Packaging’s role in halving food waste by 2030

With Australian consumers throwing away around 3.1 million tonnes of edible food a year, and another 2.2 million tonnes disposed of by the commercial and industrial sector, along with a Federal Government National Food Waste Strategy to halve food waste that goes to landfill by 2030, it is time that everyone contributes to solving this issue.

As a part of the AIP’s commitment to minimising food waste, the Institute has a representative on the Department of the Environment and Energy National Food Waste Steering Committee. It is also a participant in the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre is a member of both the Save Food Initiative and of Friends of 12.3, as well as an active World Packaging Organisation Member in the Save Food Pavilion at Interpack.
The AIP is a long-standing supporter of Foodbank Australia, running an annual Christmas Hamper Packing Program in Queensland and recently introducing a warehouse packing day in Victoria for the wider industry.

The Institute is focused on education and training programs that can assist with minimising food waste and loss globally.

The AIP has developed training courses and awards programs that are focused on:
• The role of packaging in minimising food waste
• Save Food Packaging design
• Sustainable packaging design
• The role of lifecycle analysis in packaging design
The AIP has also been working on key criteria and guidelines for packaging technologists and designers to use as the standard for Save Food Packaging design.
Long-term objectives of the AIP are to:
• Encourage all packaging technologists and designers to use Save Food Packaging key criteria and guidelines across the globe. The key criteria includes “re-sealability, openability, improvement of barrier packaging and extension of shelf-life, portion control, better understanding of Best Before vs Use By dates; improved design to reduce warehouse and transport damages and losses; better use of active and intelligent packaging; and lifecycle assessments”.
• Ensure that all packaging technologists and designers are utilising lifecyle analysis tools within their Save Food Packaging framework. Today, there is a strong focus on the environmental aspects of food packaging to ensure that at the end of its life (after use of the product contained) that it can be reused, repurposed, recycled or composted.
• Encourage manufacturers to actively engage in designing innovative Save Food Packaging and communicating these initiatives to their customers and consumers.
• Recognise a range of Save Food Packaging innovations through the Packaging Innovation & Design (PIDA) Awards and the international WorldStar Packaging Award program.
• Showcase best practice award-winning save food packaging innovations across Australia and New Zealand.
• Contribute to consumer education and engagement projects to change the narrative around packaging’s roles in minimising food waste. Consumer education is needed to help them better understand the true role of food packaging: “protection, preservation and promotion of product, shelf-life extension, tamper resistance, barrier from external elements all the while ensuring safe delivery of food.”

The National Food Waste Strategy and the establishment of the Fight Food Waste CRC have for the first time enabled the bringing together of a range of like-minded industry professionals who are working collaboratively across the entire supply chain for a common goal: “Halving Food Waste by 2030”. Every business has a role to play.

Has your business developed a Fight Food Waste Strategy? Are you designing any Save Food Packaging? If so, what criteria are your packaging technologists using?

Are you ensuring that LCA is incorporated in your design tools? Have you enrolled your packaging technologists in the new training course, The Role of Packaging in Minimising Food Waste?

How to simplify the supply chain journey

Consumers’ daily lives revolve around trust. Every day, when peeling an orange, opening a can of baked beans or dining in a favourite restaurant, consumers put their trust in Australia’s food supply chain.

Behind every food and beverage product on the shelf is a supply chain journey that starts with ingredients. The Australian food manufacturing industry is an intricate maze of ingredient and packaging suppliers that have different supply chain management solutions.

Sourcing ingredients without a traceability and food safety protocol today invites counterfeit products onto the food chain and increases the risk of contamination. News of unsafe or spoilt food can impact business owners’ livelihoods and the industry’s broader reputation, and causes significant disruption to consumers’ lives.

“To manage ingredient safety and increase the visibility of food ingredients and raw materials in these complex supply chains, a new initiative, the Supply Chain Improvement Project, is being implemented using GS1 standards,” said Steele. “The project’s objective is strengthening integration between the thousands of upstream supply chains in the Australian food manufacturing industry.”

