Preventing spillage in food and chemical environments

Stauff’s highly effective protection plug aims to minimise external spillage and internal contamination on all areas requiring FDA approved materials for industrial and commercial usage.

The company’s Foodline “white” service plug is suitable for the prevention of spillage when handling food and chemicals.

The working principle is based on the Stauff Industrial “yellow” service plug which provides protection in industrial environments.

The Foodline is made from a rubber compound intended for repeated use for the production of consumer articles in contact with food meets in its composition of active substances approved by the FDA – Food and Drug Administration, USA.

The Foodline “white” service plug is a solid shaped plug made of high quality durable rubber, resistant to alcohol or other washing liquids, temperature rated between -25°C to +90°C  for non-pressurised systems and suitable for reuse.

Available in sizes from 1 mm up to 130 mm diameter, the range of each plug allows it to be inserted between a minimum to a maximum pipe size.

The conical lightweight design enables a fast flexible “grab and seal” installation which means – no tools required – to plug.

This ensures a clean work-space in safety-critical areas.

Five individual plug sizes are available, MICRO: 1-10 mm, STD: 5-22 mm, XL: 13-42 mm, INDUSTRIAL: 35-80 mm, INDUSTRIAL: 60-130 mm, with a MIX-BOX blister pack version available combining the MICRO, STD & XL sizes.

Typical commercial industry applications include food processing, for example liquids in pharmaceuticals and food production, for example dairy, meat, beverage plants, bakery, pet, distillation and edible oils.

Production plant equipment examples include; pipework (pipes and coupling fittings), storage tanks and vessels, dispensing and spraying equipment.  In addition they are suitable for use in both during service and storage preventing contaminants from entering system tanks, pipework or hose lines during repair or disconnection.

Typical retail industry applications include beverage dispensers, storage tanks, drums, storage vessels and kitchen equipment for example, boutique breweries and bars, hotels, cafes, restaurants and cruise ships.

In addition, they are suitable also for use for both handling and processing food products preventing contaminants from entering and excess spillage after dispensing.

Manufactured for Stauff by Yelloc International AB-Sweden.

Contact Stauff for further information.

Meet ifm expert: Roland Denholm

Roland Denholm is a sales engineer with ifm who has vast experience working with the food and beverage manufacturing industry and in managing automation and contractor accounts. He explains how the company’s approach to a customer’s business is entirely customer-centric – “It is about them, not about what we do.” Roland enjoys working with customers and getting to understand their business in order to help meet their requirements. He is proud of the unique rapport that is built between ifm employees and their customers, explaining that it truly epitomises the company’s slogan to be ‘Close To You’.

SMC Pneumatics explains benefits of getting on board with Industry 4.0

Japanese-based SMC Pneumatics knew that in order to future-proof its business it needed to get on-board with Industry 4.0 especially with the push towards automation.

“Five years ago, the managing director of SMC brought me in to reposition the business post the mining industry moving from greenfield to brownfield,” said SMC Pneumatics’ Australian and New Zealand director of sales and marketing James McKew.

“We needed to move from a capital investment phase to a maintenance repair and overhaul phase. We saw the mining boom come off quite considerably until about late last year. What I don’t think SMC contemplated was the car industry going away so quickly in Australia,” he said.

Luckily for McKew and SMC Australia and New Zealand, the route a Japanese-based company takes differs from that of a traditional western industrial enterprise. It is this support and direction that McKew sees as the starting point for the growth the company has seen.

READ: SMC to showcase its new Industry 4.0 technologies at Foodtech Packtech New Zealand

“In hindsight, it was quite exciting because the leadership in Japan, fundamentally our founder, said ‘go back to Australia, get your team together and tell me what you need to reposition the company so it stays on a growth trajectory’, as opposed to the alternative,” said McKew. “The western philosophy would have been, ‘well your major market is going down, make sure you resize your business and make it profitable’. The Japanese philosophy was, ‘you tell us the investments you require to target and access new markets and based on your representations we’ll look at making those investments’. So we did.”

And has there been a pay off? Absolutely, said McKew. While the mining industry was off the boil, SMC aggressively targeted those businesses from the OEM and end user side with the multi-site operators. Its market share over the past three years has gone from the low 40s, percentage-wise, to 51 per cent. And it is in growth in every single market in Australian and NZ. The last two-year financial results for SMC have been the best in a decade, according to McKew. The company is now on a trajectory to be the biggest it has ever been in the industry.

Which brings us back to Industry 4.0, smart factories and making sure that a company is future-proofed when building new plant, machinery and the automation aspects.

“I think educating people is what makes automation an easy sell,” said McKew. “I think everybody in manufacturing – ourselves included – is tasked with asking themselves ‘how will our future look and what technology do we need to drive it?’. You are future proofing. We also need to talk about the benefit of big data and being able to intimately understand our businesses at a granular level. So the question is asked – how can we chart our future based on those two things with massive improvements in efficiencies and substantial improvements in understanding things at a granular level? We look at the different pieces in our business and how they align with the best possible operation result.”

This brings us to the next aspect of Industry 4.0 that has been mentioned and really gets McKew animated. Big data.

“When going down the big data path it is being able to understand intimately – from a data capture perspective –  what your employees in the field are doing,” he said. “How does that correlate to a fantastic result? By capturing the data and analysing its correlation to results, you can get extraordinary performances from your people in field service or field selling.

“I think big data support in manufacturing is going to lead to a rejuvenation of the sector. When you look at the investments being made in the advanced manufacturing sector, I think there is finally a light that has gone on in government that says manufacturing creates more value through supply chain than just about any other industry including financial services.

“The growth in manufacturing is economically sound. If you look at the investment that the federal government has put behind the advanced manufacturing growth sector initiative, and the fact they are rolling their sleeves up and actively wanting to promote manufacturing, it is showing everyone where it creates value.”

McKew is also optimistic about the traditional manufacturing and primary industries within Australia, some of which have struggled over the past few years. He believes that Australia has to play to its natural resources. The sector has to acknowledge that food is just as much a part of this as minerals are.

“I even think that the current conversation around the ban of live exports is a positive for Australia,” he said. “The ban is good for Australian manufacturers in that, in my opinion, it will result in jobs for Australians in Australia.”

Speaking of jobs, doesn’t all this talk of Industry 4.0, robotics, automation and a slew of modern manufacturing processes mean less jobs for the traditional Australian working man and woman?

“A protein processing plant can’t run with lights out,” said McKew. “You still need people, so everything is not fully automated. It’s around how you employ people and those people – particularly in automated plants – are being paid better rates because they are in a more sophisticated role.    What I’m talking about is initially opening and expanding plant.”

McKew is also optimistic about the next few years for the Australian manufacturing sector. He believes Australian industry needs to be more aggressive, and not towards the low-cost labour markets in South-East Asia, but against more traditional industry rivals.

“I am very positive for the next two to three-year outlook. You’ve got to formulate your strategies properly,” he said. “They’re not Disneyland, but they’re not Luna Park either.  You have to be realistic about how far out you can look. We are expecting positive momentum in the manufacturing sector, especially the food, robotics, mineral processing, building products and aggregate. What we are also seeing a lot of is automation in large warehouses. I think for Australia there is an opportunity there because at the moment, a lot of that technology is coming straight in from Germany. There is no reason that Australian automation companies cannot deliver those solutions. Designed, built and delivered in Australia and New Zealand. Germany is a high-cost country.

