The next step in the IoT revolution

Now in its second year, the Industrial Internet 4.0 Summit is billed as a must-attend event for Australian manufacturers. Matthew McDonald spoke to two of the participants at the gathering, which kicks off in Sydney tomorrow.

While Industry 4.0 has been around for some time now, it is still a relatively new concept to most manufacturers. As such, many of these businesses have either not yet introduced this new paradigm to their businesses or have not yet discovered the best way to harness the power that it promises.

With this in mind, the second Industrial Internet 4.0 Summit, which takes place in February at Sydney’s SMC Conference and Function Centre, is a great opportunity for food and beverage makers and others to inform themselves about the latest in Industry 4.0.

We spoke to two participants in the Industrial Internet 4.0 Summit who work in the food and beverage manufacturing sector.

Tania Montesin

Tania Montesin, regional manufacturing operations manager Asahi Beverages, has more than two decades’ experience in building and managing large, high-volume end-to-end supply chain management and manufacture of fast-moving consumer goods.

Apart from management of the region, she is currently working with company leadership on planning and deployment of Industry 4.0 initiatives to improve efficiency, consistency and profitability of manufacturing across the region.

When the subject turns to Industry 4.0, conversations tend to focus on things like quality control, improved efficiency, labour market changes and food safety. However, before any of that is possible, a couple of obvious questions businesses need to answer is ‘how do I get there?’ and ‘what is the first step?’

According to Montesin, getting started involves a lot of trial and error. “This area is new for everyone in fast moving consumer goods and definitely new for Australia. There is much piloting and exploration to be done in this space in the next three years to work out for each business how to use it most effectively against corporate goals,” she said.

Tania Montesin, regional manufacturing operations manager Asahi Beverages.
Tania Montesin from Asahi Beverages.



“Industry 4.0 is an enabler of exciting systems such as continuous improvement. Identifying areas of greatest loss in your organisation to target solutions that will provide financial benefit. And importantly, start with less complex projects to prove ideas and concepts early.”

Asked to name some Industry 4.0 success stories, Montesin mentioned larger international companies such as General Electric, Airbus, Rolls Royce. “These are largely engineering organisations where design and reliability are paramount for performance and brand integrity,” she said.

Regarding her experience at Asahi she said that the company started with understanding what is Industry 4.0 and how it can apply to our business and value chain specifically to meet corporate long term goals.

Montesin is scheduled to take part in a Case study presentation, called Collaboration across the digital supply chain at the Industrial Internet 4.0 Summit. She said that attendees will be able to learn more about Asahi’s approach to Industry 4.0 during the presentation.

Siamak Tafavough

Siamak Tafavough, lead data scientist Coca Cola Amatil, has a demonstrated history of working in the finance, food and beverages and health care industries. Skilled in leading advanced analytics projects, designing and structuring framework around machine learning and advanced analytics stream, he is a research professional with a Ph.D. focused in Machine Learning.

When we caught up with Tafavough he mentioned a new term – “Analytics of Things”.

“What we have currently is the Internet of Things which is devices that collect data and are connected to each other. If you can really use that data to get some insight and analyse the data to obtain some patterns, you are going one step further and getting lots of benefit out of this,” he said.

The Analytics of Things, therefore, is all about taking the data supplied by connected digital devices, analysing it, and working out the best ways to make it work for your business or organisation.

Siamak Tafavough, lead data scientist Coca Cola Amatil.
Siamak Tafavough.



“A number of companies are using this technology and benefitting out of it. There is a big growth in using this technology, however the bit we are missing at the moment is not many companies are actually investing in analysing the data. That’s the bit where most organisations are behind,” said Tafavough.

He said that, to date, food and beverage makers have successfully used Industry 4.0 in areas such as transport. “For example, in tracking the movements of trucks, the amount time they spend on the road, in distribution centres and so on.”

At the Industrial Internet 4.0 Summit, Tafavough is scheduled to take part in a panel discussion called, The Analytics of Things – creating new value from IoT data.

The Industrial Internet Summit is being held in Sydney on Feb 21-22. 

Domino Cloud and Ax-Series is helping manufacturers build the Factory of the Future

The fourth industrial revolution is upon us. Industry 4.0 is set to revolutionise manufacturing and production through the utilisation of cyber connected systems, which monitor factory processes to maximise efficiency and reduce downtime.

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

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

This article goes beyond the buzzwords surrounding Industry 4.0 and highlights how it is empowering Australian manufacturers in achieving maximum efficiency in coding and marking processes.

What is Domino Cloud?

