Bubs opens corporate headquarters in Victoria

The official opening of the corporate headquarters Bubs Australia Limited was held Friday 13 December at its Australian Deloraine Dairy canning and packaging facility in Dandenong, Victoria.

Danny Pearson, State Member for Essendon, Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier of Victoria, and Gabrielle Williams, State Member for Dandenong and Minister for Prevention of Family Violence, Minister for Women and Minister for Youth in the Victorian Government, signed the Official Certificate of Recognition commemorating Bubs establishing its headquarters in Victoria.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier Danny Pearson said: “We were delighted to support Bubs move to Victoria, which will add considerable weight to our reputation as Australia’s gateway to China. As well as creating jobs, this investment is yet another vote of confidence in our farmers and the Government’s work promoting Victoria as an export hub.”

Member for Dandenong Gabrielle Williams welcomed the arrival of Bubs Australia to  area: “Melbourne’s south-east is the heart of Victoria’s manufacturing industry and having Bubs choose Dandenong for its headquarters is important to local jobs and the broader supply chain.”

Commenting on the occasion, Bubs executive chairman, Dennis Lin said: “We are honored by the presence of two state members. Their participation recognises the contribution of Bubs to the state economy.

“Our relocation to Victoria was a vote of confidence in the state, its goat dairy farmers and its strategic position as a key export hub for Australia. We are truly excited that the management operations of Bubs Australia and its strategic supply chain partners are now so close together.”

Bubs Founder and CEO, Kristy Carr said: “We see integrating supply chain, production and management in Victoria as a natural progression which will help bring greater agility and scale efficiencies to our business.

“The move underlines the Company’s recently announced plan to increase investment in boosting cross border e-commerce with China, both for its existing portfolio and new products.

“By expanding the scope of our portfolio to new demographics we expect to generate further opportunities for growth among our Victorian farming partners who collectively represent the largest aggregation of milking goats in Australia.

“These Victorian goat dairy farms, exclusively contracted to Bubs, are capable of providing some 20 million litres of fresh goats milk from an aggregate herd of around 20,000 milking goats.

“Importantly, most of our other Australian based supply chain partners are also located in Victoria. In addition to our Deloraine canning and packing plant in Dandenong, Bega’s Tatura Industries in Victoria provides onestep goat’s milk blending and powder production and Fonterra’s facility in Darnum, also in Victoria, processes our grass-fed organic cow’s milk for packing at the Deloraine facility,” said Carr.

Also present at the ceremony was Mark Edmonson, one of Bubs’ Victorian goat farmers, based in Echuca, Victoria, whose goat farms provide Bubs with important domestic supply of goat milk under an exclusive supply agreement.

Edmonson said that he was very passionate about the goat industry and happy to be doing what he loves – supporting Australia’s Goat Industry which has been a lifetime goal.

“I’m very proud to be one of Bubs exclusive suppliers. With Bubs we now have the guaranteed off-take that gives us the security we need to put this passion into practice. With Bubs support we know we have a partner that understands our business model and how sustainability can make a difference as well as a partner committed to enabling us to have access to skilled, capable people and supporting the gaining of those skills for generations to come.”

Speed of the essence when it comes to cryogenic temperature control

In different parts of the food industry, various techniques to give foodstuffs the required temperature during or after mixing have been developed. These include adding chilled water, brine, or water ice to the product, using over-chilled or frozen ingredients, or most commonly using mechanically refrigerated mixing equipment.

Spraying or injecting a cryogenic fluid onto the product in the mixer while it is being mixed is also an efficient and safe ways of chilling. Industrial gas company Air Liquide specialises in the latter – utilising liquid nitrogen or liquid carbon dioxide to chill produce quickly and effectively. There are several benefits to using cryogenic freezing, according to Stephen Crawford, who is an Air Liquide senior engineer and expert in food cryogenics.

“It’s not hard to implement,” said Crawford. “Either liquid nitrogen or liquid carbon dioxide can be sprayed onto merchandise being chilled either from the top or the bottom. Both methods are used in industry and can be installed on existing equipment.

“Usually they are injected into some sort of mixer – for example, protein mixing, such as beef or chicken mixing, which is being made into patties or nuggets. It’s cheaper to install top mixing than it is bottom mixing, but the bottom injection method is more efficient.
“We use this type of injection to maintaian temperature. As food is mixed, you get friction between the product and the blades so heat is generated. You need to maintain temperature below 4˚C so you don’t get bacterial growth.”

Another benefit is that the gases have direct contact with the food. If an ammonia chiller is being used in a mixer, users might be able to cool down the walls of the mixer but there is no direct heat transfer that is possible when liquid nitrogen is injected into the mixer itself.
“From a heat transfer point of view it’s much more efficient,” said Crawford.

As mentioned, speed can be a key. Crawford cites the example of one of Air Liquide’s clients that specialises in producing goat cheese, a produce that is temperature sensitive.

“When the milk comes out the goat, it’s at room temperature or above. The longer it takes to get down to 4˚C, the shorter the shelf life will be,” he said. “The company puts it into a mixer and injects liquid nitrogen at -196°C through a cryo-injector. They get liquid nitrogen coming up, which rapidly cools the milk. As a comparison, mechanical chillers can only reach a temperature of -35°C with ammonia refrigerant.

“What would have taken them hours if you had put buckets of it in a mechanical chiller happens in just a few minutes in the mixer. You have blades inside stirring it. You don’t end up freezing one portion and having another portion still warm. They are constantly stirring it while injecting liquid nitrogen. It brings down the temperature of the whole product much quicker.”

Some of the mainstays of cryogenic chilling are chicken nuggets and meat patties, which are popular with those who process fast-food items. However, cryogenic chilling can also be used for dough mixing.

Most large flour mills have the flour stored in big silos outside. Industrial bakers blow it around pneumatically to get it into the mixer. It is the most efficient way for them to move the flour. The flour then comes into its mixture where it is combined with water and other ingredients. It’s mixed mechanically. But the temperature of the product in pastry has an impact on the texture and the final outcome, according to Crawford.

“If you’re trying to make a product that has a certain amount of ingredients and you mix them all together at 15˚C instead of 20˚C, the texture of the final product will be quite different even though the ingredients are the same,” said Crawford. “The bakeries find – especially if they have days like in the middle of summer where it is 35˚C – when you introduce that into the dough, the dough is far too hot and melts the butter. If you can inject a small amount of cryogen, then, depending on the temperature, it can make all the difference. If it is 20˚C you know to inject nitrogen or carbon dioxide for 10 or so seconds, or if it’s 35˚C you might have to inject for 40 seconds. During the process, it brings the dough to a consistent mix. This means there will be the right chemical reactions with the yeast. Over the years, Air Liquide has acquired a deep knowledge of process parameters through hundreds of references in cryogenic chilling worldwide and knows how to implement the right recipe to reach desired outcomes.”

Crawford also talks of the safety aspects the cryogenic chilling can offer. Most large commercial chillers have ammonia in them, which means they have a refrigeration cycle, so they’ll have a pump that is compressing the ammonia. Like a fridge at home, the wires on the back get hot. There’s a heat pump that takes the heat energy from inside the box and puts it into the grill at the back. An industrial refrigerator works the same way but ends up with large cooling towers to get rid of all the excessive heat.

“This means factories have these ammonia lines running through their plants which you wouldn’t want to spring a leak,” said Crawford. “However, with cryogenics, if you have a minor leak of nitrogen, it must be repaired, but it is not an immediate hazard. Eighty per cent of the air we breathe is nitrogen. Ammonia is a corrosive and toxic chemical and customers require ammonia sensors around the place. Often they spend a lot of money maintaining it, and then you have the cooling towers and all the other issues with the cooling water side of it.”

Some synergies are also possible with other processes down the chain, such as food freezing and modified atmosphere packaging that also use nitrogen, carbon dioxide and mixtures thereof, which further reduce the cost of operations compared to mechanical chilling.

“Another advantage is that it is very reliable because there are very few moving parts when working with cryogenic chilling,” said Crawford. “The injectors can be retrofitted on customer’s existing mixers.

“With only a valve to open and close, there is no compressor that needs to be maintained like on a mechanical system. The servicing requirements just aren’t there. The cooling equipment we have is better. There is nothing hard about what we are doing. It’s an easy method for people to learn to do. We can even maintain the equipment for our customers.”

EtherCAT G – ultimate I/O performance for high-performance machines

The EtherCAT G technology extension can superimpose itself on Gigabit Ethernet for data-intensive applications. It is compatible with EtherCAT, which uses 100 Mbit/s. In addition, the operation of parallel network segments is possible with the branch concept introduced for EtherCAT G.

