Cookie Project unveils real person traceable packaging via QR code technology

New Zealand-based The Cookie Project has unveiled new packaging to help break down social stigmas around disabilities. A first in the country, the cookie packaging brings real person traceability to life via QR code technology, allowing consumers to meet their bakers.

Sustainably made from 100 percent recycled material, the packaging is designed to give the New Zealand public the ability to connect with and empower the disabled community.

Through personalised stickers for each baker on the back of the product, customers can scan a QR code via their own smartphone to discover who made their cookies, leave a message of encouragement and or request the baker to make their next batch of cookies.

The innovative packaging also furthers the social enterprise’s goal of providing employment pathways for its staff, with potential employers able to use the linked profile page as a platform to offer opportunities directly to the baker.

Knowing first-hand how complex understanding disabilities can be, co-founder Eric Chuah wanted to help educate the public by simplifying disabilities into four simple categories – sensory, physical, cognitive, and mental health. Each represented by a colour in the QR code, the public can learn more about the different types of disabilities when they scan the sticker.

Co-founder Graeme Haddon says, “We believe two key steps in breaking down social stigma for the disabled community is awareness and education. By making disability easier to understand, we hope this is the first step towards inclusion.”

Eric Chuah says, “Everything we do at The Cookie Project is human-centred around our bakers. We wanted our packaging to be a platform where customers and potential employers can connect with our bakers. We’re proud to help drive this conversation and show New Zealand that people with any type of disability can contribute to society and should be treated equally as such.

Quentin Van Heerden, managing director of Quentosity says, “For us, we want to play our part in helping to tackle discrimination in our society against people with disabilities. And so the key focus for Quentosity Digital Marketing Agency is to combine great design, with a great product, and critically, to encourage people to buy the cookies. We came up with a clean, attractive design, with emoji icons to embrace youth, whilst encompassing elegant, contemporary design elements.”

Handmade on-demand in the Eat My Lunch kitchen, The Cookie Project uses premium ingredients from Kiwi partners Lewis Road Creamery, Trade Aid and Pic’s Peanut Butter to make its products with no preservatives, additives or colouring.

The Cookie Project products will be available in New World Metro on Queen Street and other selected Auckland stores from September onwards, and rolled out nationwide later in the year.

 

Growth in premium livestock feeds spurs by-product demand

Livestock feed company, Castlegate James Australasia, is seeking to purchase greater volumes of by-products from food manufacturers, and establish new suppliers, due to strong growth in demand for its high-performance products.

Castlegate James Australasia has been working alongside the Australian food industry since 1923, buying by-products from large FMCG food and beverage companies and converting these organic ingredients into highly sought-after premium livestock feeds.
The company supports many of Australia and New Zealand’s most respected food industry suppliers and large-scale livestock producers, converting what some may see as surplus into nutritionally balanced, performance-based feeds for the dairy, cattle and sheep markets.

Castlegate James Australasia’s Group CEO, Steven Chaur, is a 30-year veteran of the Australian consumer food industry and claims the growth potential for re-purposing or upcycling food industry ‘by-product’ into high-performance livestock feed is both on-trend and exponential.

Importantly, demand for improved on-farm performance, animal welfare and feed reliability are driving interest in and sales of the company’s unique product offer on both sides of the Tasman.

“Each year across Australia and New Zealand, we will convert over 700,000 tonnes of consumer food by-product into quality livestock feeds that would otherwise not be consumed. The ingredients include high quality materials generated as part of a food production process such as production line trimmings or grade-outs, out of specification, over production or unused raw materials. It’s all perfectly good quality and safe but it can’t be used for consumer product and there is increasing pressure on food companies not to add to landfill.”

Many of the ingredients purchased for the company’s unique feed rations include packaged bread, biscuits, dough, yeast, vegetables and fruits, brewers’ grains, food grains and nuts, flour, dairy powders and even confectionery. These ingredients are then formulated by the company to make a unique balanced ration depending on the livestock application and farm productivity goal.

“Our nutritionally balanced feed is produced from high quality, consumer grade food product inputs and because it’s been already fully or partially processed, the ingredient digestibility and calorific value tends to be superior for livestock, relative to a conventional grains based stockfeed, delivering better energy, protein and fibre in a way that increases weight gain, marbling scores or improved milk production. It’s a joy to see livestock chasing the feed wagon. Even cattle like confectionery, in moderation, or the sweet smell of brewers grain.”

Castlegate James operates 10 high volume production facilities across Australia and New Zealand, servicing both suppliers and customers through fast lead-times and unique processes that can efficiently de-package retail ready or bulk packaged foods. The company is planning production investment in both Australia and New Zealand over the coming 3 years to meet increasing livestock customer demand, as well as pursing innovative new high value markets.

“Because a large amount of the by-product that we purchase is branded perishable food, our production sites tend to be state based close to both the customer and supplier, ensuring we can handle significant volumes reliably and operate a fast turnaround to ensure the best quality feed is delivered to our large-scale farm customers, who demand reliability and consistency. Critically, we ensure our suppliers can operate efficiently by providing a professionally managed and timely on-site collection service, as well as confidentiality in dealing with branded packaging materials.”

Demand is growing rapidly for the company as it continues to explore new sources of by-product supply from food manufacturers, food retailers and QSR franchise operators.
“Importantly, we are not a site services company so we don’t manage general waste. We are every bit a premium food manufacturing company, we just feed livestock instead of consumers. We pay a premium for the consumer food grade ingredients used in our livestock feeds and so we have high expectations on suppliers for reliable supply and quality. In turn, we provide a consistent commercial service to our ingredient suppliers.”
“It is a win-win relationship and we’re delighted to play a key role in helping to make a unique contribution to food industry sustainability and support an important livestock value chain,” Chaur said.

Coke campaign to reiterate recycling commitments

Coca-Cola Australia has launched a new campaign to thank Australians for recycling. It follows the announcement earlier this year that seven out of 10 of Coca-Cola’s range of drink bottles in Australia will be 100 per cent recycled plastic by the end of 2019.

In April, the company announced its largest ever investment in recycled plastic for drink bottles. The move means that all its plastic bottles, 600ml and under, will be made from 100 per cent recycled plastic by the end of the year. This includes all brands from Coca-Cola, Fanta and Sprite to Powerade, Pump and Mount Franklin.

The change also means that Australia will be the first country in the world where all Coca-Cola Classic bottles, 600ml and under, will be made from 100 per cent recycled plastic on an ongoing basis.

READ MORE: Coke funds initiative to tackle marine pollution

Director for sustainability at Coca-Cola Australia, Christine Black, said, “We are the largest drinks company in Australia and we have a responsibility to help solve the packaging problem. “Coca-Cola in Australia has made a significant commitment to investing in recycled plastic but there is more to do. Australians help every time they recycle a drink bottle.

“We want to see a strong, viable recycling industry in Australia and we can play our part by encouraging Australians to recycle and then to use recycled plastic in our bottles wherever we can. By recycling as often as possible, Australians can help us to use recycled plastic in our bottles.

“When a company as large as Coca-Cola combines our marketing expertise to encourage recycling with a commitment to using recycled plastic, our plastic bottles can become bottles again and again,” she said.

Understanding what products consumers want to buy

Most new products only get one shot at the big time when they are launched. All the money spent on marketing, promotions and ad campaigns can go down the gurgler if companies don’t do their due diligence on public perceptions, which can be fickle. Anybody remember Crystal Pepsi? McDonalds’ Arch Deluxe? How about Cosmopolitan yoghurt? Or New Coke?

Well, the last one is certainly seared into the memory banks due to it being a colossal failure back in 1985. The others, not so much. Bringing a new product to market is no easy task. It takes a lot of recipe tweaking, taste tests, and a fair bit of money. New Coke showed that even with the backing of a world-renowned brand, failure is possible.

A key ingredient is market intelligence. Formed in London 47 years ago, Mintel is a company that has pioneered research in many arenas including food and beverage. A conjoining of the words “market” and “intelligence”, Mintel has several consumer insight tools – the latest being Mintel Purchase Intelligence, which is product comparison technology, providing rapid, reliable consumer opinion on every reported new food and drink product in the Australian marketplace.

It was developed because the company knew that manufacturers of food and beverages not only wanted to know what consumers wanted to buy, but why.

“It was developed in-house to help food and beverage manufacturers understand which products consumers want to buy and which product attributes are correlated to a purchase decision,” said Mintel’s senior purchase intelligence analyst, Megan Stanton. “The tool goes beyond purchase intent with data and insight on the key attributes consumers care about. What attributes help them make those purchasing decisions? Quality, taste, the trustworthiness of a brand, how fun, exciting, or environmentally friendly are they – these are some of the 16 product attributes that consumers are asked to rate.”

Manufacturers can use Purchase Intelligence in many different ways. They can analyse how a group of products, a newly launched chocolate bar range for example, compares to the benchmark of chocolate bars already in market. This gives manufacturers an insight on why a new product might be underperforming, and then identify areas of improvement. There might be an issue with the packaging – maybe people just don’t like the look of it.