The release of Domino’s i-Techx platform and the Domino Cloud service tool are shaping Industry 4.0 in the areas of coding and marking. Both built into Domino’s latest continuous inkjet technology the Ax-Series, is equipped with features to be ready for the factory of the future.

Designed from the ground up to be industry 4.0 ready, the Domino Ax-Series easily integrates into existing production lines and supports a variety of standard factory automation communication protocols such as PACK-ML and OPC-UA.

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

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

How does Domino Cloud help manufacturers?

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

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

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

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

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

Domino Cloud is already shaping factories of the future and empowering a step change in productivity and efficiency for manufacturers. “We highly recommend Domino Cloud as a user friendly remote tool that gives us useful management information insight into all our connected production lines” affirms Dorin Cimpu, Manager Strategic Projects, Continental Tyres.

If you would like more information on Industry 4.0, the Domino Cloud, or to speak with the team about upgrading your current coding technology, please contact insignia on 1300 467 446 or visit

Q&A: The future of food production technology

A Senior Systems Engineer shares his first-hand insights into the current and future challenges of food and beverage manufacturers – and how technology is being used to solve them.

Senior Systems Engineer Stuart Mitchell has worked with food and beverage clients such as BD Farms, SA Water, Arnott’s Biscuits and Tiptop to improve their control systems and enhance use of food production technology.

We asked Stuart about the current challenges food and beverage manufacturers face, and how technology will be used to solve them:

Question: What are some of the new challenges food and beverage manufacturers are facing now?

Cost is the biggest challenge for our food and beverage clients by far. They’ve got to keep costs down to remain competitive and the rising cost of energy is especially pertinent for Australian manufacturers.

Other challenges are in standards, quality and repeatability of process – food and beverage manufacturers need to know that they’re making the same product, every time.

Following from this they need to respond to growing consumer demand for traceability, i.e. ‘what’s in the food I’m eating’? How do companies recall batches and communicate so quickly? Legislation and technology is moving towards allowing mass traceability from source to plate which means that manufacturers must start looking at what’s available.

Finally safety is paramount. Food and beverage is incredibly diverse but essential safety best-practices, risk audits and compliant control and automation equipment is required across the board.

In general, manufacturers are very proactive about safety and the nature of food and beverage means each plant will have different safety risks. For example, we recently implemented electrical earth monitoring in flour and sugar tanks for an international biscuits brand. The tanks are monitored to the earth to detect abnormal currents in static electricity (a by-product of mixing process), warning operators of fire risk. So you’ve got an entirely different solution here compared with risks associated with say, carbonated drinks production.

Stuart Mitchell, Senior Systems Engineer at Sage.
Stuart Mitchell, Senior Systems Engineer at Sage.














Every SAGE project will typically address all or most of these challenges.

Question: What are some of the new efficiencies food production technology can offer existing producers?

Downtime and yield performance monitoring, quality improvements and traceability, and time and cost savings across the value chain — these are all key improvement areas that current control system and software technologies can offer food and beverage manufacturers today.

In particular, preventative and predictive maintenance has seen the most improvement of the past few years.

More companies are reaping the benefits of sensor technologies as they come down in cost. Sensors that measure weight range or ingredient sample analysis can improve product quality while those that measure equipment temperature or vibrations inform operators if it needs maintenance.

An Australian food manufacturer is using a dual sensor on its sugar grinding equipment. Vibration and temperature readings inform the plant if the equipment is operating at a safe rate, and predict when it will need servicing and/or replacement bearings.

Question: Where do you see food production technology heading in the next 5 years?

There’s three key areas that are really relevant today and will be in the next five years:

IoT and what it means for the software market

The explosion of the IIoT and IoT has really opened up the market. We are now seeing products and services entering the market that aren’t being created or offered by the traditional major vendors. As a result there been a shift away from ‘proprietary only’ solutions to open source or a combination of both.

Companies want choice, and how they can more easily mix and match to suit their needs, for example companies are buying from different suppliers and selecting operational software that can be integrated with other business systems.

Software integration

Our sister company Nukon is big in this IT and OT integration space and we’ll see more and more businesses demanding this ‘connected enterprise’ type operation. This approach along with innovative software, data collection and processing tools and cloud-based storage will meet the increasing demand for visibility and connectivity across the entire business.

Energy consumption

Another more pressing issue for Australian manufacturers is in energy consumption. In order to mitigate rising energy costs manufacturers will need to invest more in energy consumption technologies that, for example that tell conveyors to switch off when not in use. These technologies are readily available but we will see this space grow as energy becomes more expensive.

Some companies are already optimising their use of alternative energy supply for production.