EtherCAT G uses the 1 Gbit/s data transmission rate of standard Ethernet; while the EtherCAT G10 variant, achieves data rates of up to 10 Gbit/s. The increase in data rates compared with the standard 100 Mbit/s EtherCAT increases the possible data throughput. In conjunction with the new branch concept, EtherCAT G (1 Gbit/s) enables a two- to seven-fold increase in performance in relation to communication times and up to 10 times the bandwidth, depending on the application. A hundred times the bandwidth is even possible with EtherCAT G10.

A fully compatible technology extension
With EtherCAT G, the success principle of EtherCAT can be used to leverage the high Ethernet data transmission rates that are technologically available today – without any changes to the EtherCAT protocol itself. The telegram sent by the EtherCAT master continues to pass through all network devices. Every EtherCAT slave reads the output data addressed to it on the fly and places its input data in the forwarded frame, but now with data rates of 1 to 10 Gbit/s. As before, the last device in a segment (or branch) will detect an unused port and send the telegram back to the master. The full-duplex property of the Ethernet physics is utilised for this capability.

All other EtherCAT properties are also retained. Devices with three or four ports (junctions) make flexible topologies possible that can be individually adapted to the respective machine architecture. Optional machine modules can be plugged in or out by Hot Connect as required. An internal network diagnostic function helps to minimise machine or plant downtimes and therefore increase availability with familiar efficiency. The integrated distributed clocks concept also remains available and enables synchronisation accuracies of better than 100 ns between devices. Conformity with the Ethernet standard IEEE 802.3 is also guaranteed.

Rollout of EtherCAT G made easy
Performance is key to EtherCAT G. Not only the protocol, but also the fundamental mechanisms and the configuration options remain the same. Only the function blocks necessary for physical access to the communication cables have been replaced by corresponding Gbit/s variants. The master therefore requires no new software, just one Gbit/s port. The existing cable types can also continue to be used: Cat.5e cables for EtherCAT G or Cat.6 cables for EtherCAT G10.

Consequently, EtherCAT G slaves can be operated on an existing EtherCAT master, provided it has the aforementioned Gbit/s port. Several special protocol extensions for EtherCAT G are currently being prepared that will allow for even higher-performance use. However, the extensions required for this on the master side will not be mandatory for the network to be operational.

Branch concept for mixed operation with maximum efficiency
EtherCAT and EtherCAT G can be operated within the same network, i.e. EtherCAT G slaves will work in a 100 Mbit/s EtherCAT network and vice versa. However, all EtherCAT G devices will switch back to the 100 Mbit/s mode in such a mixed network. In order to prevent this, the new branch concept makes EtherCAT branches possible, which enable the parallel operation of 100 Mbit/s segments in a 1 or 10 Gbit/s network through appropriate speed implementations. In this way, a branch of an EtherCAT G segment can be implemented on a 100 Mbit/s network, for example, using the new EK1400 EtherCAT G Coupler, therefore allowing the wide range of standard EtherCAT terminals to be used within the EtherCAT G network environment. The 1 Gbit/s speed of EtherCAT G communication segment is retained.

The EtherCAT G branch concept offers efficiency benefits that minimise propagation times. The CU14xx multi-port branch controllers are designed for this purpose and enable the interconnection of several EtherCAT and EtherCAT G segments. The individual branches are addressed with a single telegram from the master, which will then be processed simultaneously. This makes much shorter signal propagation times possible and therefore shorter communication and cycle times, because the telegram of a segment travels directly from the branch controller back to the master and not through all other connected segments as well. In most applications, the parallel operation of network segments results in an improved performance increase compared to a slight increase in the transmission bandwidth would render possible.

Application and performance examples
For most present-day applications the high performance of standard EtherCAT is fully adequate. Accordingly, EtherCAT G communication was developed with large-scale applications and many devices in mind, as well as the increasing use of particularly data-intensive devices such as vision cameras, complex motion systems or measurement applications with high sampling rates. Machine vision, condition monitoring or the innovative transport systems XTS and XPlanar require transmission of several hundred bytes of process data per cycle for each device. In conjunction with short cycle times of less than a millisecond, the high transmission bandwidths provided by EtherCAT G are called for in this context.

The first practical EtherCAT G application is the XPlanar transport system, which was shown for the first time at the SPS IPC Drives 2018. This planar motor system enables motion control and highly precise positioning of passive free-floating movers with six degrees of freedom. Due to the continuous position feedback required for the unique new system, extremely large data quantities are produced that have to be transmitted within a few microseconds. This would hardly be possible without the high performance of EtherCAT G.

SMC’s smart thermo-chillers for peace-of-mind this summer

SMC’s smart range of thermo-chillers come in an array of sizes and deliver on precise and accurate temperature ranges for peace-of-mind.

According to Guiomar Fernandez, product marketing manager for SMC ANZ, the company’s range of chillers offer proactive control, improved performance and are backed by world-class service.

“With things heating up in Australia and New Zealand, now is the perfect time to order a thermo-chiller for your plant. Industries making use of heat generating devices such as machine tooling, printing and packaging are at risk of high rejection rates, poor product quality and a lack of overall process reliability,” Guiomar said.

In terms of how it works, the recirculating fluid of the chiller removes the heat from the customer’s device. The heat is then removed from the fluid by an air-cooled (or water-cooled) refrigeration circuit. The coolant temperature stability is ±0.1°C within a set temperature range.

“Correct temperature control is vital for productivity,” said Guiomar. When properly sized and selected, a thermo-chiller improves the quality of the final product, protects valuable process equipment, and reduces costs.

SMC offers a variety of solutions ranging from our standard type to our basic types and our high-level type triple inverter type chillers that adapt to the variable heat and flow requirements, achieving substantial power savings of up to 53 per cent.

Answering to the call for Industry 4.0 solutions, SMC’s range of thermo-chillers put the power in its customers hands. “Thanks to proactive controls via a remote control, these units offer self-diagnosis readings so that customers can anticipate and easily manage any incidents.

Environmentally resistant type: The HRS-R series 

  • resistant to dusty environments or environments with water splashing;
  • cooling capacity of up to 5000 W (60 Hz);
  • IP54 rated;
  • large capacity tank of 12L;
  • features a metal panel and a stainless-steel panel can be selected on request; and
  • ambient temperature of 5 to 45°

Series HRR (rack mount)

The temperature control device is mountable in a 19-inch rack, which is great for space savings:

  • temperature stability: ±1℃;
  • temperature range of 10 to 35°C;
  • cooling capacity: 1.2/1.8/2.4/3.0 kW (60 Hz);
  • easy front access; and
  • easy to operate without removing the unit from the rack.

Add-ons such as flow switches, pressure switches, filters, fittings and tubing are also available to order.

The hazardous nature of food processing plants

In 2014, a large UK food manufacturer had to pay an £800,000 fine after a serious industrial accident. An engineer was trapped by the machinery while examining a conveyor belt and suffered major injuries and ongoing nerve damage. Accidents such as this are widely reported, but many people are unaware of the number of hazardous areas found in food and beverage processing plants.  Here Darcy Simonis, industry network lead for ABB’s food and beverage segment, explains the safety procedures that must be developed in these processing plants.

Across the globe, there are a variety of different regulations for food processing plants. In particular, North America and Europe have strict regulations for safety in these potentially dangerous environments. This also applies to the safety of employees in the processing plants and employers who fail to make adequate safety considerations can face large fines. Not only can these authorities enforce these in the case of accidents, they can also be enforced during regular inspections.

In Europe, the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC requires machinery to be designed and built so that it can be used safely. In food processing plants, there are many dangerous machines for which plant managers should follow safety regulations, or the plants may face closure or high fines. Machines such as decanters exhibit high centrifugal forces during operation, and it is not unknown for the machine’s g-forces to reach more than 2000 times gravitational force. This is clearly a dangerous environment for employees to work in, however as these machines are essential for production, the key concept is the management of risk.

In the 1970s, the increase in heavy machinery such as the creation of the steel press led to increased safety guards. Since then, many safety conscious companies undertake a risk analysis in the initial stages of machine development. In the case of decanters, it is not possible to remove the risk, but it is possible to mitigate the risk to an acceptable level by putting safety guards such as enclosures or emergency stops into place.

The hazardous nature of a food processing plant is especially affected by the need for hygiene, the continuous working of the plant and the high turnover of staff. To comply with hygiene regulations, plants need to be constantly washed down, meaning that despite safety guards, equipment needs to be accessible, which adds additional risk.

