With Australian-grown produce now on the march, managing director Vince Di Costanzo explains how MHE-Demag Australia is driving the food and beverage industry forward.
At the forefront of manufacturing growth in Australia, food and beverage production is the guiding light.
The end of 2017 marked 15 months of continual expansion, according to the Australian Performance of Manufacturing Index (PMI), despite a misconceived belief that the industry is in decline.
While it is changing focus – following the off shoring of sectors including automotive assembly and an acceleration towards the age of automation and robotics – one thing remains certain.
The appetite for Australian-grown food products is stronger than ever – particularly in Asia – and means the distribution of packaged produce doesn’t have plans to go away any time soon.
Ideally positioned as the Pacific Rim’s dual logistics and cranes specialist, MHE-Demag’s industry knowledge is helping the drive from farm to fork.
And its latest technology, including the KBK Crane Construction Kit, is adding value to the production of raw and processed foodstuffs.
Following a journey that brought the German-based cranes specialist Demag halfway around the world to
Australia, it was a stop off in Asia in the last century where it first discovered its new purpose.
“KBK is our light-weight construction kit and is very adaptable to applications within the food industry,” said Vince Di Costanzo, MHE-Demag Australia’s managing director.
“It is used mainly in handling lighter loads – up to a ton or so – though, in the food industry, it can also support loads as low as 50kg.
“The beauty is that it gives room to manipulate the crane’s movements with less manual effort, improving cycle times while ensuring the safety of the machine operator.” The company turns 200 years old next year. For almost 65 years, it has been based in Australia.
Expanding the business has been no easy feat, however. Introducing new markets in Asia to its own supply chain, the company – formerly known as Demag Cranes and Components – first sought the services of a distributor already established in that region.
Jebsen and Jessen (J&J), based in Singapore and Malaysia, has a footprint in Southeast Asia over many generations, and it was in the early 1970s when Demag came calling.
“Although pockets of our manufacturing industry in Australia are moving offshore, we are still consuming those goods and that consumption is only expected to increase,” Di Costanzo said.
“In terms of manufacturing production, that is in decline. However, in terms of logistics, warehousing and transportation of manufactured goods – whether for import or export – that is In 2015, a smart move saw Demag Cranes & Components become MHE-Demag Australia, allowing J&J to own 50 per cent – joining their crane technology with J&J’s logistical nous, including its in-house dock-levelling equipment.
From this marriage of continents, MHE-Demag made its way to Australia.
“It means, in terms of the food industry and those customers we served before, we can do more than simply focus on their factory floor,” Di Costanzo explained.
“We can now assist them in getting the product out of the factory and into the warehouses where they are ultimately distributed from.”
This assistance can be provided by innovative loading bay solutions, tailored to ever-growing logistics challenges in Australia. The key here is MHE-Demag’s Gator – a dock leveller specifically designed for highly demanding operations in Australian warehouses.
Especially in the food and beverage industry, this extension of being further along the value chain allows the company to provide one-stop solutions, both on the factory floor and in the loading bay.
Using nylon wheels instead of steel, KBK wears cleanly; a feature Di Costanzo insists makes MHE-Demag’s cranes more suited to the sector.
“The KBK Construction Kit is designed to fit to lightweight structures, which are typically used around food-grade equipment,” he said.
“It is much easier to integrate than a large, overhead-travelling crane, which, due to its design,
wears over time, and when that happens, can cause debris to fall into the foodstuffs and contaminate stock.”
Standards for haulage on Australia’s roads and transport infrastructure are changing, with the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) making amendments to the Chain of Responsibility (CoR), which will hold more manufacturers accountable for freight-related incidents on the road, and not only haulage companies.
MHE-Demag’s cranes and loading bay solutions are supported by German safety standards, which Di Costanzo says are an industry leader worldwide.
“Having that German connection means we have always been ahead of the safety standards required,” he continued, “and that is the case for all of our products”.
“Australia, typically, looks to Europe for the next revision of the standards. At MHE-Demag, our own engineering manager, Peter Woodward, heads the Crane Standards Committee here in Australia, which allows us to be the pace-setter when it comes to safety, whether that is in manufacturing or logistics.”