For example, a dairy processing client is expanding its use of solar heat exchanger in pasteurisation. Right now the solar exchanger is only used for the sterilisation process but we’re helping the business integrate the technology to perform more energy demanding processes such as pasteurisation. This integration is paired with robust automation processes to switch back to traditional power if needed. So we’re seeing more and more that manufacturers’ ‘energy mix’ can be diverse and reliable with the right systems in place.

For more best thinking

NZ dairy robotics company attracts Australasian investors

The latest investment offering for inspection industry disruptor Invert Robotics has closed after attracting considerable interest from a number of high net worth and institutional investors from across Australia and New Zealand.

The company provides non-destructive inspection services using state of the art mobile climbing robots. The climbing robots enable precise and accurate remote inspection of non-ferromagnetic surfaces such as stainless steel, carbon fibre, aluminium and glass. The company’s patented robots are installed with high definition cameras and sensor technology to allow for equipment to be assessed for maintenance and for preventative analysis on a remote basis. Inspectors are fed real-time video during the inspection that allows for immediate and highly accurate analysis.

The device is already being used by the major Australian and New Zealand dairy companies and co-operatives such as Fonterra, Synlait and Murray Goldburn, as well as a number of global food and beverage brands.  It is also attracting interest across other sectors and throughout the food and beverage manufacturing industry in Europe and Asia such as FrieslandCampina and Heineken.

The Company has also captured the attention of those working in the lucrative aviation inspection market and is poised to make a European partnership announcement soon regarding its successful development of further advanced robot technology.  The company is also looking at potential opportunities in the chemical industry, in addition to further work with energy, oil and gas companies.

Following an almost million dollar crowdfunding campaign through the Sydney-based platform Equitise, a further NZ$6.4 million has now been raised from a limited sophisticated private investor round.  Shareholders now include the former CEO of Macquarie Group Ltd, Allan Moss, and Inception Fiduciary Pty Ltd.

These investments add to the considerable funding received from government and private venture capital sources soon after the company was founded by its now Chief Technical Officer, James Robertson.

Since 2015/2016, Invert Robotics has experienced exponential growth; for the 2018/19 Financial Year, its revenue is expected to further quadruple, with significant contributions from European operations.

“Unlike other inspection methods using dyes, drones and optical or laser devices, INVERT ROBOTICS’s technology provides 360-degree diagnostics and does so in up to half the time of traditional inspections”, said Invert Robotics’ Managing Director Neil Fletcher.

“The accuracy, efficiency and the value-adding environmental and safety benefits of robotic technology makes it an obvious choice as global consumer demand for product safety, brand integrity and transparency grows.”

Given the company’s rapid growth, in addition to its Australasian base in Christchurch, INVERT ROBOTICS have opened an office in the Netherlands and is poised to open premises to operate in Germany and Denmark.

Automation solution for temperature-controlled grocery environments

Dematic, a global supplier of integrated automated technology, software and services to optimise the supply chain, today announced a new automated solution for cold chain order fulfilment.

Proper handling of refrigerated and frozen goods is one of the most challenging tasks in order fulfilment. With the addition of Dematic Multishuttle 2 Freezer, Dematic now offers a complete line of solutions for the cold chain market.

“Our focus continues to be on reducing operating costs for our customers,” said Darren Rawlinson, Solutions Development Manager at Dematic. “The grocery and food production industries are especially competitive and automation can create an advantage.

“The Dematic Multishuttle 2 Freezer application offers a high-density, low energy cost solution designed specifically to meet cold chain challenges and return profits quickly. In Australia we already have customers benefiting from this new solution.”

Specific benefits of Dematic Multishuttle 2 Freezer solution include:

  • Reduced energy use and refrigeration costs
  • Decreased labour requirements
  • Improved product handling and FIFO rotation
  • Increased inventory accuracy and full shipment traceability

Dematic Multishuttle is an automated storage buffer for cartons, totes, trays, containers and individual bundles. All variations of the Multishuttle (static and flex) can now operate at temperatures as low as -30°C, which offers grocers and food manufacturers a full range of energy efficient, high density and high throughput storage solutions for ambient, refrigerated and freezer environments.

Dr Nico Adams to lead Swinburne’s Factory of the Future

Dr Nico Adams, formerly of the CSIRO, has been appointed as the new Director of Swinburne’s advanced manufacturing facility, the Factory of the Future.

Dr Adams has a background in materials and manufacturing informatics, and holds degrees from Oxford University and the University of York.

Prior to his appointment at Swinburne, Dr Adams was a senior research scientist and product manager at Data61, Australia’s leading data innovation group formed by the CSIRO.