Due to the high demand on food and beverage production facilities, plants often run 24 hours a day and continuous operation means there is little time for maintenance and repairs to be carried out. In the food industry, it is during breakdowns when injuries occur. Workers, faced by high targets and strict deadlines, may attempt to repair equipment themselves or even override safety guards to reach into machines and risk injury in the process. It is therefore vital that, regardless of high production targets, employees are well educated in the company’s safety policies and the equipment`s safety features.

Despite overall labor turnover falling in Britain over the last five years, there is a notoriously high turnover of staff in food and beverage processing plants. This presents an additional complication to the hazardous areas. Employers are often reluctant to spend time training staff on safety procedures, but then run the risk of having employees who are not sufficiently up to speed.

The UK’s food processing industry employs 117,000 migrant workers from the EU, which supplies the sector with the necessary labor. However, language barriers and a high turnover of staff can indirectly create safety hazards. It is vital that plant managers communicate safety measures more effectively to reduce the risk to non-English speaking employees — all of which can be done by using visual displays or by placing new staff members alongside more experienced employees.

Wherever you look across the food processing industry, hazardous areas exist. Safety guards need to put in place from the very start of the food chain, such as in the milking process. In milking parlors, exposed platform rollers must be guarded to avoid clothing or employees becoming trapped. Hazards are present throughout the plant, from the handling of the raw material, to production — where industrial ovens can often reach very high temperatures — to the final packaging of the product ready for transportation.

Breweries are a particularly strong example of the hazards present in the food processing industry. The dust generated in the conveying, sieving and milling of malt grains can form flammable dust clouds. This creates a potentially explosive environment, officially classifying the environment as a hazardous area. This means that ATEX ratings must be observed on all equipment used in these facilities.

Later down the line, carbon dioxide, a dangerous by-product of the fermentation process, can be fatal if inhaled. Workers have died while trying to perform repairs or checking fermentation tanks, becoming overwhelmed by CO2 almost immediately. This means that companies should use suitable sensors and locks to separate workers from the tanks, while also educating workers on the associated dangers.

In the beverage industry, particularly in breweries, packaging and filling is one of the most dangerous places in the processing chain. The speed of operation and high quantity of goods being moved increase the risk of things going wrong.

In the beverage industry, glass bottles are commonly filled at high speeds and at high pressure, meaning the bottles could explode if the machines are incorrectly programmed. As these beverage plants are operating under high time pressures, it is not possible to completely stop the production line for receptacles to be changed. Instead, the filler operates at a slow speed, allowing the operator to change the bottle or can. By integrating sensors that can monitor the speed of the machine, companies have the ability to implement emergency stops in the case of a breakdown or safety issue.

Often, organisations find it too difficult to manage the complex world of safety regulations and procedures alone. In this case, it is always better to consult a professional rather than fail to comply with the regulations, as this will work out to be a costly mistake. ABB’s experts can provide detailed advice on regulations in specific countries, which also takes into account the needs of food processing plants.

As companies become more knowledgeable about regulations and regulations become more stringent, the need for retrofitting old equipment with additional safety measures will rise. Although it may seem instinctive, where there is a dangerous moving machine, the safest answer is not always to shut it away behind an enclosure or barrier.

In the food processing industry, companies should consult with functional safety experts that have experience in the sector. The experts will, for example, suggest equipment such as a light grid, which performs a local controlled safe stop when the light grid is actuated. These devices are more appropriate for the food processing sector than using physical guards or barriers, as they allow easier access for maintenance and washdown, which is essential for hygiene in food processing plants.

Functional safety experts are also able to advise on the use of safety programmable logic controllers (PLCs), rather than traditional PLCs. Safety PLCs, such as ABB’s Pluto, are designed to help companies comply with functional safety regulations such as IEC61508 and IEC61511. Safety devices can be connected directly to the PLC, which monitors equipment such as light curtains. By using the PLCs, companies can meet the rigorous standards required in the food industry.

Managers of food processing plants across the globe, regardless of the country’s regulations, should prioritize plant safety. Not only must plant managers comply with regulations to avoid the plant being closed by authorities, they also have a duty to protect their employees.

Plant managers are aware that they manage very hazardous areas and the risks cannot be completely avoided. By working with specialist safety consultants, plant managers should be more aware of what they can do to mitigate risks, all the while considering the specific needs of the food and beverage industry.

Distributed servo drive system for modular machines

The AMP8000 distributed servo drive system provides suitable support for the implementation of modular machine designs. For this purpose, a servo drive can directly integrate into a servo motor, all in a highly compact design. In this way, the power electronics are relocated to the machine, reducing space requirements in control cabinets to just a single coupling module. In addition, decentralised distribution modules and the universal EtherCAT P solution further optimise the modular machine design approach.

The AMP8000 system consists of three main components. It has a single-channel, or alternately dual-channel, coupling module that forms the starting point, and the only component that still needs to be installed in the control cabinet. The coupling module establishes a connection between the DC link, 24 V DC supply and EtherCAT communication. For use with the high-performance AX8000 multi-axis servo system from Beckhoff, the AX883x coupling module is connected to the AX8000 supply module in order to provide a link to the IP 65-rated devices with one or two outputs.

In combination with the AX5000 digital compact servo drive, the AX503x coupling module can also be used in stand-alone mode due to an integrated power supply unit. In this way, 20A (per output in the case of the AX883x and as sum current in the case of the AX503x), 600V DC link voltage, 24V power supply and EtherCAT networking are available via the EtherCAT P outputs (B23 sockets).

This power is initially supplied to an AMP8805 distribution module as a second system component. As an IP 65-rated component that is integrated into the machine layout, it supplies up to five AMP80xx distributed servo drives. It can be mounted either directly (brick style) or using a bracket available as an accessory (book style) and adapted ideally into individual machine designs. The distribution module has an internal capacitance of 1120 µF to support the DC link. Additional EtherCAT P Box modules, such as for I/Os or for a second feedback system, can be connected simply and quickly via an additional EtherCAT P M8 output.

The third system component is the AMP80xx distributed servo drive. It is identical to the standard servomotors in the AM8000 series with regard to its mounting dimensions and performance data. Only the overall length has increased in comparison with the standard motors due to the integrated power electronics. Since this added length is not usually critical for the installation, most existing machine designs can be upgraded without the need for modification. The AMP80xx distributed servo drives are initially available in the flange sizes F4 and F5. Various versions are available with rated outputs of 0.61 to 1.18kW and standstill torques of 2.0 to 4.8Nm (F4) or rated outputs of 1.02 to 1.78kW and standstill torques of 4.1 to 9.7Nm (F5). The STO and SS1 safety functions are integrated as standard and a range of extended safe motion functions are currently being prepared. In addition, the new flange sizes F3 and F6 are in development and will complement the AMP8000 distributed drive system in the lower and higher power ranges.

The components in the AMP8000 system are universally connected with the uniform One Cable Automation (OCA) cabling technology, which connects via identical cross-sections and connectors. This is a dynamic, drag-chain compatible EtherCAT P cable with ECP-B23 connectors, which means the one cable solution features a hybrid cable that combines EtherCAT P (communication plus 24 V system and peripheral voltage) with additional power cores. Also, preassembled cables and connectors facilitate easy installation and minimised errors during cabling.

The AMP8000 system is also cascadable via the distribution module, meaning even highly complex machines and plants can have a simple and clear-cut topology layout. For this purpose, one or several additional distribution modules are connected to one of the module outputs in place of a distributed servo drive. For example, one main distribution module can supply five sub-modules, to which a maximum of 25 distributed servo drives can be connected, assuming an adequate supply of power to the individual motors is provided.

Compact drive integration in optimised design
With the AMP80xx, the integration of drive technology has been implemented in an exceptionally compact design, made possible through the use of the latest output stage technologies. The power module is attached at the rear end of the servomotor shaft, ensuring that the attachment dimensions are identical to those of the corresponding standard servomotors in the AM8000 series. Only the overall length is about seven centimetres larger. For machine builders, this means only a small amount of additional space is required, making it possible to change their drive concepts without any fundamental design modifications.

Apart from the small overall volume, the elegant and slim design of the AMP80xx offers further advantages over certain servo motors commonly encountered on the market, where the power electronics are mounted on top. With the AMP8000, the two dissipated heat sources – motor and power electronics – are clearly separated from each other and ensure much better heat dissipation by design, without the need for additional installation space or heat sinks. As a result, the distributed servo drives easily attain the same excellent properties as the corresponding standard AM8000 servo motors.

Drinks companies cut sugar by seven per cent

Australia’s largest beverage companies have marked a major milestone by announcing a 7 per cent reduction in sugar in the first progress report on the beverage industry’s flagship initiative.