An industry working group has been set up to drive the project using the GS1 global standards for product identification, data capture and data sharing. GS1’s Global Traceability Standard (GTS) is the foremost traceability framework, allowing businesses to track their products in real-time and have end-to-end visibility of the supply chain.
“The group will work to achieve consensus across the industry to improve food safety, deliver efficiencies and reduce costs,” said Steele.

Representatives from Nestlé, Ingham’s, SPC, Lion Dairy and Drinks, Sanitarium, CHR Hansen, Newly Weds Foods, FPC Food Plastics, Labelmakers, Matthews Australasia and Visy Industries make up the group.

The ability for companies to capture material movements from “paddock to plate” provides data integrity and timeliness from receipt to delivery, with traceability back to the source. Through automation, many of the manual processes are eliminated and businesses can be proactive with inventory management and handling systems.
“As a food and beverage business it’s critical for us from a food safety perspective to be able to track ingredients all the way back to the origin,” said SPC’s national logistics manager, Christian Lecompte.

Also critical to business is the capability to support information and production flow within existing systems for integrated supply chains. The project has the capacity to eliminate waste within an organisation’s value stream, reduce non-value-added tasks and ensure cost-effective solutions for customers, leading to a “right-first-time” approach for all deliveries.

“One of the things we found we could do to be more efficient was to look at opportunities to be able to electronically track all the product ingredients throughout the production cycle – how we identify a product coming into the warehouses, how we receipt goods, how we put our goods away, how we manage our inventory and how we deal with our suppliers,” said Lecompte.

The adoption of GS1 standards as the common language for identification, data capture and data sharing will enable automation of key ingredient sourcing and traceability between ingredient suppliers and food manufacturers.

Using GS1 standards for upstream integration goes well beyond minimum standards. It allows businesses to translate their internal processes and approaches into the one common language that all trading partners can use and understand, without having to translate data formats across different supply chain management systems.

This is the key, as Steele believes interoperability is essential to the future of data sharing. “Establishing international standards to ensure transparency across the supply chain can help lower existing barriers to the exchange of data between suppliers, trading partners and consumers,” he said.

The Supply Chain Improvement Project has the potential to deliver many benefits to industry, including increased visibility of food ingredients and raw materials, unique identification and traceability to improve food safety, and reduced costs with automated business transactions.

Nestlé Australia’s eBusiness manager, Mandeep Sodhi pointed out the key to the project’s success.

“By having consensus across the industry on how to interconnect electronically and exchange critical operational data, we can realise cost-effective solutions across the end-to-end – from manufacturers, to suppliers, to customers. Everyone benefits from this improvement in standardisation,” he said.

Looking ahead, the industry working group is encouraging all upstream businesses to adopt the food safety and traceability protocol using GS1 standards.

“With an industry-wide solution in place, your trading partners will have more visibility of your products across the supply chain,” said Steele.

Old recipe lays foundation for dumpling business

Home to the Russian Pacific Naval fleet, Vladivostok is about as far away as you can get from Russian civilisation without actually leaving the country. More Asian than European, it is a city that is arguably one of the most cosmopolitan in Russia with a heavy influence from China and North Korea. Which is probably why From Granny founder, Vladivostok native, and Women in Industry Awards finalist in the Excellence in Manufacturing, Tatiana Kuzovova, has a penchant for her mother’s dumplings, which were inspired by the eclectic cuisine that inhabits the city.

And how does a Russian immigrant with a double degree in economics and tourism, and former Japanese interpreter, end up starting a food business in Australia with her semi-retired mother? Completely by accident, that’s how.

“We did not plan to start a business at all in the beginning,” she said. “I moved to Australia in 2002 to study English. Then six years ago my mother, Nina, came to Australia from Russia. One night we had a dinner, my mother said, ‘What are the kids going to eat?’ I told her not to worry about the kids and that they would be fine. She said, ‘No, the kids need some proper food. They need dumplings’. A friend had bought some other dumplings from the supermarket to the dinner for the kids. My mother thought they were not fit for the kids to eat.”

