Bulla Dairy utilises Smart Badge technology

Following a successful trial period, Bulla Dairy Foods (Bulla), is the first food manufacturer and installer to roll out wearable contact tracing technology, Smart Badge, across its sites allowing the business to increase contact tracing efforts.

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HRS helps AD plant tap into additional heat from existing CHP

Operators of anaerobic digestion (AD) plants know how important it is to optimise energy use across all stages of the process. That is why many recapture as much heat as possible for reuse elsewhere, including from the hot exhaust gases generated by the combined heat and power (CHP) engines which turn the biogas from the AD plant into useful heat and electricity.
Heat exchangers used for exhaust gas heat recovery need to be particularly robust in order to cope with the physical and chemical stresses imposed on them from the exhaust gases which are both hot and corrosive. HRS Heat Exchangers were recently asked to install just such a unit.
An AD site, belonging to one of the leading waste management companies in the UK, transforms some 45,000 tonnes of food waste from domestic and commercial sources into renewable electricity and high value digestate biofertiliser. From the beginning the plant had been designed to be as efficient as possible and included exhaust gas heat recovery. However, when the original heat exchanger fitted to the exhaust system failed after just a few years of operation, the client approached HRS to provide a more robust and reliable replacement.
The ideal solution was an HRS G Series gas cooling heat exchanger: a complete stainless steel multi-tube heat exchanger specifically designed for exhaust gas cooling and thermal recovery. The hot exhaust gases flows through the interior tubes of the heat exchanger while the service fluid, in this case water, flows though the surrounding shell. The use of stainless steel is a key factor in the longevity of the G Series and rapid corrosion of the original carbon steel unit was one of the reasons for the original’s failure.
Other design features of the G Series also increase its operational life as Matt Hale, International Sales & Marketing Director at HRS Heat Exchangers, explains: “All HRS tubular heat exchangers include bellows in their design to allow for thermal expansion. The original heat exchanger we replaced was exposed to significant thermal stresses which contributed to its early failure.
“You also need to consider the condensation which can occur when the hot gas meets the tube plate and cooling begins. The resulting condensate is acidic and can be extremely corrosive, so the HRS G Series includes drains in the header to allow this condensate to be removed, as well as a hatch to allow for manual cleaning and inspection.”
As an operational plant, it was important to keep downtime at the plant to a minimum during the installation of the new unit. HRS manufactured the new heat exchanger to the same eternal dimensions and used the same connections as the original. This enabled a straightforward installation in just a few hours without any pipework modifications, with the installation being carried out just eight weeks after design approval.
In operation the new G Series heat exchanger cools the exhaust gas from ~530oC to ~320oC and the heat recaptured from the process is used in the AD facility and to provide hot water around the site. Since installation the HRS G Series heat exchanger has performed so well that HRS has been asked to quote for the replacement of another unit which is used to treat the digested sludge from the plant, with an HRS DTI Series unit.

Keeping cool at Godden Foods in Australia

The Godden Food Group is a family-owned and operated wholesale food distribution business located at Ormeau just north of Queensland’s Gold Coast. Godden Foods supplies a range of frozen, chilled, fresh and dry goods to restaurants, caterers and private homes throughout south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales.
In 2019, the lease on the company’s premises came to an end and Jeff Godden, the company’s owner, had to find new premises. Having secured a new home for the business, and also having built a 27,000m3 insulated store, he needed to fit it out with advanced refrigeration equipment, to provide separate rooms for -23°C frozen storage and a chilled area at 2°C-4°C.
The challenge
For Godden foods, the key requirements were to have a safe, cost-effective refrigeration system that would provide sustainable service well into the future. However, Jeff Godden also had another target in mind – he needed the whole project completed to allow him to be fully operational before his initial rent-free period expired.
The GEA solution
Scantec Refrigeration in Murarrie, Queensland is a refrigeration company with 25 years’ experience in supplying advanced industrial and commercial plants throughout the region. Stefan Jensen, one of the founders of the company, recommended Godden use a centralised low-charge ammonia refrigeration system with four GEA Grasso V300 reciprocating compressors. Although Jensen knew that this would not be the option with the lowest capital expenditure, he was certain that it was the best long-term system for his customer.
Read More: Confusion of soft plastic recycling
“I knew that this customer would be able to make huge savings on energy costs,” said Jensen. “But when you tell customers that they can reduce their energy usage by two-thirds, sometimes they don’t believe you. But I was able to present evidence from other projects, so the customer went for the idea.”
Jensen explained that the big benefit of a centralised low-charge ammonia refrigeration system is that it contains very little ammonia, around four to five times lower than a conventional liquid overfeed system.
The presence of high-density liquid refrigerant within the wet suction lines and risers is eliminated. Because pressure drops in wet suction lines are up to 60 times higher than in pure vapour lines, the system runs at lower refrigerant pipeline pressure drops, making it very energy efficient.
“This is where most of the energy saving comes from,” he said.
The GEA Grasso V300 compressors at the heart of the system were suitable for the job. Scantec chose the GEA machines, partly because they were available quickly, but mainly because of their inherent energy efficiency.
“The V300 is an excellent machine and, in my opinion, more efficient than anything else on the market,” said Jensen. “But it’s also one of the very few that does not require water cooling,” he said. “Water cooling typically adds at least $15,000 to the installation cost and is a drain on energy as the water has to be pumped around the system.”
Not requiring water cooling further reduces energy consumption and makes the installation “plug-and-play”, reducing the time involved and giving the company the flexibility to take the plant with them should they need to move again in the future.
The outcome
The new plant at Godden Foods was commissioned in May 2020, coinciding with the start of trading from the new premises. According to Jensen, its Specific Energy Consumption (SEC) is better than anything he’s seen on the market.
“With energy savings of around two-thirds compared with an industry-standard, air-cooled HFC-based system, Godden will get the whole cost of the new plant back in eight years well before the expiry of the 15 year lease period,” he explained. “But if you just consider the marginal additional cost, compared with a freon plant, the payback will be three to four years.”
Maintenance costs for the system will be in the region of two per cent of the initial capital cost annually, lower than equivalent freon systems.
It is also safe. The operating inventory within the freezer is only 1.5kg of ammonia so, even if there was a catastrophic leak, the concentration of ammonia within the refrigerated space would be only around 100 ppm. The IDLH (Immediate Danger to Life and Health) threshold is 300ppm as a comparison.
The result is a new refrigeration plant for Godden foods that is more energy efficient than an equivalent freon system, environmentally sustainable, safe, portable if necessary and, if correctly maintained, will provide 30-40 years of faithful service.
For more information on GEA products, click here.
 

