize products is a good proof of that,” Stefano says.

LOCTITE portfolio includes six different Anti-Seize formulations, which in addition to the conventional metal-based Anti-Seize products offer two metal free grades for companies looking to enhance the safety levels at their plants and workshops.

Stefano says the LOCTITE Heavy Duty Anti-Seize functions on all metals including galvanized iron, stainless steel, brass, aluminium and soft metals between -29°C and +1315°C. LOCTITE Heavy Duty Anti-Seize has been formulated to resist higher temperatures than most other anti-seize products on the market.

“The LOCTITE Heavy Duty Metal Free Anti-Seize uses graphite as the solid filler, using this type of Anti-Seize with stainless steel fasteners, prevents galling from occurring, as this product more effectively lubricates the surfaces. It is widely used in industries where metal-based Anti-Seize use is prohibited or regarded as unsafe.  To assist CBC customers in changing out current used copper or nickel based Anti-Seize, the team at Henkel can provide testing on fastening systems, ensuring correct lubricity is achieved to provide correct clamp force for assemblies,” he explains.

The LOCTITE Food Grade Anti-Seize is another metal free Anti-Seize specifically designed to meet the requirements of food manufacturers, says Stefano.

“Safety is obviously a big aspect in the food and beverage industry. The LOCTITE Food Grade Anti-Seize is NSF H1 rated for incidental food contract and is one of the few such products available in the market,” he explains.

Apart from the choice of the right Anti-Seize product, Stefano says following health and safety precautions is key to using chemical products safely.

“When you are dealing with chemicals, you need to refer to the material safety data sheet which will tell you what safety gear to use. We are happy to work with our distributors at CBC to help educate our customers on the latest products available for their purposes, as well as to ensure the safe use of these products,” he concludes.

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NSK Disc Agri Hub meets expectations of sugarcane equipment manufacturer

Wayne Willis speaks proudly when he talks about the history of Hodge Industries, where he is the owner as well as design engineer. A brief review of the company’s manufacturing legacy tells us why.

Wayne is the fourth generation of the family-owned business founded in 1914 when Wayne’s great grandfather won a patent for his unique sugar planter. The company has since expanded its range of products to include equipment for every stage of sugar cane plantation, from land preparation to planting, fertilising, weeding and harvesting.

They have exported since 1974 to almost every sugar cane growing country in the world and are the sole supplier to the sugar farming industry for a wide range of products. They also offer machinery repairs and general engineering services from the Hodge factory in Mackay.

Over the past 20 years, Hodge Industries has been relying on the BSC branch in Mackay to source the bearings and bearing components the company requires for a number of its agricultural equipment as well as a number of other miscellaneous parts and components required for their factory.

Wayne says the partnership has been advantageous for Hodge Industries for a number of reasons.

“Our experience working with BSC has been really good. The products we source from them are all excellent, as is the service they provide. More importantly, they constantly talk to us about our requirements to make sure they are well-stocked for whatever we might need in the future. They work hard to ensure we are fully supplied with what we need.”

One of the key components that BSC supplies to Hodge Industries is the NSK Agri Disc Hub – a complete bearing housing unit designed and manufactured by NSK Germany to withstand the rigours of broad acre farming, including Australia’s harsh conditions.

Andrew Rooney, BSC Mackay branch manager says the first time BSC introduced NSK Agri Disc Hub to its client was around 4 years ago. “Since then, they’ve just continued ordering the product. They don’t use anything else,” Andrew says.

Wayne says Hodge Industries has used the NSK Agri Disc Hub to improve the design of its sugar cane fertiliser equipment, which are used to fertilise the sugar cane ratoons when they grow about one metre tall.

“Through this improvement, we’ve created a more reliable product, to the point that we’ve actually never experienced a bearing failure since we started using the NSK unit. The Agri Disc Hubs were actually tested overseas in harsher environments than what we experience here in Australia, which explains their toughness and high performance,” he says.

Wayne says using the Agri Disc Hub has enabled Hodge to make its fertilising equipment slimmer, lighter, and stronger.

“The bearing we used before was a lot bigger, and we had to make them in components at our factory and then assemble them out in the field. The NSK Agri Disc Hub that we get from BSC replaces that whole mechanism. It’s also smaller and thinner, so it works really good for our product.”

According to NSK Australia’s Sales Engineer Dave Healey, the strength of NSK’s Agri Disc Hub lies in its thick solid steel housing body, which has a minimum thickness of 8.5 mm around the seal and bearing.

“This allows the bearing to absorb heavy impact loads,” he says. “The double row ball bearing installed at a 40-degree contact angle also enables the Agri Hub to cope with higher axial loads compared to a standard 30-degree angle of most competitor’s bearings.”

“The Agri Disc Hub is designed to ensure maximum protection for the rolling elements. A five-lip cassette seal protecting the housing and a further triple lip seal protecting the bearings make it very difficult for contaminants to reach the rolling elements, ensuring longer life for the bearing,” Healey says.

According to Andrew, there is great take-up of the Agri Hub in Mackay, both from manufacturers such as Hodge Industries as well as from farmers and equipment repairers.

“We just make sure that we stay on top of our customers’ needs and that we have all of the parts in-stock, when they need it and where they need it.”

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Collections efficiency increased due to cloud-based solution

Operating in the self-proclaimed “happiest place on Earth”, the Wine Warehouse distributes fine wine, beer and spirits to companies located throughout California.

The company’s customer base often orders more than once a week, resulting in roughly 15,000 weekly open invoices to collect on.

A challenge to handle that number of invoices in any environment, the matter was further complicated by some sales representatives having to collect payment by hand while on site. Although a common process in Wine Warehouse’s industry, this process led to an increase in Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) and often left sales attempting to reconcile accounts and handle issues better suited for the accounts receivable (AR) department to handle.

Now, the process is more efficient thanks to Esker’s Collections Management solution. Rather than relying on sales to handle invoice questions and receive payment, invoicing and collections are now left to the AR department – resulting in faster collections and a higher level of visibility due to custom reporting tools and real-time metrics being tracked.

On the other end, customers can access a self-service portal. From this portal they may view invoices, setup an auto-pay option or immediately pay, which in turn reduce DSO and improves the customer experience. Not only does the cloud-based solution offer staff newfound capabilities – such as taking payments over the phone or monitoring best possible DSO – it has benefitted multiple teams by centralising all AR information.

“The enthusiasm for Esker isn’t just limited to the AR department,” said Patrick Powers, credit manager at Wine Warehouse. “Our IT team was the one that introduced it to us and recognised its potential. We all love it.”

Since implementing Esker’s automation solution, the Wine Warehouse has managed to streamline its systems, which has led to:
• Increased amount of money collected through solution by 45 per cent over a single year.
• Raised the Collections Effectiveness Index (CEI) to over 80 per cent.
• Greater staff productivity; sales are no longer involved in invoicing and there are less customer calls requesting paper copies.
• Enhanced visibility; customisable reports and real-time Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are easily accessible.
• Customers have self-service options and are able to communicate directly with accounting rather than sales.
• Lowered DSO; sending weekly automated reminders to customers.

