SMC in Victoria recently held an open day to mark the official launch of their South Australia Distribution Centre. The day was attended by about to 100 customers who came to view the upgraded facilities and attend theProduct and Industry Presentations.
SMC Pneumatics established its first subsidiary outside of Japan in Australia more than 50 years ago.
Today, the company has 10 branches and employs over 200 people in the region. With a sales staff compliment of 88, the company has a philosophy of being “close to the customer to enable to them to develop customer centric solutions.
The 7327m2 land together with the 3049m2 building is owned by SMC and has plenty of space for expansion. The local stockholding of this branch was tripled to enable them to supply same-day delivery of standard parts to customers in Victoria, and overnight delivery to South Australia and Tasmania.
The facility includes a warehouse with large local stock holding, training facility with up to date training models and an engineering and design department.
“We established a Central Warehousing Centre at our VIC facility, and the positive feedback from the market gave us the indication that customers were ready for such facility,” said Rodney Ryan, SMC state manager for Victoria. “The quicker turnaround time on orders and the availability of critical spares were welcomed by customers. Pneumatics are a critical component of the production line, and customer need quick support and turnaround when spare parts are needed. We are happy to be able to answer this call.
“We have always had a philosophy of being customer centric. Our business and products have evolved and developed around the feedback we receive from our customers. The feedback was, quicker delivery and more stock of critical parts, and SMC is glad to deliver.”
HMPS, a leading Australian machine builder which specialises in customised end of line packaging machinery, recently partnered with SMC, a leader in pneumatics and automation on a case packer for the food industry.
According to Linh Bui, Business Development Manager at HMPS, the company proposed a solution to automate the end of line requirements of an Asian food manufacturer which would automate the process with minimal operator involvement, while adhering to the health requirements of the food and beverage industry.
Linh, who specialises in dealing with the Asian market adds that many Asian food companies are looking towards automation to manage the increased volumes of output required in the food manufacturing environment.
The machine which was designed to place boxes of dry food into larger cartons, ready for palletising and shipping, was required to be easy to maintain, easy to clean and easy to operate. The customer required up to 12 product formats, between 180 and 260g to be packed at an output speed of between 10 and 30 cartons per minute.
“This is another similarity with the Australian market, machines are required to do multiple functions and must be easy to set up for various product lines. HMPs specialises in designing for this type of flexibility” comments Bui.
“We suggested the HMPS5000 Wraparound Case Packer to eliminate their end-of-line labour constraints. This recommended solution delivered an expected lifespan of at least 10 years, and the availability of local parts and servicing would minimise running costs over its life. An ROI both in labour and material savings calculated that this machine would be offset within 3-4 years, in Australia ROI would be 1.5 years”
The HMPS Product Flow
Products enter the system on an infeed conveyor system which allows product to either continue travelling narrow face leading into the case packer or with the use of two differential speed belts rotate 90degrees to wide face leading. The inners then travel towards to a servo driven water wheel, standing them upright into a servo driven index system. Once the correct carton quantity is collated they are then driven up to a servo side shift before being transferred into the carton by a Delta Robot.
Simultaneously, as the products are collated, a flat wraparound blank is erected in Station 1 before being transferred and positioned in the loading station where the collation of products is loaded. The minor flaps opposite the loading station may be folded at this stage to ensure correct product alignment. At the next index the final minor flaps are folded fully locating the product. During the next index, hot melt adhesive is applied to the minor flaps and at the next station the carton is held in compression to complete the end sealing. The carton is then side transferred to seal the manufacturers flap.
Firmly bonded cartons are discharged from the machine to await palletising.
A graphical operator panel is used to assist in the machines start up, operation and fault finding. This will display: Machine status – Product selection – All alarms and faults.
HMPS partnered with SMC on this project because of their firm understanding of the food and beverage market and the specialised products and service they offer to this industry. According to Linh one of the deciding factors when building machines for export is the availability of parts. “We want to ensure that our customers have access to critical spares and technical service no matter where they are in the world. That is why we partner with international players such as SMC who have offices in more than 80 countries around the world with a very strong presence In Asia” adds Linh.
The SMC Solution
Jason Sutton, Area Sales Manager for SMC further elaborates that SMC has designed and developed products according to the Japanese company’s philosophy of being Customer Centric. To this end products with the food industry was developed based on customer feedback and requirement. According to Jason, because of the large footprint of SMC they are in contact with food and beverage customers in so many different countries and on so many applications that the company has a very good idea of the best products to suggest for these types of applications.
In addition to supply the components, SMC also assist customers in the selection and commissioning of the products if required.
SMC is no stranger to customization themselves, the SMC linear belt drive (LEJB63) was modified in Australia to accept HMPS’ choice of motor. This modification was done at the company’s local Sydney facility.
Air preparation incorporate lockable manual isolation for maintenance work as well as category rated safety valves for integration into the safety system of the machine. Actuation is simplified by EtherNet/IP communication with the SMC EX600 Valve Manifold also serving as a field collation of reed switch and proximity wiring point. Daisy chain capability of the node further increases future expansion capability.
The manifold is based on SMC new SY series with improved flow rates and compact size delivery higher response in a smaller footprint. The entire valve bank in IP65 rated, very handy for any food related product be it dry or wet.
Carton erection is driven via a valve on the manifold to a single SMC ZL112-DPL Vacuum ejector with integrated pressure switch offers the customer simplified integration. The inbuilt pressure switch reduces plumbing and simplifies troubleshooting by combing several functions into one easily accessible unit.
To meet the tight space constraints of the top flap of the box a rotatory table actuator was fitted, SMC’s MSQB50A unit. Footprint and size is the trend of the industry at the moment and this unit delivers by not only having a flat output flange but also enabling compact installation.
Other products used on the HMPS Case Packer included the guided cylinders – MGPM and CQM cylinders with integrated slide tables. Guided cylinders simplify the design as they include a guiding mechanism built into the cylinder. This removes the need for additional design work and sourcing various parts from multiple supplier to achieve the same end result.
Emblème Canneberge was started in 2016 by several Canadian growers to add value by offering frozen cranberries of exceptional quality. To equip their world-class production facility, they turned to Key Technology for a cranberry cleaning line. This integrated solution removes foreign material (FM) such as sticks, leaves, fines and stones, as well as berries that are too small, soft or rotten, while good fruit is washed and dried to a humidity of less than one percent.