Perhaps, there is something fundamentally wrong with the way it’s getting their brand message across. This helpful feedback is available through the words of consumers who rate the products on the Purchase Intelligence tool. The other way Purchase Intelligence can be utilised is as a go-to market tool where a manufacturer can buy what Mintel calls “concept intelligence”.

“You can buy the information as ad hoc if you are launching a new product,” said Stanton. “It gives you the opportunity to have a pre-look at what consumers would say about your product before it launches to the public, as well as benchmark your concept against products that are already in the market.”

How does the information get collected, and how does the company get feedback? Mintel has shoppers throughout the different states who look for new products that are being launched. When they find the product, they send it to Mintel headquarters in London where all the information – packaging, nutrition, type of product – is photographed and recorded and added to Mintel’s Global New Product Database. The market intelligence agency then conducts surveys on the new product, with responses then filtered through to the Purchase Intelligence tool.

“We survey 100 people on each product, a statistically reliable number,” said Stanton. “The survey is always based on the general population in Australia. We make sure we use the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures to make sure that we have a representative population.

“For example, we make sure that the population represents a certain percentage from New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and other states, and we manage also for age and gender.”

Stanton said food manufacturers want to know about their products, and have an indication of the group of people who are going to buy their products. Purchase Intelligence will give them this information, as well as on other factors that will allow manufacturers to compare their product against that of their competitor’s.

“If a respondent says they would buy the product we ask them why,” said Stanton. “Conversely, if they say no, we ask them why, too. Then, we are able to filter and search through all that information to help manufacturers understand why the respondent has given a particular answer.

“There are 16 questions we ask – eg good value, quality, trustworthy brand, natural, and environmentally friendly etc to give us a gauge of what consumers think of a product. Then, we are able to correlate which of those attributes has a strong relationship to a purchase decision.”

Useful information that Purchase Intelligence will show manufacturers includes how many Australians have the intention to purchase their product; what attributes are correlated to a purchase decision; how does that product, or group of products, compare to their competitors, or how it compares to a category on the whole.

Mintel’s Purchase Intelligence tool enables manufacturers to analyse the numbers or explore thousands of verbatims to learn the context of purchase decisions directly from consumers.

And how do manufacturers feel about their product being on the database? Do they have any issues with it being compared to other, similar products?

“A lot of manufacturers are really interested in Mintel Purchase Intelligence,” said Stanton. “We’ve had a number of our manufacturing customers, including retailers, who are very interested in not only how their product is performing but their competitor’s products, too.”

Overall, the reaction in the market to the product intelligence tool has been good, said Stanton. And she believes its reputation will grow as it gets a foothold in the market research space.

“Mintel Purchase Intelligence has been very successful in the US and we’ve been there for just over three and a half years,” she said. “We launched the product intelligence tool in Australia in November of 2018 and we’ve had fantastic feedback.”

Digestive wellness on the rise among consumers

Ever since digestive health was dubbed a ‘mega-trend’ back in 2010, gut-health has been growing its influence in the scientific, nutrition and consumer arenas. Today, consumers are increasingly paying attention to their digestive health,. As understanding of digestive health grows, consumers are now recognising the wider benefits a healthy gut can have on their overall state of wellbeing.

Research shows that 63 per cent of consumers recognise that digestive health plays an extremely important role in their physical health and 57% in relation to their mood. As a result, feeling good is now the main driver for consumers wanting to improve their digestive health with 1 out of 3 consumers doing so to either feel more active or more relaxed. These findings illustrate how consumer mindsets are changing, with many having a much greater understanding of the wider benefits associated with digestive wellness.

The prebiotic effect
The role of the colon goes far beyond digestive health. This means that the influence of fermentable fibres, in particular ones that lead to a prebiotic fermentation pattern and positively support the microbiota, reach out to other parts of the body and influence hunger-satiety (energy intake), mood and much more.

BENEO’s inulin and oligofructose, are natural, non-GMO, clean label and clinically proven plant-based prebiotic fibres that are derived from chicory root via a gentle hot water extraction method, unlike some other fibres that are artificially or chemically made. They are the preferred nutrients for beneficial gut bacteria and therefore encourage positive modulation of the microbiota composition to take place. This in turn improves digestive health and inner wellbeing by supporting normal bowel regularity and a healthy gut microbiota by increasing beneficial bacteria. There is a comprehensive body of high-quality scientific studies (in excess of 150) available covering several of these aspects that confirm the health benefits of BENEO’s chicory root fibres. As well as a wealth of scientific studies, BENEO also has an exclusive EU health claim for its inulin in promoting digestive health.

Putting it into practice
There is clearly an appetite for products that promote good digestive health amongst consumers. Ingredients providers, such as BENEO, are creating very real ways for manufacturers to make the most of this trend. The wide range of drinkable and edible product ideas available from the BENEO-Technology Center, which incorporate prebiotic chicory root fibres for added health benefits, provide a wealth of opportunity for manufacturers which are looking to innovate

Of seahorses, eczema and organic food

After growing up on a property in Tasmania’s Tamar Valley and being involved in growing food from a very young age, Emma Greenhatch’s career was always going to involve food. How a nominee for Social Leader of the Year at the 2019 Women in Industry Awards came to be working in the Sunshine Coast after nearly a decade working for the Victorian Government in a range of food industry-related roles, is a compelling story.

“My daughter had severe eczema since she was a baby,” explained Greenhatch. “We had a holiday on the Sunshine Coast four Christmases ago and after a week in Mooloolaba, her skin was completely clear for the first time in her life. Despite having just moved from Gippsland to Central Victoria, the prospect of her not having to battle this condition made it an easy decision and off to the Sunshine Coast we headed.”

And it wasn’t as if there was a job waiting for Greenhatch when she arrived in sub-tropical South East Queensland.

“I was completely open to what I would be doing up here,” she said. “Before the Victorian Government, I had been involved in micro businesses, developing export markets for live seahorses believe it or not – so I have an affinity for small businesses and start-ups.”

After spending the first few months exploring the beautiful beaches and hinterland, Greenhatch was engaged by Food Innovation Australia (FIAL) to write their inaugural Celebrating Australian Food and Agribusiness Innovations book. One of the companies she interviewed was Gourmet Garden for their lightly dried herbs and their head of Innovation – Jacqui Wilson-Smith, who is a founder of the Food and Agribusiness Network (FAN) and the current chairperson – invited Greenhatch along to a FAN networking event in March 2016.

“I was amazed by the openness in the room that night. There was an energy that’s hard to describe until you attend a FAN event. Collaboration has become such a buzz word but here it was happening right in front of me and it was real. I was so inspired that I joined the FAN board as a director for six months, before moving into an operational role and being appointed general manager,” said Greenhatch.

Established by the industry for the industry, FAN is a not-for-profit food industry cluster that has been operating for 3.5 years. It was founded on the basis of larger food companies “giving back” by sharing their knowledge, experience and resources with small businesses.

FAN’s mission is to empower the food industry to grow together, and today, they have 280 members from across the Greater Sunshine Coast including input suppliers, growers, manufacturers, retailers and service providers. Greenhatch said that this is purposeful because if the industry is growing, then the whole value chain is growing. This has a positive ripple effect throughout the wider economy. On clusters, Greenhatch says that they can address opportunities and develop solutions to problems that individual businesses may not be able to solve on their own. They foster a culture of co-opetition, where businesses simultaneously compete and collaborate in non-threatening areas.
Europe has a long history of businesses clustering, in Australia it is relatively new.

Greenhatch is excited about the prospect of FAN creating a sustainable cluster model that can be used as a benchmark for new clusters starting out.

“For the first two years, we focussed on building a culture of collaboration by bringing members together as much as possible to learn and share. As relationships and trust developed among members, they started working together and coming up with ideas for FAN programs and services. An example of this is 10 of our members share a national relationship manager who helps them to increase their sales and distribution.”

There have been hundreds of member collaborations – everything from developing new products and utilising each other’s waste, to sharing freight and supporting each other at trade shows.

This time last year FAN was very much in start-up phase, with the majority of FAN’s revenue coming from FAN’s members, sponsors and partners. It was fortunate to receive matched industry funding under FIAL’s Cluster Programme, which has transformed the business. It has gone from a team of two to six and expanded its member services.

One of these was Meet the Makers, FAN’s own mini tradeshow that was held in March this year. More than 400 people attended this event to sample products from 65 FAN members and hear their stories.

Although FAN is not-for-profit, Greenhatch sees it as an entity similar to an SME. And it’s not just because of the size of the cluster, but also the similar dynamics that both it and small businesses share.

“We are a small business like 85 per cent of our members. It is a rewarding job going on the journey together because we really understand the challenges of running and growing a small business,” she said.

FAN has had a strong community of supporters from the outset including local councils, corporates and research organisations.