The signatories to the pledge, Asahi Lifestyle Beverages, Coca-Cola Amatil, Coca-Cola Australia and PepsiCo Australia, have contributed to the reduction in sugar across their portfolios, and more drinks companies are expected to join in the future.

In June 2018, with the support of the Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, Australia’s non-alcoholic beverage industry committed to reduce sugar across the industry by 20 per cent by 2025.

KPMG has provided the first report on the industry’s progress towards the sugar reduction goal and today this has been shared with the Australian Government.

Geoff Parker, CEO, Australian Beverages Council, said, “This report is a further sign that the industry is serious about reducing sugar in beverages while continuing to offer greater choice of low-sugar drinks and many without any sugar at all.”

“The industry is achieving its intended sugar reduction targets and is already more than one third of the way towards reducing sugar by 20 per cent by 2025, but there’s still a lot of work ahead of us,” he said.

The Australian Government supports the non-alcoholic beverage industry’s progress towards a 20 per cent reduction in sugar by 2025 with Minister Hunt congratulating the industry on its progress in an announcement at Parliament House today.

 

“The Morrison Government supports pragmatic and appropriate action to tackle obesity, particularly through initiatives that support Australians to live healthier lives,” said Minister Hunt.

 

“The partnership between the industry and the Morrison Government is a clear sign that collaborative solutions are available to tackle the complex issue of obesity by encouraging healthy diets.”

 

The Australian Beverages Council will continue to consult widely with a range of health, industry, supplier and government stakeholders to increase understanding of the commitment.

 

Mr Parker said, “The non-alcoholic beverage industry invites other sectors to join the Australian Beverages Council in reducing sugar while continuing to support choice and understanding of healthy lifestyles,” added Mr Parker.

 

Today’s report, demonstrates the industry’s long-term commitment to reduce sugar by 20 per cent by 2025, complements a national obesity strategy, encourages all Australians to live healthier lives and reflects our contribution to combat obesity.

 

v2food plant-based protein startup closes $35M Series A round  

v2food, Australia’s newest plant-based protein startup, today announced that it has raised a $35 million Series A funding round led by Main Sequence Ventures, manager of CSIRO’s Innovation Fund, and Horizons Ventures.

The round also includes Fairfax Family investment fund Marinya Capital & leading venture capital firm Sequoia Capital China. These new investors will add significant scale and build an impressive partnership alongside existing seed investors Main Sequence Ventures, CSIRO and Jack Cowin’s Competitive Foods Australia.

The Series A financing continues an exceptional few months for v2food that saw the company officially launch in October and release its first product in partnership with Hungry Jack’s Australia, the Rebel Whopper. Funding will be used to expand R&D efforts including building a new research and production facility, planning to begin operation in regional Australia in 2020.

The company worked with Australia’s national science agency CSIRO to create products that look like meat, cook like meat and taste like meat. Co-founded by former Masterfoods and PepsiCo Research Director, Nick Hazell, v2food’s mission is to develop delicious food that is good for people and good for the planet, revolutionising the way we produce and consume food.

“This is an important step towards v2food’s goal of transforming the way the world produces food.  There is a big shortfall between the amount of meat we produce today and the amount needed to feed the growing global population. There will be nearly 10 billion people on Earth by 2050. Our mission is clear — to provide everyday people with plant-based meat that tastes great and is good for the environment. It’s imperative that we scale quickly because these global issues need immediate solutions and we are fortunate to have secured these outstanding global partners to help propel us forward,”said Nick Hazell v2food founder and CEO.

As demand is currently outstripping supply, v2food also plans to use the funds to expand its footprint in Australia and develop a supply chain that is highly scalable enabling accelerated growth.

“Main Sequence Ventures’ mission is to help transform inspiring Australian research into epic global companies. v2food is an outstanding example of an innovative startup committed to solving a global problem. The team has demonstrated what can be achieved when science and industry collaborate,” said Phil Morle, Partner of Main Sequence Ventures.

With an oversubscribed round, the investors were selected due to their global networks, and their support will help the company to expand its sales and marketing efforts offshore. Leveraging the global ties of Horizons Ventures and Sequoia Capital will enable v2food to enter the next phase of growth throughout the Asia-Pacific region with the support of investors with long histories of backing sector-defining businesses.

“The v2food team has created a truly world-class product in an area that is seeing massive growth and demand. We’re incredibly excited to back this home-grown startup to help bring v2food not only to consumers across Australia but the world,” said Nicholas Fairfax, managing Ddrector of Marinya Capital.

v2food plans to continue to launch new products in outlets across Australia in the next few months.

Patented technology supplies Australian pet food ingredients to the world

Pet owners are constantly assessing the many food choices available to feed their furry friends. Prepared pet foods are becoming an increasingly popular choice, offering a variety of food types and flavours while meeting nutritional requirements.

With a growing reputation for providing safe, consistent and nutritious pet food, the Australian pet food industry is valued at approximately $1.6 billion with opportunities growing within both Australian and export markets.

Cool Off is the pet food raw material manufacturing division of Staughton Group, which is an Australian, family-owned company with manufacturing facilities in Walget, New South Wales, St George in Queensland and its head office and main manufacturing plant located in Howlong in southern NSW.

Staughton Group oversees the manufacture of bulk raw materials for the pet food industry, as well as retail pet foods and supplements for domestic and export sales. Staughton Group also sources and processes wild game proteins through its recently acquired Wild Game Resources Australia.

Offering unique access to Australian raw materials for pet food manufacture, Cool Off delivers high-quality products including: lamb Mechanically De-boned Meat (MDM), plate-frozen offals, boutique meat meals and natural dried treats – sourcing its red meat offal raw material from more than 30 abattoirs across Australia, processing more than 150 tonnes of raw material per day.

As market opportunities continued to grow, Cool Off designed innovative new technology to help meet this increasing consumer demand.

Automated plate freezing
To help maintain a high quality product, Cool Off developed a unique offal collection process that involved installation of a customised collection and chilling unit onsite at the abattoir. This enabled Cool Off to control all aspects of quality from the onset, providing a dedicated focus on quality of the pet food products, with minimal abattoir labour input. This system has been installed at over 30 Australian abattoirs.

Once the offal was processed, it was pumped into large plate freezers, with the capacity to hold 2000 kg of product, and frozen at -20˚C. The product is then unloaded and palletised for delivery to pet food manufacturers. In the past, this was a labour-intensive process that required manual handling by operators. To increase throughput and limit manual handling requirements, Cool Off, together with VK Logic, designed a new automated plate freezing system. VK Logic has a longstanding relationship with Cool Off, resulting in a detailed understanding of the plate-freezing process. Justin Van Klaveren, managing director at VK Logic, explained that in order to meet increasing customer supply contracts, Cool Off undertook some expansion work at the plant that included building works and new freezer panel rooms.

“There wasn’t a simple, automated unload process for the large plate freezers so together with Cool Off, we placed an arrangement of pneumatically actuated panels and built plate freezer apparatus to utilise the existing infrastructure to release each block one by one down the plate onto a common conveyor belt, eliminating the requirement for manual handling,” said Van Klaveren.

“Given that margins for pet food are not near margins for human consumption, the opportunity for automation becomes more important,” Van Klaveren added.

High-performance architecture
Combining integrated control and safety, the Allen-Bradley GuardLogix was selected as the most appropriate choice for this application. The Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture system, including PowerFlex 527 drives with safety over Ethernet, offered an innovative, modular design to support fast and easy installation and configuration. These compact drives also offered embedded EtherNet/IP communications and standard safety features.

The Allen-Bradley Kinetix servo drives provided advanced motion control for the system and the capability to standardise on a single communications network for easier commissioning, configuration and start up. A FactoryTalk View SE human machine interface (HMI) was used to monitor and control the plant. To help with remote assistance and maintenance, VK Logic had VPN access to the site.

“We saw an opportunity in terms of that single platform with safety over Ethernet. The PowerFlex drives provided an integrated solution with motion, drives and safety all on the one common platform. This helped reduce engineering time and ongoing maintenance requirements,” explained Van Klaveren.

Rockwell Automation authorised distributor, NHP Electrical Engineering, supported this project by identifying the most appropriate equipment to meet the application requirements. According to Jason Campbell, business development – automation at NHP, “There’s no technology that rivals this new patented system. The solution allowed Cool Off to increase throughput, reduce downtime and redeploy operators that were doing manual labour.”

The new automated plate freezing system improved throughput and reduced manual handling requirements.

Patented innovation to meet consumer demand
Cool Off’s patented plate freezing technology was the product of intelligent engineering and problem solving – resulting in an increase in plate freezing capacity by 120 per cent. The technology and innovation around the plate-freezer design was developed together with VK Logic, a business with a growing reputation for “out of box” thinking for large and small projects alike.