He believes that Industry 4.0 is about keeping high-cost labour countries in play and believes that what people forget about Australia being high cost is that the country also produces high-quality goods.

“It’s all well and good to malign the manufacturing sector – the costs are what they are – but we are high quality,” said McKew. “There is nothing that comes in from Germany or Japan that Australia can’t do as well. I think in the presence of an automated warehouse, that knowhow and expertise is a combination of Australian and New Zealand engineering and manufacturing, and componentry from Japan and Germany. World-class solutions can be deployed in Australia and New Zealand.  We’re having bigger conversations in Australia about manufacturing and quality. The reason we are having these conversations is because manufacturing is important to so many Australian families who can rely on it for employment. We are committed to the sector and are committed to manufacturing across the five locations we manufacture in Australia and New Zealand.”

Stibo Systems helps find business-minded solution to data management

Managing the flood of information coming into a business can be difficult at the best of times. But companies such as Stibo Systems can help take the necessary steps to growing and improving a business by managing data the right way.

Consumers ask questions, such as, ‘Where do my frozen vegetables come from? How much sugar is in my yoghurt? Does my item contain any trace of peanuts?’

Supermarkets can have difficulty finding products if a certain ingredient is recalled. Cereal manufacturers can spend weeks gathering information on what ingredients were sourced from which country depending on the factory where they were made.

There’s many ways to collect and find information, the challenge is doing this efficiently.

Luckily, these time-consuming, yet necessary steps in the daily running of a company, can be made easier with an effective data management system.

The proof is in the pudding for Stibo Systems, as the company’s data management software has helped businesses in the food and beverage industry better manage information.

Stibo Systems is a Danish foundation founded in 1794, and has now expanded to a global enterprise with a local presence in Australia and New Zealand. Stibo prides itself in managing data in the state-of-the-art technology at the time. In 1794, this was the printed book, and now it is the Stibo STEP Master Data Management (MDM) platform.

Lending a helping hand

Global companies such as Kellogg’s and Kraft Heinz use Stibo’s software to better manage their complex manufacturing and distribution businesses. Stibo is also used by companies such Walmart and Kaufland for providing the right food information to their customers.

Kellogg’s manufactures breakfast foods, frozen products and snack foods in about 180 countries.

The company uses Stibo STEP to manage their complex data set of more than 100 brands, 3,500 stock keeping units (SKUs), 4,500 consumer recipes, and 9,000 product images that feed more than 400 global websites.

Kellogg’s maintains a single view of its brands to customers all over the world. Challenges are constantly arising – including changing consumer behaviour and increased in consumer demand for more nutrition information and labelling.

Government legislation and expanding industry regulation also demand richer product information. Increasing information demands include all the customer touchpoints such as product labelling, in-store displays, product catalogues, websites, sales staff, social media and point of sale.

Industry challenges such as expanding food categories and increasing food regulations also need to be addressed regularly.

Since the implementation of STEP, Stibo Systems’ product information management solution, Kellogg’s has been able to replace old legacy systems, homegrown solutions and countless spreadsheets. Kellogg’s now has more control over its branding and there is improved visibility across all its brands. STEP feeds more than 400 Kellogg’s global websites in over 40 languages.

Kellogg’s IT marketing global director, Maria Keller, said the thing that made Kellogg’s STEP implementation unique, was that it was global from day one.

“When we evaluated solutions, it had to have that capability and be able to accommodate all the languages and nuances for our markets around the world,” said Keller.

Benefits of using Stibo’s STEP software for the food and beverage industry, include being able to efficiently find products containing ingredients that are allergens or high in sugar content. Information passed from a manufacturer to a retailer, can be easily found by the retailer and relayed to customers.

Businesses also have easy access to data that can be collated to find products relating to each other. It’s also quick to find out key information, such as how fast a product is selling and why it is selling so well. For example, data may show a product is selling well because it contains less sugar than similar products, or it may be the country of origin that has buyers coming back for more.

Trends in data will help determine this. With the country of origin becoming an increasingly important factor for Australian consumers, there is a benefit to having software capable of narrowing down this information.

Stibo national sales director for Australia and New Zealand, Costa Mikhael, said Stibo’s solution allows people to manage all the types of products they have and all the information about what’s inside the products. It was important information to have about the market, when various compliance issues could come up, said Mikhael.

“Without structure and processes to govern your data, you are carrying a heavy risk burden to the business. In the event of a mistaken allergen label, you are putting your customers safety at risk, not to mention your brand,” he said.

“Supermarkets and retailers like to promote themselves as being consumer oriented. But they often fail to consider the information needs of modern customers. Shoppers want to know exactly what is in a product. Where did it come from? Is it good for me? Is it safe for my children?” said Mikhael.

Often, the information can be found on the label of a product but STEP helps set up a system that allows consumers to look online for the information on the company’s website. “We introduce efficiency between the supplier and the retailer,” said Mikhael.

A solution for all

Stibo’s software is by no means limited to supermarkets or the food and beverage industry. It is widely used by other sectors such as the clothing retail and distribution industries.

A key reason for Stibo’s success is the user-friendly system design. There’s no need to be an IT whizz as the software is simple to use and quick to adapt to. “Stibo gives you a business first-type application. It’s a business-minded solution,” said Mikhael.

“A lot of similar solutions to ours describe how it fits into the IT environment, capabilities, complexities and how you can set it up. Where we come in a lot different is we talk to the business guys and say, ‘Do you want to sell more? Do you want to reach more customers? Why don’t you put items that are related to this product on your website and we can give you the capability to do that’. The value proposition close to their heart,” he said.

The system allows businesses to save time. Where companies may have taken weeks to introduce data on new products in the past, they can do this within days with STEP. The information is easy to input and there are ways to save time down the track with alerts on certain items.

Let’s say a product contains palm oil, which a company considers an ingredient it does not want to sell to its customers. An alert can be sent out to inform the business if it is against company policy. Instead of continually searching for palm oil in new inventory, the alert will tell the business when it is present. This fool-proof monitoring step allows the business to find issues as they arise, without having to worry about human error.

Stibo Systems managing director Manfred Heckt says, “the STEP software enables enterprises to consolidate all their data. We are the data hub for different dimensions. For example, the central dimension is the product. But the value in the data, comes from managing the complex web of relationships between the product, the supplier, to the distributor, the retailer, and the customer. We make sense of it all.”

Stibo customers benefit from single view of their data. They can control, monitor and maintain data, and can score and profile their data. They can optimise their business’ packaging chain. They have a complete view of digital records and dynamic real-time access to data and images.

Stibo STEP is one seamless solution for the complete supply chain. The STEP platform can be deployed on the cloud, or it can run on-premise.

Stibo Systems entered the ANZ market over five years ago, and has been successful in helping its customers to grow and expand their business. It is not just the food and beverage industry, in Australia, Stibo has helped local companies such as Target, Officeworks, Wesfarmers Industrial and Safety, Toyota Australia and many others.