While Kuzovova chastised her mother for telling people what they should feed their children, her mother was unrepentant. Kuzovova senior believed that if you fed children unhealthy food, then it could become a generational thing, so she decided to recreate her own dumplings using a recipe she had from the old county. And that is where the seeds were sown and the germination of a business started to grow.
“My mother cooked some dumplings and friends tried them and loved them,” said Kuzovova. “She cooked more and put them in the freezer. Friends asked if they could take some of the frozen ones home. Then they called her and asked if she could make some more for them if they provided the ingredients. She started making them for that friend. Then another friend. And then another friend.

“Then, one of the friend’s friends owned a restaurant and called me and said, ‘can your mum work for us?’

I wasn’t that keen as she was 65 years old. She didn’t move here to work. They said, ‘can she at least make some for us for the restaurant.’ That is how she started making them for the restaurant. Then, their friends had a grocery shop. We had a phone call asking if she could make 30kg every week for the grocery store. Then another grocery shop. After a couple of grocery shops, I said, ‘Mum we can’t sell it like this. We need to find out the rules because if something happens [with regard to food regulations], we could be in trouble’. I called the Glen Eira council, and they sent us to a kitchen incubator run by Jane Del Rosso.”

Thanks to Del Rosso’s guidance, within six months From Granny was in a factory and filling orders. Kuzovova doesn’t see herself as a natural salesperson, but that hasn’t stopped the business growing and selling into overseas markets like New Zealand. It is also setting its sights on Asia, especially Indonesia, China, Vietnam and even the Middle East.

“I was only originally keeping up with customers who learned of our product by word of mouth. I was happy with that. We were doing well. Whatever came through the door, we were picking it up because we knew we needed time to be established, we needed time to do other things,” said Kuzovova. “We didn’t really need quick growth. That was good. But when everything was established we needed new customers because the factory takes a lot of money to run – electricity, rates, mortgage – everything is money. We needed more customers, so I had to go after customers, but I didn’t have much experience with sales. It was hard, but we soon found ourselves at a stage where customers start coming to us. I don’t really do much, but with word of mouth, people know about our dumplings so we started selling more.

“I hope it grows. We now have a license to sell overseas. Hopefully we’ll start advertising more overseas. We went to Singapore this year to find out whether there was going to be interest in other parts of Asia. We had a good reaction to our products.”

With both her mother and two other staff onboard, Kuzovova is looking to expand from the 140 sqm premises they currently inhabit. She knows expansion is a matter of not if, but when, due to the orders coming in. Having more or less started by accident, Kuzovova is optimistic not only about the future, but also gives some sound advice to those starting up a business, especially in the food processing industry. She was advised that there would be a lot of obstacles put in front of her, but found the opposite to be the case.

“When we started people told us not to go to the council because they could cause you trouble. Same with the licensing agencies and we were told that we would have big headaches,” she said. “That is not true. We met so many good people. From Jane at My Other Kitchen, through to the Greater Dandenong City council, there were many great people who were very helpful. We received a grant that helped start the business. I would advise people to go to the council, ask for help and people will help you rather than make any trouble.”

And what about the bane of a many food factory’s existence, the health department? Not a problem, said Kuzovova. She believes that being proactive not only makes it easier, but also leads to less issues further down the line.

“I’m lucky because we had so many good people. All the team from the economic development unit were very helpful from the beginning of our business,” she said. “Even the health department – where everybody was telling us that they were full of trouble – we didn’t have a single issue with them. We only had helpful and thoughtful people. I called the health department before we opened and asked them what else needed to be done so we didn’t have any trouble later on. A lady came and inspected our premises and issued a report stating that this is right, this is right, and this is right. She approved the premises before we started operating and then we never had any issues.”

A last piece of advice may seem a bit philosophical for those starting out in business, but Kuzovova is serious when she says that there is one important aspect that needs to be taken into consideration.

“I think if people know what they are doing, and they love what they are doing, then that is half the battle,” she said. “Originally, all I was thinking was that it was a little thing for mum to do so she would have a little money. She wouldn’t be sitting home all day getting older. So, I thought if she could do something, and do it with me, then it would be good. I’m not doing the business just for business, I’m doing it for the full enjoyment.”

Preventing a global recycling Armageddon

Barry Cosier, director of sustainability for the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) tells Food & Beverage Industry News why there needs to be a rethink on how Australia recycles.