The plant is in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week as there is significant demand for the product. With consumer demand continually increasing, Cool Off was recently awarded a government grant to double capacity of the plant.

Edward Staughton, managing director of Cool Off and Staughton Group, highlights the significant advantages the company enjoys over international and domestic competitors via its technology: “The quality and freshness of red meat offal products collected from supplying abattoirs and delivered daily to Cool Off at Howlong is guaranteed via the unique chilling system installed at supplying abattoirs. This patented system was developed by Cool Off and VK Logic, using experience gained over 20 years of collecting offals from abattoirs located throughout Eastern Australia. The system ensures all product from abattoirs in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia can be delivered in any season over long distances and maintain its freshness.”

Staughton has inspected many plate freezing systems throughout Europe and America. “The development of our patented automated plate freezing system, in combination with the abattoir chilling system, has given the Cool Off production team a massive international competitive advantage in quality and processing efficiency,” said Staughton.

“Three staff are able to fill, freeze, palletise and warehouse 50 tonnes (pallets) of product in an eight hour shift, which, combined with freeze time of two and a half hours, ensures maximum freshness of all products. With the plate freezers being fully Cleaning in Place (CIP), cleaning time is minimal. I have seen nothing internationally that compares with this system.”

“Cool Off is highly appreciative of the combined efforts of VK Logic and Rockwell Automation in enabling the development, and now the ‘bedded down’ operation, of technologies which are unmatched by international competitors. Cool Off looks forward to working with both these innovative and progressive companies to roll out further R&D projects that currently sit in the company’s pipe-line,” said Staughton.

Why send 750 million soiled absorbent pads to landfill if there is a better way?

Reducing the use of packaging materials is one of the aspects that will help lead to a sustainable future. When re-designing plastic trays for ANZ’s fresh red meat sector, Sealed Air Australia ventured beyond “reduce” and found a way to “eliminate” the need for absorbent pads. Sealed Air’s Kevin Taylor is the APAC portfolio leader for the company’s trays, films and absorbents business. Here, Taylor spoke to Food & Beverage Industry News about some of the new technologies behind the latest meat-packing developments from the company.

Why was HydroLoQ developed?
While absorbent pads solve the problem of retaining product purge, they can also be problematic for food processors and our planet.

HydroLoQ was developed to eliminate lost time associated with pad related issues for moist protein Modified Atmosphere Packing (MAP) applications that are estimated to contribute to three per cent of overall down time. Furthermore, pads comprise ‘end of life’ challenges. In fact, each year, more than 750 million absorbent pads used across ANZ’s fresh red meat sector end up in landfill.

Meat discolouration is also a challenge for retailers. Meat in direct contact with an absorbent pad is not experiencing the full colour preserving benefits of the surrounding modified atmosphere and thus can undergo product discolouration causing subsequent product mark downs.

Furthermore, the removal of the pad eliminates any risk of ingesting the contents of the pad if it leaks.

What were some of the issues when developing the products?
MAP technology has been used for more than 20 years. Forgetting what we already knew and addressing supply chain challenges with a fresh view was one of the biggest challenges. Understanding surface tension science and redefining absorbency requirements for MAP applications was critical to success.

The shape of the base design was important. Not only was it required to hold a specific volume of purge, but it could not leave any imprint or indentation on the protein which would lead to consumer rejection and product mark downs. This problem was overcome with some adjustments to tooling.

HydroLoQ is a recyclable pack. How hard was that to incorporate into the design?
All Cryovac polypropylene trays are recyclable in accordance with the APCO PREP tool. It was important in the redesign that the tray components did not compromise this. Also important was ensuring that the new design did not require the use of additional resin to perform suitably across the supply chain.

Sealed Air’s Cryovac brand food packaging is renowned for maintaining freshness and reducing food waste. Does HydroLoQ still enable this?
Yes. Cryovac HydroLoQ continues to deliver high oxygen barrier performance to keep proteins fresh across the supply chain. We all know extended shelf life means a less wasteful food supply chain. With HydroLoQ, the processor benefits by eliminating pad related downtime and product contamination due to pads breaking open during packing. Estimates suggest 500kg of meat is removed from the supply chain and down-graded to pet food every time pad related contamination occurs.

Is HydroLoQ 2025 ready?
Absolutely. HydroLoQ is fully recyclable and has no separable components that consumers need to work with. Each tray contains up to 8g of recycled resin that is recovered from Sealed Air’s “Zero Waste” tray making facility based in Tullamarine, Victoria.

How is the introduction of HydroLoQ impacting the Tullamarine plant, which also produces absorbent pads?
Sealed Air’s sustainability vision is ‘to protect, to solve critical packaging challenges, and to leave our world better than we found it’. In this case, developments such as Cryovac HydroLoQ changes the way we do things and allows our processors and supply chains to evolve. The sustainable advantages for our processors and planet are significant.
After all, HydroLoQ allows us to leave our planet better than we found it.

What has the feedback from clients been like?
Soiled absorbent pads dampen the consumer experience. Because consumers dislike touching a soiled absorbent pad, they avoid separating the pad from the tray and dispose of fully recyclable trays to landfill.

This tray is the first of its kind into Australia’s retail environment. Customer acceptance has been positive and Cryovac HydroLoQ can be found at retailers including Aldi and Coles. At this stage, retail acceptance has been limited to fresh red meats, but proteins including poultry and seafood are also on the radar.

Brand owners can also leverage a strong sustainability story by making the switch to HydroLoQ and meet consumers’ growing demands for sustainable packaging.

What makes these products different from similar offerings in the marketplace?
This tray design is new for ANZ, and padless tray formats have been used in Europe.
This is the first padless barrier tray used for ANZ’s modified atmosphere packaging market. The base design not only retains purge, but offers additional rigidity which is an important design parameter for our distribution chain. Rigidity is also important for packs using retail lidding film – get them both wrong and lid film energy can distort the shape of the tray.

Is there a limit to the size of the produce that can be used with these products?
We have matched the retention capacity of the base of the tray to the current retailer specifications for the products the trays are used for. Water purge for poultry is higher because it uses water chilling technology and subsequent tray designs will take this into account.

The rise and rise of plant-based proteins

According to Trent Duvall, 20 years ago the food and beverage processors and manufacturers controlled the narrative in relation to what foods and drinks were consumed by customers. Then, it shifted to the retailers. Today, it is consumers that are running the show. And if you are a manufacturer of food and beverage goods, it’s advisable that you sit up and take notice of your customers like never before.

Duvall is the national sector leader, consumer and retail for KPMG, and was speaking to group of food and beverage primary producers at the FoodTech event held mid-year in Brisbane.

Consumers are becoming more discerning with regards to the healthiness of food, how it is packaged, and its effect on the environment, he said. Not only that, but his main point was that plant-based proteins are going to have a big impact on the food panorama over the next decade.

And Duvall is no vegetarian/vegan evangelist – he is a proud omnivore and likes nothing better than to tuck into a nice, juicy steak. However, he said the landscape is changing, with an anecdote from a recent trip to the US reinforcing the shift.

READ MORE: Plant proteins hot but meat not off the menu

“We went to Disneyland’s Adventure World, which was also home to the California Food and Wine Market Spring Fair,” he said. “There were stalls everywhere – different foods and produce. We walked past a stall that had this beautiful-looking burger patty with guacamole on top. I had to have one. For five minutes, myself and my wife and kids lined up to pay for one of these sliders – and they were to die for. Imagine the best burger you’ve had, the oil coming down the side of your hands. I looked across at my 10-year-old son – his was gone in a flash – nothing but a little bit of avocado left on the side of his face.
Perhaps the best slider I’ve had. It turned to be a plant-based slider. First time I’ve had one. And it was fantastic.”

Part of Duvall’s brief is to spot coming trends. He counsels those in the food and beverage processing and manufacturing space who are putting their company’s value chain together to respond to these trends and create opportunities for their companies.

While plant-based proteins are gaining popularity, there is still an issue getting the average punter to buy into the trend. Duvall gives the example of New Zealand’s Hell Pizza franchise, which released to market a burger-flavoured pizza. For the first four days it flew off the shelves – the market couldn’t get enough of them. They were selling out. Hell Pizza then announced that the meat wasn’t beef, it was made from plant-based protein.

“Social media went into meltdown, because people were saying to the company, ‘how could you lie to us?’” said Duvall. “There was no lying per se, it was just a burger-flavoured protein. We are going to see the same things coming through in the Australian market and they are going to be marketed as being better for you and less processed. And they are better for you in terms of less fats and higher protein content per gram.”