Industry 4.0 a hot topic at iba Munich baking and snack trade fair

Industry 4.0 is becoming increasingly important in the food industry as it helps businesses stay on top of data management, it increases productivity and it limits product waste.

The iba Munich baking and snack trade fair shows businesses how they can stay on top of the latest technology, and keep up with competitors, by getting on board with industry 4.0. 

Industry 4.0, which originated in Germany, combines automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. 

It encompasses the Internet of Things and cloud computing, among other things, and it is commonly referred to as the fourth industrial revolution. 

READ: Food and Beverage Industry News heads to iba Munich food expo in Germany

At iba, companies that create machinery, equipment and cloud solutions, are showcasing how this revolution fits into the food sector – in particular the baking and snack sector. 

Exhibitors include Nord Drive Systems, which caters to the baking, fish, meat and dairy industries. 

Nord drive units can be controlled individually, for example to regulate kneading and conveyor speeds and to prevent blockages. 

The Bosch packaging technology division is also displaying its equipment, which uses the latest technology to provide businesses with a productive and scalable system. 

A common theme in the food industry is seeing companies, such as Bosch, offering a full service that allows businesses to buy from one supplier. 

This allows businesses to use one company from processing to a finished product, as well as supplying businesses with training on how to use the equipment and ongoing support. 

With tighter deadlines, and pressure from clients to supply a product quickly and at a good quality, industry 4.0 and single-source companies, are making their mark in the food and beverage industry. 

Iba, held from the 15th to 20th of September, also offers people an insight into industry 4.0 and digitisation through numerous forums. 

These include a forum on the need for digitisation as consumers want to pay quickly and easily when buying products. Christian Rau, head of core products for Germany and Switzerland at Mastercard, will talk about how businesses can get on board with the digital world to cater to the busy consumer. 

Data management is also being discussed by speakers such as Martin Kreitzberg, from Brixxbox, who will talk about how to use data effectively.

With so much data being collected by companies, Kreitzberg will talk about how to achieve fast results and selecting only the necessary data. 


Environmental Product Declarations lead to transparency in packaging industry

With an emphasis on the life cycle impact of the processes from raw material to product end-of-life, Ecolean is the first packaging system supplier to review an entire production system.

It has detailed analysis and description of Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) – encompassing the lightweight packages as well as filling machines.

It also continues to develop its focus on sustainability.

Ecolean’s EPDs are designed to make it easy to understand and compare the environmental life cycle impact of Ecolean’s packages and machines.

In developing the EPDs, Ecolean has conducted a comprehensive analysis of the environmental impact of its operations.

“I think that far too many in our industry focus solely on a small part of their offering – be it raw materials, recycling or machine performance – never the full environmental life cycle impact. But that’s what we are doing now by publishing these EPDs. We are raising the bar in order for food producers and consumers to get the full picture, without green washing,” said Peter L Nilsson, CEO, Ecolean Group.

“Although our new EPDs are only one part of our dedication, to be honest and transparent in how we conduct our business, they are very important,” said Anna Palminger, sustainability manager for the company. “They contribute to making it much easier for brand owners to compare our offering to other packaging solutions on the market. Small measures can make a big impact in the lives of the consumers, but in order to really change something, one needs to equally look at all measures. With the EPDs, we are providing a powerful decision-making framework for making sustainable packaging solution investments.”

In order to be as transparent as possible, Ecolean is the first packaging system supplier to trace the environmental impact of the components in the filling machines as well as the packages.

“I welcome the publication of Environmental Product Declarations by Ecolean, providing a transparent declaration of the life cycle environmental impact of their products,” said Kristian Jelse, programme manager, The International EPD System.

“This is to my knowledge the first case where a company publish EPDs of both their packaging and filling machines, which demonstrates how communication of life cycle based environmental information may be relevant for different applications and target audiences,” said Jelse.

Focusing on sustainability, Ecolean’s ambition is to continuously push the industry agenda and provide transparent and comprehensive sustainability facts from a life cycle perspective in order to achieve real change across borders.

Research shows younger generations care about free-from foods and small portions

Free-from claims and smaller, more convenient pack sizes are important to younger consumers, research from a 2017 Nielsen report suggests.

At the iba baking and snack trade fair, a panel of experts from the baked goods sector spoke about the importance of moving towards free-from and organic products.

The forum, which took place on the 18th of September, showed a strong need for food manufacturers to cater to an increasing desire for clean products.

The information based on a Nielsen research report from 2017, on the US market, showed that organic sales among households with a millennial head of house, were 38 per cent greater than sales among total US households.

READ: Industry 4.0 a hot topic at iba Munich baking and snack trade fair

Robb MacKie, CEO of the American Bakers Association, said despite the data being from the US market, the association’s European counterpart found similarities in the data.

“The connections between the US and the international market are very strong.

“We are seeing health and wellness claims are the fastest growing areas for sales on the retail level in the US market,” said MacKie.

There is a big trend in free-from claims, he said.

“A lot of the soy-free and some of the others are growing at a very fast rate.

“The younger consumers are gravitating the most to those health claims,” said MacKie.

“The greatest generation, which is considered to be the World War 2 generation, is not really being impacted by some of these health claims. In baby boomers you start to see some movement,” he said.

But despite people being drawn to health claims, MacKie said cream filled pies, speciality desserts and muffins are on the rise in the US market.

“Taste is still King,” he said.

The key to the success is being healthier, but still having a tasty product on offer, he said.

Corbion vice president Mark Hotze agreed that consumers still have a need for food that tastes good.

“For us to be successful as an ingredient supplier, it’s really that willingness to roll up our sleeves, partner with our customers and understand where they want to go in that space.”

The consumers need to know an item is worth the calories, said Hotze.

Brian Dwyer, vice president of bakery manufacturing at Kroger, said the supermarket chain noticed people going for smaller portions.

“The one trend that I would say I’ve seen with indulgent food is the move to smaller pack sizes. Whereas in the past our consumers would pick up a 12 inch or and 8 inch pie, we are seeing that move to a smaller size, maybe a 5 inch pie,” said Dwyer.

“What we are seeing is there’s a need for indulgent, but our consumers want to eat that and have that indulgent experience without feeling guilty.

“The health and wellness is clearly a rapidly growing segment. We are seeing a lot of activity and a lot of energy around the health and wellness sector,” he said.

Kroger’s Simple Truth and Simple Truth organic brands have been the company’s  fastest growing brand ever, said Dwyer.

Research from Nielsen shows the dollar growth of grain free products in the bakery section has increased by 51 per cent from 2017.

Cruelty-free products have increased in US dollar growth by 30 per cent, and grass fed products have in increased by 28 per cent from 2017.

Maxum Foods makes life easier for food manufacturers across Australia

When Ben Woodhouse and Dustin Boughton got together in 2003, they had an inkling of an idea about how they could make life easier for food manufacturers across Australia.

In May of that year, Maxum Foods was born and now the company employees more than 30 staff at its headquarters in Brisbane and dry blending facility in Melbourne.

“We saw a gap in the market due to multi-nationals, which although they are big, high-quality companies, they were slow movers,” said Woodhouse.