A bearing for all harvesting seasons

The harvest season is a critical period for all farmers. Most crops need to be harvested within a limited window of time for crop growers to achieve the best results. But with the harvesting equipment often kept idle throughout the year, it is critical to ensure that machinery is ready to roll come harvest season.

From small-scale harvesting equipment to large combine harvesters, bearings are key components in the harvesting machinery. If a farmer discovers close to the harvest season that a critical bearing in his machine requires repair or replacement due to excessive corrosion or seizure, the resulting downtime would be nerve-wracking for the farmer and potentially harmful to crop yield.

As Australia’s largest distributor of bearings and industrial solutions, CBC Australia, in partnership with NTN Australia, supplies the NTN Black Bearings, which are ball bearings specifically designed for agricultural applications.

The ‘black’ in the NTN Black Bearings comes from the black oxide treatment that the bearing components go through in the production process to increase the corrosion resistance, resulting in serviceable life of more than twice the equivalent standard bearings, according to Fabio Rebecchi, NTN Australia’s National Product Manager – Bearing Group.

“The NTN Black Bearings are ideally suited for use in harvesting equipment as well as any other agricultural machinery. The black oxide coating covers all of the bearing surfaces, including the inner and outer rings, which offers excellent corrosion and fretting resistance. This helps avoid the common issue of bearing seizure from corrosion that farmers often face with their harvesting equipment,” says Fabio.

With agricultural environments also prone to high levels of contamination for the bearings, NTN also provides trash guard seals specifically designed to protect the bearings in the NTN Black series from any external contaminants, Fabio explains.

“In harvesting, the products that are being harvested can contaminate the bearings, thereby leading to shorter bearing life. The NTN trash guard seals are uniquely designed with a heavy-duty rubber lip bonded to the seal plate to help protect the bearings from both corrosion and misalignment,” Fabio says.

Additionally, the NTN Black Bearing comes 70 per cent factory-filled with a superior heavy duty grease to provide excellent water resistance and long lubricant life, according to Fabio.

“When testing the bearings at our facility in Japan for dust-proofing, the NTN engineering team found that the bearing’s life could be further enhanced by increasing the filling rate of the grease. The filling rate for this particular bearing is higher than you would normally find in the standard bearings, which adds extra protection to keep the contaminants out of the bearing.”

Another plus point with the NTN Black Bearing, according to Fabio, is that the bearings can replace conventional ball bearings without any modifications required in the equipment’s design. This feature is particularly attractive for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) looking to retrofit their existing machinery with a superior bearing option, he says.

In Australia, NTN bearings are available exclusively through the national CBC distribution network, a partnership that Fabio says helps deliver the high-end NTN products and engineering services to the Australian OEMs and end-user customers.

“Whether it is OEMs looking to implement the NTN Black Bearing in their own agricultural machinery or farm-owners looking to retrofit their existing machinery, the collaboration is made possible through the CBC field representatives who provide the link between the end-users and the NTN global engineering team. The CBC field engineers are quite adept and their support is also backed by NTN’s global engineering team,” Fabio says.

While the NTN Black Bearing is more expensive than the equivalent standard bearings in the market, Fabio says the additional cost is absolutely justified when considering the potential downtime losses from bearing failure.

“The feedback we have received from our customers is that they are happy to pay the extra cost in exchange for the peace of mind that they get by having a reliable bearing in their harvesting machine. Timing is of essence for harvesting and so making sure that the equipment is ready to go when it’s needed most is the biggest benefit that we can provide with this bearing.”

Read more articles like this at: www.lets-roll.com.au


Why removing bottlenecks can be the difference between a food and beverage business surviving and thriving

Competition in the food and beverage sector in Asia Pacific is intense, which puts pressure on producers and distributors to become more efficient if they want to stay both competitive and profitable. In a sector of high-volume and low-value perishable goods, having accurate insights into costs, margins, inventory, production and the supply chain can be the difference between surviving and thriving.

Consumers are more demanding too, calling not only for greater variety but for more information on the product they are consuming, where it was produced and where its ingredients are sourced from.

Manufacturers in the food and beverage sector are faced with the challenge of providing a wide range of goods that are safe to consume and are compliant with mounting regulations. With short ingredient expiry dates, tight timelines and the need to be price competitive, even quite minor bottlenecks can have a significant impact on profitability. Therefore, it is essential that bottlenecks are quickly identified and removed to ensure the long-term viability of the business.

When the solution becomes a bigger problem
For many companies in an effort to reduce bottlenecks and become leaner, their instinct is to minimise, minimise, minimise, reducing cleaning and changeover time. However, in the rush to eliminate extra steps, food and beverage producers can sometimes cause new bottlenecks to occur. These can severely reduce throughput, impact product quality, cause delays and annoy customers, resulting in orders being cancelled.

Typical bottlenecks in a food and beverage plant could involve a fault in critical machinery requiring urgent maintenance or a key worker getting sick or going on holiday. These long-term bottlenecks are unpredictable, and their impact can vary from fairly minor to major delays. Australian manufacturers must deal with long-term bottlenecks regularly and should strive to eliminate them.

Systemic bottlenecks that are causing persistent production delays, such as specialised equipment with consistently long queues, need to be dealt with. Some producers will experience significant downtime due to breakdowns and other than regular planned maintenance schedules to keep machinery operational, factories must have contingency plans in case of a worst-case scenario.

With lean manufacturing, it is all about finding the constraint, which is the piece of equipment on the production line with the lowest net output. No matter how fast the other machines can run, the entire line will never be able to run faster than this machine. That is why we call it a constraint, because it constrains the output of the line and this issue needs to be resolved as it will significantly impact profitability.

How bottlenecks impact profitabilityThe main way bottlenecks impact profitability is by compounding the effect of downtime along the production line. Downtime costs manufacturers a huge amount of money. By one estimate, companies in the food and beverage industry experience as much as 500 hours of downtime every year.

Fortunately, it is easy to calculate exactly how much this compounding effect is costing producers. They should determine the difference between what they are producing and what they could be producing if the bottleneck did not have to stop every time another machine on the production line went down.

ERP software provides manufacturers with a structured view of how their processes, systems, data and people are designed, so they can identify ways to be leaner and remove these types of bottlenecks. This can be critical especially when dealing with increased complexity and growth, therefore manufacturers need a way to review, revise and revamp operations right down to the individual process level.

Supply chain visibility & traceability
With the rise of global food and beverage product recalls, more regulations than ever before have been implemented to protect the end consumer and here food safety is covered by the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. This aims to lower the incidence of foodborne illness by strengthening food safety and traceability throughout the food supply chain.

When a food product is found to be deficient or contaminated, the first vital step is to trace and account for every suspect item throughout the value chain. This requires an ERP solution with traceability capabilities which must be able to track several units of a stock item from the same lot or batch number. Once these have all been found, manufacturers can then implement product recalls or quarantine suspect goods.

Most food products are made up of a wide range of ingredients that come from different providers, often located around the world. Additionally, most food and beverage finished products and ingredients have a limited shelf life and can quickly perish.

The food and beverage sector supply chain is incredibly complex and presents many challenges. Complete visibility of location and status of shipments is therefore essential for freshness and just-in-time-arrival of ingredients needed for the processing schedule. An advanced supply chain system that allows producers to make real-time adjustments can be a clear advantage and will help manufacturers to avoid supply chain bottlenecks and surplus stock.