“We selected Key Technology because they have the most experience in our industry and the best reputation. All of our customers have very high standards in the specifications of the berries they want, and Key helps us achieve those high standards,” said Vincent Godin, President of Emblème. “Our cleaning line removes foreign material as well as rotten cranberries, which would impair the quality of the good fruit in the freezer if not removed. This line is also very efficient at removing water to produce free-flowing product that’s easy to separate after freezing for further processing.”
Leveraging Key’s expertise in product handling and processing, this integrated cleaning line uses a variety of mechanical processes to elevate Emblème’s product quality while maximizing yield and consistently feeding downstream equipment. The Iso-Flo scalping shaker, air cleaner and Iso-Flo fines removal shaker eliminate unwanted FM from the product stream. The recently updated brush washer removes small, soft and rotten berries at the same time it washes good berries. The Iso-Flo dewatering shaker with air knives dries the good berries so they freeze efficiently and are easily processed later.
“We wanted an integrated line because having one source ensures the fit and function. Key built each machine so one drops product smoothly into the other. Because they are made to work together, installation and start-up was easy and the line runs efficiently,” explained Godin. “High efficiency is incredibly important to us, because we run two shifts a day, seven days a week during our six-week harvest to process 26 million pounds of product on this cleaning line.”
Built for rugged reliability and superior sanitation using Key’s versatile Iso-Flo vibratory design, the cleaning line at Emblème maximizes equipment uptime and hygiene.
The stainless steel shaker beds feature a rotary polish and continuous welds that are ground smooth within the product zone to resist bacterial attachment and improve food safety. Integrated scallops and stiffeners, limited surface laminations, sealed isolation springs and large access doors for easy cleaning further contribute to superior sanitation. “Almost everything on these Key shakers is made of stainless steel. This limits rust in our very wet environment and makes the equipment very easy to clean,” said Godin.
Iso-Flo shakers use independent frame-mounted drives and spring arm assemblies that distribute energy equally to all parts of the shaker bed in a controlled natural-frequency operation. This operating principle minimizes the vibration that is transferred to structural support and the floor, which cuts the cost of installation, reduces energy use and offers quiet operation. Key’s contoured StrongArm spring arms, made with propriety composite material, offer an operational life that is up to twice the life of traditional straight spring arms. The stainless steel Iso-Drive adds to Iso-Flo’s extreme dependability, reducing maintenance and improving performance and uptime.
“We measure success on our cleaning line by three criteria. One is the final moisture content of the product, which needs to be less than 1 percent. Second is FM removal – we want to remove as much FM as possible at the same time we limit good product removal in order to maintain a high yield. Third, we want to achieve these objectives while processing an average of 80,000 pounds of product per hour,” said Godin. “Our cleaning line from Key does all this and more.”
“We’re in business to add value. We add value when we clean and condition the fruit. We add value when we freeze clean product, and we add value when we size and sort frozen product,” explained Godin.
“We’re installing our sizing and sorting line now. It features an Iso-Flo mechanical size grader and a VERYX digital sorter, both from Key,” concluded Godin. “It’s always good to stick with a great supplier when you’ve got one. Key helps us maintain our high quality standards and reach the product specifications that our customers want.”
The relationship between machine suppliers and food makers has always more or less ended post sale. In the future, as Haver & Boecker’s Reinhold Festge tells us, Industry 4.0 will allow these relationships to become deeper and endure longer.
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.
Haver & Boeker Germany’s CEO, Dr Reinhold Festge has a unique take on the coming revolution. “Through automation and Industry 4.0 we can now sneak into other companies,” he told Food & Beverage Industry News, with his tounge firmly in his cheek.
“We can stay with our machines. We can control how they work. We can optimise the function of our machines, provide wonderful advantages to our customers and help them be more effective,” he added.
“So I think the customers will like the change. We will know better what they are doing and how. And that is a big advantage.”
Festge explained that for packaging the first step was to automate the production line.
“We have a packaging machine, an automated back placer, an automated palletiser, and we have an automated shrink hooder. So we have the line completely automated,” he said.
In the years ahead, he added, manufacturers like Haver & Boeker will be able to access information from their machines, located in their customers’ plants. And the customers, themselves, we will be able to answer questions like ‘What do we have in this aisle?’, ‘When do we have to order new bags or new film for packaging?”, and ‘When do you have to order the trucks for loading?’.
“We will have a complete process that is very effective and very positive for both of us. That is a clear win/win situation,” said Festge.
How long will the revolution take?
“It is a development… a technical revolution. In our understanding in Germany, for instance, we have a time horizon of ten to twenty years.
“There are major developments still necessary to interlink all the components of machines, of one supplier with machines of different suppliers.”
In other words, all machines, whoever makes them, will need to be able to understand each other.
In addition, the revolution will require the development of things wireless sensors that produce energy for themselves.
“There are many, many things to do still and we are just at the beginning, we are scratching on the surface,” said Festge. “We have not solved the problem yet.”
Filling & packaging technologies
Haver & Boeker develops and manufactures processing and packing technology for the food stuffs, minerals, chemicals and building materials industries.
The company has a suite of seven technology brands including Behn+Bates, a specialist in the foodstuffs sector which provides filling and packaging technology for food, animal feed and pet food makers.
Another of its brands, Fiege Filling, is a specialist for liquids including uncritical, foaming, explosive or flammable products. It provides customers with appropriate filling technologies for container sizes ranging from 0.5kg to 3,000kg.
Behn + Bates recently unveiled the Roto-Packer Adams Care-Line, its new hygienic form, fill seal (FFS) polyethylene (PE) packing concept for powder-type products.
“This is the first machine that can pack powdery products into water-tight plastic bags,” said Festge.
“We resolved the infeed of the product, the deaeration of the product.
“Before people could do it only in paper bags, for example, because the paper bag can breathe and deaerate through the wall.”
Using the Adams Care-Line, it is possible to achieve much better print quality than can be achieved with a paper bag. Display properties can therefore be enhanced and sales can be improved.
According to Festge, Industry 4.0 will ensure an exciting future for technology such as this and the packaging industry in general.
“Industry 4.0 will stabilise the future because it gives us the opportunity to graft the mechanical together with the digital,” said Festge said. “So we can graft smarter solutions for our processes.”