“Small to medium-sized customers usually order products for delivery the next day. What we found was that some multi-nationals and even distributors, were slow to move to accommodate these customers. They were missing a big niche and were letting customers down. That really made us start the bones of Maxum Foods – to add a level of service to not only help customers but the big suppliers, too.

“What has happened over time is that we have grown so organically, and we do so much volume, that we also now appeal to the multi-nationals,” he said.

“All of these multi-nationals are using us because we cannot only service to those levels, but we are competitive because we buy so much volume.”

Over time, Maxum has developed what it calls ‘eight value pillars’ that not only drive the company’s business, but that of its customers, too.

Incorporating part of the company name, these pillars are MaxComplete, MaxReach, MaxTech, MaxFX, MaxConnect, MaxIQ, MaxPerform and MaxSafe.

But what do these values encompass?

MaxComplete means the company is a one-stop dairy shop.

Any manufacturer that requires a range of dairy ingredients can go to Maxum Foods as the one supplier of these products.

It means they don’t have to have open accounts with five or six other companies. They have one point of contact.

“A good example is one of our customers on the Gold Coast. They are a major repacker of dairy products and they use a whole range of milk powders,” said Woodhouse.

“Generally, they would have to go to three or four different manufacturers to source each different powder, buy instead, they come to us and have only one account.

“We can go out and source all dairy products. Anything from butters and fats to cheese and  milk powders. As long as it is a dairy ingredient that gets used in food manufacturing,” he said.

MaxReach refers to the global reach of the company. Maxum Foods sources most of its product from Australia, New Zealand, most EU countries, the US and Canada.

This is one of the main reasons, the multi-nationals in particular, work with them, said Woodhouse.

“For example, when dealing with a multinational, we’ll get at least one product approved from each continent for them to choose from,” he said. “That gives them complete scope.

“As long as we approve a high-quality product for them, then we can give them the most competitive source whenever their contracts get renewed. We do all that work for our customers.

“We get the import permits done with the Australian government so the customer only needs to place an order and we deliver it,” said Woodhouse.

As the name suggests, MaxTech involves Maxum providing technical solutions to its customer base. The company has a technical manager and his role is to help customers – whether it be recipe formulations or product substitution advice.

“A lot of the companies we deal with have a number of QA, research and development teams,” said Woodhouse.

“They’re working behind the scenes to improve their products all the time and our job is to assist them. It is not to replace their roles. But some companies will take us in whole heartedly. They will want a full project management from us, while other companies will just use us for advice.”

MaxFX is not about special effects, but about Maxum offering its customers different pricing options. Maxum does this by using derivatives markets – the CME in America, the NZX in New Zealand and the EEX in Europe. Because most suppliers of dairy products don’t offer long-term pricing – they only offer quarter by quarter – Maxum uses the derivatives to offer long-term prices for its customer.

“Locking in these prices allows our customers to focus on what they do best, which is make high quality food products,” said Woodhouse. “We take the risk and volatility out of the pricing for that period of time,” he said.

Then there is MaxConnect, which is basically the collection of detailed operational information about our customers.

“Over the past 15 years we have built what we think is a very bespoke CRM system, which is all around food manufacturers,” said Woodhouse.

“That means that the information we hold on each one of our customers and our suppliers is extremely detailed. Their product might need to be halal, it might need to be kosher. We have all the information required by the customer. What quality systems they have in place and what is required.”

MaxIQ is all about sharing market intelligence with its customers. The company communicates with dairy companies all over the world – New Zealand, Europe and the US – on a daily basis. It collates all the information it receives into a user friendly format and shares the information with its customer base to allow them to make better procurement decisions.

MaxPerform speaks for itself, said Woodhouse. One of the major reasons the company was born was that its customers needed ingredients delivered on time, in full (DIFOT).

“They don’t want to have to worry about getting their ingredients, or their ingredients are late, or they didn’t receive the whole order,” said Woodhouse. “Max Perform is all about DIFOT requirements.”

Finally, there is MaxSafe, which is all about food safety. Maxum Foods has two people in its QA team. For the first 10 years of its existence, the company didn’t have a QA division – it relied on the QA divisions of its suppliers.

“If they were supplying the butter, then we would rely on our suppliers ticking all the boxes and crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s,” said Woodhouse. “But what we found was that the more suppliers we were dealing with the more issues came up where product would come in and it would be out of spec. Our QA division makes sure the product is within spec which gives the customer peace of mind that what they have ordered and approved is what they are receiving. It’s a lot of work, which is a straight out cost to the business, but the feedback we have from our customers is that it eliminates so much work from their end. So, the value that gives us across our 500 odd customers in Australia and New Zealand wide means we think it is worth us investing in, to make our customers happy.”

Meet the ifm expert: Harsh Zala

As a Systems Solutions Engineer, Harsh Zala is responsible for providing the full technical delivery of an ifm solution to a customer – from sensors to high level control systems. He is an expert in providing Internet of Things (IoT) solutions that are tailor-made for clients as they become industrie 4.0-ready. He loves the family culture of ifm and is passionate about the products, seeing first-hand how these high quality products add value to customers and how they will do business in the future.

SEW-Eurodrive equipment helps Yalumba Winery save on energy costs

At a time when energy costs continue to spiral upwards, saving energy is not just good for the environment, it is important for the commercial bottom line.

According to Jesse Auricht, engineering manager, Yalumba Winery, decisions taken when planning a bottling upgrade at the plant have turned out well in both regards.

He said the choice of energy-efficient SEW-Eurodrive Movigear mechatronic drive units to keep the conveyor lines and bottles moving, contributed to this positive outcome.

The winery is serious about reducing energy costs and monitors energy consumption continuously. Typically, half the cost of energy is based on network charges, so it is important to avoid any spikes in consumption as the wine bottles are filled, capped, labelled and packed in the bottling plant, said Auricht.

“In the energy market, 50 per cent of your cost can be dictated by a half-hour event,” he said. “If you hit that peak once, depending on the time of day, you’ll see an ongoing energy cost increase.”

John Gattellari, national industry specialist – food & beverage, with SEW-Eurodrive, said the Movigear units are designed to minimise the use of electrical power and help manufacturers make savings. Movigear complies with efficiency class IE4 (super premium efficiency) and reduces energy costs by up to 50 per cent, due to the high efficiency of all its components.

Planning pays off
Once it was clear that the plant needed refurbishing, the owners decided not to rush in. Starting with their own design concepts, they issued a tender for detailed design and implementation of the project, and awarded it to Foodmach, a specialist Australian provider of machinery design, manufacturing and control services.

Working closely with Yalumba, Foodmach designed and installed the new conveyor and line control system. The revamped system consisted of the original bottling line with new controls, conveyor and palletisers, and a second line with a new de-palletiser, filler and packer.

SEW-Eurodrive’s engineering and customer service, together with energy efficient Movidrive mechatronic drive system and high precision servo motors and Movidrive controllers, were fundamental in obtaining the desired result.

In addition to saving costs by reducing energy consumption, the upgrade also led to a safer work environment and a reduction in noise.

Noise amplification and reduction
Another key issue was that of noise, especially given the running speeds of the conveyors. Line 2, which is used for wine only, runs at 12,000 bottles per hour. “You get glass bottles banging into each other at that rate and it’s noisy – and potentially dangerous as well,” said Auricht.