Surplus stock management
When sales teams do not have clear visibility of surplus and expiring stock, companies tend to end up with a combination of fire sales and price erosion. Customer service takes a hit as well due to a lack of understanding of available stock. With an ERP system that provides forward visibility of any excess and expiring inventory, sales can put the right plans in place to maximise sales and minimise waste and heavy discounting.

The agility to make changes
To minimise the stress associated with eliminating either production, people or supply chain bottlenecks, food and beverage manufacturers need strong ERP project management with careful planning to steer the change management process. For most businesses in this sector, irrespective of size or structure, change is not easy, but this can be done more effectively if they have a structured view of their entire business. This will enable them to see the logic of how processes, systems, data and organisational hierarchies are designed and can easily make changes.

WebsterBSC and Viva Energy’s partnership is the perfect brew for Australia’s leading hop grower

Bushy Park Estates, located in a scenic landscape 55 kilometres north of Hobart, is the birthplace of Australian hops. Built in 1867 by Ebenezer Shoobridge, the son of a hop grower from Kent, the farm has been supplying top-quality hops to the Australian and global brewing industries for over 150 years.

The farm is one of the three gardens where Australia’s leading hop grower, Hop Products Australia (HPA), grows its six proprietary varieties plus a few open market varieties for brewers around the country.

With an area of over 250 hectares, the farm utilises on average 70 different vehicles, ranging from front-end loaders to tractors, trucks, cherry pickers and utility vehicles to manage its daily operations. With the farm’s busy schedule, the farm managers rely on Industrial Solutions’ Tasmanian business, WebsterBSC and Shell Lubricants, supplied by Viva Energy, to keep their vehicles and equipment in top shape.

Tom Parry, farm manager at Bushy Park Estates, says he’s very satisfied with the customer service support he receives from WebsterBSC, as well as with the performance of Shell Lubricants.

“WebsterBSC offers a brilliant customer service and Shell is known for brand quality. With Shell having such a wide range of oils for our vehicles and machinery on the farm, the partnership fulfills all of our needs. Outside of our general vehicle servicing routine, we also use a considerable amount of Shell Gadus grease in our picking machines, which we run five weeks of the year during the harvest season,” he says.

Tom says one advantage for the farm in working with WebsterBSC is that they can receive a wide range of products from a single supplier, which adds convenience to their business.

“Working with WebsterBSC is very easy. We just call and order the oils we need and they are delivered to us on time. It’s also  very convenient to be able to get a range of other products, such as the tractor oil filters and other tractor parts like sprockets, gears, and so on from a single supplier,” he says.

Joshua Morrison, the Sales Representative catering to the farm’s needs on behalf of WebsterBSC, says he has built a strong relationship with the farm managers at Bushy Park Estates over the last eight years, supplying a range of bearings, power transmission products and more recently, Shell Lubricants, to the site.

He says the transition to using Shell Lubricants for the farm’s ongoing vehicle and machinery maintenance and bearing re-greases was a smooth process, given Shell’s reputation as a top-quality product.

“The farm managers were looking for top-end lubrication products to enhance the performance of their vehicles and machinery. They were already familiar with Shell, as they had used Shell products previously and were quite happy with their performance,” says Joshua.

After an initial discussion, Joshua and Viva Energy’s Account Manager visited the site together to assess the farm’s requirements.

“After reviewing the oil and grease products and pack sizes that the farm was already using, we were able to get a good understanding of what the workshop needed. Whenever we visit a customer’s lubrication store, we always try to consolidate the number of redundant products being used.  But in the case of Bushy Park Estates, they already had the right number of lubricants in place, so there was no need for any reduction,” says Joshua.

Joshua says Shell’s high-performance Shell Rimula R4 L 15W-40 diesel engine oils, as well as Shell Tellus hydraulic fluids and Shell Spirax transmission oils are some of the key products he regularly supplies to the farm.

“We worked with Viva Energy to present HPA with a high-quality lubrication supply, usage and storage solution.” This was an attractive proposition for the farm and workshop team, according to Josh.

“This offer included a range of lubrication equipment, from oil pumps to extract the oil from the drums right to the hose reels and oil guns for easy application in the servicing workshop. It also offered colour-coded magnets for the oil drums and matched these with the colour of the lubrication equipment to help avoid any risk of cross-contamination,” he says.

Robert Clayton, Viva Energy Account Manager, says the colour-coding program is part of Viva Energy’s commitment to safety in lubrication storage.

“Using the colour-coded magnets and equipment makes it easy to differentiate between different lubricants being used in the workshop and reduces the risk of cross-contamination. It can also help save money and time by avoiding the risk of one lubricant getting mixed with another and going to waste.”

Robert and Joshua continue to have a close relationship with the farm managers by offering a range of consultative post-sale services.

“The HPA team are very satisfied with the ongoing service they receive from WebsterBSC and Viva Energy. This relationship ensures that as their business gears up during the harvest season and if they are also looking to acquire new equipment, they trust us to provide the right solutions at the right time,” says Robert.

Post transition, the farm managers are able to easily identify the products they require for specific vehicles or machinery using the Shell LubeMatch app. They can then place their order accordingly with WebsterBSC or ask our team any questions.

Joshua also praises Viva Energy’s Technical Helpdesk for their high-quality customer service and expertise.

“If our team or our customers have any questions about Shell products or lubricants in general, we try to answer their queries to the best of our knowledge, or otherwise direct them to the Technical Helpdesk. They always respond promptly and help to educate us about different lubricant products, applications and specifications.”

Joshua believes the collaborative effort with Viva Energy to provide Bushy Park Estates with quality Shell Lubricants and a solution to improve their operations is an excellent example of WebsterBSC’s commitment to support the industry with quality products and services.

“At WebsterBSC, we are not interested in making quick sales. We believe that a long-term view on the total cost of ownership is what benefits our customers the most and that is why we focus on providing quality products and ongoing service that meet or exceed our customers’ requirements for longevity. This view resonates with the values that we share with Viva Energy, which is what makes us a great team.”

Read more articles like this at: www.lets-roll.com.au


BSC customer gets a quick turnaround with Lovejoy Quick-Flex couplings by Timken

When a leading Australian grain producer needed to replace three hammer mill couplings at its grain mill, the BSC Shepparton branch in Victoria delivered the Lovejoy Quick-Flex couplings by Timken overnight and replaced the old couplings within minimal time, resulting in zero downtime for the customer.

Adam Failla, BSC’s Shepparton Branch Manager, says the branch had the Quick-Flex QF250 couplings readily available. The team then arranged to not just deliver them overnight, but also to remove the old couplings, install and laser align the new Timken couplings so that they were running at full capacity, without causing delays to the mill’s normal operation.

This resulted in considerable time and cost savings for the grain producer, Adam says.

“The couplings that our customer was previously using were no longer available in Australia. This meant they would need to wait at least 3-4 weeks and pay an additional airfreight to get the couplings delivered to them from overseas. Our branch is well-stocked with the Quick-Flex couplings as these are very popular products, so we suggested to help them with the replacement.”