It would be fair to say that most Australians could not imagine life without household recycling. Kerbside newspaper collections commenced across the country in the 1970s and 1980s, followed shortly by the yellow-lidded bin collection of fully commingled materials.

Recycling has become as entrenched in the household routine as emptying the mailbox or locking the front door. Until now, perhaps.

Thanks to the introduction of the China Sword policy in 2017, the resource recovery and recycling sector is under immense pressure to sustain recovery rates; households are becoming reticent and unsure about the efficacy of their recycling efforts; and many are looking squarely at government and industry for a new solution. So, what does this mean for food and grocery manufacturers?

The good old days
Some people are old enough to remember when glass bottles were returned to the corner store for recycling and used milk bottles were collected by a pre-dawn milkman. While the recovery rates for these items were high, all other packaging material ended up in landfill. The introduction of commingled collection and recycling dramatically increased the recovery rates for paper, cardboard, plastic, aluminium, glass and steel, while concurrently reducing needless waste.

Over time, advancements in packaging technology also reduced food waste that was previously disposed of in landfill. Barrier protection materials increased the shelf life of products in store and the home, providing almost year-round availability of seasonal produce for consumers.

We now take for granted the many benefits that packaging affords: food safety, food freshness, tamper-evident packaging for medicines, hygiene barriers for personal products, portion control to reduce waste and obesity, and limited breakages in manufacturing, transport, retail and the home. The list goes on.

Like many industries over the last 30 years, China’s appetite for raw materials gave us a ready-made destination for discarded packaging. After sorting materials locally, Chinese recyclers would reprocess packaging into new products and new packaging materials, which were then marketed world-wide. Demand (and therefore prices paid for packaging materials) peaked to a point that some Australian recyclers could afford to sort recycled materials free of charge and pay local councils for the material collected at the kerbside.

It was almost too good to be true. And it was good until China implemented the China Sword Policy, effectively banning the receipt of mixed paper and plastics through setting very low acceptable contamination levels.

Recycling Armageddon
The introduction of the China Sword policy has left local kerbside recyclers with recycled materials that no longer meet the quality specifications required by global processors. The heydays of exporting to China have ended – with no plan B. Simply put, Australia does not have sufficient recycling processing infrastructure in place to recycle packaging collected at the kerbside.

This complex global problem cannot be solved by simple solutions that some may suggest.
All stakeholders along the supply chain – from packaging manufacturers, product manufacturers and retailers to the consumer, local councils, collectors, and recycling processors – have a role to play in finding environmentally and economically sustainable solutions.

Certainly, leadership and support from local, state and federal governments is essential. However, more importantly, industry must collaborate with all stakeholders and provide government with industry-led solutions if we are to gain their confidence and support in developing new local infrastructure that will meet the needs of both manufacturers and material processors. Put simply, all stakeholders must work together to safeguard the general public’s confidence in recycling.

Next steps: What can manufacturers do?
In the coming years, a circular economy must be developed. What is a circular economy? Simply put, it’s when waste materials, such as packaging avoids being landfilled and is repurposed or recycled to reduce the use of virgin materials. Examples include, converting plastic milk bottles into new milk bottles or into park benches, or using glass to make new bottles or low-grade glass in civil construction. With the federal government endorsing national recycling and recyclability targets for packaging, what can manufacturers do?

Increase recycled content
As manufacturers of grocery products, the first key step is to increase the amount of recycled material contained in product packaging. To drive this, the federal government has endorsed the packaging targets proposed by the Australian packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) to increase the recycled content of packaging to 30 per cent by 2025. Many manufacturing companies have already committed to this goal.

Design for re-use, recycling or composting
The second step is to increase the use of recyclable or compostable packaging where product freshness, safety, quality and food waste is not compromised.

Design for source separation
Use the Australia Recycling Label (ARL), which provides consumers with simple instructions on how to dispose of each packaging material type. The addition of tear tabs on multi-material packaging such as plastic blister on a cardboard backing, will encourage consumers to separate materials prior to placing it in the recycling bin.