Trevor Burgemeister, process control technician at Yalumba, said that to alleviate the noise and danger of uncontrolled collisions, the system had to be designed to detect when bottles were about to collide. When this happened, it set a maximum collision speed.
Auricht said to achieve this, the drives needed to be accurate, reliable, efficient and controllable. As for the noise component, he said that the Movigear is so quiet it’s negligible in comparison to the rest of the system.

These characteristics, along with past performance and a strong relationship, were major factors in the choice of SEW-Eurodrive.

“They have been a solid partner of ours for a long time. It’s a recognised brand and we’ve had a lot of success,” he said.

No pressure
The key to reducing the noise is creating a pressureless line. In this case, pressure refers to the accumulation of bottles at any point on the conveyor system. It occurs when the conveyor is transporting more bottles than the individual machine process rate. If a processing machine for filling, capping or labelling is operating at a slower speed than bottles are being delivered, the bottles bump into each other, and that familiar sound of glass against glass can be heard. On a grand scale though, it’s not a pleasant clinking sound that you might hear in a restaurant. At a rate of thousands of bottles per hour, it’s more of a cacophony.

Auricht said that if the conveyor keeps running when this happens, the pressure continues to build up. This means energy wastage, inefficiency and noise, along with wear and tear on all the conveyors.

On Line 1, which is used for many different bottle types ranging from sparkling wine with a cork, to table wines with screw tops, the flow is between 5,000 and 9,000 bottles per hour. While the aim is zero pressure on the conveyors, the processing machines require a degree of pressure to function correctly.

To achieve this, the conveyors on this line run at set speeds, while the line’s process machines vary their speed as necessary to maintain head pressure of between five and eight bottles.

In the Foodmach, line control system speeds are controlled by software programmed according to a “recipe” that varies for each production variety.

The recipe specifies which processing machines are required for the product and also their operating parameters. Recipe data – speed, diameter of bottle, gap between bottles and the like – is communicated from the programmable logic controller (PLC) to the SEW-Eurodrive gears and units. These are calibrated so that the speed of the conveyor is set correctly. Burgemeister says that connecting the motion-detecting sensors to the motors and gear units, in order to manage the flow of bottles, was a simple operation. “It was just a matter of plugging the photoelectric in,” he said.

Poetry in motion
Correct flow is set up at the start of the operation on the Foodmach de-palletisers, where thousands of bottles per hour are fed into the two bottling conveyor lines. At this point, several mini conveyor lines, running side by side and at different speeds, cause bunched-up groups of bottles to be fed into a single line. Complex programming, communicated to each Movigear drive in the system, makes the operation look easy. For Auricht, this is what good engineering is all about. He describes the process with a single word – poetry.
“This was probably one of our most successful projects undertaken – both in timeframes and outcomes,” said Auricht. “In the scheme of things, the premium for the high-efficiency, low-energy drives was not that much. Looking back on it now, it absolutely was the right decision.”

Roxset helps with specialised flooring for Vasse Felix winery

The Margaret River Wine Region is positioned in the south-west corner of Western Australia.

Vasse Felix is Margaret River’s founding wine estate and was established in 1967. The estate includes four vineyards throughout the region, which have been selected for their unique topography, microclimates and natural drainage.

The chief winemaker of Vasse Felix, Virginia Willcock, has more than two decades of Margaret River winemaking experience.

Among her many achievements, Willcock was awarded “Winemaker of the Year” in 2012.

READ: Taking food safety to the floor

The winery building in Cowaramup had significant areas of failing and worn concrete showing visible aggregate, coving breakdown, floor drainage problems and underfoot safety risks.

Vasse Felix turned to Roxset to offer specialised services to resolve these challenges.

“Roxset has delivered an incredibly hard and durable surface with its SE solution,” said Willcock. “It protects a very valuable winery floor asset that was deteriorating. Working with the diversity of yeast from each vineyard section, and fermenting with wild yeast, it is critical a dominating culture does not permeate from unhygienic floors. We are pleased the new floor coating has given our winery a fresh clean finish which makes it a positive environment both mentally and physically for our staff.”

The Roxset SE coating system provides the ultimate protection required by wineries who have deteriorating concrete with the challenge of bacteria build-up of wild yeast, acids and salts and the impact of forklift traffic.

Working with Willcock, Roxset upgraded over 1000sqm of floor coatings with the Roxset SE solution to key areas of the winery including; fermenting, bottling, cellar and barrel-washing areas. Roxset epoxy screeds and ceramic additives have assisted in providing long-lasting protection to exposed concrete.

The new Roxset floor will withstand constant forklift traffic and barrel-wash impact.

Roxset is an expert in the installation of high-grade seamless floor coatings to the wine industry over the past 30 years.

Meet the ifm expert: Chris Dicker

Meet Chris Dicker who is both the Australasian Product Manager and Complex Product Manager for ifm in Australia. Chris has extensive experience working in the industry and with ifm, he has genuine passion for the products because they are such high quality and are designed to be easy-to-use and implement. Hear how Chris gets great personal satisfaction from helping customers find that perfect solution.

Total Construction explains pros and cons of buying and leasing

The leasing of industrial facilities has always been the domain of distribution operations and businesses that needed large off-site storage capacity.

Now however, many F&B businesses are opting to lease facilities rather than purchasing them. Today’s developers are happy to pay the fit out cost and have it included in the overall lease payments, which tends to suit both parties.

READ: Total Tips – design and building advice for food & beverage manufacturers

However, there are pros and cons when delving into buying or leasing premises. What are some of the advantages of leasing a warehouse, distribution centre or manufacturing building? Here’s a few tips from Total Construction.

Initial start-up costs. Investing in a building can be very costly, especially if you are an onshore manufacturer. While it is a fixed asset, money can be better spent on other more important things that can get a business up and running. This includes automated plant, which in turn saves on labour costs. Maybe the savings can be spent on research and development, and marketing and promoting the newly developed product.

Red tape. Getting compliance from councils can cause a lot of angst and also cost a lot of money. While a manufacturer will have to make sure they comply with their ongoing working conditions, making sure the building meets all the local body and environmental requirements will be up to the building owner.

Building upkeep. Buildings need to be kept up to scratch. Tenants don’t have to worry about repairs or any of the administration that goes into looking after the building – whether it be worrying about the rates bill, plumbing or electrics going haywire, or maintenance due to wear and tear.

Location, location, location. Leasing or renting means you can not only shop around for the best location, but you are not tied down to one place for a long time. This means if things change – whether it be a company’s need to expand, or clients moving to another part of the city, or even to a new city – it gives a manufacturer leeway to not renew the lease.

The Cons

As with any decision made, there are also downsides to leasing a building and/or plant. These include:

Losing capital growth. This can be an issue if you live in a city where commercial space is at a premium. Cities such as Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are growing exponentially, and unless the world economy collapses, will be sought after places of business for a long time to come.

Locked in contract. Being locked into a contract means the tenant will have to stay where they are until the contract runs out or pay penalties if the lease is broken. When it comes to the fit out of the warehouse, the tenant has a limited say in how it will look.
Limited say. The owner of the building will have certain terms and conditions that have to be adhered to by the occupant.