When a leading food manufacturer upgraded their condiment production line they needed an end of line solution to take the bottles and pack them into a configuration suitable for supermarket shelves.
When next walking down the supermarket aisle, spare a thought for the process behind how all the bottles, neatly packed with labels facing forward, arrived on the supermarket shelf.
In the past this was a labour intensive task, performed manually usually after hours, but now thanks to advances in technology, bottles can be positioned into cartons, forward facing as a fully automated process.
Hot Melt Packaging Systems (HMPS) is an Australian company that specialises in the design, development and manufacturing of high quality machinery for packaging processes. The company takes pride on being Australian designed and engineered and places great importance on ensuring the innovation of robotics and engineering continues to develop and remain in Australia.
When a global food manufacturer asked HMPS to provide an end of line solution for their high speed, condiment production line, HMPS did what they do best- designed an innovative, reliable packing machine using the latest technologies from Rockwell Automation.
The production line
To meet growing demand, the manufacturer had previously upgraded their main condiment production line to produce twice as much product in half the time. Bottles are sterilised, filled, capped and labels applied. The production line produces different sized and shaped bottles ranging from 500ml to 4 litre. To accommodate this, there is a multiple range of case sizes, pack configurations and bottle shapes.
According to Warren Booker, NSW State manager at HMPS, “In Australia, manufacturers are challenged by having to produce so many different products in the one machine. In countries with larger populations, like the US and Europe, one machine can be dedicated to a specific product which makes the machine design more simplistic. The Australian market has a unique requirement where they need a machine to be flexible to grow with the business and pack a range of different products in different packing arrangements”
HMPS worked closely with the customer to design a fully automated system that meets all the requirements for this application today but also has the flexibility to meet future demands.
Precise motion control
The challenge ahead was to pack bottles that are coming off the production line at 100 bottles per minute into a six by three pack configuration with labels forward facing. “There were fundamental considerations that required attention in the design phase to achieve this with a key focus on detailed simulation to make sure the advanced level of motion control required could be achieved,” explained Booker.
Given the large range of products which was being produced and the need for shelf ready cartons meant this production line had clear and precise requirements which HMPS had to comply with. Using the latest technology and working closely with the customer specified needs has allowed this project to be a smooth transition into full production speed maintaining high efficiency and reliability.
HMPS works with a variety of component suppliers and integrators. As a local manufacturer, HMPS not only supplies machinery to Australia, but also exports to countries such as South Africa, Asia, the USA, Europe and New Zealand. Hence, they select suppliers who are able to provide service globally and offer high availability on critical spare parts.
Having worked on previous projects with Rockwell Automation, HMPS knew that the Integrated Architecture system would provide the best solution for this application. Allen-Bradley CompactLogix uses a common control engine and integrates safety, motion, discrete and drive capabilities in the case packer system.
Advanced motion control is provided by Allen-Bradley Kinetix 5500 Servo Drives and PowerFlex variable speed drives. Given the high speed packing requirements of the system, safety door switches and guarding was provided by Allen-Bradley industrial components.
In addition, the case packer system has integrated control, drives and safety capabilities via Ethernet using Stratix 5700 Ethernet switches. PanelView Plus 7 provides high quality HMI for the system. “The Rockwell Automation solution provides a completely integrated and reliable system for the case packer and also provides the framework for a smart machine for HMPS to leverage the Connected Enterprise,“ said Michael Vlahos OEM sales manager at Rockwell Automation.
Quick changes, easily accommodated
“To future proof the machine, a degree of adjustment in the machine had to be considered. Due to the need for relative quick changes we have supplied a fully automated system,” comments Booker.
All the SKU’S or product range are listed on the main screen so the operator can go to see the core product and the machine will automatically resize at a touch of a button. In this way, the machine can apply the resize down to just using the one operator. In addition, the machine won’t run until everything is in exactly the right position and all guards and doors are in the safe (closed) position.
Remote trouble shooting
“We have a modem in the machine that looks at running time and reliability factor. In this way we have a track record of parameters as part of the control system, how it’s been running, how long etc. We have the software which allows us to log in remotely,” adds Booker.
Fully automated shelf ready packing
According to Booker, “Rockwell Automation has been a longstanding collaborator of HMPS and they offer products which are perfectly suited to the efficient and fully automated requirements of our customers. Their product and service availability plays a big role in enabling on time delivery to customers and after sales service.
Machines are often pushing the limit as to how fast they want to go, we’re designing machines that are under a lot of pressure to perform quickly so we’re using a lot more servo drives and pneumatics, we’re fast in the collection but a little bit slow the way we pack the box so it’s a controlled environment.
This is their main line so if the machine breaks down there’s not a lot of diversion in place. The pressure is on us to provide a machine that is working well. When it is offline they are losing money. We need to make sure it’s working properly and reliably.”
Key Technology has released Veryx digital sorters for nuts and dried fruits.
These units are designed specifically to identify and remove even the most challenging foreign material (FM) and defects such as small, loose and embedded shell fragments, membrane material, insect damage, surface scratches, color-based defects, stems, rocks, glass and more.
According to the company, the sorters achieve excellent colour grading and shell, FM and defect removal; are extreme accurate and virtually eliminate false rejects.
The sorters are ideal for sorting walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, peanuts, pecans, cashews and dried fruit such as raisins, prunes, cranberries, apricots, figs, dates and more.
The sorters can be configured with front- and rear-mounted laser sensors and cameras to achieve all-sided surface inspection. They also feature multi-sensor Pixel Fusion, which combines pixel-level input from multiple cameras and laser sensors to more clearly differentiate good product, defects and FM.
The next-generation 4-channel cameras and laser sensors on the sorters offer twice the resolution of previous generation sorters to detect smaller pieces of shell, FM and product defects. The accuracy of the detection system is paired with a high-resolution ejection system, which features the closest spacing between air nozzles of any nut and dried fruit sorter in order to better target and remove defects.
Intelligent software manages the air nozzles’ actuation strategy to suit the size, shape and weight of each object being removed. The combined precision of the detection and ejection systems results in the most complete removal of shells, FM and defects without sacrificing good product to the reject stream.
Global and local robotics and automation experts will present the latest advances in robotic technology and intelligent automation across processing and packaging at AUSPACK 2017.