Security and plant upgrades will drive the future of processing

Steven Sischy likes a challenge. The automation and drives business manager for APS Industrial joined the company three months ago with the brief to work together with one of its manufacturing partners – Siemens – to make them the leading automation brand in the country. Siemens already has a great reputation in Europe and Australia, but Sischy is keen to take them one step further.
“My aim is to increase Siemens market share in Australia. Currently, they don’t hold the position of number one. They are definitely a mainstream player in a lot of the sectors where they are active, but they don’t have the dominance they have in Europe.
“My challenge is to see how quickly we can get them up there with Europe and help local industry experience these world-class products and technology. In the short amount of time I’ve been with APS we’ve started to see some returns with having a big focus in particular areas.”
This includes the food and beverage market where over the past two years, the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Industry 4.0 have started to take hold in the processing and manufacturing of goods.
“We also see the packaging industry as a very big market within the Australian and New Zealand markets,” he said. “What we have seen, with COVID, is a lot of people are more interested in knowing where their food is coming from.”
And this is one core principles of how Siemens does business – helping make sure that the food supply is secure, especially when it comes to traceability.
“What is important is cyber security,” he said. “If you look at the food and beverage sector, you will see that Siemens has a cyber security policy within its entire range. When they talk about traceability – especially when you start looking into food and beverage, as well as pharmaceutical – you want to know who has actually put what ingredients where, but they want to now go down to even the operator who packed the product.
“This is part of Siemens core DNA. This technology is already in place and gives manufacturers the capability to say ‘I can show whatever is going into a product has been made with a particular recipe and we will track the entire process from start to finish. We will also note when an operator has changed anything, down to the time and date when it occurred.’”
But there is also a component of the security protocols that is sometimes not taken into consideration, especially when it comes to bespoke manufacturing processes.
“The other side, with the technology – is the intellectual property, which is a massive component,” said Sischy. “Cyber security – because the products are already in place – protects the companies that are investing in these technologies to make sure their knowhow does not fall into foreign hands or any of their competitors’ hands.
“Siemens cyber security is very robust. A lot of the exposure that Siemens has to essential services – whether it be water, wastewater, electricity generation, transport – needs to have robust communication protocols secured end-to-end, so nobody can get in there and potentially harm those processes in any way.”
Sischy said it is also critical to note that Siemens has got a cyber security team that constantly looks at any of these issues that may arise. In the event of a breach, or a potential attack, they can get in contact with the security division who will act on their behalf to ensure that the processes are still intact. Sischy said it is important to protect your assets and if a company already has the necessary security steps in place at a high level, it is easy to integrate these types of measures down to individual processes.
“When it comes to starting your digital journey, we have already got it down to the Siemens LOGO!, which is a very small micro-based controller for home automation, as well as small pump stations,” he said. “It has already got cloud connectivity, so you can put it to the local cloud, or you can send it something like mindsphere if you choose to do that. But the point is you do have that capability.
“Like AI, as well as vison-based systems, we’ll start seeing the evolution of what we call edge-based processors where you are going to have a fair amount of processing sitting very close to the action and then sending that information, or digitalised image, back to some central-based cloud solution, which will then give you the ability to interrogate the information even further.”
Digital twins are also part of the Siemens’ portfolio. Digital twins have come to the fore over the past 12 months, whereby it is possible to create a virtual twin of a physical item. This gives companies the ability to start developing a process, have a look at what they want to do with the process, how they want to improve it, and put in the diagnostics before they connect any physical device to the network.
“Also, through a process that we call Team Centre, you’ve got the ability to also then work out from a manufacturing side, ‘How do I increase the movability? Do I have the right product for the solution? How do I reduce costs and how do I improve the quality of the system?’” said Sischy.
The end game to all these processes is giving processors and manufacturers the ability to achieve the productivity outputs they want, and streamline global processes.
“If you look at it – it doesn’t matter where you look – where any food and beverage company have global location, how do we see whether or not a certain geographical area is more deficient or even profitable versus other areas?” said Sischy.
“What we find, if you have a progressive company, is that they are always looking to be at the forefront of their competitors, or always be ahead of their competitors, which means the uptake of technology is relatively easy. It is where you have companies that may not have the capacities internally, that it becomes more challenging. Sometimes in those instances it can sometimes be harder.”
He said that APS’s philosophy, and therefore something that they are also trying to bring with the Siemens’ suite of products – and Team Centre in particular – is trying to improve the overall quality but also try and lower costs.
“A big part of this going forward, in the Australian market, is to try and reduce your energy consumption and CO2 emissions,” said Sischy. “It is going to be a massive focus going forward, so we need to look at the end goal and determine the true cost of its implementation. With Team Centre, because of the development and also looking at efficiencies, you can also look at the process flows, and that improves it – the actual physical prototyping reduces the development costs and improves the quality.”
He said that Siemens and APS can provide a complete solution including all the Siemens componentry – the PLCs, the drives, the switchgear, the power supplies, the networking devices, as well as panels and cabling.
“Through the company’s system integration program, end users will have the ability to get an end-solution product for the customer,” said Sischy. “It is not only providing product with the inclusion of the APS system program, but it also gives the customer the ability to understand and deliver their needs.
“To make manufacturers locally more cost effective, they need to adopt these technologies. If they are going to try and do this with their standard ways – ‘this is how we have done it over the years etcetera’ – they might not succeed. They need to adapt to the latest technologies.”
Overall, Sischy is excited about the future of the APS/Siemens relationship. It has been a mutually beneficial relationship for both companies – and of course, Australian industry who is better placed than ever to access these products.