“We are led by our industry members but those relationships with different levels of government and other industry stakeholders is vital,” said Greenhatch. Not only do they contribute funding that helps FAN to grow, they offer many programs and services that are relevant to our members. And because we work so closely with our members, we can provide valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities that our food and agribusiness industry is facing and play an important advocacy role.”

Greenhatch says that critical to FAN’s success has been retaining an industry-led focus, consistently engaging with members and being very agile to quickly respond to an opportunity or member need. “We have a whiteboard wall in our office that’s covered in ideas from our members and we always have members popping in to our office at the Big Pineapple to share their news and ask for help.”

When asked what she loves most about her role, Greenhatch was quick to respond. “The people. The food industry is so diverse and full of incredible businesses and individuals with stories that most people never get to hear. We do and it’s such a privilege to be in a position to share these. We also have a unique opportunity to influence how the industry grows. We have recently formed a partnership with EPIC Assist to support more people with disabilities to work in the food and agribusiness industry.

“I believe that clusters like FAN are key to ensuring that we have a healthy, competitive and sustainable food industry into the future. In the words of Helen Keller: ‘Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.’”
www.womeninindustry.com.au

Sustainability at core of bulk oil business

While food safety is first and foremost a priority, conscientious consumers are increasingly calling for products that also meet rigorous environmental standards.

For nearly 20 years, Cookers Bulk Oil has placed sustainability at the core of its operations. The company has made it its mission to minimise its impact on the environment at every step of the supply chain. This is not just a case of making sure it reduces the amount of waste it creates, but that its running operations are also made as sustainable as possible.

With this in mind, the company provides a complete oil management solution across the broader food services industry. Its diverse customer base ensures it is able to service small to medium businesses, right through to major corporations, with high-quality cooking oils that meet industry standards. This includes an array of outlets that serve the food and beverage industry, such as restaurants, casual dining, cafes, takeaway, hotels and fast food establishments.

The two major products sold by Cookers are canola oil and a premium frying oil branded XLFRY Oil. In addition to a suite of other products, the company is able to manufacture blends that can suit the needs of individual customers.

The businesses’ lifecycle solution sees it source fresh Australian oil that meets industry standards. It delivers the oil via a fleet of trucks, which also pick up used oil that is converted into other, reusable commodities, such as biodiesel.

Garry Nash, general manager of sales at Cookers Bulk Oil, said the business initially started out with a focus on kitchen efficiencies. Over time, Cookers Oil increased its scope with recyclable solutions for oil management as sustainability became a focus for procurement.
“It’s really important for our customer base that they not only know where their oil has come from, but also where it’s going,” said Nash.

“When we pick up customers’ oil, they know that it’s coming back to our depots to be refined and given a second life in the biodiesel industry. That full circle approach helps a business understand and implement best practice.”

The company works with Australian oil manufacturers to refine products locally. One of the company’s key offerings is the use of storage units instead of tins, preventing 300 tins from ending up in landfill for each truck of oil delivered. Nash said that there are a couple of benefits to this outcome – less impact on the environment, plus cost savings by not having to pay gate fees at the local landfill.

“Procurement teams in this day and age want a more sustainable approach to how they deal with their oils,” he said. “So, the fact that our model removes packaging and tins of oil from the supply chain is a really big tick.”

Each delivery is accompanied with a certificate of analysis to support traceability for customers. Food service organisations are supplied with purpose-built storage units and a business development manager to meet their requirements.

“We batch track every drop of oil that we deliver knowing the date we delivered it, what the product was and what the batch was, all the way back to when we received it.”

Cookers’ key point of differentiation in the food market is that it holds Safe Quality Food (SQF) accreditation for oil supply in Australia. SQF is a globally recognised food safety program that reinforces its commitment to safety standards in the industry.

Nash said SQF holds Cookers to a high account for its product traceability – an issue that has become topical with product recalls. He says product dilution is also another food industry issue that Cookers seeks to alleviate with transparent processes, as the company allows unannounced audits.

“Our business policy is our doors are always open to our customers and that means if they were to knock on the door unannounced, our warehouses can be walked through and viewed by anyone at any time and that is a requirement of SQF,” he said.

“It’s one thing to have a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) certification, but we feel that SQF is one step above that.”

Cookers also holds an International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC). ISCC covers comprehensive sustainability requirements to monitor greenhouse gas emissions and ensure products are traceable and produced in an environmentally responsible manner.

The used oil that returns to the depots is decrumbed, dewatered and heat treated to create a finished product sold off into biodiesel.

The company ensures its own operations are sustainable by harvesting and reusing rainwater at its sites, measuring and analysing its greenhouse emissions and using a wind turbine at its head office to supply 30 per cent of its factory power needs.

“We don’t just talk about sustainability, but live it and breathe it as a business ourselves,” Nash said. Nash also said that Cookers offers a national footprint with nine depots across Australia and the same service model and offering available around the country.

He said that Cookers Bulk Oil will continue to evolve its business to ensure it keeps pace with the ever changing industry practises and expectations.

“We think the amount of experience we have in the industry, and the investment that’s gone into the business to attain the certifications we do have, ensures customers can be comfortable that we will look after their oil management,” Nash said.

Palm oil-free certification trademark goes global

The Palm Oil-Free Accreditation Program (POFAP) has launched the world’s first Palm Oil Free Certification Trademark in Australia. Now, two years on, POFCAP celebrates its second birthday with 1,088 products having been Certified Palm Oil Free with hundreds more currently under assessment. The trademark is approved in 19 countries – Australia, Scotland, Spain, N. Ireland, Austria, England, Wales, Sweden, the USA, Italy, France, Finland, NZ, Singapore, Norway and India with three others to be announced soon.

Jabrick – the cheeky little orang-utan featured on the certification trademark who was herself a victim of deforestation, will soon be seen on packaging globally.

Since inception, there have been many World Firsts for POFCAP. In particular, the world first assessments of a Vegetable Oil Producer and Manufacturer (MSM Milling/Australia), a Vitamin Brand (Viridian Nutrition/England), a ‘Free From’ Snack Company (Enjoy Life Foods/ USA), an Infant Formula (LittleOak/NZ), a Café (El Piano/England), a Cooking School (Squaw Pies/Scotland), a Cosmetic Brand (Sugar Venom/Australia), a Skincare Brand (Amaranthine/Scotland) and a Raw Material Manufacturer (Afyren/France).

READ MORE: Nestle pledges to user only certified sustainable palm oil

Palm oil use is widespread with the majority of supermarket products containing either palm oil or one of its many thousands of derivatives. The topic evokes robust discussion around both health and environment. With over 80 per cent of palm oil being produced unsustainably the concerns surrounding the impact on rainforests, wildlife and the climate crisis has seen many more people seeking products which are genuinely palm oil free, but, unless the product has been assessed by an independent and approved certification program it is almost impossible to tell which palm oil free claims are correct as many are not.

About the International Palm Oil Free Certification Trademark (POFCAP)
POFCAP the only International Palm Oil Free Certification Trademark in the World launched in Australia in late 2017 and is now Global with approval to certify brands in 20 countries. POFCAP assesses products as to their palm oil free status. Two of the programme’s aims are to assist consumers who wish to avoid palm oil for allergy, dietary or ethical reasons when shopping for genuine, independently assessed palm oil free products and distribute 100% of profits to POFCAP’s Partner NGOs working to protect rainforests

Xplanar streamlines drive systems for the modern era

The ground-breaking XPlanar system from Beckhoff offers boundless potential for streamlining production machines and plant design. It utilises planar movers that float freely over floors of planar tiles that can be arranged in any kind of pattern.

What characterises the new XPlanar drive system is that it is based on the principle of flying motion. Like the XTS linear transport system, XPlanar is much more than just a drive system – it’s a solution designed to make product transport flexible. Compared to XTS, XPlanar adds movement in a second dimension and allows the movers floating over floor tiles to overtake one another and to be held in buffer zones or to bypass them. The free-floating planar movers also have a further important advantage – because of the contactless drive principle, they are silent and completely wear-free.

So, what kind of functionality does this system provide for implementing transport tasks?
“Basically, a transport system simply moves products from one processing station to the next – from A to B, then from B to C, from C to D, and so on,” said Prüßmeier. “With XPlanar, these stations need neither to be in a linear arrangement, nor visited in a fixed sequence.

This means that a given product need only travel to those stations that are essential for processing it. By incorporating the second dimension, XPlanar opens up several other options, too, including the ability to discharge individual movers from the production flow, or to create special waiting zones in order to optimise processing sequences. Enabling faster movers to overtake slower movers is also important, as it allows sub-processes to be executed swiftly, in parallel. Not only is each planar mover controlled individually, as a single servo axis, it can also be synchronised precisely with other movers if necessary.”