Among the exhibitors to look out for include Scott Automation & Robotics (Stand 250), Robotic Automation (Stand 266), Kuka Robotics (Stand 53); Foodmach (Stand 260 ) and ABB (Stand 502).
Collaborative robots (cobots) have captured market attention in Australia recently, and a few will ‘strut their stuff’ at the show.
Cobots will change the face of productivity and manufacturing in Australia. Able to work alongside humans without the need for safety guarding subject to risk assessment, cobots open vast new applications for robot technology. They are easily integrated into existing production environments, and the tasks they are suited for are wide-ranging.
“Applications for cobots are limited mainly by imagination,” says Mark Emmett, MD of HMPS (exhibiting on Stand 69).
“There is a shortage of labour for repetitive tasks. Robots do an amazing job at doing the same task over and over with complete accuracy. We are finding even smaller producers have a need for automation. We are able to offer from very basic to very complex, customised solutions,” he says.
Working closely with robotic partners ABB (Stand 502), HMPS is now able to offer a new era of robotic co-workers that are able to work collaboratively on the same tasks with humans while still ensuring the safety of those around it. YuMi is the world’s first truly collaborative dual-arm robot and it will be on show at the show.
Building on the YuMi innovation, ABB has recently launched SafeMove 2, a robot supervisory system that enables ABB’s industrial robot range to be safely installed into collaborative applications. ABB’s Peter Bradbury says this eliminates the need to compromise throughput by potentially having to utilise much slower, collaborative robots of lower payload capacity.
Global leader in collaborative robot development, Universal Robots (UR) has tied up a new distributorship deal with AUSPACK exhibitor Foodmach (Stand 260), who will showcasing a number of UR cobots in action.
Foodmach will feature a UR10 cobot performing palletisation, depalletisation and label application duties.
The 10kg payload UR10 will be controlled by Foodmach’s innovative and flexible Robowizard pallet layer programming software. The company will also display a smaller UR3 robot to demonstrate the ease of control and safe operation of UR collaborative robots.
And to round this all off, in an exhibition first for Australia, visitors will be greeted at registration by a robot who will answer typical enquiries about location of exhibitors stands; location of meeting rooms; eating and restroom facilities; shuttle bus pick-up points and times; and educational and networking event timetables.
AUSPACK 2017 will run from 7 – 10 March 2017 at Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park.
The Ocado Technology robotics team has created a robotic arm capable of safely grasping a wide variety of products, including many from Ocado’s current range which includes over 48,000 hypermarket items.
The robotic arm comes as a result of the close collaboration between Ocado Technology and the Technische Universität Berlin (TUB), and represents an integral part of the SoMa project – a European Union-funded, Horizon 2020 programme for research and innovation in the field of humanoid robotics.
The SoMa project also includes researchers, academics and scientists from the University of Pisa, the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT), Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR, the German aerospace agency), the Institute of Science and Technology Austria, and Disney Research Zürich.
“Ocado and its academic partners are developing some of the most innovative technologies in the field of robotics. With SoMa, we are pursuing a new direction for robotic grasping by developing robot hands that can safely pick easily damageable items such as fruits and vegetables,” said Dr. Graham Deacon, robotics research team leader at Ocado Technology.
“The RBO Hand 2 designed by the Technische Universität Berlin offers a versatile, cost-effective and safe solution for robotic grasping and manipulation that integrates very well with Ocado’s highly-automated warehouse retail solutions.”
To avoid damaging sensitive and unpredictably shaped grocery items, the robotic arm uses the principle of environmental constraint exploitation to establish a carefully orchestrated interaction between the hand, the object being grasped, and the environment surrounding the respective item.
PACKAGING robots from Australia fitted with cameras to allow remote troubleshooting are helping to streamline South East Asia’s surging food and beverage industry.
HMPS is based in Adelaide, South Australia, and is one of the largest automation manufacturers in the country.
It designs and develops bespoke machines to fill specific industry needs, including packaging, organising, weighing and x-raying materials to ensure there are no foreign substances.
HMPS machines are being been used in a number of countries in South East Asia including the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. It also has machines operating across Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.
The company won the Export Achievement Award at the 2015 Auspack Awards for their unique dual-function machine they supplied Nestlé in South Africa. The device processes sachets of food into boxes and trays simultaneously.
Design, prototype, final build and testing all happen at the local HMPS factory near Adelaide Airport.
HMPS Business Development Manager Linh Bui said its base location in Adelaide made it ideally placed to service South East Asia because of time-zone similarities and geographical proximity.
He said the region’s rising middle-class growth and the expansion of its food and beverage industries had created demand for effective packaging systems.
“We provide a whole gamut of turnkey products for packaging food and drinks,” he said.
“We provide remote monitoring options for our products where we include a modem and camera on the machine.
“As soon as we get a phone call we can review footage and identify what the problem is and where it occurred and work with the customer to resolve it quite quickly.”
HMPS has more than 300 machines in the field and has grown by almost 30 per cent in the past three years.
It is in the process of developing other niche products including machines with Internet of Things (IoT) technology to further improve its remote servicing.
The company is trialling the technology in Australia and plans to roll it out to its international clients if it proves successful.
“We are developing a way in which the customer and us would be able to monitor performance and put in preventative procedures during production,” Bui (right) said.
“For example, if you’re looking after multiple sites, you would be able to monitor the situations on your mobile or tablet while you are traveling, and make sure the machines in the factories are working how they should.”
HMPS will showcase its machines in Thailand in June, at ProPak Asia 2017.
ProPak is Asia’s largest processing and packaging event and this year’s show will feature more than 1200 exhibitors from more than 20 countries.
BCDS Group has been appointed master distributor for Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Rim region by labelling automation manufacturer FOX IV Technologies.
FOX IV systems will be offered through ALS (Auto ID Labelling Solutions), a BCDS company, which is headed up by Bill Boursianis who has had more than 10 years’ experience with both FOX IV products and other printing and labelling equipment.
BCDS Group was selected due to their technical expertise, regional sales and service coverage, as well their ability to provide complete solutions from supplies to installation.
“BCDS’s expertise in integrating barcode, auto-ID and RFID equipment made them an excellent fit for representing FOX IV,” said Rick Fox, President and CEO.
“It was clear that they share our commitment to our customers in Australia, New Zealand and the region. Through BCDS, FOX IV customers can continue to expect quality equipment as well as knowledgeable support and service.”