Food cold chain education needed and is coming soon

A new training initiative based on the thermometer is about to be introduced to the Australian cold chain industry. It is seen as a practical move to help combat the country’s serious food loss and wastage problem, estimated to cost the country nearly $4 billion a year at farm gate value.
The Australian Food Cold Chain Council (AFCCC), the peak advocacy body comprising concerned industry leaders covering refrigeration assets, transport and food distribution, will release an online education program, Thermometers and the Cold Chain Practitioner this month.
The program is aimed squarely at those the AFCCC regards as the super heroes of the food cold chain process – the people who oversee the movement of food through refrigerated transports, loading docks and cold rooms across the nation.
Industry research convinced the AFCCC that Australia desperately needed a new Cold Food Code that should be adopted by industry to stimulate a nation-wide educational push to bring Australian cold chain practices up to the much higher international standard.
The educational program starting with temperature measurement is the first of a planned five-code series.
The AFCCC has invested in new online education software that will be used to develop training programs to support the release of the actual Code document that will cover temperature technologies and how they should be used for monitoring a variety of foods carried in the cold chain.
The initiative runs alongside the work being done by other authorities, including Food Innovation Australia (FIAL) and the Commonwealth Government, which has signed up to a United Nations treaty to halve food wastage by 2030.
Some of the rising levels of national food wastage is considered to be the result of poor temperature management, and poor understanding of how refrigeration works in a range of storage environments. This includes from cold storage rooms through to trucks and trailers, and even home delivery vans.
Australia has world-class refrigeration and monitoring technologies, but the AFCCC believes industry will have to adopt serious training programs so that those responsible for moving food and pharmaceuticals around the country can get the best out of the available technologies.
Because of the vast distances in this country, food transport is a series of refrigerated events, in the hands of a range of stake holders.
Mangoes picked in the Northern Territory may be handled through stationary and mobile refrigerated spaces as many as 14 times by multiple owners on a 3,400 km journey to Melbourne.
If temperature abuse through poor refrigeration practices occurs in just one of those spaces, the losses at the consumer end are compounded, and shelf life can be either drastically reduced, or result in the whole load being sent to landfill.
People working at the coalface of the industry can sign on independently to do the course, which the AFCCC believes will be an important next phase in their professional journey. Kindred organisations involved in the cold chain will be encouraged to become retailers of the education program. Many industry groups have already signed up to help drive cold chain practitioners to the training program from their own websites.
There will only be modest charges for the course, which will help fund AFCCC’s continuing work on assembling the research and expertise to complete further parts of the overall Code of Practice. This will ultimately be gifted to the cold chain industry for the purposes of universal adoption.
The extent of food wastage in this country should not be under-estimated.  It is almost criminal that one quarter of Australia’s production of fruit and vegetables are never eaten and end up in land fill or rotting at the farm gate. This loss alone accounts for almost two million tonnes of otherwise edible food, worth $3 billion.
A government-sponsored study released earlier in 2020 revealed that meat and seafood waste in the cold chain costs the country another $90 million and dairy losses total $70 million.
It’s not just the wasted food at stake. The impacts on greenhouse emissions, water usage and energy consumption will end up being felt nationwide.
The AFCCC was formed in mid 2017 by a cross section of industry leaders covering manufacturing, food transport, refrigeration and cold chain services.
The Council sees itself as an important part of the solution, encouraging innovation, compliance, waste reduction and safety across the Australian food cold chain.
The new Council is not about promoting an industry – it wants to change the industry for the better. It acknowledges that Australia’s track record in efficient cold food handling, from farm to plate, is far from perfect.

Recycling initiative to collect 190,000 tonnes of plastic

Australia’s food and grocery manufacturers, represented by peak body the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC), will develop Australia’s largest industry-led plastic recycling scheme, which aims to collect and recycle nearly 190,000 tonnes of plastic packaging per annum by 2025.
The Australian Government has announced the AFGC will develop the National Plastics Recycling Scheme (NPRS), supported by funding from the Government’s National Product Stewardship Investment Fund (PSIF).
The scheme will initially focus on increasing the diversion of soft plastics such as bread, cereal and frozen vegetable bags, confectionery wrappers and toilet paper wrap from landfill and it will move on to support the increased recycling of other plastics that are currently difficult to collect and/ or recycle. As an industry-led and funded scheme, the NPRS will coordinate and focus the efforts of well-known food and grocery brands to  increase the recycling and reuse of plastic packaging.
This will build on existing soft plastics recycling initiatives including the industry funded REDcycle program and the soft plastic kerbside collection trial run by Nestlé, as well as projects and research by the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation.
Read More: Nestlé and IQ renew soft plastic recycling trial
“Over many years, brand owners have invested in packaging innovations that reduce food waste and have moved to using lighter-weight plastics that have a lower carbon footprint. Continuing the focus on packaging sustainability, the NPRS will increase the recycling rates of identified plastics and reduce the amount of virgin plastic used in packaging, helping to meet Australia’s National Packaging Targets,” AFGC CEO Tanya Barden said.
The National Packaging Targets include a goal of recycling or composting 70 percent plastic packaging and incorporating an average of 50 percent recycled content across all packaging by 2025.
“We commend the Australian Government’s leadership on waste reduction and recycling matters, including their support for the NPRS.
“We’re excited about developing a circular economy in collaboration with our members, who comprise nearly 80 percent of packaged food and grocery sales, as well as governments, retailers, plastics and packaging companies, and the resource recovery industry,” said Barden