The movers can also travel with six degrees of freedom. They not only travel to processing stations, they can also move into them. They can turn, rotating the payload they are carrying through all three axes so that it can be processed or inspected easily from any side. The movers can also be raised or lowered slightly and even tilted. For example, a little tilt can be useful to prevent spills when accelerating quickly while carrying a container full of liquid.

In spite of all the complex motion options that XPlanar supports, the system is simple to set up and deploy from a user standpoint.

“Right at the start of the development process, we decided it was important that the system should be highly integrated and that users would only have to plug in two cables – one for data communication over EtherCAT G and another for power supply,” said Prüßmeier. “As a result, all other functionality has been fully incorporated into the modules. Design-wise, they are also extremely compact – the distance between the working surface of each planar tile and the carrier frame beneath it is just 4cm.”

The system builds on one basic component – a planar tile measuring 24 x 24cm. The tiles can be arranged in any floor or track layout. In addition to this standard tile, there will be another version in the future, identical in shape and size, over which planar movers can rotate through a full 360 degrees – that is to say, infinitely. The movers available differ only in terms of their size and their load-carrying capacity. They currently range from 95mm x 95mm for payloads up to 0.4kg, through to 275mm x 275mm, for a maximum payload of 6kg.

The TwinCAT software also plays a key part in the system’s ease of use.

“Our main objective is to make sure that users find the planar motor system easy to manage,” said Prüßmeier. “In TwinCAT, the planar movers appear as simple servo axes, capable, in principle, of supporting all six degrees of freedom. However, given that the degree of flexibility available with six axes is not always needed from a practical perspective – or, at least, not throughout the XPlanar system – TwinCAT provides a way to reduce this complexity. It does this by representing each mover as a one-dimensional axis capable of optional additional movements in other dimensions – lifting, tilting and turning, for instance – that are available when it reaches a processing station. This means it’s enough, initially, to just set the desired route, or track, across the XPlanar floor. This simplifies operation significantly.”

And how important is TwinCAT Track Management when implementing complex motion sequences?

A key factor in XPlanar’s flexibility is that its ability to transport products is not confined to the aforementioned single tracks, according to Prüßmeier. Users can define additional tracks, and movers can switch between them. To keep things simple for users, even when operating multiple tracks, TwinCAT offers Track Management, a user-friendly tool designed to support complex motion sequences, including the ability to overtake slower movers on the same track, or to accumulate movers in waiting zones. To do this, it allows users to define parallel lanes, bypasses, or tracks to other plant areas on the XPlanar floor.

Track Management allows movers to switch smoothly from one track to another via a short parallel segment. All this takes is a “switch track” command, without users having to deal with the specifics of merging in and out of the flow, or avoiding collisions. Movers can also be positioned with freedom, without having to follow any preset tracks. Using Track Management, they are sent to specific coordinates within the defined XPlanar floor space – again, without any risk of colliding with other movers.

According to Prüßmeier, there are plenty of advantages for the users for building a XPlanar floor from individual tiles.

“Here, too, we put flexibility front and centre,” he said. “The tiles can be arranged in any shape – and even wall- or ceiling-mounted – so the XPlanar system can be configured to perfectly suit a given application’s requirements. For instance, you can leave gaps within the tiled floor to accommodate processing stations, or lay tracks around plant components. This means users can set up a transport system in a cost-optimised fashion and, at the same time, reduce machine size to a minimum. In addition, it’s easy to modify the planar motor system subsequently just by adding more tiles when necessary, that is, to accommodate new processing stations or gain extra space to optimise motion through curves.”

And how can users best exploit this innovation’s potential? According to Prüßmeier, XPlanar opens up new avenues in machine and system design. Users need, literally, to experience the system’s new possibilities hands-on in order to grasp them, so at market launch Beckhoff is offering easy-to-use starter kits, just as it did with XTS.

“These consist of 6 or 12 planar tiles installed on a carrier frame, along with 4 movers and a small control cabinet with an industrial PC, complete with preinstalled software, and the requisite electrical components,” said Prüßmeier. “This offers machine builders an ideal basic kit on which to trial XPlanar in their own environments and then go on to use later in real-life applications. In addition, offering this kind of preconfigured system makes it a lot easier for the Beckhoff support staff to answer any questions that might arise.

Prüßmeier also said that there are almost no limits on using it with production plants and machines. The only requirement is that a product’s weight and volume are within the limits of what the planar movers can carry. Where this applies, users can benefit from all the system’s flexible positioning capabilities. These are particularly interesting in sectors with special requirements in terms of hygiene and cleanability, zero emissions, or low noise.

This is the case in the food and pharmaceuticals industry, as well as in laboratory environments or processes that require a vacuum (in semiconductor production, for instance). The latter two sectors in particular can benefit from the fact that products are carried on floating movers, abrasion- and contamination-free. Depending on the needs of a given application, users can also apply plastic, stainless-steel foil or glass plates to the XPlanar surfaces to make them easy to clean without residue.

XPlanar was first exhibited at the SPS IPC Drives show in Nuremberg in November 2018, with the product attracting interest among visitors.

“It also spawned lots of ideas for possible applications, because many users have been looking for a flexible solution to solve specific transport problems in their production facilities for years now,” said Prüßmeier.

He gives an example from food processing.

“In the production of high-quality confectionery, there are always minor deviations in the colour of chocolate coatings,” he said. “This is not a problem as such, provided there’s no variance within individual boxes of chocolates. However, at a production rate of 100 chocolates per minute, selecting 10 individual chocolates with the same colour for each pack is difficult using conventional means. It would require using several pick-and-place robots to check and sort all the chocolates, which would be costly in terms of time, floor space and throughput rate. The problem can be solved much more efficiently using individually controlled planar movers operating on a single floor. Movers transporting individual chocolates could easily sort themselves at the end of the production line according to the chocolates’ particular shade of colour. Or, if movers were designed to carry an entire box at once, each mover could automatically travel to the system ejection point for the appropriate colour of chocolate to pick up the products. Both of these approaches could be implemented much faster and, importantly, with lower space requirements than, for example, the robot solution I mentioned.”

Beckhoff has already received specific inquiries from the laboratory automation sector, where there’s interest in maximising the flexibility of analyses. For the most part, samples are tested for the same substance content, but less common analyses also need to be carried out for the purpose of individualised diagnostics.

Even with mass analysis methods, XPlanar offers a way to extract individual samples; it also creates additional quality assurance advantages by making it easy to discharge or exchange particular samples. There’s similar demand in the cosmetics industry, too. For example, in one particular case, fragrances need to be filled into selectable, customer-specific bottles that are individually labelled and packaged.

“The main difference is that the XPlanar movers don’t need a mechanical guide rail, so the system offers greater flexibility in terms of movement,” said Prüßmeier. “At the same time, though, the mechanical guidance in XTS can be an advantage. Compared to the magnetic counterforce of the planar movers, a guide rail allows better dynamics and higher speeds in curves, especially in very tight curves, and even when carrying a payload. The specifics of a given application will ultimately determine which of the two systems is the better option. The bottom line is that XPlanar and XTS complement each other perfectly.”

Breakthrough development in commercial production of natural aromatic compound

Conagen, a US-based biotechnology company focusing on research and development, announced today its breakthrough development in the commercial production of natural aromatic compound, γ-Decalactone from natural substrates using its proprietary technology. Found in many ripe fruits and particularly peaches, γ-Decalactone is a versatile compound used commercially in formulations with distinctive fruit flavours of peach, apricot and strawberry in food, beverage, fragrance, nutrition, renewable materials, and pharmaceutical markets.

The technology created for the γ-Decalactone product provides for more than 20 different lactones, many of which have not been available commercially because of a lack of reliable sources.

“The strengthening and expansion of Conagen’s lactone production platform will better meet consumers’ demand for nature-based, clean ingredients,” said Oliver Yu, Ph.D., co-founder, and CEO of Conagen.

The compound is a member of a much larger family of lactones. Variations in the structures of lactones define their unique sensory properties with mainly fruity and buttery characteristics. These diverse characteristics create a wider spectrum of application options for manufacturers that use lactone flavours in their products.

“Conagen’s lactone products are natural and non-GMO, making them ideal for use in a variety of consumer products,” said vice president of research and development, Casey Lippmeier, Ph.D.

Why industrial gases are important in fish farming

Fish is a nourishing, healthy food that is popular throughout the world. However, as the planet’s population grows, fish stocks in some oceans are dwindling. One way to address this shortage is fish farms. Popular in Europe, especially Nordic countries, aquaculture also occurs throughout Australia – from the tropical north to the more temperate climes of Tasmania.

Like any commercial venture, there are many facets to make it a successful enterprise. When it comes to fish farming, an essential ingredient are various industrial gases, which have many applications in aquaculture – from hatching the eggs through to when the final product is shipped for sale.

Air Liquide is a gas specialist that has a lot of information and experience when it comes to fish farming. Its Tasmanian sales representative, Grant Stingel, works closely with the industry, not only as a supplier of gases, but also giving advice on how much, what type and how often a certain gas needs to be applied to the various production processes.