Ian Jefford, Managing Director of BCDS, concurred. “This new appointment by FOX IV comes with much excitement within the BCDS Group, allowing us to further succeed on our business purpose of making our clients lives easier,” he said.
Over the past 20 years, more than 1000 FOX IV print and apply systems have been installed in Australia. BCDS will provide parts and service for existing FOX IV equipment as well as supply new FOX IV equipment, including the 2010 Series and FOX IV’s innovative Zebra based print and apply systems.
The University of Nottingham is developing an artificially-intelligent sensor system to clean food manufacturing equipment more precisely. This revolutionary AI-driven monitoring system could lead to greater production capacity and therefore cheaper food prices for consumers.
Food and drink production is the largest manufacturing sector in Britain and the highest industrial user of water at approximately 430 million litres a day.
As current technologies cannot accurately determine exactly how dirty food and drink processing equipment is inside, cleaning can last up to five hours a day – to minimise food safety risks.
Cleaning accounts for 30 per cent of energy and water use and leads to excessive productivity down time and over-use of chemicals, at huge cost to manufacturers and the environment.
This research project, led by Martec of Whitwell Ltd, in collaboration with the University of Nottingham and Loughborough University, has secured Innovate UK funding to ensure the UK food industry substantially cut cleaning times and remains a global leader. Dr Nik Watson, assistant professor and chemical engineer specialising in food measurement systems is leading the University of Nottingham team.
Dr Watson explains, “To prevent product contamination, many food and drink manufacturers use a non-invasive, Clean-in-Place (CIP) system to wash inside food processing equipment without disassembling it. As CIP has to operate ‘blind’, it is designed for the worst case scenario. In daily use this often results in the over-cleaning of production lines.”
To overcome this issue, the research team will design and build a lab-scale experimental rig. This facility will reproduce common industrial cleaning problems in a typical food-processing plant, and test conditions using various foods.
They will also assess the potential for an artificial intelligence inspection system to measure precisely how much food residue and microbial debris is left inside the rig. Researchers will test a combination of ultrasonic sensing and optical fluorescence imaging technologies in comparison with existing detection methodsfor the best results.
Dr Watson is working alongside Dr Elliot Woolley from Loughborough University. The two University partners have scientific expertise and industrial application experience in ultrasonic and optical sensing technologies respectively. The team is led by Derbyshire-based industrial partner, Martec, which specialises in the design, installation and use of CIP and hygienic technologies in food and pharmaceutical manufacturing.
The year-long feasibility study will go on to develop bespoke software to process the sensor data results and generate algorithms for an AI-based monitoring system. This self-predicting system will be able to autonomously optimise the cleaning process in plant equipment in real-time.
This use of AI cognitive decision-making for a novel Self-Optimising-Clean-In-Place (SOCIP) system will be world-first. “Due to the technical complexity of sensor integration such a solution does not yet exist. The aim of the SOCIP project is to overcome these technical barriers and reduce cleaning time and resource use by approximately 20-40 per cent,” said Dr Watson.
This technology could one day be retrofitted on to existing CIP systems or incorporated into new installations, increasing its market potential. Of almost 9,000 UK manufacturers identified by the Food and Drink Federation, 1,000 plants currently use some type of clean-in-place. Retrofitting those sites alone gives rise to a £50m market opportunity. Equally, major global food manufacturers could potentially replicate the SOCIP system worldwide offering further expansion opportunities.
“The self-optimising approach is a transformative technology in line with industry trends to greater automation and control of manufacturing processes. The major productivity, cost and quality control benefits will become widely adopted since the technology is equally suitable for both new installations and upgrades of existing facilities,” explains Ian Sterritt, co-owner and Director of Martec.
Once operational, SOCIP requires no expertise and uses off-the-shelf electronic components making it attractive to smaller users and significantly increasing the market for the technology. SOCIP would be a major cost-cutting technology for the food and drink industry with spin-out applications in other sectors such as pharmaceutical, FMCG and cosmetics.
Meals on Wheels is more than just a meal. Dedicated staff promote independence and social capital through nutrition, safety and wellbeing checks and social cohesiveness.
The team at Ku-ring-gai Meals on Wheels (KMOW) work hard to ensure people who are frail, aged or disabled can remain in their own home; and that carers are supported in their role.
When cooking, Tony Lyons (Head Chef, KMOW) and his team are, in effect, preparing meals for their extended family. Producing approximately 100,000 meals every year, the KMOW kitchen is always busy producing fresh and safe food.
“Food safety in our environment is critical and, in particular, we keep a very close eye on temperature,” Lyons said.
Temperature management is the key influencer of perishable food shelf life and underpins food safety. When temperature sensitive foods breach cold chain specifications, people’s lives are at risk. While government regulation throughout Australia requires temperature recording to underpin safety, proper temperature management delivers reduced food wastage and protects an organisation’s reputation.
KMOW uses CCP’s state-of-the-art Internet of Things (IoT) smart tags to monitor temperature in its cool room and freezers. On 02 May 2016, CCP identified a trend of increasing minimum temperature and shortened defrost cycles in one freezer, which triggered a diagnostics alert. On receiving the notification, the Head Chef was quick to react.
“When I saw the temperature log, I immediately arranged for all products in the freezer to be removed, and I contacted refrigeration mechanic,” Tony said.
A quick system test revealed a blocked TX valve, which was limiting the refrigerant flow rate. If left unrepaired, the compressor would’ve failed – an estimated A$3,000 cost to supply and install.
“Without the CCP solution in place, we would not have known about this and would have faced a very expensive repair bill. This single notification more than paid for the entire CCP solution for several years,” said KMOW’s Business Manager.
CCP CEO, Michael White said, “We love being a part of the Meals on Wheels story. What a great community service; and we’re delighted to have helped the team at Ku-ring-gai save the bacon.”
According to the article, the industrial automation engineer would be based at the Richland, Queensland factory, and drive “the development and implementation of a national strategy, covering industrial automation and electrical systems”.
Tasks like unloading, packing and picking are highly automated at the company’s Northmead and Eastern Creek (both in Western Sydney) sites, and the article speculates that such automation efforts will expanded to other Australian sites.
Omron will hold a free seminar, addressing automation technologies and their effectiveness in areas like safety, productivity, tracking, counterfeiting, and product recalls.