How the humble thermometer helps reduce food waste

A new training initiative based on the thermometer is about to be introduced to the Australian cold chain industry. It is seen as a practical move to help combat the country’s serious food loss and wastage problem, estimated to cost the country nearly $4 billion a year at farm gate value.
The Australian Food Cold Chain Council (AFCCC), the peak advocacy body comprising concerned industry leaders covering refrigeration assets, transport and food distribution, will release an online education program, Thermometers and the Cold Chain Practitioner this month.
The program is aimed squarely at those the AFCCC regards as the super heroes of the food cold chain process – the people who oversee the movement of food through refrigerated transports, loading docks and cold rooms across the nation.
Industry research convinced the AFCCC that Australia desperately needed a new Cold Food Code that should be adopted by industry to stimulate a nation-wide educational push to bring Australian cold chain practices up to the much higher international standard.
The educational program starting with temperature measurement is the first of a planned five-code series.
The AFCCC has invested in new online education software that will be used to develop training programs to support the release of the actual Code document that will cover temperature technologies and how they should be used for monitoring a variety of foods carried in the cold chain.
The initiative runs alongside the work being done by other authorities, including Food Innovation Australia (FIAL) and the Commonwealth Government, which has signed up to a United Nations treaty to halve food wastage by 2030.
Some of the rising levels of national food wastage is considered to be the result of poor temperature management, and poor understanding of how refrigeration works in a range of storage environments. This includes from cold storage rooms through to
trucks and trailers, and even home delivery vans.
Australia has world-class refrigeration and monitoring technologies, but the AFCCC believes industry will have to adopt serious training programs so that those responsible for moving food and pharmaceuticals around the country can get the best out of the available technologies.
Because of the vast distances in this country, food transport is a series of refrigerated events, in the hands of a range of stake holders.
Mangoes picked in the Northern Territory may be handled through stationary and mobile refrigerated spaces as many as 14 times by multiple owners on a 3,400 km journey to Melbourne.
If temperature abuse through poor refrigeration practices occurs in just one of those spaces, the losses at the consumer end are compounded, and shelf life can be either drastically reduced, or result in the whole load being sent to landfill.
People working at the coalface of the industry can sign on independently to do the course, which the AFCCC believes will be an important next phase in their professional journey. Kindred organisations involved in the cold chain will be encouraged to become retailers of the education program. Many industry groups have already signed up to help drive cold chain practitioners to the training program from their own websites.
There will only be modest charges for the course, which will help fund AFCCC’s continuing work on assembling the research and expertise to complete further parts of the overall Code of Practice. This will ultimately be gifted to the cold chain industry for the purposes of universal adoption.
The extent of food wastage in this country should not be under-estimated. It is almost criminal that one quarter of Australia’s production of fruit and vegetables are never eaten and end up in land fill or rotting at the farm gate.
This loss alone accounts for almost two million tonnes of otherwise edible food, worth
$3 billion.
A government-sponsored study released earlier in 2020 revealed that meat and seafood waste in the cold chain costs the country another $90 million and dairy losses total $70 million.
It’s not just the wasted food at stake. The impacts on greenhouse emissions, water usage and energy consumption will end up being felt nationwide.
The AFCCC was formed in mid 2017 by a cross section of industry leaders covering manufacturing, food transport, refrigeration and cold chain services.
The Council sees itself as an important part of the solution, encouraging innovation, compliance, waste reduction and safety across the Australian food cold chain.
The new Council is not about promoting an industry – it wants to change the industry for the better. It acknowledges that Australia’s track record in efficient cold food handling, from farm to plate, is far from perfect.

Surging demand for plant-based meat

The global meat sector at present is facing unprecedented level of disruption and competition, due to mounting growth of plant-based meat alternatives across many categories, according to market research company Future Market Insights. Earlier, plant-based meat alternative products warranted limited shelf space and were meant for niche consumers. With increased awareness of “Veganuary” multiple manufacturers have expanded new product line for plant-based products owing to increased vegan or indeed flexitarian diet.
The global food and beverage recent industry changes illustrate the growth in plant-based alternatives that has brought disruption. Companies across the spectrum are investing heavily in creating and acquiring new products and brands which will provide momentum to the surging consumer demand for plant-based beef products.
Key point from the plant-based beef market study

  • A latest study by an ESOMAR certified market research and consultancy company, forecasts impressive growth of the Plant Based Beef market at over 22.7% CAGR between 2020 and 2030
  • Based on the source, the soy-based protein segment holds the dominance in the market for plant based beef, while wheat-based protein segments are expected to grow prominently in the forecasted period of 2020-2030
  • Based on the product type, burger patty segment holds the dominance in the market for plant based beef
  • As alternate protein gains traction in the market owing to the increasing awareness about the environmental impact of food choices consumers make, the majority of the population is shifting towards plant based beef and is expected to gain traction in near future
  • Companies across the spectrum are investing heavily in creating and acquiring new products and brands which will provide momentum to the surging consumer demand for plant-based beef products

New product development fuelling plant-based products demand
Increasing demand for innovative products has paved the way for product development across frozen, chilled and ambient segments. This innovation helps consumers with a wider choice of brands and products, and allows plant-based beef to advance improved shelf space and recognition.
Read More: A bearing for all harvest seasons
UK is the global leader for vegan food launches. In 2019 approximately 18% of new food launches were vegan. Tesco has developed wicked kitchen range of meat-free products.
Who is winning?
A few of the leading players operating in the Plant Based Beef market are Impossible Foods, Gardein by Conagra Brands, MorningStar Farms, Archer Daniels Midland Company, Symrise, Roquette Frères S.A., Kellogg’s, Tyson Foods, Sotexpro SA, Crown Soya Protein Group, Puris Proteins, Ingredion, Beneo GmbH, Glanbia, Fuji Oil Co., and other players.
Several leading manufacturers of Plant Based Beef are focusing on partnering with prominent players in the market to increase its business footprints and to increase their production capacity. Leading players of Plant Based Beef are investing in research and development to produce organic, non-GMO ingredients for plant-based beef.

Rockwell Automation improves productivity and reduces risk with the release of PlantPAx 5.0

Rockwell Automation has released the PlantPAx 5.0 distributed control system (DCS). This latest DCS version from Rockwell Automation helps industrial producers positively impact the lifecycle of their plant operations with plant-wide and scalable systems to drive digital transformation and operational excellence.
New system capabilities help digitally transform operations by introducing process functionality native to the controller, improving the availability of system assets driving compliance in regulated industries, while enabling the adoption of analytics at all levels of the enterprise. Intuitive workflows and the use of industry-leading cybersecurity standards will help teams design, deploy, and support a DCS infrastructure which reduces time-to-market and helps plants realize profit at a faster rate.
“We’re excited to bring PlantPAx DCS 5.0 to our customers,” said Jim Winter, global process director, Rockwell Automation. “New system features are step changes in helping our customers lower the overall costs to design and commission. The functionality improves the overall effort to integrate the process control layer to the enterprise. By reducing the lifecycle cost of the system and lowering operational risks, we are continuing to find innovative ways to bring more value to end users.”
Process end users desire a system that offers the benefits of a modern experience without the burdens that come with a traditional DCS. The new 5.0 release innovates the modern DCS in the following areas:

  • Reduced Footprint
    • This release introduces new process controllers and extends the Logix family with cutting-edge processing power and capacity to reduce the complexity of PlantPAx architectures. This action reduces total cost of ownership of the system throughout the lifecycle.
  • Project Consistency
    • With native process instructions embedded in the controller firmware, project teams can adopt approaches to control strategies that drive consistency for individual projects or multi-site deployments. Consistency simplifies the lifecycle management of deployed systems as teams modernize their automation infrastructure. Consistency lowers total cost of ownership (TCO).
  • Streamlined Workflows
    • PlantPAx 5.0 provides improved design and operational user experiences. Development teams will realize savings in the configuration of instrumentation, alarms and diagnostic system elements. Operators will have the extended ability to view underlying control logic in a safe and secured manner. Maintenance will have controlled view access for troubleshooting.
  • TÜV -Certified for Cybersecurity
    • To operate at peak performance and minimize cybersecurity threats, PlantPAx 5.0 system architectures are TÜV certified to the international standard ISA-99/IEC 62443-3-3 which provides guidance on the implementation of an electronically secured system.
  • Analytics Enabled
    • Process end users recognize the value of analytics as an essential strategy to realize profit in their process operations. The PlantPAx 5.0 release has purpose-built frameworks that easily connect live and historical data from the DCS into reporting and analytical tools.
    • Enables extended experiences, such as Augmented Reality, using workflows aligned with process strategies controlling plant operations.
    • Allows extensible scalable analytic packages leveraging predictive and prescriptive models for process applications such as soft sensors, anomaly detection, or model predictive control.

As producers continue their digital transformation journey, the advances from this system release will help them unlock value and reduce overall costs at all phases of the plant lifecycle. For more information about PlantPAx DCS 5.0, please visit rok.auto/plantpax.

 

The essential sector

Knowing that you are able to walk into your local supermarket and buy what you want to feed yourself or your family and stock your pantry is something that we take for granted. Australia is fortunate that we make enough food to feed 75 million people, three times our population and that we have a strong and resilient food, beverage and grocery manufacturing sector in our country.
COVID-19 has taught us all many things about our sense of community, our vulnerability and not to take this $127.1 billion food, beverage and grocery sector for granted. We realise now more than ever how essential it is.
When there was panic buying in early 2020, when shelves were stripped, this was equivalent to three Christmas buying periods all at once, on the same day, with no notice. Retailers and suppliers were caught unprepared, and shelves were emptied.
However, the 274,835 people who work every day to make the food, drinks and grocery items to ensure our shelves are stocked stepped up – they are our essential heroes. This sector went into overdrive straight away to help meet the runaway consumer demand, working 24 hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week to make the products that Australians were wanting. The shelves have not been empty since.
The supply chain was sorely tested. Speciality ingredients not made or found in Australia had to be acquired in other ways, or substitute supplies found, as borders closed.
Movement of goods across such an expansive country is always a challenge but the logistics sector met the challenge to move more products, more often. Workers in the factories, who are the most important asset to our sector, split shifts, implemented COVID-safe plans right away and socially distanced to help ensure transmission of COVID-19 was kept at bay from our essential sector. Everyone met the challenge to keep the supermarket shelves stocked.
Australia’s food, beverage and grocery manufacturing sector works hard, and it has had to. Rising input costs and market challenges have long been an issue for the sector.
Companies in Australia want to invest in capital and invest in more jobs. They want to buy the exceptional, high-quality raw commodities from Australian farmers, transform them into products, and then send them around the country for Australians to enjoy. And they also want to export them around the world, capitalising on the international appreciation for the high quality and safe food products made here.
This is how traditional supply chains work but there needs to be certainty for business to invest. Certainty, through a stable economy, a skilled workforce and access to markets.
There also needs to be a responsive domestic market too, which will help foster innovation and business growth. As the world modernises and becomes highly automated, this sector strives to do so as well. This will help ensure the sector remains competitive on the world stage, innovation will flourish and jobs will grow.
To do this, the Australian Food and Grocery Council has called for the Federal Government to implement a Food, Beverage and Grocery Site Modernisation Program that provides short-term incentives for the food, beverage and grocery manufacturing industry. It does so by bringing forward investment in manufacturing plant infrastructure and equipment through an instant asset write off, or grants program for smaller investments, and targeted and efficient investment allowance for larger investments.
Without investing to improve efficiency and innovate, there is a real risk that businesses will either need to reduce the scale of their operations or move offshore.
Taking the jobs offshore would result in job losses at a time when we need to ensure job growth. While nearly 60 per cent of the sector’s jobs are in metropolitan areas, around 40 per cent, or 108,000 jobs, depend directly on this sector in regional Australia.
This sector is the backbone to regional Australia and the bond in so many communities – it is the heart of the community. The jobs and support services in so many country towns and regional centres rely on the economic contribution the sector brings through the wages it pays and the flow on to other businesses servicing the sector or the people who work in it.
In turn, the sector also supports the community through social, environmental and other outreach programs and direct contributions. This might include supporting the construction of local assets being built like a swimming pool, donating to local soup kitchens or getting involved in environmental programs like tree planting. This is happening right across the country with the support of this sector.
At the same time as strengthening our local economies and communities, the sector has seen a growth in exports. In 2020, food and beverage exports have increased 5.8 per cent, led by 7 per cent year-on-year increase in food product manufacturing.
Supply chain dependencies and priorities within countries changed with COVID-19 but recent Australian Bureau of Statistics data proved that COVID-19 hasn’t destroyed
our global trade. So, the trajectory of a growing and strong export market should weather the pandemic, even though it has definitely complicated things due to geopolitical developments.
A strong international trade system is crucial to maintaining global food security while Australia can benefit through local economic stimuli. Trade helps to stabilise food prices and supply volumes, which in turn improves social stability across the globe. During the 2007-08 food price crisis, restrictions by countries on exports of certain commodities led to significant increases in world food prices and intensified the impact on food insecurity and poverty. To date, we have not seen a repeat of this food price crisis and trade flows have continued, albeit with some delays at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While we like to know that we can walk into our supermarket and buy what we want on nearly every occasion, we also need to stop and realise what goes into ensuring we can do just that. Australians should be proud of the food, grocery and manufacturing sector here on our shores, for what it makes, supplies us with and the value it brings to our local economy and communities.