The Quick-Flex couplings are designed to allow for quick replacements which streamlined the process. As needed, the elastomeric urethane insert is able to be replaced quickly and easily without removing the hubs or moving connected equipment.

“This brings down the coupling replacement time to minutes instead of hours,” Adam says. “By eliminating the need to move or disassemble the drive system, it also makes it easy to inspect the couplings from time to time to make sure they are working perfectly.”

As a key supplier of bearings, power transmission and industrial products in Australia, BSC has been supplying products to the major Australian grain producer for the past 15 years. The team also conducts regular vibration analysis on the factory’s hammer mills, which was how they learned about the need for coupling replacements in the first place.

Adam says the BSC Shepparton branch has already supplied a range of Timken products, including the Quick-Flex couplings and Carlisle belts by Timken to the 75-acre grain mill, receiving very positive feedback from the customer.

“We’ve built a very positive relationship with our customer. We supply them with quality Quick-Flex® couplings for their grain press and hammer mills. We also supply the company’s farms with a range of Timken bearings for their tractors, headers, pumps and augers,” he says.

Australian Timken’s Regional General Manager, Michael Grant, says the Lovejoy Quick-Flex® couplings by Timken are designed to withstand the shocks and vibrational loads that are common in applications such as hammer mills.

“The Quick-Flex couplings can absorb shock loads and vibration while accepting up to two degrees angular misalignment. They can also handle high speed and very high torque of up to 188,000Nm, making them suitable for a wide range of applications,” he says.

“Also, because there is no metal-to-metal contact between opposing hubs with Quick-Flex® couplings, you’ll save money not replacing hubs or other metal components since they do not wear. For harsh environments, including wash-downs for food processing, we can also offer a stainless-steel version across a large range of the coupling sizes.”

Michael says the BSC and Timken engineering teams work together to support customers across a wide range of industries.

“The Quick-Flex couplings are treated as standard off-the-shelf product for which BSC branches are always well-stocked. The BSC team is very much capable of providing the support required by their customers when it comes to the initial design or selecting the right coupling size to handle the required torque.

“In addition to that, the Timken engineering team is also there to support the BSC team as and when required. As part of the support on offer we jointly visit customers to introduce our products to them or to help with technical support that includes areas such as product selection & problem solving. It’s a partnership that has grown and deepened over time and one that works extremely well in adding value to our end-user customers.”

Read more articles like this at: www.lets-roll.com.au


New Bürkert BDM – building relationships key to success

Luke Houlihan has spent most of his working life around wine and wineries and up until recently had his own boutique brand vineyard producing vintages out of the Yarra Valley.

With a Bachelor in of Applied Science in Wine Science, it made sense when a position became available to become part of the team at process, automation and control specialists Bürkert’s Australian operation. He jumped on board in a heartbeat and he couldn’t be happier.

“There’s such a huge amount to get my teeth into,” he said. “There is massive scope for me and Bürkert to cover off, so I have a lot to look forward to. We are already getting traction from a large international wine group and the momentum is just starting. The next five years is going to be extremely exciting.”

One of the key focuses for Houlihan is to help winemakers, brewers and distillers streamline their production using innovative process and automation equipment. Houlihan said the industry is traditional, but it is about balancing the art of winemaking with the science of winemaking.

“It’s about maintaining that natural, organic way of winemaking with new processes that will help improve product,” he said. “By maintaining or improving quality, you end up with a better proposition for your customers, in the sense you are offering best value for money in terms of your product. It is in a winemaker’s interest to look at those things. And I think the industry is at a stage where they are in a real consolidation phase. There are a lot of medium-sized and upwards wineries that are ready to recapitalise. They’ve paid down their debt on infrastructure and are in a position where they can put some more money into improving their processes.”

What makes Houlihan stand out from other BDMs is that he has on-the-ground experience in making wine so is well aware of some of the pitfalls that can occur in the process. He knows how important it is to have reliable equipment that won’t fail at a critical stage – something that Bürkert has in abundance.

“A key for us is also being able to offer for example, a simple valve that is good for five million cycles,” he said. “They can put it into place and forget about it. It’s not going to pack up mid-vintage and cause grief because their cooling system has gone down because they’ve put in a cheap valve. The unseen thing is about offering a value proposition to a winemaker and saying ‘Spend a little bit extra now. Put this valve in and forget about it. It’s not going to cause you grief.’

“Mid vintage there are times when you’re running around seven days a week, working 20-15 hour days. If something packs up, you don’t want to try getting hold of a plumber at 11 o’clock at night to sort it out. It is a pain and is not what you want to be doing.”

It has been a baptism by fire of sorts for Houlihan as he came on board in May, right in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, which meant he couldn’t get out and meet clients. However, that is about to change.

“I’m really keen to get out and look at the different control systems that are in place at the different installations. It is much easier to talk about those applications when you can see them in situ rather than on a PDF file, which is how I’m seeing a lot of things at the moment,” he said.

In 2012 Houlihan took a new role in the wine industry with a company that provided technical support and wine supplies, such as yeast and wine additives, as well as filtration equipment. In that role, he developed a strong technical understanding of water treatment for various industries including brewing and distilling. Having offered such technical and sales support in the past, Houlihan knows a lot of people in the industry and has the expertise to help.

“I especially love the integration with network technologies to do jobs remotely,” he said. “I love that stuff. There’s such a huge amount for me to do.”

Houlihan also believes in a holistic approach when it comes to helping clients out. He thinks it is important to develop a long-term relationship and strategy with a client, as opposed to fixing an issue and then moving on. And he has his own reputation to think about, too.

“My goal is to partner with companies,” he said. “Most of my friends are in the wine industry, I couldn’t on face value go to a friend and say ‘buy this valve, you’re helping me out’. I’m not going to burn my friendships over dodgy products. Being able to represent a company that is the Mercedes of process control is really exciting. You’re putting your reputation behind a really strong product. We look at their processes and rather than going into a winery and saying, ‘Right, here’s this valve.’ Or, ‘Buy this or that.’ We’re looking at asking the questions; ‘Where are you guys going? What do you want to achieve and how do you want to get there?’”

Bürkert puts a lot of effort into refining and developing equipment that will suit the customer’s needs. Houlihan sees himself building on the networks and relationships he has already to talk to winemakers, brewers and distillers and help them develop strategies that will help their business grow.

“They need to have a blueprint in place so that when they are going forward, they are putting infrastructure in that will support where they want to be in another five to 10 years,” he said.

“At the end of the day we’re here to help make beverage manufacturers lives easier,” he said. “We are focusing on increasing and improving their production processes and reducing overall costs of production as well as simplifying production, too. We are also looking at ways automation and control can help improve their processes. It’s also about making them more sustainable environmentally, too. Reducing wastage in areas like energy costs, excess compressors – there’s a whole range of ongoing savings with the right fit out. In summing up it’s about Bürkert making their lives easier in partnering with them for the long haul.”

Gas provider helps businesses diversify during COVID-19

Change is something that can be embraced, or seen as an unnecessary disruption that can cause anxiety. But what happens if that disruption is unexpected and takes away, literally, your whole market share.

COVID-19 has had a negative impact on a lot of industries and businesses. And while food and beverage have generally come out of it okay from a consumer point of view with regard to supply and demand (pasta anybody?), there are certain sectors that have suffered considerably. Imagine you are a caterer who specialises in weddings, or a major supplier to airlines. One way to try and make up the deficit is to diversify.