Dr Adams says he was attracted to the role of Director of the Factory of the Future because of Swinburne’s commitment to research led innovation.

“Swinburne understands that to be successful in the digital economy does not just require technical, design and business model innovation, but also the development of leadership skills,” he says.

“Being part of a team working to achieve this is what makes the role of director so exciting.”

During his time at Data61, Dr Adams developed research to assist small-to-medium sized companies in taking advantage of the digital economy and leveraging opportunities afforded by Industry 4.0.

Dr Adams’ research has been reported in publications such as the Guardian, and he has been an in-demand speaker on industry 4.0 related topics.

Following on from his work with CSIRO and Data61, Dr Adams assumed the role of Program Lead for Digital Transformation and Industry 4.0 at the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC).

At IMCRC, Dr Adams co-developed an innovation diagnostic and an Industry 4.0 business, product and strategy framework tailored for small-to-medium sized businesses.

This framework is about to be deployed through several organisations in the manufacturing industry, he says.

“My previous experience has given me a deep insight into how manufacturing companies in Australia today operate,” explains Adams.

“This insight has suggested practical ways of working with companies to formulate and implement new business outcomes enabled by digital technology.”

The Swinburne Factory of the Future is the first University-based Industry 4.0 Enterprise in Australia.

Swinburne Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Aleksandar Subic, says Dr Adams’ expertise in digital innovation and Industy 4.0 makes him the perfect fit for the role of Director of Factory of the Future.

Professor Subic says he is confident that the industry knowledge and experience that Dr Adams brings with him will strengthen Swinburne’s capability and industry partnerships.

“The Swinburne Factory of the Future is the first Industry 4.0 University-based enterprise in Australia, involving a cluster of industries and enterprises to develop new capabilities and workforce for the digital economy,” explains Professor Subic.

“In his new role as Director of Swinburne Factory of the Future, Nico is well positioned to help our team further deepen our strategic industry partnerships.

The Factory of the Future supports the university’s strategy across all domains, including research with impact, future-ready learners, and innovative enterprise.

The facility supports students across the entire life cycle of training, education and research.

“Nico will play a key role within our team in developing the Factory of the Future as an innovative Industry 4.0 enterprise,” says Professor Subic.

Professor Subic said the development of the Factory of the Future into a world-class facility had been further helped with last year’s $135 million software grant from industrial giant, Siemens.

Reliability important in choosing an automation supplier

When selecting an automation supplier, it is important for manufacturers and original equipment manufacturers to find a reliable and flexible partner with whom they can have a long relationship, said Jason Sutton, Area Sales Manager at SMC Australia/New Zealand.   Read more

Helping build the factory of the future

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

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

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

Domino Cloud

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

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

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

How does Domino Cloud help manufacturers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Manufacturing is undergoing a digital transformation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They can also boost productivity by up to 30 percent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The factory of the future will be smart_Omron smart factory2

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

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

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

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

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

“All of the components are designed to work together.

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

And this is how the concept helps to boost productivity:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Upgrading F&B manufacturing facilities to minimise contamination risk

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

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

HACCP compliance

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

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

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

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

Frequent audits

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

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

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

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

Applying the knowledge

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No more fiddling in the roof

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

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

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

Designed for the job

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Unlocking your trapped data with IO-Link

Designed for simplicity and universality, the communications protocol IO-Link isn’t the latest thing, but there are plenty of factories that are missing out on what it offers.

There is sometimes a little confusion about IO-Link – the first global standard for communicating with sensors and actuators.

To begin with, it is not a proprietary solution, which is the first thing that needs clearing up, believes Freddie Coertze, Field Technical Support Engineer, Networks and Controls at ifm efector Australia.

“It’s a nice thing to actually buy into from a customer point of view; the main reason is you’re not locked into one supplier,” Coertze told Manufacturers’ Monthly.

“So you can use different manufacturers’ IO modules, sensors, whatever, as long as they’ve got IO-Link in it.”

Secondly, though the buzzword Industry 4.0 might call up something futuristic in your imagination, IO-Link – one of the essential connectivity solutions required for this – is very much here and now. In fact the Company Coertze works, ifm efector, for has been making IO-Link-enabled sensors for almost a decade.

IO-Link can help users get much more data out of their sensors and unlock some of the “trapped data” currently held prisoner in the sensor.

“We can basically link a sensor up to your SAP [a major ERP software provider] interface. To be able to do that is a benefit, because let’s say your sensor is starting to fail,” explained Coertze.