The three FTAs Australia has signed with China, Japan and South Korea present unprecedented openings for the Australian food industry. But to fully capitalise on these opportunities, food processors will need to overcome some major challenges.
The company’s team of engineers will introduce the latest technology that can add value to your business. They will hold demonstrations, run videos and discuss real life applications.
Topics to be addressed include:
Quality – Visual inspection systems can avert product recalls that are both costly and damaging to reputation. Machine vision solutions can help automate meat colour grading, expiry date, 360-degree labelling solutions, etc.
Productivity – Automation and robotics can counter high labour costs by improving efficiency. Mobile and fixed robotic solutions for packaging, processing & logistics applications will be discussed.
Safety – Protect workers from harsh and dangerous environments by controlling machinery. Omron can do risk assessment for safety applications.
Traceability – By using “big data” and IoT (Internet of Things), products can be tracked from paddock to plate. Big data solutions can use RFID, 2D/1D bar codes and databases.
Simplicity – A single, future proof automation platform – Sysmac – is here now. It integrates control, motion, safety, robotics and sensing technologies into one platform.
A sensor-based device called Ulla has the ability to monitor water consumption and alert the user when they are not drinking enough.
The device (which users strap around their cup or drink bottle) is made with motion sensors that can track tilt and movement. When a person comes near the device, an LED light inside the device will start flashing, indicating that the person should drink. Once it detects the cup or bottle has been tilted, the flashing light will go off. An algorithm restarts a 30-minute timer each time the device is tilted and if the user does not drink again in that time, the light will start flashing again.
In a comment to Allure Media, the product’s founder Cica Gajic said tests have shown Ulla users drink two to three times more water per day than they did before owning the device. The product was developed in an effort to address the issue that most people do not consume the daily recommended amount of water.
Advanced technology and sustainability initiatives are key drivers in ensuring that poultry processing in Australia continues to be a significant growth industry into the future, writes Hartley Henderson.
Australian chicken meat production is forecast to increase by 3 per cent to 1.16 million tonnes by 2015-16 and is projected to reach 1.36 million tonnes by 2020-21.
According to Ingham’s Director of Operations Excellence, Quinton Hildebrand, the company has implemented a substantial capital investment program over the past 12 to 18 months aimed at greater efficiencies, increased food safety, and substantially increased processing capacity.
“This investment has focussed on our two largest primary processing plants in Murrarie, Queensland and Bolivar, South Australia,” he told Food & Beverage Industry News.
“Increased automation in the primary processing plant allows Ingham’s to increase its volume of production significantly with limited additional requirements of space on the shop floor and of skilled labour. The strong growth of our business allows the workforce to be redeployed within our operation.”
Hildebrand explained that the main strategy is to reduce the company’s dependency on manual deboning, the process where the various parts are removed from the carcase and bones and skin removed.
“Another aspect is computer controlled portion cutting which ensures not only exact portions but also optimises the use of the available product. Finally, improvements in the palletising and handling of the product streamline the process and increase efficiencies,” he said.
Ingham’s has also developed a comprehensive and integrated sustainability strategy centred around water stewardship, environmental management, energy and climate change, zero waste, and corporate citizenship.
According to Group Head of Business Sustainability Julia Seddon, sustainability is a focus for the organisation and a key business objective, which helps to identify business improvements and potential efficiencies.
“Recent sustainability initiatives include a climate resilience assessment which is being used by the NSW government as a template for other organisations to assess their climate change risks. In addition, we have ongoing participation in a collaborative supply chain Life Cycle Analysis program with a major customer, and have employed a full time energy manager,” she told Food & Beverage Industry News.
Seddon pointed out that the primary processing of poultry requires large volumes of water to ensure clean, safe food production.
“Increased consumer demand for poultry products, combined with one of the worst droughts ever experienced in south east Queensland, created a need for innovation at our Murarrie site in Brisbane,” she explained.
“The site had already reduced water use by around 20 per cent through improved measurement, monitoring, water saving projects, and increased employee awareness, but further reduction required a significant shift in thinking.
“Inghams recognised the need for action and invested in an advanced water treatment plant. The groundbreaking application of advanced water treatment technology has reduced reliance on mains water supply by 70 per cent and decoupled company growth from water scarcity.
“This significant reduction in water use represents world’s best practice in water use management and is the first time such technology has been used to treat wastewater from a poultry processing plant anywhere in the world to substitute for potable water.”
Commenting on key trends in the industry, Hazeldene’s General Manager Marketing, Michelle Daniel, points to a growing trend for the big supermarkets to tend towards private label brands instead of producer brands.
“With poultry becoming a vast commodity, driven largely by price, this presents an opportunity for smaller supermarkets and niche players to differentiate with brands. The price war on chicken that commenced in October 2015 has driven more volume into the big supermarkets, and from a production perspective, the supermarkets are looking for better buying at higher volumes,” she told Food & Beverage industry News.
“This works well for bigger players that can take advantage of pushing larger volumes through, but is more challenging for smaller players.
“In terms of range of products, there are really three levels of poultry differentiation in Australia: traditionally produced poultry, RSPCA Accredited, and Free Range Accredited.
“These flock types will continue but differentiation in the future may look to topics more broadly than welfare, like the exclusion of antibiotics, or antibiotic growth promotants, and the chemicals used in chicken production. Value added products will continue to develop as well as many flavours on trend being adopted in poultry products.”
Daniel said that from a primary production perspective, the newest technologies in the world include controlled atmospheric stunning, evisceration equipment, aeroscalding, and air chilling.
“Controlled atmospheric stunning is a method of slaughter that is one of the most humane in the world, and endorsed by the RSPCA. Birds are kept very calm and put to sleep using different levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide, and then slaughtered unconscious,” she explained.
“Evisceration equipment leads the way in effectiveness and safety. Machines are very well guarded, and inspection points are in different rooms to machinery, meaning the interactions between employees and machines are minimised.
“Traditionally, Australian producers use an ‘immersion scalding method’ prior to plucking, but newest technology adopts Aeroscalding which keeps birds on the chain, and they go through a room that is filled with clean, hot, steamy, mist that comes out of jets, hits the skin of the bird, and opens up the pores to allow easy plucking. Benefits include much lower microbiological load on the carcass through reduced cross contamination that immersion scalding causes, as well as using less water, and retaining all skin layers.