And quite a few companies have, according to food-grade gas supplier Air Liquide’s Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) specialist Remi Saget. Like a lot of companies hit by COVID-19, Air Liquide has seen a downturn in some of its areas of business, but there has also been interest in other aspects.

Some impacted food manufacturers have decided to expand offerings and started looking at other markets, whether it is online with home deliveries or via retailers. Supplying food products to such channels helps tremendously when shelf life is extended, which is possible using MAP. And in order for MAP to work, you need a good gas supply, which is where Air Liquide comes into its own.

Saget said there has been an increase in queries from SME manufacturers about how they can get longer shelf life for their food. Indeed, supermarket chains and independent grocers need products to stay on the shelf for longer than a day or two, often making it part of their requirements.

“We have had an upturn in requests,” said Saget. “We have seen more demand for food-grade gas, especially for ready meals. For some companies this is already their business, but many restaurant chains and catering companies had to change quickly to the same business model that would allow for home deliveries, selling at supermarkets, or selling online.”

In order for a company to be able to pack ready-to-eat meals, it needs to have a packaging machine that is capable of getting the meal prepared for being sold in store.

“It’s not a difficult transition to make if you have the correct packaging machine,” said Saget. “Obviously, you need to have one that has a gas flushing capability. You cannot gas flush manually.

“Packaging machines come in all sizes. Even your local butcher has a bench-top vacuum machines that could gas flush, or be retrofitted to do so.”

He said that gas is the last piece of the puzzle. Ultimately, manufacturers need to have the food right, then the packaging machine, the plastic tray and film, and then the gas. For ready meals, Air Liquide recommends a mixture called Aligal 15, which is made up of 50 per cent food-grade nitrogen and 50 per cent food-grade CO2. But this ratio may be adapted on a case-by-case basis.

“How it works is that the machine takes all the air out. It is the oxygen that will spoil the food eventually,” he said. “Then you add the gas. It takes a few seconds. The gas is food-grade, it is not chemical or anything like that. It’s considered a processing gas, so it is not an ingredient or a preservative and does not need to be on the label.”

Saget is confident that while some of these companies have had to look for new markets out of necessity, he doubts they’ll stop producing gas-flushed food products once the industry gets back to normal.

“It’s probably going to be the case for most companies that have gone into the ready meal business that they will stay in there once things have gone back to normal,” he said. “They have been doing it for a few months now and they realise that it is working well, and it would allow them to have an extra stream of revenue. People are used to buying online, so they can easily keep their online shop open and keep delivering to people.”

One such firm is catering company Harvest By Darren Taylor, which saw the bottom fall out of its business, with 100 per cent cancellations of weddings and other events it had been booked to supply food prior to COVID-19.

“They also operate a bakery and make great pies and croissants for cafes across NSW,” said Saget. “The sale of bakery products they did went down by 95 per cent. They had to rethink their business model.

“The good thing was for founder Darren Taylor, he could start pretty much right away thanks to a machine he purchased earlier.

“I helped him with the right gas mix according to his food. We did some tests together to make sure the gas was flowing okay. Now he is selling online and is also selling to independent supermarkets across NSW. He also sells to a big chain of butchers where his packed dishes are available in the open fridge next to the counter where you buy your meat. He is very happy.”

Taylor said he got an opportunity to get into the ready meals market in late 2019 and was planning on getting started halfway through 2020, but due to the effects of COVID-19, he decided to enter the market sooner.

The majority of outlets require prolonged shelf life to avoid dealing with products that are past their use-by date. This is especially true for ready meals, where they are packed in air, and they usually stay fresh for only a few days. A preservative-free conservation method like MAP helps.
“We got a packaging machine in Melbourne, and we looked at all the ways of extending the shelf life of the product and we decided to go with the MAP method,” said Taylor.

“We went with MAP because of the look of the product, it keeps the integrity of the product and it is very safe and reliable. After ordering the machine and getting it in, we did a whole lot of tests. We developed a product that we thought would suit that application.”

Taylor was very pleased with the service from Air Liquide in terms of getting it all set up.
“Remi and his team were amazing,” he said. “Remi was extraordinary. He came in at the very beginning and we got the machine working in a way we were happy with it. Remi helped us with our gas levels, our oxygen levels, etcetera. ”

The beauty to the system, according to Taylor, is that he cooks the food, trays it up straight away, puts it in the blaster until it comes down to 1˚C, and then packs it.

“It’s as good as you can get in terms of packaging. The film, the tray and the label – which is stuck on – are all microwave-oven proof. It has zero additives or preservatives,” he said. “By using MAP, you don’t have to put any chemicals in it.”

With the eyes on the future, Taylor and his food manufacturing business emerges from the COVID-19 crisis better positioned to face ever-changing market demands. The fact that he was able to swiftly adapt his operations is a reminder that tight partnerships with suppliers goes a long way when help is required to come out of a dark time, pandemic or not.

Changes in consumer behaviour surrounding protein and produce

New research from Mintel, the experts in what consumers want and why, reveals how the global pandemic presents significant challenges and opportunities for animal proteins, meat alternatives and produce.

In this report, you will read:

– Consumers will adapt a “less but better” approach to animal proteins;
– Plants will play an important role as a source of protein
– Will there still be a place for simple luxuries and self-care in the forthcoming recession environment?
– Double down on health and wellness positioning
– Embrace a more holistic definition of sustainability

For the report, click here.

Plant-based steak created using 3D printing technology

Redefine Meat has unveiled the world’s first Alt-Steak plant-based products, with market testing at select high-end restaurants to start later this year. Created using Redefine Meat’s patent-pending 3D meat printing technology, the company’s Alt-Steak products have the texture, flavour and appearance of beef steak and can be produced in the volume and cost to enable large-scale market launch.

Working with leading butchers, chefs, food technologists and the close collaboration of taste expert, Givaudan, Redefine Meat has digitally mapped more than 70 sensorial parameters into its Alt-Steak products, including premium beef cuts’ texture, juiciness, fat distribution and mouthfeel. Layer by layer, the company’s proprietary industrial-scale 3D food printers create the Alt-Steak products using Redefine Meat’s Alt-Muscle, Alt-Fat, and Alt-Blood plant-based formulations. By printing with multiple materials, Redefine Meat can create sustainable, high-protein, no-cholesterol steaks that look, cook, and taste like beef.

“Since day one of the company, we have been working on creating a tasty and affordable plant-based alternative to steaks, one of the most cherished food products and the driver of the entire meat industry,” says Eshchar Ben-Shitrit, CEO and co-founder of Redefine Meat. “To enable mass adoption, we knew that creating an alternative meat product that was both high in quality and nutritional composition would require new technologies and production processes never seen before in the food industry. Today’s announcement marks the start of a new era in alternative meat – the Alt-Steak era – driven by production processes that will accelerate the development of a wide range of alt-meat whole muscle products and create a sustainable alternative to raising and eating animals.”