Expansion. If your business takes off and you need to expand your operations the owner of the building can call the shots – whether this is allowing a tenant to extend the space available, or the accompanying increase in rent.

Newly Weds Foods knows not all breadcrumbs are created equal

Breadcrumbs are one of the unsung heroes of the food industry. They are used in many product applications but never really take precedence as the key ingredient. Hence, the selection of the right breadcrumbs can make a significant difference to the overall quality of a finished product.

Historically, low cost mass produced breadcrumbs were almost always made from unsold bread returned to the bakers by retailers.

To make use of this essentially waste product, bakeries redried the bread and crumbed it to commercialise a product that would otherwise be dumped. This product was the industry standard for many years.

READ: Newly Weds offers world-tour of flavour trends at foodpro

In recent times however, various market changes have had an impact on the availability of these types of breadcrumbs and its use.

Firstly, retailers have become more adept at forecasts and ordering, meaning the incidence of waste has significantly reduced and availability can be inconsistent.

The varieties of bread in retail have also increased, meaning crumbs made from returned bread can have extraordinarily long ingredient lists which are not always suitable for processors using the crumbs in their product.

New country of origin labelling as well as allergen statements have also made these crumbs more difficult to use in processing where demands for transparency and clean labels are increasing. As a result, there has been strong demand for purpose bake crumbs, particularly in manufacturing.

Newly Weds Foods has been producing purpose-baked crumbs in Australia for more than 30 years in the form of its signature Panko Crumb and Japanese Style Breadcrumb. These crumbs are produced through the combination of selecting high quality wheat flours with a specialised, innovative technology using electrical current during the baking process to create an elongated, slivered shape.

This unique shape and open structure produces a delicate, crispy texture when fried or oven baked. The specialised baking process also produces bread loaves that are free from an outer crust, giving a uniform coloured crumb which improves visual appeal and allows the company to manage colour to specification.

While sales of Panko have continued to grow significantly, these crumbs are a premium product. But they are not always a cost- effective option for some of the more traditional uses of breadcrumbs that have predominantly been the domain of returned breadcrumbs.

To meet this demand for lower cost, purpose baked crumbs, Newly Weds Foods has installed a traditional bread baking line where loaves are baked using traditional methods.

This produces more homemade looking bread with an outer crust that when crumbed creates a more home-style, familiar looking speckled crumb.  The crust gives golden brown highlights and a great crunchy texture that’s ideal for a variety of applications and a more cost effective alternative to Panko in some applications.

By purpose baking this way, the company can ensure its customers consistent supply with the same quality and appearance on every delivery.

Ingredient listings and allergen statements are greatly simplified with most of Newly Weds Foods’ traditional crumbs containing only five ingredients – flour, salt, yeast, sugar & water.  All of these ingredients are Australian sourced helping country of origin labelling as well.

Further catering to market demand, Newly Weds Foods also has the flexibility of producing crumbs via an extrusion process rather than traditional baking technology.

This process allows for crumbs to be made into a variety of shapes as well as the option for gluten-free applications.

ESM Australia helps businesses keep costs down with modular software systems

In the modern Australian manufacturing environment, it is important to manage costs.

With stiff and cheap, competition from overseas markets, having a competitive edge is important if you want to run a successful processing business.

The old adage, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it” remains as true today as it’s ever been. But measuring some processes in food accurately can be difficult.

Some use manual paper-based logging or performance metrics, some use a hybrid system of paper-based and digital and a growing number are using new technologies to capture data automatically, directly from process machinery and smart sensors.

Connecting these systems and managing their data is not without challenges.

Almost all manufacturing enterprises have different plant from different vendors and there are generally and various control system vendors, makes, models and communications protocols to deal with.

And once you have the data, then what?

The rewards can be immense.

Once production data is available to management, operations and maintenance, productivity can be measured and fine-tuned.

This is where the new monitoring and control platform, Ignition, comes into its own. With the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0 making their footprints felt on the Australian manufacturing landscape, the Ignition platform is designed to help connect, collect, and harness process data to implement positive changes within the food processing industry.

“Ignition is a great connector of things,” said Glen Fry, managing director of ESM, an Australian distributor and gold-certified integrator of Ignition.

“It makes an ideal platform for the Internet of Things because of the interconnectability and scalability it offers. Ignition is a very open design, yet incredibly secure,” he said.

“Ignition connects to nearly any field device such as PLCs from all major automation vendors, variable speed drives, or an obscure IoT enabled sensor. It doesn’t really matter what it is. We are able to get that data easily and cost-effectively then store, analyse, and visualise.”

Once the data is in the standard SQL database, Ignition provides powerful tools to format and display data either in real time, or historical trends.

The best insights can sometimes come from areas you don’t expect.

Modules that provide machine-learning and AI-based data analytics to carry out some predictive analysis are available, and those tools can give users insights into data they were not going to see just by looking at it due to the large volume of data available.

Ignition is a modular system, so it can be catered to a company’s individual needs. Fry said his company will help a customer decide what parts of the system is best for them. Best of all, the system is hugely scalable, with the typical installation providing unlimited device and data connections, and unlimited users, for one cost.

“We work with the client to scope their requirements concisely up front,” he said.

“It means that we need to get a good insight into what their business is doing so that we can help pick the right metrics to measure. Results only come from the client taking those actions. It’s the visibility of that production process that allows people to make changes that drive those yield improvements.”

One local customer told Fry implementing changes based on the data the Ignition system highlighted offered up a net saving of “around seven percent” on running the plant.

That sounds like a lot, but tightening productivity, and quality is much easier when you have a tool like Ignition to help identify problem areas.

When the business is turns over more than $100 million, those savings get put into perspective pretty quickly, said Fry.

“For that particular project, we implemented a full visualisation and manufacturing execution system for [its product] and that has been a large-scale process,” said Fry.

“Apart from the obvious costs savings, it’s given the clients a much greater insight into their business.”

And that is the key to the whole Ignition platform.

It is designed to cut out the hassle of dealing with the different variety of vendors’ plant and machinery used in the manufacturing process. It allows for the monitoring and reporting of how the plant and machinery is working without having to go to each individual piece of equipment and find how it is running.

“Ignition helps to paint a picture of where your problems are,” said Fry.

“The important part about that is that we can measure in real time the productivity, quality or availability and the downtime of machinery in a production environment,” he said.

“By looking at those variables we are able to devise OEE [Overall Equipment Effectiveness]. What that does is give us not only real-time data but also provides us with historical data.

That data has huge potential, too, because we can look at the productivity of a line – month-on-month or product-on-product and understand whether the plant’s performance is getting better or worse.”

Fry is also at pains to point out the one other differentiation between Ignition and most of its competitors, which is the pricing structure.

“With many other systems you’ll need to buy more client licenses, more tags, more development licences. With Ignition’s standard unlimited licencing model, if you want to connect another section of plant or add 20 users, it costs no more than the engineering to design the pages.

“That can be an enormous saving and with some companies those extra fees legacy SCADA system impose can be a huge pain point,” said Fry.