Not to be outdone, Domino’s in Australia has announced an exclusive partnership with a Queensland manufacturer to create plant based “meat” for its pizza toppings and plan to be the first pizza chain in Australia to launch alternate meat pizzas. Importantly they will be lower in saturated fat and higher protein than the comparable meat pizzas.

Long-term consumers of existing products need not fear that their favourite food or beverage will be disappearing any time soon. The market for meats and processed foods is still strong. What Duvall is pointing out is that the younger generation of consumers is causing a change in the market and it behoves processors and manufacturers to be aware of these changes if they don’t want to get left behind. He cites the example of Shreddies, a popular cereal from Canada and the UK that was first produced in 1939, and was available in Australia.

“The packaging has now been changed – not only does it say ‘wholegrain’ in the top corner of the packet, it’s also now says ‘vegan’,” said Duvall. “So why is vegan important to our kids? It’s not. They don’t know that. But it is important to the mum that is buying it. Shreddies is repositioning itself in the market.”

And to reiterate the point, Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) also know that customers – again primarily the younger generation – will be the ones making choices about what they will be consuming. MLA’s marketing campaign is concentrating on animal health and welfare, environmental sustainability and nutrition. The three questions mentioned in the MLA’s current marketing campaign are:
• What’s the consumer talking about?
• What does the consumer want?
• How do we market to that?

The consumer is now the centre of attention. They are now digitally and data enabled and they’re the ones that are influencing trends, said Duvall.

“The consumer is influencing the government by what they say on social media,” said Duvall. “They are influencing the manufacturers by what they want and it is influencing the retailers and how they are going to get it. And it is about what is good for them. However, what is good for one consumer might be different from the other.”

One of the more interesting trends that Duvall talked about was the introduction of molecular alcohol – not one for the purists. Rather than distilling, makers of alcoholic beverages are using this technique to create a beverage quickly, compared to traditional methods.

“A 20-year-old malt whiskey can be reproduced almost overnight,” said Duvall. “Same with vodkas, same with gins. That is where technology’s going. Will the consumer buy it? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe a consumer likes that fact their whiskey has been distilled or aged for 20 years. Others might be interested in the newer version because of the price point, or because it is a different style of product they see as being good for them.”

“Big and small companies are doing different things to drive innovation to meet what the consumer demands and needs,” said Duvall.

And another technology that has been mentioned recently in Food & Beverage Industry News (September issue) is 3D printed food. Duvall compared 3D printing technology to where Nespresso coffee machines were 10 years ago.

“In the space of a couple of years, with the product positioned at the right point, Nespresso has made its way into many homes,” he said. “You go back 10 years, nobody would have thought to put a Nespresso machine in their house. There has been a rapid change in how we consume coffee. Printing your food using a pod and having a machine that can do that in every house is probably not that far away.”

The last point Duvall wanted to make on coming trends was to do with the state of consumers themselves. There are those who are more carnivore than vegetarian, while most people lie somewhere in the middle. However, he said that there is a growing number of flexitarians, those who generally engage with eating plant-based foods, but still include meat in their diet.

“They are people like me who like meat but will try a lot of alternatives,” he said. “And it might be part of my diet because generally it might be good for you. There has been an acceleration of change in terms of the products that are coming to our supermarkets in the last year. In the last six months alone it has rapid. Those different alternative proteins and foods are rapidly changing. In 12 months’ time, there will be a proliferation of those types of products in the market.”

CEO of Kurrajong Kitchen Lavosh wins gold in New York City

Karen Lebsanft, CEO and co-founding director of the Kurrajong Kitchen Group, manufacturers of Australia’s premier flatbread, the Kurrajong Kitchen Lavosh, has been honoured with the Gold Lifetime Achievement Award at the Stevie Awards for Women in Business in New York this week.

The Stevie Awards for Women in Business honour women executives, entrepreneurs, employees and the companies they run – worldwide. Karen was the only Australian finalist, and ultimate winner, in the Lifetime Achievement Award category.

Nicknamed the Stevies for the Greek word for “crowned”, the awards were presented to winners on November 15th during a dinner event attended by more than 550 people at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City.

“To win this award is such a thrill. It has been years of hard work, determination and commitment that has seen Kurrajong Kitchen reach the success it has back home in Australia. To be recognised for that success means so much to my husband, our family and the wider Kurrajong Kitchen team,” said Lebsanft.   

“I’ve been very upfront about the challenges 2019 has thrown our way, with rising flour prices as a result of the drought and changes in the political landscape but we remain 100% committed to keeping our business manufacturing and employing onshore for as long as possible,” she concluded.

Established in 1993, Kurrajong Kitchen began as a small restaurant in the Hawkesbury town of Kurrajong, NSW. The flatbread they served to customers quickly grew in popularity to become an award winning Lavosh stocked across major supermarkets nationally. Expansion was needed to meet the demand from customers, suppliers and the catering industry and the company relocated to a larger site in Windsor, NSW in 2001.

Conveyor components designed to increase productivity

Marbett is one of several Rexnord global brands with production facilities in Italy offering a range of complementary conveyor components to meet a factory’s application requirements. Whether it is a chain guide, product handling, frame support, or balancing and supporting components, Rexnord has the parts to optimise a conveyor system.

When it comes to providing highly engineered products that improve productivity and efficiency for product-handling applications, Rexnord offers a portfolio of MatTop and TableTop conveyor chain and Marbett conveyor components. These solutions are designed to continuously improve productivity for customers in a variety of industries including automotive, food, beverage, warehouse/distribution and container handling. For instance, Rexnord’s FlatTop chain performance is maximised when used with low-friction, low-wear Rexnord Marbett chain guide-return solutions.

The Marbett product line can be split into application segments:

Chain guide components
• low wear for extended chain and wear strip life;
• low friction for low chain pull and energy savings;
• high-speed capability for increased productivity and optimised performance;
• bi-material return rollers for reduced noise and high-speed capabilities; and
• low total cost of ownership through reduced downtime, maintenance and replacement costs.

Product handling components
• low friction roller side guides increase efficiency by preventing costly container damage and discards due to product tippage;
• specific profile design to ensure product stability and throughput; and
• ideal for container, package and beverage handling applications.

Frame support components
• modular design eliminates need for welding, minimises assembly time and reduces conveyor construction costs;
• strong and rigid design with declared mechanical values;
• high-performance materials designed to meet the most demanding and unique applications;
• easy-to-clean design meets sanitation requirements; and
• high corrosion and chemical resistance.

Supporting and levelling elements
Different materials in plastic or steel, fixed or articulated, with or without gripper base and vibration absorbing feet.

Self-aligning bearings
Square, oval, pillow-block, side flange and multiple other variations, with open or closed options, waterproof housing, capable of compensating misalignment up to two degrees.

Miscellaneous
A range of fixtures and fittings, from hinges to locks to roller transfer plates.

Avoid unplanned downtime
Nothing costs a business like unplanned downtime. When a conveyor belt goes down, the entire operation grinds to a halt. Rexnord’s specialised components are built to withstand common issues like belt degradation, abrasive wear, and belt damage caused by high heat and sanitising procedures. Its conveyer products are designed to help users avoid unplanned downtime, improve energy and water consumption, maximise productivity, reduce waste, and increase safety. They are easy to install and operate, with the company’s highly engineered conveying solutions designed to extend the life of components, while offering smooth running conveying conditions.

Why the food packaging industry needs to sell itself better

Keith Chessell is a packaging evangelist. Being in the industry for the best part of 50 years, he was there at the beginning when consumers and manufacturers alike knew that packaging sustainability was going to be an issue going forward for many industries, including food and beverage. He was there when the Keep Australia Beautiful campaign was launched and knows that the image of the packaging industry isn’t what it could be.

As well as being a consultant at Sustainable Packaging Design, Chessell is also heavily involved with the Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) and the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) – you could say that packaging and all its issues are in his blood.

Generically, packaging doesn’t have the greatest of reputations among consumers these days. At best, it’s seen as a necessity to transport products from the factory to the retail outlet, while others at the other end of the spectrum see it as an unnecessary pollutant that chokes our waterways, oceans, parks and other recreation areas.

Being in an industry for five decades gives Chessell a unique insight into the issues, not just on what they are now, but how far the industry has come. And while he’s not about to sell packaging as a brilliant accessory to human endeavours, he said that the industry itself needs to do a better job of informing the public of its true role in the wider scheme of things.