“The importance of using precision 3D printing technology to achieve texture, color and flavor—and the combinations between them—cannot be overstated. By using separate formulations for muscle, fat and blood, we can focus on each individual aspect of creating the perfect Alt-Steak product. This is unique to our 3D printing technology and lets us achieve unprecedented control of what happens inside the matrix of alt-meat. Collaborating with an industry-leader like Givaudan has led to the creation of an Alt-Steak product that is not only healthy and sustainable, but also offers the satisfying flavours, textures and aromas of eating actual meat,” said Ben-Shitrit

Redefine Meat’s Alt-Steak products will be put to the test at a limited number of leading chef restaurants later this year. Incorporating feedback from high-level chefs and butchers, the company will then ramp up production of its 3D meat printers and alt-meat formulations ahead of market distribution in 2020.

Manufacturer can offer bespoke solutions for food industry

For more than 40 years, Victorian-based Enmin has been building custom vibratory and material handling solutions for a myriad of applications and environments.

The company’s knowledge and expertise in this area has seen their list of customers grow to include most of Australia’s leading food industry manufacturers.

Enmin’s range of product handling and vibratory equipment includes the Mi-CON modular conveyor – a hygienically designed full wash-down system to offer multiple standardised components – plus a range of hopper feeders and screeners, spiral conveyors, conditioning conveyors and more.

“All our products are designed and constructed first and foremost to meet the rigorous requirements of the food and pharmaceutical industries such as maximum hygiene, ease of cleaning and the reliability essential to meet the demands of continuous 24/7 operation,” said Enmin general manager, Anthony Gallaher.

Over the years, the company has earned an enviable reputation for designing and building equipment to the highest standards using the finest materials  to provide complete reliability and longevity.

Supporting other local manufacturers is a priority for Enmin and the company currently purchases 304 stainless steel, various steel and plastic machined parts, castings, coils and electrical components as well as outsourcing their laser cutting, all domestically.

Gallaher sees several benefits to customers of purchasing Enmin’s locally made equipment. These include the ability to offer individual design and customisation, expert local advice, consistency of supply and outstanding back-up and support.

In many cases Enmin is the only Australian company manufacturing specific material handling components.“We are the only company manufacturing electromagnetic drives in Australia and our many years in application experience will ensure the right drive is nominated for the tray requirements and process,” he said.

“Our equipment is designed to provide years of trouble-free operation with minimal moving parts, next to no on-going maintenance and, best of all, low energy consumption. All this ensures a reliable, low-cost method of product handling,” said Gallaher.

“Customisation is an important part of our business; depending on a customer’s requirement we can recommend either standard equipment components or design bespoke equipment,” Mr Gallaher added.

“A recent example was a requirement for a hopper feeder where the depositing system dictated a height that would be unergonomic for the production line staff to easily and safely access the storage hopper. Using our design expertise and state-of-the-art software, we designed a mobile unit with retractable operator steps. When not required, these steps can be folded out of the way quickly and with very little effort thanks to pressurised struts on each side,” Gallaher said.

“Another benefit of being a local manufacturer is being able to see first-hand a customer’s existing production line set-up to ensure our equipment will integrate seamlessly with other components already in place. We can ensure that mechanical components fit with minimal or no modifications and electrical interfaces are all talking to each other,” Gallaher said.

“There are many pieces of non-branded equipment brought in from overseas and these often need replacement parts; this is where our knowledge and expertise also comes into play to ensure that the right part is specified,” Gallaher went on to say.

“And of course, being a local manufacturer means we are only a quick phone call away to immediately respond to any customer query or provide service and parts support throughout Australia,” he added.

Enmin also invests heavily in R&D to provide Australian manufacturers with the latest developments in materials handling solutions and improve production efficiencies.

An example of this is Enmin’s design and development of a range of modular components. “The key benefit of modular components is that it eliminates equipment redundancy and expands with the customer’s business. It can be added to, extended and modified in the years ahead as a company’s production needs evolve,” said Gallaher.

“Whilst lower cost equipment from overseas may initially seem an attractive proposition, it is ultimately false economy. In the long term delivery turnaround, the ability to work closely with us during every phase of the project combined with the quality, reliability and opportunity to easily add to or modify years later as production needs change, far outweighs any price difference. In terms of return on investment, there is simply no comparison,” said Gallaher.

Enmin also has a range of Industrial vibrators to suit any industry that handles bulk material. The range is designed to suit Australia’s environment and covers a multitude of applications such as mining, quarrying and agriculture.

Sensors designed for rugged food and beverage environments

With its new compact series of VEGABAR pressure sensors and VEGAPOINT level switches, VEGA has now advanced to full-range supplier for all applications in food production. These instruments are aimed at standard applications in automation – and designed to meet the latest requirements of the industry.

The quality demands on food are higher today than ever before with it becoming a matter of course to be able to choose freely from a variety of foods every day. Products are being manufactured more according to individual tastes, which makes faster batch changes necessary. Consumers trust that everything is safe and hygienic at all times – and rarely think about the extensive network of safety measures that make it possible. Intelligent system design is one of them. It supports the reliability, efficiency and hygiene of manufacturing processes – with the help of hi-tech sensors and their reliable measured values.

On the basis of the modular plics instrument series, level and pressure instrumentation from VEGA has been making a contribution to safety and efficiency in the food industry for many decades. The compatible design and standardised adjustment concept create flexible application possibilities and allow individual configuration − from selection of the right measuring principle, to installation and setup, to service. Operators benefit from fast product changes, continuous plant availability and process reliability.

New standard sensors with a focus on hygiene
Just like other sectors, the food industry does not seek extreme solutions, but, in many areas, just simple optimisation and efficiency improvement. Here, less is usually more. VEGA has expanded its product range to include a compact instrument series. It proves that automation can be both simple and highly efficient without sacrificing dependability, hygiene or accuracy.

Standard applications, in particular, can be automated economically with the new compact pressure sensors and level switches. Integration into the system, as well as adjustment, are easy to carry out. In this performance class, multi-device connection options are also available, which supports the continuous improvement of production facilities. The focus here is on compactness, flexibility, safety and optimised hygiene.

The new VEGABAR and VEGAPOINT instrument series are the answer to the growing demand for simple sensors with optimised variants that support increasingly efficient food production. This requires more standardised products that are as easy as possible to use but still cover all the basic hygiene requirements. It also calls for better networked products with easy connectivity to existing control systems and mobile devices.

Standardisation gives birth to efficiency
A uniform standard extends through all areas of application. This applies especially to the fully hygienic adapter system, which is designed to be compatible with the new sensors and capacitive level switches as well as the existing VEGASWING vibrating level switches.

Not only can it be flexibly selected according to individual needs, but also adapted to local requirements and – if necessary – quickly exchanged. All the new instruments are built to withstand intense clean in place(CIP) processes. And not least due to their hygienic design and surface finish, they comply with all standards and approvals of the industry.

The acid test of CIP cleaning
Time is becoming an increasingly important factor in food production processes, and hygienic production in particular requires a lot of it. CIP cleaning is one of the most necessary but time-consuming process steps. The potential for savings here lies in cleaning and sterilising systems more quickly, through consistent hygiene standards and system design. However, this assumes that the cleaning process can be fully relied upon once completed. And this in turn requires components whose geometry does not allow microorganisms to collect in dead spaces and which are also capable of withstanding the cleaning and sterilisation processes themselves.