“Air chilling technology has been around for quite a long time but adoption in the Australian industry is low compared with water chilling. Air chilling reduces the water retention in birds which extends shelf life, and customers get more protein, less water and a better tasting meat.”
Daniel advised that Hazeldene’s is an early adopter of new technology and innovation. The company commissioned air chilling in 2006 and a new primary processing facility in 2012, which includes controlled atmospheric stunning, new evisceration technology, and aeroscalding.
“The new primary processing facility allowed us to reduce employee levels, while increasing production, and make the roles in that area safer and more sustainable. We will be looking for more productivity enhancements and efficiencies with further capital plans in the future that focus on the packaging end of our business,” she said.
“The biggest issue we face is competitive forces in the market driving the prices down to unsustainable levels for a quality focussed player. Chicken has become so commoditised that quality can lose its message and relevance when price is the key driver. It is up to us to find quality focussed markets, and continue to differentiate on quality.”
The dairy industry is on the cusp of a revolution powered by technology and data. Brett Wiskar explores the possibilities.
Throughout the food industry we are witnessing a range of new trends across automation, data, and intelligent systems. The dairy sector is not immune to these trends and the impacts will change how the industry operates. The current breed of semi-automated milking systems for example, has increased yields, reduced labour inputs and improved reliability. Though this has led some to believe that dairies are already highly automated, a new wave of efficiency is just around the corner.
Semi-automation makes way for autonomy
Dairy equipment manufacturers are bringing increasingly sophisticated, automated systems to market. This level of autonomy doesn’t just provide labour efficiencies. These systems will manage the feed and dietary requirements of livestock, monitor the yield of each animal and automatically adjust feed intakes to maximise the output of each animal in the herd. This will in turn empower famers to learn, respond and adjust their operations in real time to optimise their business.
This is all part of a global trend known as Industry 4.0 or the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Dairies that embrace higher levels of automation and data driven insights across their operation will have significant advantages over the semi-automated operations of today.
Data will be the difference
Dairy farms will have data across all aspects of their operation: cows, feed, milk, weather, grazing locations and conditions. Data will be centralised and the farmer will be empowered to refine the operation remotely. This might be used for simple tasks such as closing a gate, adding supplements to the feed of a particular animal, or to review the impact of yesterday’s decisions.
The analysis of operational data en masse will lead to incremental, but importantly, sustainable improvements. Those improvements are unlikely to come from broad sweeping changes. They will come from smaller, compounding improvements that complement each other. For example, finding a 1-2 per cent increase in yield might come from a combination of increases in milk yield through changes in a herd’s diet; waste savings through transparent tracking of volumes throughout the product journey; and traits that increase milk production being identified and bred into the herd.
All of this will be enabled through insights coming from data. The automated nature of the next generation of dairy infrastructure will empower the data side of the industry in the following two ways.
Leveraging data from individual operations
All aspects of dairy operations, from the grass and feed to the end product, will be tracked and measured. This will allow farmers to make the changes needed to drive their operations into the future.
In the coming era, machine learning and predictive analytics will optimise operations on a micro level by making automatic adjustments, that the farmer would never have found, across the business. Although the gains will be minute, they will have a significant cumulative impact.
The power of combined knowledge
The true power of data is derived from an organisation’s ability to interrogate multiple data sets. For example, Google Ventures recently invested US$15 million in a US based start-up, Farmers Business Network. This organisation allows famers to upload their operational data with anonymity. This is then pooled with data from farms with similar characteristics. Farmers can then access and benefit from that pooled data and the combined learning experiences.
Data pooling like this is expected to impact the dairy industry in the next few years and the data is likely to emerge from one of two sources. The first is large scale dairy operations looking to gain visibility into and empower their supply chains. The second is from the manufacturers of the autonomous systems.
The future will favour the brave
The transition for the dairy industry from the current semi-automated model to a more autonomous model will be a challenge, but not without its rewards. As new innovations are unlocked by data and automation, a wave will sweep through the industry and the early adopters of these technologies stand to gain the most.
Those who move decisively to adopt a technology and data driven approach to their operations will be the powerful players in the industry of the next generation.
[Brett Wiskar is Wiley’s Commercial Technology Director. He leads the company’s data and technology consulting initiatives and is focussed on driving innovation, operational and commercial outcomes in the food industry]
As the Australian economy transitions from the mining boom, there is strong global demand for Australian high quality food produce.
The three Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) recently signed with China, Japan and South Korea present unprecedented openings for the Australian food industry.
And more food processors are now looking to the latest technology to fully capitalise on these opportunities.
Omron, a global leader in automation technology, recently showcased its latest automation solutions designed to improved productivity and drive profits in the food processing industry.
More than 40 food and beverage company representatives attended a seminar at Omron’s headquarters in Silverwater, Sydney to learn about new automation technologies.
Omron NSW State Manager Standy Law told guests that food processing is one of Australia’s fastest growing industry sectors.
“By 2025 it is estimated the world’s population will grow to 8 billion,” Law said. “And by 2050 the world’s food consumption will be 75 percent higher than at present.
“Australia has gained a reputation throughout the world for high quality produce,” Law said. “There is great consumer confidence in Australian food because we have such high quality produce.
“But how do we maintain that quality? – that’s the big challenge for the industry.”
Through advanced technology, the food processing industry can now address major issues such as quality control, improved efficiency and productivity, worker safety, traceability and operating simplicity.
At the breakfast seminar Omron’s experienced team of engineers explained how new technology can minimize product recalls, increase productivity and improve workplace safety.
Omron’s Vision and Sensor Product Manager George Nematian showed how new advanced visual inspection systems can avert product recalls that are both costly and damaging to a company’s reputation.
With Omron Vision Sensor Technology food processors can:
Eliminate human error
Increase productivity with high speed production lines
Enhance company reputation and customer satisfaction
Avoid costly product recalls
Get a quick return on investment (ROI)
Nematian said Vision Sensors can perform a broad range of product inspection tasks including:
Label or product damage
Positioning of products
The main advantages of using Omron Vision Sensor Technology are:
Superior colour sensing
Greater accuracy and reliability
User friendly set up, programming and user interface
Only one controller is needed for the entire system
Omron is a strong global company with an expert engineering team
Global service and customer support
Regular training including customized training courses
David Pratt, Omron robotics engineer, then explained how automation and robotics is transforming the food processing industry with improved efficiency and increased productivity.