At a recent SAI Global Food Safety conference held in Sydney, Chessell outlined some of the issues facing the packaging industry. One of the key discussions at the moment is in the area of reducing packaging. For example, Chessell compares opening up some toys to that of unpacking a piece of IKEA kit. While some may nod in agreement, a large number of companies have spent years reducing the amount of packaging in a product – not that the public would know.

“The focus from many in industry over the past 20 years has been on removing and reducing packaging where possible,” said Chessell.

“ Some companies are now at the stage where they have reduced everything they can. I can remember eight years ago saying, ‘I can’t take any more out of my packaging with my products’. If the boss wants me to save another $2 million, I’ll start having other issues, such as maintaining the integrity of the packaging.”

Chessell also pointed out that most companies now do not want to overpack a product because it is becoming economically unviable to do so. This is where it is necessary to start educating people on the why. He cites the examples of cucumbers and bananas that have plastic packaging.

“Why are some cucumber wrapped in plastic? I know the answer, but most people don’t. Why not put a sign above that cucumber saying, ‘We’re doing this because it extends the shelf life of this cucumber’. It’s the same with wrapped small bananas. People ask ‘why?’ Well, it protects the fruit, stops it from bruising and is designed to reduce food wastage and spoilage.”

However, lauding the innovations that packaging can sometimes have unintended, negative consequences. He talks about a recent entrant into the AIP’s Packaging Innovation and Design (PIDA) awards.

“One of the companies that entered this year’s awards was a fish company with a fabulous innovative pack that extended the shelf life by 15 days,” he said. “But the company chose to not communicate this significant benefit to the consumers on-pack as they did not want a perception that their fish wasn’t fresh. For this company by promoting the extension of shelf life to the customer potentially offered a negative connotation.”

And it’s when Chessell starts throwing out stats on food waste that you begin to appreciate his frustration at how packaging is undersold. Globally, 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted at an estimated cost of $1.3 trillion.

According to the National Food Waste Baseline Executive Summary, Australia generates about 7.3 million tonnes of food waste annually. Of that, 1.2 million tonnes is recycled, 2.9 million tonnes is recovered, while the remaining 3.2 million tonnes is disposed of at landfills. Households contribution is 34.3 per cent and primary production 31.3 per cent, while manufacturing comes in at third with 24 per cent. With figures like that, it is no wonder Chessell is passionate about reducing food waste.

“Unfortunately, many consumers see all packaging as a negative. They don’t see any useful purpose for it and don’t understand the true role of packaging. I believe we can change that if we start to communicate better to customers about why we use certain types of packaging. They might then understand there are other benefits of packaging if we start to put more information on our packaging.”

Are there other answers? How can food and beverage companies sell the role of packaging in the food chain to the public? How do we better communicate that packaging plays a huge role long before the pack needs throwing away once the food has been extracted? There are several things, according to Chessell, and it’s all about education, education and education.

Packaging’s main role is to contain and protect goods and keep them in perfect condition until they are consumed. It also carries important information on the label that gives insights into the ingredients. Adding the Australasian Recycling Label on-pack to communicate the true recyclability of the pack is also important.

The final part of the jigsaw is the on-pack communication, that allows the manufacturer to expound the virtues and benefits their food or beverage encompasses. These criteria need to be explained loudly and often, said Chessell. Getting the public educated is one way of reducing stigmas surrounding packaging, and Chessell points out the AIP itself is taking the initiative by developing a set of Save Food packaging design criteria for reducing food waste for the industry. This criteria includes improved barrier packaging and processing; retaining nutrition; active and intelligent packaging; utilising skin (vacuum), MAP and EMAP packaging formats; portion control packaging; easy opening/resealable packaging; and controlled dispensing, which will mean all the product will be consumed as opposed to leftover product being thrown out (i.e. sauce bottles etc).

Chessell believes that the AIP has started the conversation and he wants it to continue.
“Packaging is a difficult topic these days and the important question we need to ask is, ‘What is the consumer’s view on packaging and how can we help change the perception so that they start to understand that intuitive packaging can actually help minimise and prevent food waste?”

This is something the AIP and Chessell are well on the way to doing.

Coca-Cola soft drink and water brands now produced in 100 per cent recycled plastic

Coca-Cola Australia and Coca-Cola Amatil have announced that all Coca-Cola soft drink brands (600ml and below) and all water brands (600ml and below) in Australia are now being produced in 100 per cent recycled plastic bottles. This includes Coca-Cola, Sprite, Fanta, Mount Franklin and Pump.

This follows the announcement earlier in the year that Coca-Cola Amatil will make 7 out of 10 plastic bottles from 100 per cent recycled plastic by the end of 2019. Coca-Cola’s juice and dairy brands are on track to transition and complete the goal before the end of the year.

Committed to helping close the recycling loop, Coca-Cola Australia has also ramped up its efforts to promote recycling to all Australians, announcing its sponsorship of Planet Ark’s National Recycling Week, now in its 24th year.

Russell Mahoney, director of sustainability at Coca-Cola Australia said; “The plastic waste crisis is one of the most pressing issues of our time – one that we’re committed to help solve.

READ MORE: Sustainability at core of bulk oil business

“We know actions speak louder than words, which is why together with Coca-Cola Amatil we have made a landmark investment in recycled plastic in Australia to help support a viable domestic recycling economy.

“The other important piece of the puzzle is supporting initiatives that encourage Australians to recycle, which is why we’re proud to be working closely with Planet Ark as the major sponsor of National Recycling Week.”

As Australia’s biggest beverage company, Coca-Cola’s move to recycled plastic will significantly reduce the environmental impact of its operations; ensuring plastic from existing bottles is repurposed, while decreasing demand for new plastic.

Peter West, Managing Director of Australian Beverages at Coca-Cola Amatil, said: “Earlier this year we took our strongest step forward in reducing packaging waste by making recycled plastic the norm in 7 out of 10 products in our portfolio.

“Today we are well on track to meet that target and become a market leader in innovation as the first country in the world where all Coca-Cola bottles 600ml and under are made from recycled plastic.

“We’re meeting our target to bring our total use of recycled plastic to 16,000 tonnes this year,” Mr West said.

Ryan Collins, head of sustainability resource programs at Planet Ark and spokesperson for National Recycling Week said, “By using more recycled plastic and encouraging Australians to recycle, Coca-Cola is leading the way and taking responsibility for the end of life of its products. We know this will help stimulate a viable local recycling industry, enabling highly valuable material like PET plastic to be meaningfully repurposed.

“Just like Planet Ark, Coca-Cola does not want to see valuable resources go to waste. It’s a perfect match for National Recycling Week, and we’re thrilled to be working together for the first time this year,” Collins said.

China helps Murray River Organics grow

Murray River Organics today announced that exports of its products had increased by 27 percent year to date over FY2019 for the corresponding period and anticipates this trend will continue for the rest of FY2020.

China has been a major contributor to the increase, with sales to Chinese customers more than doubling in FY2020 since the same time last year, as MRG leverages the increasing demand in China for healthy foods.

Chief executive Valentina Tripp said there is more potential for MRG to grow exports to China following MRG’s recent launch on the WeChat platform in October 2019.

“WeChat is a very powerful tool used by more than a billion users each month which enables us to communicate directly with Chinese consumers, build brand awareness and share the Australian Organic Dried Vine Fruit provenance story as the largest Dried Vine Fruit grower in Australia,” Tripp said.

READ MORE: Of seahorses, eczema and organic food

MRG has been able to increase its market share [in Asian markets] with the introduction of its new branded product range across Greater China and South East Asia, which is part of the company’s “Taking Australia to Asia” growth strategy which was launched in 2018.

With ongoing concerns about food safety in Asia MRG believes Australia’s trusted clean and green reputation is also helping it to win new contracts.

The company has also re-entered the European market with high-quality Australian sultanas now being exported into the premium baking industries across Germany and Italy.

Tripp said that global demand for organic and conventional dried fruit remains strong and growing exports has been a major focus for MRG and the industry over the last 12 months.

“We have received significant support from Dried Fruit Australia, with its chairman, CEO and key board member, who are also growers, attending trade shows in China, Japan, Vietnam and Germany. They have been a great support in building international awareness of our high quality Australian sultanas. The feedback from those trade forums was that demand for Australia’s Dried Vine Fruit will continue to accelerate.”

Mars’ Heague returns home to take up GM role

Mars Incorporated has appointed a new general manager, Bill Heague, to lead Mars Food Australia.

Heague originally joined the Mars company in 2008 as sales manager for Mars Food Australia, the manufacturer of food brands such as Masterfoods, Uncle Ben’s, Dolmio, Kantong, Promite and Seeds of Change.