The most prolific gas used in fish farming is oxygen. There are two main reasons it’s needed. The most obvious is to sustain the life of the fish as they hatch and are grown. The other is a little more interesting.

READ MORE: Cryogenics offers alternative freezing solutions

“During the production of farmed fish, one of the high cost inputs is the food,” said Stingel. “It can cost up to $2,000 a tonne or more depending on the species and feed type.

Maintaining a stable level of oxygen in the tank increases the fishes’ metabolism, which in turn increases the conversion of food into fish mass. So the Feed Conversion Rate (FCR) reduces, meaning lower feed costs per kilogram of fish.

“And if you’re talking tonnes of fish, you’re talking tonnes of food per day. In the larger aquaculture systems, maintaining stable oxygen levels in the tanks will increase production. If you can increase the growth of the fish each day by adding oxygen, this reduces the time the fish are in the water, which in turn increases efficiencies within the whole production cycle.

“Typically, modern land-based aquaculture farms use what is called a Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS). This is essentially a water treatment plant to circulate and reuse the water. This plant uses pumps to push water through a series of filters to help purify the water before going back into the fish tanks,” said Stingel. “Oxygen is also used in this process to produce ozone to sterilise the water.

“In the inlet water to each of the ponds or tanks, the oxygen level is elevated by injecting oxygen, typically using a pressurised oxygen dissolver, to 120 to 140 per cent of normal saturation, depending on the biomass. This ensures that the respiration demands from the fish are taken care of and a stable growing environment is achieved.”

There are other applications where oxygen is necessary. Just before the fish are harvested, whether in ponds or sea cages, higher doses of oxygen are needed due to the fish being crowded into a small amount of water within the harvest area. This ensures that the fish are not as stressed before processing, giving a better end product.

Also, in some farms, oxygen is used to supersaturate baths of water to treat the fish for pest and disease, such as sea lice.

With all the oxygen being used, what are the costs involved? Not as much as you would think, said Stingel.

“Oxygen is typically only about one or two per cent of the cost of your production but it’s very important,” he said. “It is an essential element to the fish farming process. In some cases, oxygen can be seen as just a commodity, but oxygen used efficiently can also add benefits to your production.

“Oxygen supply to fish farms is essential so we have engineering support available,” he said. “As far as technical support, we can calculate how much oxygen you will need for the quantity of fish in each system. Based on the calculated oxygen required, we also offer advice on the oxygen dissolving system best suited for the application. Measuring the efficiency of your existing oxygenation system is also something Air Liquide can offer.”

Other gases are also used once the fish have been processed. Oxygen goes from being the hero to the enemy once the fish are ready to be sent to Australian supermarkets or exported.

“After harvest, we use other industrial gases for packaging fish products,” said Stingel. “Some aquaculture companies use Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP). This is a mixture of nitrogen and carbon dioxide injected and sealed inside the trays often seen on the shelf at your local supermarket.”

The carbon dioxide inhibits bacterial growth, which will increase shelf life for the end product.

The nitrogen is to displace the oxygen and also maintain the package integrity so that it looks good on the supermarket shelf.

Another industrial gas used in the processing phase is liquid nitrogen, which is used to snap freeze the fish products by sending it through a freezing tunnel, which sprays the gas onto the product. This achieves a better quality product when thawed. This is because when a product is snap frozen, the cell structure of the food is maintained, meaning when thawed, the fish not only looks good, but tastes fresh.

“Even when it comes to the presentation of the food we can help. For example, dry ice produced from liquid carbon dioxide is used to add a bit of theatre at serving counters in restaurants or markets,” said Stingel. “As the dry ice thaws, vapour is formed, giving off a nice smoke effect. Dry ice is also good for keeping the product cold and fresh.”

In almost every stage in the production of fish in aquaculture systems there is potential to use an industrial gas of some type whether it is oxygen, nitrogen, argon or CO2. But the use of the various gases doesn’t stop there. Air Liquide can also provide gases for other, practical uses.

“The other application for industrial gases is for maintaining plant and equipment,” said Stingel. “With quite a lot of machinery involved in the process, you will also need oxygen and acetylene for heating and cutting, argon gas mixtures for welding, and LPG for heating and maybe also powering forklifts.”

Flowmeter helps with quick media changeover

Food safety and hygiene were in the news in June this year when eight brands of milk were recalled in Victoria and New South Wales amid fears that they had been contaminated by cleaning fluid.

Production plants need to be cleaned regularly when changing over batches or products. However, at the same time, the production process should be carried out as efficiently as possible.

The FLOWave flowmeter from Bürkert Fluid Control Systems offers extended functions, including the fast and precise detection of media changeovers. As a result, production steps can be clearly separated from each other and waste can be reduced without negatively impacting on hygiene.

The FLOWave flowmeter enables the precise detection of changeovers between different liquid types during food production. Especially in rinsing processes, rapid differentiation between product and rinsing water, or chemicals used in the CIP cleaning processes, ensures efficient process control and a high level of quality.

The device thus continuously measures the temperature-independent density factor. Based on this measured value, valuable products such as milk can be quickly and reliably differentiated from the cleaning liquid. Compared to conventional time-controlled processes, product waste can be minimised and costs saved. In addition, the amount of waste water treatment required is reduced as less product enters the waste water.
The flowmeter works according to the SAW method (Surface Acoustic Waves). This patented technology can also be used to measure the transition between beer or pre-mixed alcoholic beverages and water. FLOWave utilises the propagation speed of the surface acoustic waves in the liquid for this purpose. The speed increases with the addition of alcohol and sugar. This also leads to an increase in the density factor of the liquid compared to water. However, the actual density of the liquid hardly changes depending on the alcohol and sugar content, since sugar increases the density while alcohol reduces it.

The transition between beer or pre-mixed alcoholic beverages and water is therefore often very difficult to measure with conventional density meters.

The density factor not only indicates the media changeover between product and water, it also differentiates between liquids with varying contents of sugar. The SAW technology allows additional data to be obtained from the medium. In addition to the temperature, the flowmeter automatically detects possible gas bubbles and outputs the values in percentage terms. Possible process faults can thus be eliminated quickly and effectively.
SAW technology does not require sensor elements in the measuring tube. This means there are no pressure drops, sealing problems or dead spaces that would otherwise interfere with cleaning.

The sensors thus meet the highest hygiene standards and facilitate the qualification and validation of production and cleaning processes.

The Bürkert flowmeter also supports digital communication with direct connection to most fieldbus types such as Ethernet IP and Profinet, via a platform that guarantees simple transmission of FLOWave sensor data to all common fieldbuses. The maintenance-free, lightweight and yet robust meters can be mounted in any position.

Solid and perforated steel bake oven belts save time and money

IPCO offers a range of steel-grade belts to suit different needs and environments. IPCO 1100C grade is a carbon-steel product that is used by the bakery industry, while IPCO 1200SA is a stainless-steel grade suitable for applications such as food conveying, cooling, freezing and drying. Both are available either in solid form or perforated. IPCO also offers belt grades suitable for special needs, such as resistance to corrosion or abrasive materials.

However, it is important to note that the material, or grade, is only the start of the story.

Production of a belt requires the necessary mechanical properties of flatness and straightness to be engineered into the belt. The belt must also be able to transfer the heat from the heating media to the product in an even way. This means the colour of the belt surface is important. Consistent belt colour will maximise heat transfer and ensure an even bake. Specific heat treatments are therefore applied during the production process.

In terms of supply, IPCO can provide as much, or as little input, as an oven builder requires. This can be as straightforward as belt supply through to various levels of technical advice, or consultancy to ensure that the belt delivers maximum return on investment, as well as key conveyor components such as tracking systems and graphite stations ensure smooth operation. For instance, in cases of complete belt upgrades, moving from mesh to solid or perforated steel, IPCO will often supply all conveyor components – sheaves, bearings, framework and all other required accessories.

READ MORE: Steel belts offer versatility for the food industry

Wide belts for enhanced productivity
One area of increasing interest to many oven builders is IPCO’s ability to produce bake oven belts up to 3,500mm wide. This makes it possible to build wider ovens, increasing productivity without having to invest in factory extensions or new facilities. An oven with a 1,500mm-wide belt offers almost twice the productivity of one with an 800mm belt without any increase in the line length. An upgrade to an oven with a 3,200mm belt or larger, will increase throughput by a factor of four. The use of a steel belt of any size also has the potential to reduce baking times. The combination of a steel belt’s heat transfer qualities and comparatively low weight often means that belt speed can be increased, cutting baking time by as much as 25-30 per cent.

Reducing carbon footprint through energy efficiency
Bake ovens can account for as much as 45 per cent of a bakery’s overall energy consumption and as much of 25 per cent of this is used heating the conveyor belt. The bake oven belt can, therefore, have a major impact on overall energy costs so ensuring maximum efficiency here is important.