Processes and media that demand a lot from the materials of the measuring instruments are, for example, substances with a high fat content as well as aromatics. The consequential aggressive cleaning agents required also make correspondingly high chemical resistance necessary. The VEGABAR and VEGAPOINT instruments are resistant to both demands. The pressure sensors and level switches can tolerate high temperatures without loss of function, and even cope with the combination of both high temperature and long exposure times.

Hygienic design down to the last detail
What does “Hygienic by Design” mean? In real terms it can be seen even in the smallest components of the new sensor series. All surfaces of VEGABAR 29 and 39 sensors that come into contact with the product are made of stainless steel and feature optimal surface roughness values. What is more, VEGABAR 28 and 38 are available with high-strength ceramic versions and VEGAPOINT sensors in high-resistant PEEK material.

All materials are approved and tested according to FDA and EC 1935/2004. The design of the instruments is certified according to the European EHEDG Directive and the North American 3-A Sanitary Standards. Both standards prescribe the use of corrosion-resistant materials only and the components are also designed in accordance with Good Manufacturing Practices regulations so that all micro-organisms are reliably removed by cleaning and cannot multiply on surfaces or in gaps.

Visible all around: illuminated 360-degree switching status display
Sensors are often used in very large spacious areas or in tight spaces. The effort involved in reading a sensor quickly becomes considerable when a hygiene barrier has to be overcome. However, it is crucial to be able to see sensor readings quickly and easily, so that operators can react as quickly as possible, especially in the event of a fault.

To ensure that the status of a process can be recognised at a glance from as far away as possible and from any direction, the development of the new sensors focused on simple handling – and the fast and easy readability that comes along with it. Thanks to the round, 360-degree display, all switching states can be visually detected from any direction. The colour of the illuminated ring, which can be freely selected from 256 different colours, remains visible even in daylight. This allows the operator to choose the colour that is best visible in that particular environment, and it is up to the operator to choose the colour that best suits their needs and offers maximum additional safety and distinguishability in critical situations. It immediately shows the user if measurement is taking place, if the sensor is switching, or if there is a possible malfunction in the process.

Fit for the future with IO-Link
In their maintenance decisions, plant operators rely on status data, which forms the basis for optimal planning of shutdown times. Almost all system builders now implement intelligent sensors with IO technology for this, as it offers universal advantages when it comes to data availability. Not only can these be quickly and cost-effectively installed using standard three-core cable, but, with IO-Link, sensors can also be replaced without the risk of errors. The system can be put into operation faster with the standard protocol, which reduces production downtime.

The option of having all sensor parameters written automatically into the new instrument by the IO-Link master, or the controller during a replacement, also makes for additional efficiency. Fast format or recipe changes, which are typical in the food industry, can be carried out quickly and centrally in this way. The bottom line is that using IO-Link saves time while reducing the potential for errors to zero. This ensures higher product quality, more optimal utilisation of the machines and increased process speed.

Wireless transmission of measured values
Both the VEGABAR and VEGAPOINT instrument series can be easily read out and configured with a smartphone or tablet. Especially in environments such as clean rooms, where physical access involves a lot of effort, it means setup and operation become faster and easier. In combination with the VEGA Tools app, which has already won an App Award, the sensor data enquiry over shorter distances in these areas also becomes convenient.

Future-oriented automation from a single source
Hygienic design, system availability, modularisation and networking are the decisive factors for greater efficiency in food processes and for standing out in the face of growing competition. With its decades of experience, VEGA offers level and pressure measurement technology for the automation and monitoring of future-oriented production systems. It has sensors optimised for operating under extreme conditions and meeting strict requirements on system safety and flexibility.

Because of the increasing requirement for standard applications and open control platforms, VEGA has added these compact pressure sensors and level switches into its portfolio to help meet this. The new instruments are tailored to these standard applications that nevertheless involve high quality.

The universal adapter system of these compact devices provides the flexibility needed to keep inputs and costs at a minimum level through optimised spare parts stock-keeping. This provides process fittings that can be selected “off the shelf” and adapted directly to individual requirements.

There is also a great deal of sensor intelligence on board – the standard IO-Link protocol ensures especially simple, intelligent communication. The wireless communication provides easy and fast access and setup.

This means that the instruments have a multi-layer communication platform that enables seamless data transfer and simple integration into control systems. They are prepared for the production processes of the future – and are already making their contribution to the implementation of Industry 4.0.

Industry 4.0 won’t be marked by the number of shiny toys you own

With my background in automation, engineering and energy infrastructure spanning over two decades, there is a current trend I see that having a larger impact on global manufacturing than any other advancements in the last 40 years. The industrial sector finds itself entering an exciting new phase of evolution, an evolution marked by the unlimited potential of smart manufacturing technologies enabled by IoT and supporting government and industry initiatives such as Industry 4.0.

In fact, a recent report commissioned by two of Australia’s leading Industry Growth Centres has calculated that the economic impact of Industry 4.0 will create 80,000 new jobs and more than $74 billion in economic value.

At this year’s TechEd Conference, our customers and partners had the benefit of seeing the power of Industry 4.0 in full effect. TechEd is Rockwell Automation’s annual automation conference, bringing together the top minds in the industry to demonstrate cutting-edge technology that will dramatically reshape Australia’s public, commercial and industrial sectors.

The event gave a fascinating insight into Rockwell’s view of the next decade and the role automation will play in evolving the manufacturing space. But amidst all this excitement, I couldn’t help but notice an ongoing misconception surrounding Industry 4.0 and successful business digitisation.

Despite a clear interest and even experimentation with emerging technologies like Augmented Reality (AR) diagnostics and Virtual Reality (VR) training, we’re still not seeing the level of full-scale roll outs of IoT technologies in the industrial sector that we see in other parts of the world.

A culprit for this is that the local market has a strong tendency to move towards the shiniest object, examples like AR or VR, without evaluating its necessity to the business or how to effectively implement such a technology. In many instances, solutions with clear use cases such as deploying analytics addressing predictive maintenance and asset management productivity improvement, that bring with them obvious immediate value are clear missed opportunities. They don’t have the same appeal as the cool toys like AR and VR and hence don’t get the same focus and funding

The reality is that you need to know the use case you’re trying to solve for a product deployment to be effective. Recent research from LNS Research suggested 16 per cent of global businesses have gone into deployed systems whereas a substantially higher number of business are stuck at a pilot implementation stage. This is backed up by the World Economic Forum who believe most businesses are stuck in “pilot purgatory”. The interest is there, but nobodies committing to rolling out across their business because they haven’t clearly quantified the return on investment.

As an example, If you have a workplace defined by low incident rates and a knowledgeable workforce, there’s potentially not a lot of benefit in investing in a fully equipped virtual training environment. Industry 4.0 should be dictated by need, not the number of shiny toys you own. In my experience many struggle with what the true payback is. What the return of investment is. There are so many avenues to take, business leaders can easily find themselves jumping between what’s here now and what will emerge over the next four to five years with no rhyme or reason.