“As an example, let’s use an IO-Link-enabled pressure sensor. It’s working all good, giving my pressure values, everything is fine, but if that pressure valve becomes invalid I can get a message from my sensor saying I am no longer healthy.” This is achievable via the sensor’s error messages monitored by the IO-Link master and passed up to the PLC or Controller.

In such a case, a diagnosis can be made via information sent through the sensor – which may have failed due to overheating – via the PLC to the enterprise system. A job ticket is produced and a floor worker can change the failed device.

Further to this, a network using IO-Link does not have to be shut down in its entirety and a production line or machine can keep running, provided it is safe to do so.

Right from installation, in fact, an IO-Link-enabled sensor can begin displaying its usefulness. It can display three types of data, the first of these being service data: data about the device itself, including part number and manufacturer details.

The other two types of data are event data (such as notifications and flags, for example in the failed pressure sensor example) and process data (whatever the sensor is supposed to be reading).

Crucial data can be accessed remotely – very much essential in any Industry 4.0 cyber-physical representation of a factory and its workings.

“You can basically see all of your sensor parameters in there. You can see – even with a simple pressure switch – for instance – not just an on/off signal,” said Coertze.

“And that means if I connect it to an IO-Link input I enable more out of my sensors. I can basically get a floating value and my resolution is much higher because if I wanted to create an analog, I’ve got to scale it between 4 and 20 milliamps. Where now I can have the real value.”

The simplicity of IO-Link was being enthusiastically embraced by younger engineers, he added.

“New engineers moving into the field, you can see they are more adapted to technology and can really see the benefit of this,” he said, continuing “if you can basically screw an M12 connector on a sensor, you can basically do IO-Link – it’s really not that difficult.”

The benefits of the newer types of data made available can save money, and apply to even the most traditional of manufacturers.

One example is in energy monitoring, a purpose which Coertze’s company covers (along with condition monitoring) through its partnership with SAP and its cloud platform.

“For example, in most manufacturing environments you need to have compressed air. So let’s say I’ve got leaks in my compressed air lines which I never knew about, that means my compressors will be running inefficiently 24/7,” he said.

“So we want to use that sort of SAP environment to collect data… Our sensors can collect data for us and that means I can measure the input of all my airlines and I can see on the end that I’m losing all my air.

“And that means I can collect all of my data into a Historian, I can transfer the data into SAP, and draw a report.

For more information, click here.

Combing the latest process automation technologies with local assistance

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

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

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

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

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

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

Local capabilities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Expertise and experience

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

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

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

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

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

The products

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

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

Rosemount has several hygienic specific solutions, including:

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

Magnetic gripper for reliable, safe handling

SMC has added to its gripper range with the launch of the MHM-X6400, which uses a magnet for the handling of steel plate, without the need for vacuum.

Ideal for workpieces with uneven or irregular surfaces or featuring holes, this magnetic gripper provides reliable and safe handling at reduced cycle times for improved productivity. It’s also ideal for many varied sheet metal handling applications including robotic systems.

In developing this product, SMC has looked to improve its handling flexibility by using magnetic grippers where vacuum was never an option due to the inherent limitations of a vacuum system.

With a holding force of up to 120 N, the MHM-X6400 continues to hold a workpiece even when air supply is lost completely or pressure drops are experienced, offering peace of mind when it comes to reliable and safe movement of workpieces.  Furthermore, with a residual holding force of only 0.3 N or less, cycle times are reduced and productivity output is improved.

Suitable for a range of transfer applications, the holding force of the MHM-X6400 can be adjusted by simply changing the height of the of bumper being used.

Made from Fluororubber, The bumper also prevents the workpiece from slipping and damaging during operations, improving safety.

Featuring three mountable surfaces and the option to mount auto switches, the MHM-X6400 offers flexibility and greater process control.


Collaboration with Guardian Bandsaw delivers for meat processing industry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Birch & Waite opens new factory in Western Sydney

Family-owned maker of wet food products, Birch & Waite opened its new $13.5 million factory in the Sydney suburb of Revesby on Friday.

The machinery on-site includes a Shaking Retort, which is the first commercial sized machine of its type in the Southern Hemisphere.

While to start with the Revesby site will employ 20 workers, it is hoped that number will grow to 45.

Assistant Minister for Industry Innovation and Science Craig Laundy, along with owners Willi Schultheiss (pictured top) and Peter Flick, were on-hand to open the facility.

“When you use the term innovation and you walk through this factory and you see robots and equipment and machinery, the broader Australian public get scared that they’re going to lose their jobs,” said Laundy.

“However, with the opening of this facility comes 20 new jobs and from the day the business started in 1980 with three staff, today the business has 123 staff. That’s the joy of small and family business.”