The growth of the Australasian Recycling Label on-pack

Every week when I receive my grocery delivery, I am starting to notice that more packs are including the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) and I can’t wait for the day that it is on all consumer-facing packaging. I opened a pack of pork steaks the other night and followed the ARL instructions and I have to say it was the most intuitive pack I have experienced in a long time. The ARL made it easy to understand which bin I was placing each component in.
What is the Australasian Packaging Recycling Label (ARL) Program? The ARL provides designers and brand owners with the tools to inform responsible packaging technologists and designers and helps consumers to understand how to correctly dispose of packaging. Led by APCO, in collaboration with Planet Ark and PREP Design, the program aims to reduce consumer confusion, increase recycling recovery rates, and contribute to cleaner recycling streams. The two elements of the program are the Packaging Recyclability Evaluation Portal (PREP) and the ARL.
Packaging Recyclability Evaluation Portal (PREP)
What makes the program unique is the PREP Tool component, which provides packaging technologists and designers with the correct information on whether their packaging format is recyclable in the majority of household kerbside collection systems and then how it will be handled and recovered by the Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs). The PREP Tool also indicates if there are other closed-loop recycling systems that the majority (80 per cent) of the population has access. i.e. “soft plastics”, which can be returned to a Coles or Woolworths store via the REDcycle program.
The PREP tool then works hand-in-hand with the second part of the process which is the ARL program. The ARL symbol represents how the MRF recognises materials, inks, weight, shape, adhesives and how each component will behave in the recycling ecosystem in Australia and New Zealand. Using the datasets from the PREP tool the ARL then identifies the correct symbols to use on-pack for all components of the product e.g.: lid, tray, cap, bottle, box, film etc. It is not possible for a piece of packaging to have the Australasian Recycling Label without a PREP assessment that backs up disposal claims.
The ARL is an evidence-based standardised labelling system for Australia and New Zealand that provides clear and consistent on-pack recycling information to inform consumers of the correct disposal method. As packaging is made up of separable components, each with differing recyclability, the ARL will identify each item as either recyclable, conditionally recyclable or not recyclable. The ARL is designed to ensure that consumers can understand the true recyclability of all packaging components that are disposed of in Australia and New Zealand.
The ARL symbols used on-pack in turn help consumers understand which packaging components belong in the recycling bin, or the general rubbish bin, or which parts should be returned in Australia to a Coles or Woolworths store through the soft plastic collection bins.
Consumer education
There are many brands busy updating their artwork to incorporate the ARL on pack, and I would encourage everyone to consider a strong consumer-facing marketing campaign to let everyone know that you are adding the ARL on-pack, why, and what the benefits are.
Showcase the use of ARL on your packaging as a part of your sustainable packaging journey.
Start talking to your family and friends about the ARL and encouraging your own community to look out for the ARL on-pack and teach them the benefits of the new symbols. The more consumers see the ARL and understand why it needs to be on all packaging, the better the acceptance will be across Australia and New Zealand.
Once consumers become more aware of the ARL symbols on packaging, they will gain confidence in the program and recognise that the labels are an important link to the current recycling capabilities of Australia and New Zealand. In turn, the use of ARL symbols on-pack should encourage consumers to become more active in disposing of waste correctly, which will limit contamination in our waste streams and keep recyclable material away from landfill.
The AIP has also developed a number of training courses that will greatly assist your sustainable packaging journey including Tools to Help you Meet the 2025 National Packaging Targets: PREP and ARL, Introduction to Sustainable Packaging Design, Lifecycle Assessment Tools for Sustainable Packaging Design, Flexible Packaging: Now and Into the Future, Plastics Technology: Introduction to Polymers and Recycling, How to Implement Sustainable Packaging Guidelines into your Business, Suitable, Functional and Sustainable Labelling and The Future of Bioplastics and Compostable Packaging, which are run on a regular basis across Australia, New Zealand and Asia.

AFGC releases guide about opportunities in Indonesia

Australian food and beverage manufacturers will gain important new insights and information about export opportunities in Indonesia with the release of a new, specialised guide by the Australia Food and Grocery Council (AFGC).

Indonesia is already a top-10 export destination for Australia’s food and beverage sector and the Food and Beverage Export Guide to Indonesia will help Australian manufacturers understand and explore new opportunities as the market grows into the future.

AFGC Deputy CEO Dr Geoffrey Annison said the guide is a practical and data-driven tool that will help Australian food and beverage manufacturers expand the export opportunities in Indonesia.

“Indonesia is a growing market and the Indonesia Food and Beverage Export Guide is meant to serve as a tool to help Australian food and beverage exporters understand the Indonesian market with information on changing consumer behaviour, category insights, the regulatory landscape and listing key stakeholders in Indonesia.” Dr Annison said.

The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has highlighted both the importance and potential vulnerabilities of global food supply chains. As countries around the world deal with the fallout of the health crisis, governments are also focused on ensuring continued supplies of essential food and grocery products for their populations. The crisis has highlighted the importance of agricultural trade in maintaining food security and stable food prices.

“The recently completed Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA) will greatly facilitate closer trade relations and help build supply chains in both the countries. Indonesia is a top ten export destination for the Australian food and beverage sector and promises to be an important growth market. Improved market access and reduced barriers to trade enabled by IA-CEPA will help exporters realise this opportunity.” Dr Annison said.

The guide was funded by a grant from the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment and supported by the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade). The guide is a comprehensive and informative document and is based on research conducted by Euromonitor International.

Austrade’s Trade Commissioner (Jakarta) Tim Martin said, “IA-CEPA provides new opportunities for Australian businesses in Indonesia and further strengthens our export sector. This comprehensive report will be of great assistance for Australian food and beverage exporters exploring the Indonesian market.

“Austrade was pleased to support the development of this important market guide and looks forward to working with exporters in uncovering new opportunities in Indonesia.”

To create the most extensive exporter’s guide for Indonesia, Euromonitor International, a global and independent market intelligence firm, used local knowledge and data gathered in a methodology that included discussions with multiple market players, analysis of reports and statistics and physical and online store visits.