Rockwell Automation helps an iconic Australian biscuit manufacturer with plant upgrade

Arnott’s is one of the largest food companies in the Asia Pacific region. More than 50,000 Australians have worked for Arnott’s over the past century.

Today, Arnott’s employs around 2,200 Australians across all states and territories.

The company also employs several thousand people across the Asia Pacific region, in countries such as New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Japan.

Millions of Australians have grown up with Arnott’s over the past 152 years. For them, Arnott’s is more than a food company – it’s a piece of Australia’s history and a national icon. Arnott’s portfolio of brands includes household names like Tim Tam, Shapes, Iced VoVo, SAO, Vita-Weat, Salada and Tiny Teddy.

READ: NHP to acquire Rockwell Automation related business assets

As consumers continue to seek high quality and variety in product ranges, food and beverage manufacturers are actively looking to invest in new technologies to help them develop a more agile response to changing consumer tastes and increased flexibility in production lines.

Arnott’s produces a wide variety of sweet and savoury biscuits that have been enjoyed by generations. In fact, Arnott’s has invested approximately a quarter of a billion dollars in their Australian biscuit facilities.

The company’s manufacturing plant in Adelaide produces approximately 10,000 tonnes of biscuits annually. To meet increasing local and global consumer demand, Arnott’s recently embarked on Project Flex – a control and HMI system upgrade to deliver increased flexibility and agility for biscuit production.

When embarking on Project Flex, Arnott’s had no hesitation in calling upon their long-standing automation and control provider Sage Automation. According to Stuart Mitchell, senior systems engineer at Sage, “We have been working with Arnott’s in Adelaide for the past 20 years so we are very familiar with the plant. It is a Rockwell Automation site through and through, so we naturally called on them to help with the upgrade.”

With expansion into international markets and a subsequent demand to increase production, it was important for Arnott’s to have the ability to run any biscuit on any line while maintaining product consistency.

The first stage of the project involved updating the legacy oven conveyor’s PLC hardware to improve the way that operators could load new production orders, including a feature that allows different recipes to be stored, selected and produced on the same line. It also involved the installation of two new cooling systems for conveyors including reprogramming of the control system and HMI.

With this new system, Arnott’s were able to achieve greater flexibility on each line with a reduced margin for human error.

The control system upgrade required the migration of legacy SLC controllers to Allen Bradley ControlLogix to help reduce maintenance costs and allow for increased flexibility on production lines.

While justifying the risk and expense of control system upgrades may initially seem like a challenge, investing in modern technologies that leverage the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) helps manufacturers realise the benefits of smart manufacturing.

As Jonathan Footman, solutions architect, Rockwell Automation, explained, “The more connectivity you have across the plant floor helps implement the technology to enable smart manufacturing and progress in the journey towards a connected enterprise.”

To keep the plant running, Arnott’s leveraged the inherent flexibility of the Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture system to undergo a staged migration to the new controllers.

The ControlLogix control system offers modular architectures and a range of I/O and network options. Tight integration between the programming software, controller, and I/O modules, reduces development time and costs at commissioning and during normal operation.

To help reduce engineering time, Sage used existing SLC I/O in the first stage and subsequently added some Ethernet Point I/O and Flex I/O on DeviceNet. The RSLogix Project Migrator Tool was used to install the ControlLogix controllers with ease.

“While the majority of the plant uses Ethernet, there is still some equipment communicating through DeviceNet and DH+ so by using ControlLogix, any potential integration issues were overcome because the controller is compatible with all three networks. This flexibility allowed the upgrade to be performed in a staged manner as opposed to having to perform the whole upgrade in one go,” explained Footman.

Investing in modern technologies helped manufacturers realise the benefits of smart manufacturing.

Reducing production loss during an upgrade was often filled with challenges but in this case, thanks to careful planning and a phased approach to the migration, the upgrade was completed with no production loss.

Delivering a wide-range of motor control, Arnott’s installed seven new PowerFlex 525 drives as part of the upgrade. Sage was responsible for the drive integration using existing code to both new and existing Ethernet and DeviceNet networks. Moving to the newer platform increased the operational efficiency and centralised the plant’s control system.

In addition, Arnott’s leveraged the intelligence of the PowerFlex variable speed drives on Ethernet to help operators access real time information in the plant.

“Prior to the drive upgrade, the operators would have to run feedback using analogue set points, which was very time consuming. Now, with the PowerFlex drives on Ethernet, all the diagnostics can be accessed in real time. The drives also have a small footprint, reducing the required panel size,” explained Mitchell.

The HMI design and functionality was updated according to Arnott’s specifications to improve the way operators could load new production orders, including a feature that allows different recipes to be stored, selected and produced on the same line.

Sage designed, programmed and installed the HMI solution allowing for a large number of recipes to be created and stored for each oven. The recipe management page enabled each oven to store recipes with pre-programmed conveyor paths, line speed set points and variables.

The new HMI system utilises PanelView terminals and reduces the number of pages from approximately 70 to only 20, simplifying events with each conveyor having its own pop up with manual controls and speed settings.

The HMI solution allows for a large number of recipes to be created and stored for each oven.

With this new system now in place, Arnott’s was able to achieve greater flexibility on each line with a much reduced margin for human error.

According to Andre Spoor, engineering manager, Arnott’s Biscuits, “Sage upgraded our PLC and HMI with no loss in production and no downtime. It’s a great result for us considering it was such a big upgrade.”

By undertaking a staged approach to the control system migration, the multiple manufacturing control solutions were delivered with no unplanned interruption to production. The system was centralised with all cooling systems being monitored and controlled from a centralised ControlLogix controller.

“The change has ensured that the site improves its ability to be flexible. It has simplified the selection and set up process and therefore reduced operator error and provided control systems for the sites conveyors and cooling systems that are well supported within industry,” explained Spoor.

Thanks to the upgrade, Arnott’s is well positioned to meet the growing demand for increased flexibility and agility in its manufacturing operations. By increasing connectivity across the plant floor, it is realising the benefits of smart manufacturing and is now able to build on this foundation, step-by-step, to work towards a connected enterprise.

JCurve Solutions helps Feel Good Foods step up its business

Running a business with multiple brands while ensuring staff and customers’ needs are met can be challenging.

Every business owner wants each sector within their company to be pristine and functioning at all times.

This is where JCurve Solutions can help. The company provides award-winning cloud software to increase efficiency and reduce costs.

JCS’ Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) enable employees to work smarter, simplify their processes, and empower more agile decision-making.

READ: Emma & Tom’s – growing with JCurve ERP

The tried and tested software is winning over people like Feel Good Foods’ CEO, George Giannakopoulos.

Feel Good Foods has dozens of brands that produce thirst-quenching products such as Bonsoy soy milk and Bod kombucha.

It also helps food cravings with products such as Sprout and Kernel handmade nut cheese.

Describing himself as “not particularly tech-savvy”, it was the all-in-one capability of JCurve ERP, an exclusive small-business edition of NetSuite provided by JCS, that won Giannakopoulos over.

He said the company explored numerous business software solutions, but when Giannakopoulos weighed up the options, JCurve ERP came out on top.

He took his business from a basic online accounting package to an all-inclusive system providing customer-facing sales force automation, quotes and orders, marketing and customer service capability, integrated back-office inventory management, fulfilment, logistics and accounting.