Containing high speed packaging machines and state of the art equipment, the site is set to drive over $20 million in growth for the business. A $4 million turnover is predicted for its first year of operation, which will focus on the firm’s specialty health range, sachet packing and processing.

Birch and Waite 25-7-17 hi res 037

“The new technology allows for a higher vitamin retention and lower salt use, while retaining a superior taste with a longer shelf life and no preservatives,” explained David Charles, general manager of Birch & Waite. “High pH sauces that contain fresh ingredients will keep their full flavour, nutritional value and freshness thanks to the quick thermal cooking process it allows. The end results are products that taste as if a chef has just created them.”

Alongside premium batch products for consumers and professional chefs, the new site has provided Birch & Waite the ability to develop and bring to market a new range of Thickened Liquid health products for those suffering from dysphagia– a disorder that causes difficulty, or inability to swallow.

“We realised that as well as developing products with good flavours, there is a clear need in the health care sector for a new, more palatable product to support the hydration and nutrition requirements of people with dysphagia. The new technology at Revesby has made this possible,” said Charles. “A good deal of development went into the design of the products to enable them to work with the functionality of the equipment to produce a range of well received product.”

Assistant Minister for Industry Innovation and Science, Craig Laundy (centre) with Birch & Waite owners Willi Schultheiss (second from right) and Peter Flick (far left).
Assistant Minister for Industry Innovation and Science, Craig Laundy (centre) with Birch & Waite owners Willi Schultheiss (second from right) and Peter Flick (far left).

Zenith Award winners announced

It was time for those in the process and control engineering space to shine last night as the winners of the 14th Annual Zenith Awards were announced at Doltone House in Hyde Park, Sydney.

The quality of nominees was high and the technology on display amazing, while MC Craig Reucassell made it an enjoyable night for all with his sharp wit and keen observations about the process and control industry.

The PACE team thanks the judges for their time for judging the awards, while a big congratulations goes to the finalists and winners. Below is the list of winners in each category.

Best Network Implementation sponsored by Beckhoff

Matthews Australasia – manufacturing traceability

Best PLC, HMI and Sensor Product sponsored by Bestech

VEGA Australia – VegaPuls 69

Power and Energy Management

Nano-Nouvelle – Li-ion battery project

Water and Wastewater Control

CST Wastewater Solutions – RAPTOR

Young Achiever sponsored by SICK

Michaela Craft – BOC Gases

Mining and Mineral Process Control

Columbus Group – double-bed mining system

Safety System Innovation

YUMARR Automation – JumboGuard

Manufacturing Control sponsored by IICA

Matthews Australasia – egg-packaging integrated inspection

Machine Builder sponsored by B&R Automation

HMPS – HMPS5000 wraparound case packer


Image: SICK’s strategic industry manager, mining, Graham Robson with Zenith Young Achiever Michaela Craft from BOC Gases.

Food makers look to the future

Food and beverage makers who gathered in Sydney last week for a key industry seminar heard that, as we move further into the new century, new technologies and Industry 4.0 will become increasingly crucial to the success of their businesses.

Food Factories of the Future was held before a full room at the Novotel Darling Harbour in Sydney last Wednesday morning. The event complimented foodpro which was taking place at the same time at the nearby ICC Exhibition Centre.

The two keynote speakers on hand for the seminar were Peter K. Wienzek, Business Development Manager Systems, ifm efector and John Leadbetter Managing Director, VEGA Australia.

Presenting first, Wienzek pointed out that food makers in 2017 have access to data that simply was not available in the past. Today, he said, everything is online and globally accessible. While this represents a challenge for the industry, it also offers huge opportunities.

He said that, provided it is used correctly, data can help the food factories of the future cut costs while maintaining quality. It can deliver benefits in terms of energy savings, production efficiency, process optimization, condition based maintenance, and more.

Peter K Wienzek’s presentation can be viewed here.

Leadbetter devoted his presentation to the important topic of level control. He said that, whether they are dealing with beer, grain, sugar or milk, food manufacturers require level control technology to monitor their tanks, silos, and vessels. Depending on the application, they can choose between Level Transmitters, Level Switches and Pressure Transmitters to perform this task.

Leadbetter outlined latest developments in this area, including radar level transmitters, pressure transmitters and the use of Bluetooth communications. He said that these new technologies, coupled with a continued emphasis on hygiene, will help the factories of the future run efficiently and profitably.

John Leadbetter’s presentation can be viewed here.

Following the presentations, the speakers took part in a Q&A session. A sample of audience questions included: how big a challenge do Industry 4.0 changes represent for individual businesses; who within management structures needs to take ownership of these challenges; and the ins-and-outs of level control and compliance for food makers.