A solid-steel bake oven belt weighs 30 per cent less than a comparable mesh belt and therefore costs up to 30 per cent less to heat. And perforated belts weigh as much as 35 per cent less again.

As well as cutting heating costs, this weight advantage also means less energy is needed to drive the belt through the oven.

Apart from these energy savings, steel belts are also easier to clean being flat and smooth. This not only delivers savings in water and detergent but also means greater overall productivity, with time spent baking instead of cleaning.

And there’s an additional point worth making: these benefits don’t just apply to baking. IPCO belts are used across the food industry for cooling, freezing, cooking, forming and drying.

IPCO Australia enhanced technical and service support throughout Oceania
IPCO held the grand opening of its new Melbourne (Burwood Industrial Park) headquarters on July 9th. The company is owned by FAM AB, which is part of the Swedish Wallenberg group, and has production facilities in the Americas, Asia and Europe and a worldwide technical service for quick response wherever and whenever it’s needed.
As a partner to the bakery industry since 1925, the company has built long-term partnerships with both OEMs and end customers. IPCO engineers have a wealth of experience in supporting the bakery industry and can deliver the most appropriate solution for any requirement whether it is a new installation, an upgrade to an existing facility (from wire mesh to a solid or perforated belt), or simply supplying a replacement belt.

Branding and supply chain: why they matter

Danny Celoni is the Australasian CEO of one of the most recognisable names on the planet – PepsiCo. Having more than 22 years’ experience in sales, strategising and marketing throughout the Pacific and Asian regions, he is in a good place to see where Australian brands fit. Not only in terms of names themselves, but perceptions, too.

“[I think] Brand Australia has a lot of equity with a lot of our brands,” he said at the recent Global Food Forum held in Sydney. “PepsiCo has a huge snack portfolio including the likes of Red Rock Deli chips and Twisties and we are seeing Brand Australia becoming more prominent. We are well placed from a value-add perspective. It’s all about quality, food security, consistency – they’re core elements that make Brand Australia prevalent.”

Appearing on stage with Celoni was Sir Rod Eddington, who, among other things, is the non-executive chairman of brewery giant Lion. A Rhodes Scholar who attended Oxford, Eddington is a strong believer in having big ties to Asia. His Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun awarded to him by the Japanese government in 2015 for his contribution to strengthening economic relations between Australia and Japan is proof of that. And although he is a champion of local produce, he is slightly less optimistic about Australia’s brand presence. He believes Australian food producers have a way to go in the branding stakes. He cites Australia’s neighbours across the Tasman, and a home-grown example, as a prime illustrations of how Australia should be positioning itself.

READ MORE: 7 risks in the food supply chain that compromise customer safety

“We have a long way to go on Brand Australia to be frank,” he said. “The Kiwis have done a brilliant job. The 100 per cent Pure New Zealand brand is a very good one.

“The part of Australia that is probably closest to being in the right space is Tasmania. Tasmania has built a reputation for itself, over a long period of time, not only as a producer of world-class wool, but of world-class seafood and vegetables. I think there is some real examples to be taken from Tasmania. As good as Australian food is, it still doesn’t have an overarching brand with the quality that the Kiwis have delivered.”

Eddington also made it very clear that the supply chain has to be up to scratch. If it’s not, then it doesn’t matter how high-quality your food or beverage is, you will make no inroads into some of the more fickle, but lucrative, markets.

“If you are exporting fresh and chilled products including cold foods, then supply chain is critical,” said Eddington. “An hour on the tarmac in the sun can destroy the product. As a company, we are really focussed on what supply chains are best and there are plenty of places in Asia where they are good. Japan is good. Hong Kong is very good as is Singapore. There are parts of China – especially where you have to trans-ship goods – where you may have a problem.

“There are other places in Southeast Asia where there are opportunities, but, as yet, their supply chains are not strong enough. And if their supply chains are not strong enough, you can’t risk your product because it will affect your brand. We are very much focussed on working with shippers and transport companies that can deliver certainty around cold store supply chain. It’s not only just for us. If you are selling sea food, fruit, vegetables, chilled meat into Asia – and that is where there is a substantial opportunity – then you need to have the certainty of supply chain.”

One up and coming country is Vietnam. While not at the standard it needs to be for Australian exporters, the country is making an effort to get the infrastructure in place so that it soon will be a gateway for Australian cold store exporters to land their goods.
“The Vietnamese are in the process of upgrading their supply chain,” said Eddington. “It is not as reliable [compared to some other Asian destinations], but it is a real opportunity for our businesses.”

He was also quick to point out that it wasn’t that long ago that all the bigger airports in Australia had the problem of not very good cold store supply chain facilities. He is confident that many countries around the world, including those in Asia, will see the benefits of a reliable cold store chain supply.

What about regional Australia, though? The majority of the country’s food is grown in regions, so why not set up cold store facilities at the local airports and export directly to overseas markets? Fair point, said Eddington. While there are some places that are starting to do that, there are roadblocks that need to be overcome.

“The thing about cold store supply chains is that they cost a lot of money,” he said. “You need the throughput and volume to make them work.

“There was a time when our major airports didn’t necessarily have high-quality cold supply chains and they do now. For instance, Cathay Pacific offers a freight service once a week, hoping to go twice week, to Toowoomba.

“There is an opportunity to exports vegetables and fruit out of that area to North Asia. There are opportunities in the regions, but you do need to pick your mark carefully.
“If you want to deliver high-quality goods to North Asia – freshness and reliability is key. That really means the big airports have to have the facilities.

“The other thing big airports need to have – and is a big advantage of Melbourne’s over Sydney – is no curfew.”

It not only Asia that is opening up to Australian produce. One United States success story of a value added product doing well overseas is the Australian developed – and now owned by PepsiCo – Red Rock Deli chip brand. Celoni said that the added value aspect of Red Rock helped PepsiCo get into the commodities space. Red Rock has opened a few doors in terms of categories that PepsiCo is trying to enter.

“[We] need to make ourselves indispensable, by growing categories,” said Celoni. “We need to front up to retailers and see how we can drive more penetration, more frequency – high average-weight-of-purchasing dollars.

“[PepsiCo] needed a product in the premium segment and our US colleagues talked about [Red Rock] and what it was doing from a category perspective. It was all about the increase in dollars per kilo, the brand, and the pack architecture that we were able to mobilise to create value and different price points. They saw an interest in it, so we sent some over and did some consumer tests. It resonated with some of the retailers and created value and off it went.”

And it’s not only what Celoni calls PepsiCo’s indulgent portfolio of products that it is looking to expand, but it has recently delved into the healthy snack market. Again, branding is the key, especially when trying to get into Asia.

Celoni makes no apologies that the sugar-rich fare PepsiCo is known for will still be the mainstay of its business, but they realise that category expansion is key to any successful business going forward.

“We do see opportunities in the health and nutrition space, in what we call adjacencies,” he said. “It’s growing in double digit and it’s a segment that is reaching the billion-dollar mark, certainly in the snacking space.”

PepsiCo has recently acquired Bare Foods, which produces baked fruits; Health Warrior, which makes nutritious snacks and bars; and Muscle Milk, a protein shake brand manufacturer.

He said the company has gotten rid of some of its arrogance by realising it can’t do everything itself. Thus the foray into the health food sector.

“We’ve looked for what I would call, ‘best-in-class manufacturers’ that can make quality products,” he said.

“And we thought about how we think about from a category expansion perspective in terms of capabilities.

“So, we entered into health nutrition [sector] with Sun Bites, and we are doing more work with Off the Eaten Path, which is a brand being launched by the retailers in the health and nutrition space. It’s all anchored in making sure we give our consumers the right choice. We will continue to do more of that because obviously that is what we are asking for at the moment.”

Both men agree that Australia is heading in the right direction with its food exports, but that maybe the sector as a whole can do a little bit more to make sure it is making the most of the opportunities available. Being organised is the key, said Celoni.

“It’s about getting the right pipeline and getting in on consumer needs…and making sure our supply chain footprint and all the work we do with our farmers [is sound],” he said. “Ninety-five per cent of our production for our locally made products are sourced in Australia.

“That will continue into the future. With the 500-odd farmers we work with either directly or indirectly, we see a real source of growth, but we have to get a lot more meticulous in the way we plan.”

Why mass flow meters are important in fish farming

Fish consumption is rising. With the increase of the world population and the need for nutritious food, health-conscious consumers are looking for alternatives to “a nice slice of meat”. And they end up eating more fish or vegetarian food.

Specific species of wild fish are getting scarce in open water due to the impact of industrialised fishing fleets and overfishing. In a trend towards sustainable food production, fish farming is gaining increasingly interest.

Fish farming is the aquatic version of farming cows, sheep or chicken. For many years, humans have been farming food by having it grown in greenhouses, stables, or fields. Fish farming is heading in the same direction.