This methodology ultimately enabled Euromonitor to help develop an export guide for Australian food and beverage businesses with detailed information on Indonesia’s economic landscape, food and beverage market landscape, supply chains and regulatory framework for import procedures.

Euromonitor International Project Director, Jorge Rosas said, “It was a great opportunity to conduct this level of consultative research and illustrate the full extent of Euromonitor International’s research methodology on a project that will significantly assist Australian exporters to make informed decisions and to ultimately succeed.”

Free trade agreements and stability key reasons to invest in agricutlure

The commitment of Federal and State governments to make infrastructure spending a priority to stimulate the economy through COVID-19, is key to attracting investment into the agriculture sector, according to a new report from MinterEllison called Ahead of the Harvest, 2020-2022.

MinterEllison commissioned Acuris to survey 100 domestic and international investors in agriculture assets to gauge their appetite for investment in the sector and the most favourable conditions that attract investment. The survey was conducted pre-COVID-19, however many of the investors’ observations point to a sector that has strong foundations for attracting investor confidence as Australia rebounds from the economic downturn.

“The fast-tracking of infrastructure projects by State Governments and the Federal Government’s $1 billion Relief and Recovery Fund to support regions, communities and industry sectors (including agriculture) will contribute to a stable climate for future investment,” said MinterEllison partner Matthew Cunningham.

In particular, infrastructure investment will help with agribusiness’s market distribution. Also required is stable, reliable internet. It is encouraging that before those factors came into play, the infrastructure currently in place was considered more than adequate by respondents, with 65 per cent nominating it as a reason to invest.

“Superannuation funds have also expressed an appetite for investing in infrastructure, further demonstrating confidence in infrastructure as an important driver of economic recovery for the economy at large, and specifically the agriculture industry,” Mr Cunningham added.

Australia’s success in negotiating free trade agreements (FTAs) is highly regarded by investors with 72 per cent citing FTAs as Australia’s top advantage when considering agribusiness investment.

Crucial to Australia’s international competitiveness is its 14 FTAs in key markets across the Asia Pacific (including China, Japan and South Korea) and the United States. Australia also has signed and concluded, but not yet put in force the PACER Plus FTA between New Zealand and eight Pacific Island countries (Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu) and is pursuing a further six (United Kingdom, European Union, India, the Gulf Cooperation Council, Pacific Alliance and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) that will open Australian agribusiness to export opportunities.

“Short term, these opportunities have been paused as global economies suffer the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, longer term, Australia’s negotiations to open more markets in the Asia Pacific region will be good news for agribusiness investors and mergers and acquisitions.” said MinterEllison partner, Glen Sauer.

Another key reason to invest in Australia’s agriculture sector is our political stability and legal certainty. Sixty-three per cent of respondents say governance, stability and transparency make Australia attractive for agribusiness investment. The cohesion between Federal and State governments in their response to COVID-19 through the National Cabinet has further emphasised Australia’s political stability during a time of crisis.

“Australia’s strong foundations, sound governance and transparency make it one of the safest places in the world to do business and with the politically bipartisan approach to infrastructure investment, this is unlikely to change in the near term,” said Mr Sauer.

“There is no doubt that COVID-19 has put a pause on the world’s focus on new M&A transactions and while it’s clear there will be significantly-reduced volumes of activity in the agriculture sector for the remainder of 2020, our expectation is that there will be a modest recovery in 2021, with further strengthening in 2022,” said Mr Sauer.

Medicinal cannabis was the sub-sector identified as having the most investment potential (85 per cent). The investment potential of viticulture was favoured by 74 per cent of investors.

Climate change and natural disasters were identified by 82 per cent of respondents as the main barrier to investment, closely followed by wage and other input costs (72 per cent). Australia’s ageing farmer population was identified as a challenge for the sector.

Montague constructing expansive fruit processing facility

Fruit Grower Montegue is  constructing a new fruit processing facility in Narre Warren North. It is a multi-use facility located on a 12-hectare plot of land at the boundary of Lysterfield Park and Horswood Road. The complex will process over 260,000,000 pieces of fruit annually, which will be distributed to markets across Australia and the world.  The project will also comprise a café, retail space, apple and stone fruit sales, public picking orchard, seasonal exhibition space, bike shop and open space lawns available all of which will be open to the public.

The project is planned to launch in phases with the build of the 53,200m2 fruit processing facility set to complete at the end of this year. Installation of packing equipment is scheduled to commence in mid-September, which will mean the new stone fruit grader will be operational from mid-January 2021 and all apple production lines fully operational from mid-March 2021, in time for next year’s apple season.

The development showcases local construction materials including recycled timber from the original barns that were located on the property and features natural products with distinctive earthy tones to reflect the surroundings flora from the recreational reserve and orchards. The internal and external concrete slabs will be completed in September with the main building structure and roof completed in early October.

The Montague hospitality development, which is the first public access amenity created by Montague, will be open by mid-January 2021. The name of the café and public orchard will be unveiled in November.

“Consumer research shows  that Australian’s want to know where their food comes from and how it is handled before reaching the retail stores,” said Rowan Little, chief innovation officer. “From February 2021, visitors can join us to learn first-hand about fruit production while enjoying a coffee and pick some apples for themselves.”

The project had been impacted by the stage 4 restriction in Victoria, with construction operating at a limited capacity since the 5th of August. However, the Victorian State Government recognised Montague as critical and essential providers of fresh fruit to Australians and granted special permission for construction to resume at an increased capacity.

Montague has implemented a High-Risk COVID-Safe plan and continue to adhere to all ongoing directions, recommendations and guidelines issued by the Department of Health and Human Services regarding recommended measures to reduce COVID-19 transmission and ensure a safe working environment for everybody working on the project.

Bakers Delight celebrates 40 years

Australian brand, Bakers Delight, is celebrating its 40th year in business. What started from humble beginnings with one shopfront has grown to become one of the country’s most successful franchises.

Born-and-bread in 1980 by founders Lesley and Roger Gillespie, the family-owned business
now has 650 stores world-wide, spanning Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States, with over 500 franchise partners.