Food Factories of the Future was organised by Prime Creative Media, publisher of Food & Beverage Industry News. We would like to thank our two speakers, as well as all those present.

(Left to right) John Leadbetter, Peter K. Wienzek, and Matthew McDonald, Editor Food & Beverage Industry News.
(Left to right) John Leadbetter Managing Director, VEGA Australia; Peter K. Wienzek, Business Development Manager Systems, ifm efector; and Matthew McDonald, Editor Food & Beverage Industry News.


Robotics and food processing at foodpro 2017

This year, foodpro’s educational series will include a seminar by Omron Electronics’ Chris Probst entitled “How Technology Has Advanced Mobile Robots and Improved Food Processing”.

Robots are being increasingly used to improve efficiency and productivity in manufacturing processes. While many people are familiar with fixed mounted robots, there have also been significant advances in mobile robot technology recently.

Mobile robots are able to carry loads between locations, and can do so 24/7 without rests or breaks. As the loads they convey can be hazardous, heavy or in hard-to-reach places, it’s highly desirable to automate this common but mundane and sometimes dangerous task.

AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicles) have been the most common mobile robot. They have fixed travel paths set out by tapes or other floor mounted markers. While they work well, AGVs are inherently inflexible due to their fixed, predefined path.

However, Autonomous Intelligent Vehicles (AIVs) are a far more flexible transport system. As their name suggests, AIVs are autonomous and are therefore able to chart routes for themselves. They do his by storing a digital floor map they have previously determined. They do not use fixed sensors or markers along their route.

Chris Probst
Chris Probst, Omron Electronics.

Using a standard wifi connection, monitoring systems can plot locations, and when multiple AIVs are used, a central fleet management system can forward plan routes to ensure loads from various locations are transferred as efficiently as possible.

The environment AIVs work in is often highly dynamic, with temporary obstacles commonplace. AIVs carry localisation sensors to detect these obstacles and are then smart enough to dynamically plan an alternative course for themselves to circumvent obstructions.

Another big advantage is that AIVs are made with human collaboration in mind! Their sensors can detect moving objects, and can even playback voice synthesized messages to alert humans. They are a true “co-bot”.

SEMINAR: How Technology Has Advanced Mobile Robots and Improved Food Processing

SPEAKER: Chris Probst, Omron Electronics

TIME: Tuesday 18 July, 1pm

Robotic products at foodpro 2017

 Scott Automation & Robotics

The Automated Robotic Beef Rib Cutting system is a first of its kind, eliminating all key risks to employee Workplace Health & Safety and is capable of operating at line speeds of 520 sides per hour.

Beef Rib Cutting is the first point at which yield can be lost during the boning process and also poses a large risk of personal injuries or amputations to operators.

The Automated Robotic Beef Rib Cutting system uses a combination 3D scanners, x-ray and colour cameras.  The 3-D scanner is used to scan the carcase and assist in cut placement and transforms the vision processing results for the robot to perform the cut. A colour camera is also used to identify a point of interest on the carcase to help determine the correct cut location. Finally a circular saw is mounted to the end of a robot to enable the cuts to be performed on the carcase

Beef rib cutting is a typical case where current manual tasks can be replicated by an automated system. The major benefits of this automation are increased yield and the positive impact on critical industry OH&S issues.

Universal Robots

Universal Robots’ complete range of collaborative robot arms has revolutionised the market for industrial robots. The robot arms are tools that are collaborative and safe, working alongside human workers.  Universal Robots are lightweight, flexible and user-friendly, allowing fast setup and easy programming to solve new tasks, meeting the short-run production challenges faced by companies adjusting to ever more advanced processing in smaller batch sizes. With an average payback period of 12 months, Universal Robots can help to increase companies’ competitiveness by automating processes and raising productivity. The collaborative robots free employees from tedious and monotonous tasks, allowing effective manpower reallocation to other processes where required.


Ultra flexible table-top robot

Universal Robots UR3 is an ultra flexible table-top robot that weighs only 11 kg, but has a payload of 3 kg, 360-degree rotation on all wrist joints and infinite rotation on the end joint. It is the most flexible, lightweight, collaborative table-top robot to work side-by-side with employees in the market where size, safety and costs are critical.


A highly flexible robot arm

A highly flexible robot arm that automates repetitive and dangerous tasks with payloads of up to 5 kg. The UR5 is ideal to optimise low-weight collaborative processes, such as picking, placing and testing. With a working radius of up to 850 mm, the UR5 puts everything within reach.