An industry-wide approach
There are many food and grocery manufacturers that have already made commitments in the above areas. However, while implementation may appear simple on the surface, there are some real barriers that need to be addressed in order for product manufacturers to make progress. The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) has collaborated with APCO, government, the packaging industry and the resource recovery and recycling sector to overcome the following barriers:
• Availability of recycled packaging materials
Retailers and manufacturers have broadcast their intent to purchase greater volumes of recycled plastics such as recycled PET (rPET), which is currently in short supply, particularly given the high standards for food grade materials. The AFGC is working with APCO and the packaging industry to increase availability of these materials.
• Research and development
The AFGC is working with APCO and the packaging and recycling industries to develop new compostable plastic substitutes that are fit-for-purpose and meet food grade and medicinal product packaging specifications. Additionally, research and development of new processing technologies that have the potential to recover materials currently landfilled are also required. For example, chemically processing end of life plastics (Numbers 4-7) into oil-based products such as bio diesel.
• Practical infrastructure planning
We will continue to collaborate with all stakeholders to identify the recycling infrastructure needs of a circular economy. This will be aligned with the changing mix of packaging materials as the availability of recycled packaging material increases and as new processing technologies are developed over the next five to ten years. This whole-of-supply-chain approach is critical to provide industry and government with confidence to invest in the plant and equipment that is necessary to achieve the national packaging targets.

The good news is that environmentally and economically-sustainable solutions are possible for all stakeholders along the packaging supply chain without compromising product freshness, safety, quality, or increasing food waste. But this will only occur with collaboration, with decisions based on facts, and undertaking research and development to provide new technological solutions for today’s issues.

Blockchain for dummies

In recent years, there has been an explosion of enthusiasm for blockchain technology. It seems that every industry has or wants a blockchain – but why? Brett Wiskar from Wiley talks to Food & Beverage Industry about the intricacies of this technology that is rising in popularity and how it can be utilised in the food industry.

Blockchain has been spoken and written about across industry press and the broader media for the past two years. This innovation is painted as some sort of future technology set to change the way industry manages itself, transacts and tracks product. If the general coverage is to be believed, blockchain is a panacea for anything we choose to apply it to. Like most things touted as a solution, the truth is less promising – so where does the value of blockchain lie? In this article, we explore what blockchain really is and how it can be used to best advantage in the food industry.

What is blockchain?
Blockchain is a technology that in one sense is not unlike a conventional database from a more traditional system. It stores information. This information is what all parties in the system agree it to store. The difference is, blockchain stores its data and records in a solution that is distributed and encrypted securely and provides transparency to all participants in the blockchain.

It’s perhaps easiest to think of blockchain as a way of keeping track of a transaction. This transaction may be financial, but it could just as easily be a transaction involving data point, product shipments, services, emails or other communications, documents, certificates, accreditations or just about anything that could be stored as data.
As is typically the case when the media develops an infatuation with a new piece of technology, blockchain is generally poorly understood. Often described as a distributed ledger, blockchain uses multiple redundant copies of the ledger, each hosted by a participant in the network or supply chain to ensure security. If a copy of the data with one of the participants is compromised (hacked/manipulated), that copy of the ledger is overruled by its peers (the other copies). In this way the system remains secure and can be trusted by all.

Trust through transparency
Frequently blockchain is described as a “trust-based” system. In truth, when digging a little deeper, it is clear the technology’s successes originate where the blockchain can generate value in markets where there is a lack of trust. When implemented well, blockchain allows people to trust other parties by providing visibility into the actions of the other party. This means participants don’t have to trust what each other say they’re doing, or have done, but can trust when the outcomes can be seen in the system.

Unfamiliarity and deceptive behaviour in transactions or interactions in businesses breeds distrust. If, however a business can see that other parties are performing as required, then distrust is mitigated and supply chains can move quickly as decisions can be made with confidence.

A true blockchain system ensures all participants in the system have the same data. This data is a snapshot in real-time of the status of the system (goods, finances, approvals etc.). Not only is there a snapshot, but everyone in the system has a copy of the truth and knows it is valid and has not been compromised by someone in the system attempting to deceive the other parties.

This means a party in the supply chain who is responsible for a step knows when they perform their action (e.g. approve the goods for export) and update the system, every other party in the system knows this has been completed and by who. Visibility through the system places the onus on the next party to perform their own subsequent responsibilities and this sequential visibility drives the behaviours in the supply chain all parties want to see.