When people hear about fish farms, they might think of an aquarium, a little pond or a floating net. But in Norway, a major player in fish farming, people think on a larger scale. A typical fish cage near the Norwegian coast has a diameter of tens of metres containing 200,000 to 300,000 salmon. In the near future, these designs will upscale to one or two million salmon. In Norway, at the beginning of 2018, more than 3,500 cages for fish farming were floating in the sea.

READ: Multipoint thermal mass flow meters improve Boiler Air Preheater (APH) system efficiency

The country is expanding its knowledge and technology across the world, where people are interested in large-scale harvesting of fish in the sea – and maybe on land.

Salmon is a typical example of a fish that can be fish farmed. They need cold water – 7˚C-9˚C is what they like most, which is why this aquaculture is happening in the Northern Hemisphere, off-shore in the fjords. Salmon is a popular fish so there is a high demand.

Aeration
In fish farming, aeration is of vital importance. In addition to food, the fish need oxygen that is supplied in the form of tiny air bubbles – aerated – to the water. But aeration has other advantages, too.

In the early days, the salmon suffered from infestations of lice. Since salmon lice had an impact on harvest, the fish farmers had to look for solutions. For some reason – maybe it was an experiment or it happened by accident – the farmers started to purge air from the bottom of the cage.

And they observed that the movement of the fish started to change. Instead of circling day in and day out – as salmon normally do – they started to move around the cage and became more agile. If the salmon are more agile, their muscles have to work more. This results in their meat being of better quality. At the same time, the fish farmers detected that aeration helped them to create a more thermal friendly water environment. With an advantageous temperature, conditions and amount of oxygen, this resulted in a decrease in lice numbers. So aeration had two advantages: improving the salmon quality, and reducing the unwanted lice.

Aeration of fish farms using mass flow controllers
The process of aeration is simple. The air bubbles can be generated by natural water currents (off-shore, down-hill), pumps, impellers, variable area flow meters or by mass flow controllers and compressors.

A compressor generates compressed air from the surrounding atmosphere, and feeds this to the mass flow controller for controlled aeration of the water in the fish cages.

To run fish farms that are remotely controlled and without much manpower, automation is needed. This includes automated feeding. When the fish are fed, the air purging needs to be interrupted to give the fish the opportunity to hunt for the food before it floats out of the cage. In between the feeding periods, the aeration improves the condition of the water and the salmon.

It helps that mass flow controllers are remotely controlled from the control room at land. The aeration is stopped when the feeding starts, and when the feeding is over, the previous set point will automatically return and the water condition is as stable as it was before.
Mass flow controllers provide a potential for saving energy due to better conditions in the cage. The accuracy of the devices is important. Every cubic metre of air saved by the device being accurate – faster control or opening of valves – is of direct influence to the costs for running a compressor. In stormy weather, fish farmers can reduce the aeration, but during a long dry period without water movement, more air bubbles are needed. So essentially, this accuracy and flexibility leads to a better controlled environment.

With Mass-Stream mass flow controllers, farmers have a robust instrument, which is performing well in the harsh surroundings. By the manufacturer’s Bronkhorst’s standards, this kind of aeration is high flow. Typical air flows for a fish cage are in the range between 600 and 1,400 litres per minute.

Mass flow controllers for other types of aeration
Mass flow controllers are suitable for other types of aeration in aquaculture and agriculture. If users farm salmon, they need to breed the fish, which normally occurs on land. Fish eggs and young fish are even more vulnerable to changes, so the environment has to be more stable than for grown fish. Depending on the type of fish, the balance of oxygen in the water is delicate and has to be controlled accurately.

In algae farming, CO2 gas is one of the food components for these species to grow, which needs to be supplied under defined conditions.

A well-known application of aeration is in food and beverage industry. Every soda or carbonised drink is a liquid purged with carbon dioxide gas. Related to that, when packaging food, the packaging is purged with nitrogen to remove the oxygen before the food enters the packaging, as one of the steps to prolong the shelf life of the food.

Bronkhorst is represented in Australia by instrumentation specialist AMS.

Why solid grease provides peace of mind for food manufacturers

Contamination of food and beverages during manufacturing is always in the back of the mind of those who run the processing factories. At any time during course of making product, plant and machinery could accidentally contaminate the goods, so it is important that best practices are in place once a production run is started.

And while best practices are a good start in keeping food and beverage items free from contaminants, there are some items that can help provide layers of protection during the production process itself.

According to precision mechanics specialist NTN-SNR, the average cost worldwide for product recalls in the food processing industry between 2010 and 2017 was just over $16 million. The most common reasons were foreign bodies found in the product, and contamination by allergens and/or bacteria. With that in mind, the company has produced LP09, a food-grade solid grease that lubricates bearings that are used in the food processing industry. It is designed to give food and beverage processors peace of mind if they are worried about bearing grease contaminating the production line. This particular grease is approved by NSF International, a US-based independent product testing, inspection and certification organisation.

“When you test your product and you find it is contaminated by foreign matter, that food needs to be scrapped and cannot be sold,” said Fabio Rebecchi, who is product manager for NTNCBC Australia who distributes LP09 in Australia. “One of those contaminants could be grease. Can you imagine how much that could cost a company if it fails its compliance?

“However, if a food product makes contact with LP09 solid grease, that’s fine because it complies to the NSF standards. You could ingest it without any harmful effects.

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More importantly, you won’t have to scrap the product produced and start all over again.”
One aspect that needs to be stated is that LP09 solid grease needs to be used with stainless-steel bearings that are also produced by the company, because the solid grease contains no rust inhibitor additives. Bearings are an important part of any manufacturing facility, including those in the food and beverage sector. NTN’s stainless-steel bearings will last up to 20 times longer than some of its competitors. And along with the LP09 grease, will do their part in making sure that a processing plant will be running at its optimum.

“It’s about peace of mind,” said Rebecchi. “This is what production and plant managers are looking for in their production processes because it not only helps guarantee their output and yield, it also leads to a reduction of rejects. From a consumer point of view, and as a manufacturer, they are making sure that they have a lot of it covered so the product comes out to the correct specification all the time. We are assisting and improving that process with this grease.”

What it also covers is compliance. This is something that is becoming prevalent as more standards and regulations are implemented. Consumers not only want to know about the calories, packaging and make-up of a product, but also where it came from and where it was processed and packaged. And under what conditions.

“The food and beverage processing industry is very highly regulated and is becoming more so,” said Rebecchi. “The world needs to be fed and there is a growing population so there is more governance within the industry where manufacturers need to be 100 per cent compliant. Plant managers will know that if they are using NSF-compliant grease from NTN then they are on their way to compliance.

“This opens up export markets. It’s also good as a corporation from a corporate social responsible point of view that you’re doing the right thing by the environment. You are eliminating waste. You’re producing to a standard to where your manufacturing processes are optimised all the time. This is what this grease allows you to do. Our bearings and LP09 solid grease are of very high quality and designed for specific solutions,” he said. “That is where our customers can get involved with our engineering and sales people for specific solutions to unique customer requirements. NTN will come up with a direct solution if possible.”

Read more articles like this at: www.lets-roll.com.au

                                   

Finnish startup makes alternative protein from carbon dioxide

An innovative startup company from Finland has piloted a new alternative protein product made out of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This meat alternative has the potential to address the environmental evils of both the agriculture industry and climate change.

The startup is confident it will be able to get the product on grocery store shelves by 2021.

The product, named Solein, will likely be sold first as a liquid protein source via shakes or yogurt. This is different than alternative meat competitors, now including conventional meat giants like Tyson, that primarily sell alternative proteins as nuggets or burgers.

According to Solar Foods, Solein is “100 times more climate friendly” than all other animal- and plant-based proteins. In fact, the company also claims it is 10 times more efficient than soy production in terms of carbon footprint.

How does it work? The company says it mixes water molecules with nutrients like potassium and sodium and then feeds the solution plus carbon to microbes. The microbes consume the nutrients and produce an edible substance that looks like flour and is 50 percent protein.

Lab-grown meats are an expanding industry, but Solar Foods captures carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to feed to microbes instead of using sugar like most other companies.

“Producing Solein is entirely free from agriculture — it doesn’t require arable land or irrigation and isn’t limited by climate conditions,” a Solar Foods representative told Dezeen. “It can be produced anywhere around the world, even in areas where conventional protein production has never been possible.”

The company has big ambitions and believes that if the alternative meat industry is indeed going to overtake the conventional meat industry as predicted, leading corporations like Impossible Meat and Beyond Meat are going to need to experiment with and use innovative sources of protein beyond pea-based products.

 

Modbus available on FCI’s line of compact thermal mass air/gas flow meters

The new Modbus option for the ST51A and ST75A Flow Meters represents FCI’s continued commitment to providing optimal thermal mass flow meter design and value.  They combine highly dependable surface-mount, lead-free RoHS compliant electronics with highly accurate, repeatable all-welded, equal-mass flow sensors.   Their no-moving parts design is virtually maintenance free and offers an exceptionally long life.