It can be difficult to quantify the return on investment and get the funding required, and that’s why I think the short-term benefit is likely in proven existing use cases that can now be deployed more quickly and cost effectively with better outcomes by using newer IoT platforms and solutions. Analytics examples such as preventative maintenance and asset optimisation solutions that help remove bottlenecks in your production addressing low hanging fruit that likely doesn’t need a lot of capital investment are prime examples of easy to justify investments

This is also not to say Australia is a laggard. In many industries including food and beverage as well as mining, Australia has a strong leadership position in the adoption of emerging technologies In my experience, some of the best practices and technology adoption can be found at a local level.

The key is simply to walk and not run into the many solutions and products attached to industry 4.0. Think about what the business problem is before you rush headfirst into trying the cool new toys available. Develop the stakeholder trust and technical ecosystem with quick wins around proven use cases, do the basics well and build the business from within that.

Chicken Plucker re-design helps processing plant save money and time

When the BSC Engineering Solutions team found that a chicken processing customer in South Australia was ordering as many as 32 new chicken pluckers per week, they knew something wasn’t right.

BSC’s major accounts executive, Andrew Fant, has been assisting the chicken processing customer for over 20 years on all matters related to bearings and power transmissions. He and his team closely monitor and keep a record of every piece of equipment that the customer orders as part of their practice to improve the component reliability.

“The customer was getting only one to three months’ life out of each plucker. Costing them on average $7,000 per overhaul, this was a huge burden. So we suggested looking at ways to improve the equipment’s reliability and extend its life,” says Fant.

The processing plant operates 900 chicken pluckers that work 24/7 to process thousands of chicken per day. The motivation for the BSC engineering team was to design pluckers that would last longer, so the customer could save money due to fewer shutdowns due to repairs having to be conducted.

One of the problems that the team identified when they started to analyse the problem was that the parts used for the OEM pluckers were not machined to the right tolerance.

“We changed the design of the aluminum casings with help from a local manufacturer to gain better control of the machining tolerances. We also used our knowledge of bearings, housings and sealing arrangements to improve the design of the bearing,” explains Fant.

“BSC’s extensive knowledge in bearings, housings and sealing arrangements comes from our years of experience in design and manufacture of these components,” he adds.

Helping the South Australian BSC team on the project was Anthony O’Keefe, BSC’s Engineering Manager who is based in Melbourne.

O’Keefe says one of the challenges with the re-design was to make sure that the bearing is protected from contamination. To gain an understanding of how pluckers
work, he describes the production line process.

“After the chickens are beheaded and washed with hot water, their feathers are removed using the plucker. The plucker contains a series of rubber fingers that are mounted onto the plucker bearings. These rubber fingers rotate around the plucker and remove the feathers,” he explains.

“You can imagine that this is a very messy process and there’s a high risk for the contaminants so sealing off the units was critical in the design,” he explains.

Another point to keep in mind was to design an assembly that could withstand the out-of-balance nature of the plucker’s movements.

“Because the plucker’s rotation is unbalanced, the load is distributed unevenly and this was something we had to consider while designing the new plucker assembly,” says O’Keefe.

While the BSC team was conducting trials on the new plucker bearing design, the customer also noticed and rectified an issue with a belt exerting unnecessarily high loads on the bearings.

The result of design improvements by the BSC engineering team and the reduced load on the bearings resulted in the customer only ordering 16 new pluckers over the past four months. Compared to the previous rate of 32 orders per week, the improvement is significant.

“By working with the customer, we were able to combine our knowledge of the components with their knowledge of the application to come up with a design that has resulted in huge savings for the customer. This solution has already been rolled out to another chicken processing plant in Victoria and has the potential for many more.” says O’Keefe.

Apart from being suppliers and technical consultants for their customer, the BSC team also manages the plant’s consignment stock to make sure the client has sufficient stock of critical components.

“A few years ago, we would get after-hours calls from our customer at least four to five times a month. By going down the path of managing the customer’s stocks directly, we now rarely get any urgent calls. A BSC staff member is based on the site and makes sure that the store remains well-stocked,” says Fant.

“We have a close working relationship with our customer and they can discuss any problems that they might have with their equipment and our team will work on improving the reliability of the equipment,”
he adds.

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Keeping F&B manufacturers on track with Diamond precision

When conveying material, it is often necessary to attach additional conveyor belt products, such as a scraper or flaps, or extend flighting between a pair of parallel chains. In food and beverage (F&B) systems, these can be necessary to ensure the product flows to the right area in the process. And in order to attach these products to a system, often a roller chain attachment will be implemented.

When used in pairs, attachments need to be exactly in the same position on both chains (called a matched pair) to avoid potential problems developing, particularly in plants that have taken advantage of robotics. For example, if a beverage company is bottling items and then placing them into a filling line, the robotic systems will need to depend upon the accuracy of the roller chain attachments to avoid making a mistake. If the attachment is even slightly out of place, it can lead to the bottles crushing the packaging or cause the bottles to break, leading to potential occupational health and safety issues. Not only that, but the financial impacts of such a situation can be significant and require a shutdown in order to rectify.

This is why the Diamond Chain Company, operating through CBC Australia, offers available length matching on its wide range of high-performing attachments.

A Class I match assures that the longest and shortest chain in a given set will not vary in overall length by more than 600 microns per metre. Using an ANSI #80 chain as an example, the length of two 118 pitch long chains with a Class I match would not vary by more than 1.5 millimetres.

Class II matches are much more stringent, and are suitable for operations where increased accuracy is necessary or when there is a longer distance between the pair of chains. A Class II match will assure that the longest and shortest chain in a given set will not vary in overall length by more than 167 microns per metre. Using the same example as above, the lengths of two chains 118 pitches long will not vary in overall length by more than half a millimetre. Class II matching can be quite difficult to achieve and requires some unique procedures.

Diamond has more than 100 different attachments within its range, for a number of popular dimensions. Troy Markland, Product Manager at CBC Australia, says this is a conservative estimate, as the company is able to provide custom solutions to handle the thousands of different options required.

“CBC will work closely with customers in Australia, helping them to identify what equipment is required, the length of chain needed and the type of chain itself as part of the order process,” he explains.

“We have an extremely close working relationship with Diamond as the exclusive distributor in Australia. We relay not only the product information but other key details such as availability schedules, to help our customers plan their maintenance.”

CBC’s staff are also trained by Diamond to help customers get the most out of the company’s products across a number of industries.

For the F&B sector, Diamond uses U.S Food and Drug Administration-approved materials and H1 food-grade lubricants approved for incidental contact to protect the chain’s structure and strength while providing food safety. Materials and lubricants are selected to meet the specific needs for sanitation, processing, cooking and sterilisation. CBC staff work with customers to determine exactly which chain would work best for each application.

In addition, CBC also provides local support and training. In particular, Markland says CBC can perform periodic measurement to minimise the impact of elongation.

“A roller chain, like most equipment, will suffer from wear over time. As a result, the chain will begin to elongate and eventually need to be replaced,” he says.

“Periodic measurement means we can detect potential issues before they become a problem and help customers develop a maintenance plan so any work can be scheduled – not during a breakdown.”

Markland adds that CBC prides itself on its quality support, both in person and online. Customers are able to go to the Diamond Chain Company website and access a series of case studies, frequently asked questions, and ask dedicated engineers for help to solve any problems, while CBC can provide local expertise.

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