Following a successful five-year stint with Mars Food in Australia, delivering continuous growth and gains in market share, Heague relocated to Europe to take up the role of Market Director, Multisales, for Mars in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In this role, which was part of the newly formed Central Europe cluster, he played a central part in the transformation of the cluster and the integration of Wrigley into the Multisales business.

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Heague has managed Mars’ Irish Multisales business since 2018 in a challenging business environment which included managing the uncertainties generated by Brexit.

Heague said he is thrilled to be returning home to Sydney and taking up his new role with Mars Food Australia.

“I’m a foodie at heart and very excited about the major advances and significant challenges we are seeing in the food industry, both in Australia and around the world, and the innovation that our business can bring to the table,” Heague said.

“I’m a firm believer that dinner time matters, and we know that finding opportunities to cook and share meals with family and friends is good for both physical and mental wellbeing. It’s the foundation of our business, side by side with providing healthy, easy, affordable and tasty meal options.”

Heague will take up the new role from today, 1 November 2019, and is currently in the process of relocating back to Australia. He will be working out of Mars Food Australia’s head office and manufacturing plant at Wyong on the NSW Central Coast, and its satellite North Sydney office, from 13 November 2019.

Exploding meat and other new food technologies

There is a range of new technologies that are set to take the food and beverage industry by storm. We list what we believe will be the next big five technologies that will change the way food and bev does business.

Shockwave Technology
Being developed by Australia’s own CSIRO, shockwave technology is at proof-of-concept stage. The idea of shockwave technology for meat applications first came around in 1997 when scientists decided to put pre-packaged meat under water and detonate explosives to see if they could tenderise meat.
Shockwave technology is where high pressures are applied for a short time – micro seconds – to meat. In previous studies, 100gms of explosives, placed underwater, were used to tenderise meat. Scientists thought, ‘this is great, but how can we commercialise something with explosives?’
In 2001, dielectric discharge came into being, which helped recreate the shockwave. The technology uses two electrodes to generate a similar effect to the explosives. The scientists put voltage through the electrodes and the resulting arc causes very high pressure under water.
The CSIRO thinks it might cause tissue disintegration, which can accelerate the tenderisation of meat.
When it comes to modelling and pressure, scientists aimed to understand shockwave distribution in the treatment chamber and to identify the area of maximum impact. There was a tenderisation effect that was measured objectively using a Warner Bratzler shear test, where the peak force required to cut through treated meat samples is recorded. The CSIRO is now working towards optimising this effect.

Lab-Grown Meat
VOW in Sydney and Brisbane-based Heuros are two Australian companies who are delving into the lab-grown meat space. Using stem cells from animals, the two Australian firms join a growing number of enterprises around the world that are looking to make meat-based protein without using abattoirs. While progress has been relatively quick, none of the companies have been able to make lab-grown meat a commercial reality due to the costs of producing it. Apparently the growing of the meat is not an issue, but scaling up production is. However, once that issue is solved, the next one will be trying to persuade consumers how ‘natural’ the meat’s taste and texture can be. Watch this space.

Compostable Packaging
Not to be confused with its biodegradable cousin, compostable packaging is being worked on by an array of companies in the food and beverage space. The winner of this year’s Packaging Innovation category at the Food & Beverage Industry Awards was PA Packaging Solutions’ home compostable packaging that breaks down completely after 26 weeks in a home compost bin. The issue with biodegradable claims is that all items can wear that label, after all, every product is biodegradable – it’s just a matter of how long it takes; 1 year or a 1000. Compostable packaging is aiming to target the greenie in all of us. There are a couple of issues, one being the bigger a piece of compostable packaging becomes, the more compromised it is – ie, it has issues holding the weight of the contents.

Personalised Food
Not only is technology processing our food and drink faster, and getting it to market quicker, it will soon be able to customise individual food needs of consumers. In an era where allergies and intolerance to certain ingredients are growing, there will soon be a demand for foods that meet the requirements of individuals within a family as opposed to the whole family group. It will be a challenging prospect but already companies like Sunbasket and Platejoy are tapping into the healthy/organic arena with their offerings.

Data mining
Not strictly food and beverage-only related, but something that will be happening more as the world becomes more and more digitally connected. Whether it is a local café, or a multi-national food outlet like Starbucks or McDonalds, data is currency. AI will be the key driver as food manufacturers and the outlets they sell to try and find out more about the consumers of their products. Is the Venti big in Sydney’s western suburbs, or is it the Trenta? Where are most Big Mac’s consumed? Perth or Adelaide.

And while some may think that it has a feel of Big Brother about it, there is also an upside. It should lead to less food waste and packaging as certain sectors of the community can be targeted and their specific needs met without oversupplying a particular outlet.

 

Lessons in mass production

Socrates and his student, Plato, are a perfect example of how good leaders are shaped by observant students. Darcy Simonis, industry network leader for food and beverage at ABB, explains what can be learned from global manufacturing leaders such as China.

China, a leader in mass production, has firm plans to build upon its proud history by investing in the robotics and automation industry. However, because labor is plentiful, mass production is not always automated in China at present. Because China’s working-age population is falling significantly, labor costs are increasing by 15-20 per cent year on year, compared to only 1.6 per cent in the US. This opens opportunities for automation across all economies.

In 2014, the International Federation of Robotics announced that China was buying more robots than any other country each year, partly due to government funds as part of China’s five-year plan to develop intelligent manufacturing. This trend has continued, in 2015 China bought more robots than every European country combined. Generally speaking, Chinese manufacturers are choosing to buy robots from the same global suppliers as other countries, including ABB, despite there being a number of small Chinese robot manufacturers.

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“This trend is driven by the Chinese Government´s 2025 initiative to support automation. The country aims to become a leader in automation globally,” explained Joe Gemma, President of the International Federation of Robotics, in February 2017.

Given the clear manufacturing focus in several governments’ foreign policies, including UK and US policy, it’s clear that the progress China is making in automating mass production is something that many countries aspire to. But there is also a clear reciprocal relationship, just as there is with Plato and Socrates, which is allowing countries around the globe to benefit from technological advances.

History
Mass production became possible because technology and processes evolved to the point that it was not necessary for the majority of workers to be skilled. Three decades of economic growth towards the end of the last millennium was powered by the flow of labor from countryside to city in China. This was a direct result of automation allowing workers to move into manufacturing without retraining from their agricultural background.

Chinese entrepreneurship led to rural inhabitants starting their own manufacturing businesses in the 1980s. To take full advantage of economies of scale, similar entrepreneurs eventually pooled together in production areas and development zones. One good example of this is the city of Datang, where eight million socks are produced each year, one third of the world’s total.

Importing
As well as being a thriving hotbed of entrepreneurship, China is also the largest food and beverage market in the world, relying highly on imported goods. In an effort to produce more in the country, China’s 35,000 food processing and manufacturing plants are finding success by using automation in innovative ways. For example, by using automation controlled LED lighting and an innovative growth liquid, Jinpeng Plant Factory outside of Beijing grows up to 15 million seedlings a year in a 14,000-square foot area.

Even in the mass markets of China, automation is being used to great benefit. Reduction in production times, increases in accuracy and repeatability, less human error and increased safety are all benefits cited by Chinese plant managers. However, in keeping with Chinese tradition, automation is being used successfully in innovative, unusual ways to remarkable success.

“What you’re seeing is a really high level of investment in Chinese manufacturing, but most of this is not going to expanding capacity. It’s making the workers more efficient,” explained Andy Rothman, an economist in Hong Kong.

It would be possible to argue that China is the observant student, learning about automation from the rest of the world. Nevertheless, just as Plato was inspired by Socrates, global manufacturing would be wise to pay close attention to China’s progress over the next decade, perhaps the student will quickly become the master.

 

FCI ST80/ST80L mass flow meters

ST80 is a high-performance, rugged thermal dispersion technology air/gas flow meter that combines ultra-reliable, feature-rich electronics with the industry’s most extensive selection of application-matched flow sensors to provide a truly superior solution for industrial processes and plant applications. The ST80 further combines these features with a robust, rugged transmitter enclosure and industry’s broadest selection of process connections to provide longest service life and ease-of-installation in your installation’s pipe or duct.

The ST80 Series transmitter’s outputs are a match to your DCS, PLC, SCADA, recorder, or alarm system.  Whether your output needs are traditional 4-20 mA analogue or advanced digital bus communications such as HART, Foundation Fieldbus, PROFIBUS, or Modbus, ST80 has you covered.  Then for local display, the ST80’s graphical, backlit LCD is unmatched in showing what’s happening in the pipe. Flow rate, totalised flow, and temperature are continuously displayed in both a digital and bar graph presentation, while alarms and/or diagnostic messages will display as needed to alert operators.