By using industrial robots food processors can:
Achieve greater accuracy and precision
Improve workplace safety and risk of injury
Pratt said by using fixed industrial robots and mobile robot technology (autonomous indoor vehicles) food processers can make significant savings on labour costs.
“In the meat processing industry labour costs are running at more than 60 percent,” Mr Pratt said.
“With automation you can reduce those costs and increase production.”
Safety Engineer Irfan Munir demonstrated how industry can protect workers from harsh and dangerous environments by better controlling machinery.
Munir said companies should not wait to invest in safety.
“By doing things the right way you not only minimise risk, but you improved efficiency,” Mr Munir said. “In reality, machines are safer if all the rules are followed.”
Munir gave examples or safety techniques that food processing companies should follow.
This included conducting a comprehensive workplace risk assessment and implementation of staff training programs.
Robert Lloyd, a senior automation engineer, explained why traceability has become an essential part of the food processing supply chain.
By using “big data” and IoT (Internet of Things), products can now be tracked from paddock to plate, he told the Seminar.
Lloyd said with improved traceability technology businesses could prevent counterfeiting, achieve higher throughput, better quality and lower costs – with less wastage and pollution.
Most importantly, companies could avoid costly product recalls.
With Omron technology all data can be collated using one controller. The information can then be monitored internally or externally by a remote smartphone or tablet.
Lloyd also emphasized the need for greater simplicity in the food processing supply chain.
“With Omron’s Sysmac system using an NJ series controller you have a total automation solution,” Lloyd said.
“Sysmac integrates control, motion, safety, robotics and sensing technologies into one platform.”
The keen interest from the Chinese marketplace in Australian beef has disrupted the Australian meat processing industry in more ways than one. Aside from the controversial purchasing of meat processing plants by Chinese investors, there is also the demand for huge quantities of Australian beef to feed China’s growing middle classes.
Industrial Conveying Australia (ICA) General Manager Bruce Granger said that the growing demand for Australian beef underscores the reason many in the meat processing sector were turning to automation.
“Recently we manufactured a system for a family owned and run abattoir who are seeking out opportunities in the global export market. There were two main drivers for the upgrade: meeting the biosecurity requirements for a Tier 2 export licence and increasing throughput to meet demand from the international marketplace.
“Its previous operating system relied solely on manual handling and as a result they were unable to meet the benchmarks required to export large volumes of beef overseas. It simply wasn’t possible to achieve the volume of output required.”
The challenge put to Bendigo based ICA was to manufacture a system that would significantly reduce manual handling, increase efficiency and ensure world’s best practice food safety standards were met. To meet the requirements for a Tier 2 export licence a number of stringent tests and inspections are carried out onsite by the industry governing body, and the new system had to be built with this is mind. It is particularly important to avoid contamination of raw meat, something that can easily happen when manual handling is involved.
“Biosecurity issues around food are huge and that makes Australia a desirable food source. Not only do these markets – particularly China – want clean, safe food, but they want a lot of it and they want it now,” Granger said.
He noted the growing demand for paddock to plate identification was also a consideration when designing for the meat processing sector.
“The food safety technology industry has advocated for greater traceability throughout the supply chain and automation aids this process,” he said.
In this case, the ICA designed equipment is split between the boning room and packing room. The boning room system delivers empty cartons to where the meat is processed into various cuts. The meat comes in on hanging rails as full beasts, with workers stationed on the outside of the rails manually breaking the beasts into different cuts. The cuts are placed onto the table (designed by ICA) and the boning staff then slice these pieces down into smaller bulk cuts.
The meat on the cutting tables is divided into three sections: bulk cuts of meat, good meat trim and waste trim. For example, on a full porterhouse there will be the porterhouse cut itself, a portion of trim that is good meat and a portion that is purely fat and waste. The bulk cuts of meat (such as the porterhouse) are packed into cartons which travel down the conveyor system to be packed and sent to butchers.
The tables have holes with chutes and conveyors positioned underneath to catch the trim. The boner will drop the good meat trim down one chute and the waste trim down the other. The conveyors at the bottom of the chute manoeuvre the trim to where it needs to go – good meat trim is packed for mince or similar and waste trim is disposed of.
Before this system was integrated, the staff would start work an hour earlier to stack boxes and pallets etc. This is no longer required because there are staff upstairs stacking the boxes to go in the chutes and it goes down into the conveyor system efficiently.
The possibility of a small abattoir competing with large scale meat and smallgoods manufacturers by integrating elements of automation into its operations is a testament to the technology and engineering designed by ICA.
“Previously this client relied solely on manual handling. It can be daunting for small manufacturers to invest in automation for the first time, so we designed a system within the budget and specifications provided to us that can be enhanced in the future, Granger said.
“Even without a full turnkey system this abattoir will reduce biosecurity hazards and increase throughput. This will enable them to achieve a Tier 2 export licence and meet export demand while saving money on raw materials and labour.”
Granger added that the demand for Australian beef will only grow as a result of the free trade agreement.
“We deal with many clients in the food processing sector – particularly meat and dairy. We believe these sectors will benefit significantly from the FTA. Conditions have never been better for these markets than they are now. We encourage producers who haven’t already done so to invest in automation to build their production capacity and position themselves as a supplier of choice over the next decade.”
In spite of a small consumer of industrial robots, food & beverage industry has been ordering an increasing number of industrial robots.
The report examines the worldwide market of industrial robotics in food & beverage industry through a comprehensive summary and analysis of premium information sources.
With a review of global market environments and food & beverage industry trend, this report provides an in-depth and detailed analysis of market structure, market trends, market forces, application fields, product types, geographical landscape, and the major industrial players/vendors.
In most analysis, historical statistics together with market outlook cover the 2014-2022 period in terms of unit shipment as well as sales revenue.
Geographically, the global market is divided into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific region, Latin America and the rest of world (RoW). Specific analysis and forecast over 2014-2022 have been covered for important national markets such as U.S., China, Japan, Germany, South Korea, and Mexico.
Asia-Pacific region dominates the global industrial robots market in food & beverage industry in terms of sales volume as well as annual revenue, followed by European market and North America region. Strongest growth potential also exists in APAC for the future market with China and Southeast Asian countries expected to be the main driving engines for the growth. Current competitive scenario and profiles of major vendors are also included.