FCI’s ST51A and ST75A flow meters’ Modbus option meets the EIA/TIA-485 standard and provides mass flow rate, totalised flow, and temperature data. Transmission mode is via RTU or ASCII with standard MS (16 bit), standard LS (16 bit) or Daniel extensions (32 bit).  They’re ideal for use with single function PLCs, pilot plant projects or large SCADA systems or complex plant DCS systems.

In addition to Modbus, the ST51A and ST75A also provide dual 4-20 mA, NAMUR NE43 compliant, analog outputs and a 500 Hz pulse output. Alternatively, instead of Modbus, the instruments can be provided with HART, version 7, I/O communications.  The meters’ electronics are housed in a compact, rugged, IP67 rated, dual-conduit port (½ inch NPT or M20 metric threading) transmitter enclosure, which is available in aluminum or a 316L stainless steel version. The transmitter can be mounted directly to the flow sensor or remotely mounted up to 100 feet (30 meters) away.

The highly reliable ST51A, ST75A and ST75AV flow meters carry the CE mark, and are optionally available with Div.1/Zone 1 Ex agency approvals of FM, FMc, ATEX and IECEx.  Additionally, they have also been independently verified to meet International Electrotechnical Commission’s (IEC) standard IEC 61508 for Safety Integrity Level (SIL-1) rating.  With all these pedigrees and verifications, FCI is further able to extend a full 2-year warranty on these new models to all customers.

FCI’s thermal dispersion sensor technology applied in the ST51A and ST75A and flow meters relies on the relationship between flow rate and cooling effect for direct measurement of mass flow. Their flow sensing elements feature precision, platinum RTDs in small diameter, all-welded thermowells made of 316L stainless steel and Hastelloy-C tips to provide superior accuracy, fast response and long-term reliability.  These flow meters are direct mass flow measuring and require no additional temperature or pressure sensors or flow computer to infer the mass flow rate of the process media, which reduces the total cost of process flow measurement.

Model ST51A air/gas flow meter
The ST51A is an insertion-style flow meter for use in pipe diameters from 2.5 to 24 inches [63 to 610 mm].  It is specifically designed for flow measurement of methane-based gases such as biogas, digester gas, landfill gas, natural gas, and for air, compressed air or nitrogen. It is easily connected into the pipe via a 0.5 or 0.75 inch NPT compression fitting. These thermal flow meters measure from 0.08 MPS to 122 MPS with turndown ratio of 100:1 and with accuracy of ±1 percent reading, ±0.5 percent full scale.

Model ST75A air/gas flow meter
The ST75A flow meters are in-line (spool-piece) style designed for applications in smaller pipe diameters from 6 to 51 mm.  They measure flow rate and totalized flow of air, compressed air, inert gases as well as natural gas, biogas and other hydrocarbon-based gases which makes them ideal for burner-boiler fuel and air lines, industrial furnaces and kilns, chiller air flow metering, and dosing and gas injection.

Process connections options include male NPT, female NPT and ANSI or DN flanged.  The Model ST75AV includes built-in Vortab flow conditioning to ensure highest accuracy and repeatability in applications which lack enough straight-run. They feature a wide 100:1 turndown ratio and measure from 0,01 NCMH to 950 NCMH with accuracy of ±1 percent reading, ± 0.5 percent full scale.

FoodTech QLD – providing solutions for the food & beverage industry

FoodTech QLD opened to positive reviews from both exhibitors and attendees. Hosted at the Brisbane Convention Centre, more than 130 companies had their wares and services on show aimed at the food, beverage and bulk handling industries.

Event director, Jonathan Wilczek was pleased with not only the quantity, but the quality of exhibitors, plus the different types of businesses on show.

“You have different groups here,” he said. “You have the food and beverage manufacturers who have come down here, which is our key group, and there is a lot of other things on offer here. You’ll see ingredients, processing equipment, packaging equipment – people will be coming for a variety of things. A lot of people will be looking for solutions and our exhibitors will be providing solutions. It’s a place to come and network and matchmake.”

Tony Tate, head of the food division at Total Construction, had a couple of reasons for exhibiting. “We’re looking to talk to new clients, as well as connecting with current clients who are looking to extend the current premises. The stands around us, and the people who are exhibiting, are of very good quality.”

“We’re looking to meeting prospective clients from the Brisbane area or Queensland,” said Aerofloat’s Michael Anderson. “We’ve done a number of projects up here, and it’s always nice to come back here and let them know we are around. You need to be seen. ”

SMC is a first-time exhibitor at the event. National sales manager for Australia and New Zealand, William Lebihan, wants to get a couple of key messages across.

“For us it’s a celebration of 60 years in business,” he said. “What better place than to celebrate it here. We also want to talk about energy savings. It is our first public outing of our energy saving initiatives on a road map. We are going to help our customers optimise their plant and machinery to be as energy efficient as possible. Today has been a good day. Being a Sunday, we’ve seen a few people that we might not have seen if it had been during the week, so it is good.”

“For us it is chance to talk to everyone we already know,” said Rachael Hedges, marketing manager for project specialist’s Wiley. “It’s also a great place to network and meet new people and tell them about our business and how it can help them grow.”

Bosch exhibits two new packaging systems for bars, biscuits and bakery

Bosch Packaging Technology will showcase its latest packaging system solutions for bars, biscuits and bakery at two global packaging trade shows in September. At PackExpo in Las Vegas, USA, Bosch will showcase a high-speed integrated system solution with features that take efficiency to the next level. At FachPack in Nuremberg, Germany, customers will experience a scalable mid-range system, which is ideal for fast-growing companies to expand their capacities. “We have decades of experience in engineering packaging systems. We carefully analyze the requirements of our customers to ensure that they get a system tailored to their needs,” Martin Tanner, director product management at Bosch Packaging Technology, says. “No matter if manufacturers need an entry level system, a flexible high-speed solution or anything in between, we are able to provide the ideal solution.”

Efficient integrated system
At Pack Expo in Las Vegas, Bosch will showcase one version of its highly efficient seamless bar packaging systems. The exhibit consists of a high performance, indirect distribution station, a cardboard inlay feeding unit, a high-speed Sigpack HRM flow wrapping machine and a flexible Sigpack TTM1 topload cartoner. “This system is one example of our seamless systems portfolio that provide manufacturers with highest levels of efficiency, productivity and flexibility,” Tanner explains.

The displayed system features an optional cardboard inlay module. The Sigpack KA forms flat, U-shaped or O-shaped cardboard inlays, that are fed into the high-speed flow wrapper. The Sigpack HRM is equipped with an HPS high-performance splicer and is able to wrap up to 1,500 products per minute. One of the highlights of the system is the Sigpack TTM1 topload cartoner. It stands out for its high product and format flexibility. In this configuration, the machine either loads the flow wrapped products into 24-ct display cartons or fills them directly into a WIP (Work In Process) tray. In addition, the integrated bar system is equipped with the mobile device-friendly Operations and Maintenance Assistants that are both part of the Industry 4.0-based Digital Shopfloor Solutions portfolio. These user-friendly, intuitive assistants boost operators’ capabilities and guide them through maintenance and operative tasks in a quick and easy manner.

New all-round system
At FachPack, Bosch will launch its new all-round packaging system, which is suited for bars, biscuits and bakery products – but can also be adapted for other products. It features the new Pack Feeder 4 and the new Pack 403 horizontal flow wrapper with an output of up to 800 products per minute. The chain feeding system stands out for its easy cleanability with tool-less belt removal and gentle product handling. The Pack 403 achieves consistent flow wrapping results thanks to its upgraded cross and fin-seal units. With decals and scales, the machine is operator friendly and features a removable discharge belt that reliably rejects faulty packages.

“Our new system is a modular and scalable solution that is able to grow with the customer’s needs,” Tanner explains. “Manufacturers can easily upgrade and complement the system with extra options such as a cartoning machine.”

Profound competence and expert consulting
Bosch Packaging Technology also offers dedicated project consulting – beginning with early planning, the choice of technology, system layout up to service packages and beyond. One major competence area is sealing technology, which is key in the packaging process. “Which sealing technology achieves the best results always depends on the product and film characteristics,” Tanner adds. “Based on many years of experience, we offer in-depth support at our sealing testing labs, where we conduct tests together with customers to identify the best option.” Heat-sealing technology will be shown as part of the packaging system at FachPack, while cold-sealing will be shown at Pack Expo. Both systems are available with a wide range of modern sealing technologies.

Global customer services network
In addition, Bosch Packaging Technology provides access to their comprehensive global network of customer services. At Pack Expo, customers can learn about Bosch’s asset life continuation solutions, which include upgrades for obsolete control systems, the refurbishment of older machines and the relocation of equipment. Two machines will be on display for visitors to experience the solutions firsthand – a refurbished JSL hand sealing machine and a Stratus wrapper with a new control platform as well as a stand-alone OEE dashboard.