“Since implementation, I’ve really seen how JCurve ERP continues to be a big software for small businesses.”

The data and visibility JCurve ERP provided, allowed Giannakopoulos to more effectively manage staff.

“Decisions are no longer made on a hunch, but rather on hard, identifiable trends and forecasting data.

“As a business owner, I have always known my business, but today with JCurve ERP, I can see inside every channel of my business anywhere, anytime.”

It was a significant step for Giannakopoulos’s business, but a necessary one to achieve its growth objectives.

Over the past 12 months of Feel Good Foods’ journey, JCurve ERP has delivered significant returns in increased productivity, sales and business visibility.

With multiple warehousing capability, JCurve ERP has also provided the necessary features and processes to grow Giannakopoulos’ business on the national stage.

“I have every confidence now in our ability to take our current operations national. That was not possible before JCurve ERP,” he said.

Above all, it’s the day-to-day impact of JCurve ERP that has delivered immediate efficiencies and savings across the business.

Giannakopoulos said when his sales teams are out on the road they can now see stock quantities and customer order history in real-time.

Swapping over to the new system was not as much of a headache as people would think.

“The fact that it is a single unified cloud-based system with one point of contact for support gave me confidence that our transition would be relatively stress-free,” said Giannakopoulos.

“Most importantly, we wouldn’t have to be concerned with manual updates going forward.”

JCurve Solutions empowers business growth and profitability, through its business software, products that effectively manage costs, reduce business inefficiencies and improve the bottom line.

Its cloud-based ERP business management solutions are designed for companies who may have outgrown their accounting-only software or for businesses that work with multiple, disparate systems. JCurve ERP is the Australian and New Zealand small business edition of NetSuite.

It has an exclusive licensing agreement to design, develop and support a NetSuite small business product.

JCurve ERP delivers fully featured software via the cloud that works for small business, without the prohibitive price tag.

ERP software was once the domain of enterprise-level organisations, but cloud software delivery has made ERP accessible for businesses of all sizes.

With cloud ERP implementation, functionality and price points have been able to match small and large business requirements.

Giannakopoulos said his business had improved as drivers didn’t need to go back to the office to re-check information.

This is because Cloud ERP systems allow you to take your business with you and continuously see real-time information.

The single-source data of your ERP system is always accessible, wherever you have an internet connection.

Android and iOS native apps provide a convenient way to see dashboard data and business performance metrics for the user’s role.

Being empowered with information that’s always at your fingertips means being able to make agile decisions, the moment you need to.

Meet the ifm expert – Hao Yang

Meet Hao Yang, Internal Sales Manager with ifm. Hao loves working with a company that is a family business with loyal employees and also loyal long-term customers. He is proud and passionate to be part of the Australian ifm headquarters – a technical centre in the automation world and one of the few, if not only, companies that provide a 5-year warranty on their products. Hear Hao talk about the ‘Close To You’ culture of ifm and how together with customers they can help businesses to grow.

Picking your own box of chocolates – no longer a pipe dream

By Siemens

It’s not available commercially but to demonstrate what the future might hold, a chocolate manufacturer in Switzerland (where else) has experimented by offering a bespoke box of chocolates that Forrest Gump would be happy with.

The production line’s robot enables consumers to order its chocolates any time from any where via Twitter. You can order, for example, three mini bars of dark chocolate and several with nuts and fill the rest of the package with milk chocolate. No white chocolate to be seen. The container is labelled, provided with the necessary product declaration, sealed and shipped to the consumer.

The flexible pick system is an “innovation kit” for Chocolat Frey in Germany and part of experimenting with the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0 as it is being dubbed. The company has collaborated with a leading university, the University for Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW), packaging specialist Pacvois, automation partner Autexis Holding AG and Siemens using its MindSphere open cloud ecosystem.

“As a university, it’s our job to identify new possibilities and point out where the journey could take us,” says Markus Krack, Head of Technology Transfer FITT at the School of Engineering at the university.

“The system is intended to provide an experience,” Krack explains. “We therefore chose a product and a problem that everyone knows: chocolate!”

The process is currently very expensive because Chocolat Frey is orientated to mass production and individual orders are packaged by hand.

The flexible pick system was financed by the university. “Producing the system was quite a feat,” Krack said. “Everyone pulled together. Even our professors did some of the programming, which doesn’t happen very often.” The partners relied primarily on products and solutions from Siemens. “We used MindSphere, the open cloud ecosystem from Siemens, on which our proprietary Autexis apps can run,” says Philippe Ramseier, the owner of Autexis.

The MindConnect hardware component collects the data from sensors and actuators and transmits it to the MindSphere cloud. A Simatic S7-1500 controller controls the Kuka robot using the TIA Portal library. This significantly simplifies the robot engineering, since the engineer only has to be familiar with the TIA Portal.

Siemens provides an extensive sample application for this purpose, which contains the robot program and the HMI images. The robot path points can thus be taught from a Simatic mobile panel (KTP900F), which gives a common look and feel to the way the machine and robot operate.

Autexis has been working with products from Siemens almost exclusively for 35 years. “This strategy has proven to be successful,” says Ramseier. Thanks to this long-lasting partnership, and by sharing ideas openly with Siemens on a basis of mutual trust, Autexis can apply itself to the development of new products and services.

This is also a good choice for Krack and the university. “Siemens is cutting-edge in the industrial environment. Our students must be able to deal with that.”

The Autexis project team also implemented new services for the Hannover Messe. Inventories or operating data from the robot can be made visible directly on the flexible pick system. “A personalised label gives customers with augmented reality additional information on the product, like the origin of the chocolate and the calories in each item in the assortment,” Ramseier says.

“The system can be expanded almost infinitely,” he adds. “For example, we can integrate the warehouse. If the inventory of mini bars falls below a minimum level, an order is automatically triggered.”

The customer’s preferences and ordering habits can be analysed using the data collected by the flexible pick system. Who likes what chocolate? Who orders chocolate and when? Does customer behaviour depend on the weather? “A customer who orders an especially large amount of chocolate could be sent a fitness studio brochure,” Krack says with a chuckle. And then adds, “Data protection is important to us.”

The flexible pick system is an “innovation kit” for Chocolat Frey, so it can be used to test processes. The results obtained can flow into the operational process later on. Krack also has a lot of praise for the project. “Of course, the research is also aimed at expanding the flexible pick system and developing more processes. As a university, it’s our job to identify new possibilities and point out where the journey could take us.”

Learn how Siemens is helping the Food & Beverage industry adapt to technological change at Digitalize 2018, Siemens’ annual digitalization conference, which will be held in Melbourne on Wednesday, 8 August 2018. For more details and to register, visit

Meet the ifm expert – Glenn Thornton

National product and brand manager for ifm, Glenn Thornton, explains what differentiates ifm from other high-tech electronics businesses. Besides offering quality well-priced products and quick turnaround of service, Glenn says what really drives the company and his colleagues are the relationships they develop with customers. Originally an electrician by trade, Glenn appreciates that while getting the job done right is of utmost importance, what he really enjoys at ifm is the ongoing relationship with customers and seeing the outcomes that they achieve.