A collaborative industrial robot

Universal Robots UR10 is the largest industrial robot arm in the family, designed for bigger tasks where precision and reliability are of paramount importance. With UR10, you can automate processes and tasks that weighs up to 10 kg. With a reach radius of up to 1,300 mm, UR10 is designed to be more effective at tasks across a larger area.



Automation and craft beer making

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Automation in the meat sector

While automation of the meat sector has always proved difficult, progress is being made. Matt McDonald caught up with Tony Randall from SMC to hear about the latest steps forward in this area.

It may sound obvious, but no two cows are exactly the same. While they may look roughly alike, they come in a range of sizes, shapes and weights. And because of this, the meat industry has always proven particularly difficult to automate.

But in recent times things have started to change.

“New technologies have come along – the likes of vision cameras where you can actually pick up where the product is before you go in and actually use automation. In the past you didn’t know what position the product was in,” Tony Randall, Head of OEM & Key Accounts at SMC Australia/New Zealand told Food & Beverage Industry News.

Another factor that has traditionally made abattoirs difficult to automate is their strict wash down requirements.

“They can run up to 20 hours a day and the other four hours is spent washing with high pressure steam. Every nook and cranny is washed and unfortunately that’s where
the automation products are,” said Randall.

“They get hosed down, so whatever we put in the business has to be smooth surface stainless steel to avoid bacterial build-up.”

Historically, there was a lot of aluminium and steel used in abattoirs, which raised the issue of corrosion. To deal with this, SMC has developed stainless products that suit such harsh environments.

The CG range of cylinders.


In particular, Randall pointed to the CG range of cylinders. “These are made with 304 stainless steel with a round, clean design. They are very cost-effective and we have large stock holding of the units to support abattoirs in country regions, where stock’s a big issue.”

In addition, he said, the company offers an IP69K solenoid valve bank to drive the CG cylinders. Both products can handle high-pressure, caustic wash-downs without a problem.

“In the past, they used standard aluminium cylinders which suffered a lot of corrosion. So [with these new products] the breakdown periods are much shorter. And in an abattoir when you have a breakdown the line literally stops,” said Randall.

The major benefit of these latest products is that they offer a much longer working life and fewer breakdowns. “Typically in the past, before we had that IP69 valve bank, we’d be interrupted by breakdowns due to standard valves not being able to handle the washdown environmant,” said Randall.

SMC products are used throughout the production processes, from the knocking box, ground and overhead conveyors, right up to the packaging machines where the meat is boxed, lidded and put out for delivery.

The future

Because of the nature of the product and the different bone structure of each animal, there are still limitations to full automation.

“Typically, you’re using manual labour to cut products. To get a robot or electro pneumatic automation to do that is incredibly difficult because first of all you’ve got to see where the product is,” said Randall. “Then you’ve got to get your cutting equipment into position.”

Asked about the future of automation in the meat industry, Randall said there will always be opportunities to automate in the red meat sector and SMC is working closely with a variety of OEM’s by offering newer technologies and specialist equipment to support automation.

He also pointed to Industry 4.0 and wireless technology, which could support lowering of installation costs throughout the production and packaging areas.

“We’re developing a technology where the use of cable will slowly disappear and it will be wireless connectivity to our products,” he said.

In addition, there is also a trend towards using lightweight pneumatic products on electric robots due to the robots carrying capacity. “We’ve developed [cylinders] that are smaller and lighter but can give you the same force,” Randall said.

Image 1
IP69K manifold.



CG5-S stainless steel cylinders:
Made from stainless steel, this range of cylinders can handle the regular, intense cleaning that characterises the meat industry. In addition, they use food-grade grease, which reduces the risk of contamination.

In order to make them smooth and prevent the build-up of foreign matter, the bracket surfaces that are used to mount these cylinders are electro polished.

The series CG5-S stainless-steel cylinder is available in eight bore sizes (20mm-100 mm). Further features include plugs for unused mounting threads (to prevent residue build-up in the threads),

as well as a scraper, which is specifically designed to prevent water from entering the cylinder.

According to the company, this can increase the service life by up to five times, compared to conventional cylinders.

IP69K manifold

Part of the SY 5000 range, the IP69K manifold can handle intense washdown and cleaning. For better control, users can install the manifold outside of a protective box and close to the actuators. On top of that, the device comes in a small package and is lightweight.

The manifolds are available with options of rubber or metal seal valves. Pressures from 100 to 700 kPa are achievable in the rubber seal, with the metal seal operating at up to 1000kPa. The compact unit also comes with an optional power saving coil that draws as little as 100mW.