In 1980, Roger and Lesley saw a gap in the market, with Australians seeking quality, well-priced baked goods that were convenient. With Roger’s heritage in baking – both his father and grandfather were bakers – he and Lesley opened their first store in Hawthorn, Victoria, followed by a further 14 prior to launching their franchise model in 1988. The origin of the name was conceived from the simple notion that they are bakers who live to delight.

With a national footprint in Australia that now sees most Australians having a bakery within their neighbourhood, the distinctive burgundy logo and extensive list of iconic products form a part of the nation’s collective memory.

Joint CEO Elise Gillespie – daughter of Lesley and Roger who took the reins in 2017 – said the brand has become a household name across the country, with this anniversary an opportunity to reflect on its rich family history and value the business brings to the Australian economy, while sharing future growth plans.

“Bakers Delight has evolved into somewhat of an institution in Australia. It’s likely most of us, both young and old, have a fond food memory that resonates with the brand. We’ve now been feeding Aussie households for four decades and we couldn’t be more delighted by it.” said Gillespie.

“For 40 years we’ve worked hard at establishing a reputation that we’re incredibly proud of. We started as a small family business, and while our presence has continued to grow throughout Australia and beyond, our core values and community-focus still rings true today.

“Some of our franchisees have been with us since inception and seeing these guiding principles still filter through each and every story has been very rewarding.”

Today, the global business remains family-owned and operated and directly employs almost 400people with a further 8,000-9,000 bakers and sales staff employed across more than 650 bakeries. As a result of the widespread success of Bakers Delight, the company has become a contributor to Australia’s franchising sector and the wider economy, paying approximately $250 million in wages annually and generating more than $250 million in
business expenditure for their trusted network of suppliers.

Talking to the future, Joint CEO David Christie – husband to Elise – believes the strong reputation of the business will drive continued profitable growth for current franchisees, further franchise opportunities in North America, along with different offerings locally.

“Since launching our franchisee model, we’ve been committed to supporting each individual business, to drive their own profitable growth. This will continue well into the future, supporting hundreds of Australian families and small businesses,” said Christie.

“We have an impressive footprint of bakeries in Australia, and we hope to be able to replicate that in the US and Canadian markets. We are working towards our American footprint being similar to Australia, which could see us having more than 1000 stores.

“In our first 40 years we’ve seen the majority of our growth in traditional bakeries, but I believe the future will see us expanding in different channels to keep up with the changing lifestyle of the Bakers Delight customer. Whether it’s delivery, smaller kiosks or a more sophisticated online presence, the business is evolving to ensure we are interacting and communicating with our customers in the best way possible.”

As a result of COVID-19, Bakers Delight’s push towards online ordering, its utilisation of food delivery platforms and click-and-collect systems has accelerated, with further digital
advancements to be rolled out across all bakeries in the near future.

Family, passion and community formulate Bakers Delight’s recipe to success, with the guiding principles continuing to play a significant role in the decision-making processes at all levels of the business – from corporate operations to franchisees – to ultimately continue to drive profitable growth for franchisees.

When the business was founded, there was a passion to support the community. This has remained a key focus for 40 years, with the business playing an important role in supporting grassroots sports, schools and community groups – with many franchisees donating bread not sold, to locals in need every day. 2020 also marks Bakers Delight’s 20-year partnership with Breast Cancer Network Australia, raising more than $20 million in funding and services across two decades.

Chocolate consumption falls during COVID-19

With COVID-19 restrictions around the world limiting impulse purchasing and decreasing consumer confidence, global chocolate consumption has fallen significantly over recent months, according to a new report by agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank.

In the report — Consumers Lose Taste for Cocoa Under COVID-19 — Rabobank said a significant proportion of chocolate demand is comprised of impulse and gift purchases made at retail shops, vending machines, airports, or while travelling.

“The instant gratification of an in-person purchase has been largely unavailable while consumers have been stuck at home and under government imposed lockdowns and this, combined with the prospect of a recession, has seen consumers more likely to shun indulgent snacks, especially those considered a luxury,” report author, London-based Rabobank commodities analyst Andrew Rawlings said.

In the US, for example, Mr Rawlings said, chocolate sales in supermarkets initially increased in April as consumers stockpiled goods, however sales for May and June showed steep month-on-month declines.

“We’ve also seen this trend play out in other regions and other commodities across the globe, with a short period of stockpiling prior to government lockdowns followed by a return to a new normal in sales,” he said.

Lower cocoa demand
The report says lower global chocolate consumption has led to a drop off in demand for cocoa grindings – the main ingredient in chocolate.

“In some regions — such as Europe — we saw processors increase cocoa grindings in quarter one, as they anticipated the potential for future plant closures during lockdowns. However, outright lower cocoa demand in the fallout of COVID-19 saw grindings in major production regions significantly lower year-on-year in quarter two,” he said.

“For this period, European grindings fell by 8.9 per cent year-on-year — the largest percentage decline in Europe since 2012 — while there were also big year-on-year falls in grindings production in North America (10.5 per cent) and in Asia (six per cent).

The report says the recession resulting from COVID-19 is expected to extend into 2020/21 and cocoa demand is unlikely to resume its growth trend until 2021/22, assuming a complete relaxation of social distancing measures. 

Downward price pressure on cocoa
Rawlings said while cocoa demand had been impacted by COVID-19, the effects of the virus on cocoa supply have been minimal, and will likely continue to be.

“The mid-crop harvest is well underway in West Africa and with no major weather issues, cocoa availability at origin should be extremely good,” he said.

“This imbalance between supply and demand will likely keep pressure on cocoa prices until availability weakens or a weather issue develops ahead of the main crop in October.”

Australia
While specific Australian chocolate consumption was not detailed in the report, Rabobank Australian-based senior analyst Michael Harvey said similar trends are expected to have been evidenced locally.

“With weaker economic conditions, consumers tend to tighten their belts and are less inclined to make discretionary purchases of some luxury food items,” he said.

“Australia’s economic slowdown over recent months is likely to have adversely impacted chocolate sales, however, the country’s relative success in controlling the spread of COVID-19 means sales may have declined less significantly than in some other regions.”

Harvey said with cocoa the principal ingredient in chocolate – along with milk and sugar – the lower demand and strong supply could spell good news for chocolate lovers, likely to keep a lid on retail price rises in the near future.