A lot of the examples held up as case studies for how blockchain will change industry often lack some of the characteristics that make blockchain valuable. These are more likely technical proofs of concept for blockchain and not true examples. A little online research shows it’s clear that for blockchain to really create value it needs to be applied to the right kind of problem. A helpful checklist can be used to determine if blockchain could be an appropriate solution.

Do the requirements of the ecosystem considering blockchain have each of these?
● Is there a need for shared common database?
● Are there multiple parties involved (usually from different entities)?
● Do the parties involved have conflicting incentives and/or are not trusted?
● Are the rules governing participants uniform?
● Is there a need for an objective immutable log?
● Do the rules governing transactions change infrequently?

There are many examples, around the globe of industries or value chains adopting or trialling the use of a blockchain solution. When we look at these it is clear that they do not always meet the threshold of the list above. Whether the use of blockchain was essential for a system or not, often the adoption is being driven by technology players like Oracle, SAP and IBM.

Who is using it?
One of the most high profile and relevant blockchain projects is from Walmart. Walmart and IBM have partnered on a food safety blockchain solution. Walmart announced in September 2018 that it will require all suppliers of leafy green vegetables to upload their data to the blockchain solution by September 2019.

Walmart mandating that its suppliers comply with Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), and that this data be stored in a blockchain system, does not improve food traceability beyond that of a conventional database-backed solution.

Blockchain is not omnipresent and cannot magically watch product from the farm to the plate. Like any data storage system, blockchain needs inputs. It needs humans to interact with the platform. In this case, Walmart is introducing an onboarding system that allows people to interact with the blockchain solution. This onboarding unifies the ways in which people keep track of product in the supply chain. This unified data input is the real challenge Walmart’s blockchain implementation is overcoming. The way it tracks the data once it gets into the system is irrelevant, its achievement is putting the information onto a computer. In truth, Walmart’s market force enabled the company to make compliance with its systems and the collection and input of data mandatory, but this could have been supported through a traditional database system.

Why blockchain?
Walmart is driving early adoption of a technology that will drive better performance across its supply chains. It starts with food safety, but through the partnership with IBM, and its learnings from this program, it will drive compliance and visibility across thousands of supply chains in the years ahead. These supply chain tools based on the blockchain will be the sort of supply chain that Walmart believe will be the future of its business.

What does it mean for industry?
The amount of hype around blockchain is yet to be matched by the scale of investment or the proliferation of systems. Although this means blockchain is not ready for wide adoption yet, there are enough indicators to show that its right around the corner. The biggest technology names are on board and working with government, finance, defence and the large corporations to bring about massive change to how we track, transact and manage our supply chains and monetary systems. There may be another 10 years of time to maturity of industry blockchain systems, or maybe only another two years, but it seems the value blockchain creates will make a significant contribution to the markets that adopt it. This means blockchain running part of our value systems is only a matter of time.

Iba Munich – a chance to show off the latest and greatest in the baking industry

Food and Beverage Industry News attended the iba Munich bakery, confectionary and snack fair in Germany. Miri Schroeter caught up with Australian-based companies while at the event.

The 2018 iba baking, snack and confectionary fair in Munich, Germany was visited by more than 77,000 people from more than 160 countries. And with good reason – it showcased more than 1,300 exhibitors that ranged from equipment suppliers, flooring specialists, packaging manufacturers, tech gurus, ingredient suppliers and everything in between.

Apart from the delicious cakes and breads on offer, iba is the event to be at for finding the right piece of equipment to buy to help a business grow. Global companies with offices in Australia ensured they had their finger in the pie to not only showcase products, but also to engage with the latest European trends. This included finding out what matters most to manufacturers looking for products and services that will improve their businesses.

Nord Drivesystems exhibited at iba, with a two-stage bevel gear unit on display, which is available to the Australian market. The company’s Australian managing director, Martin
Broglia, said smart packaging is a prominent trend that Nord is staying on top of. “Packaging which helps products stay fresher for longer, is more environmentally friendly and tamper proof, is on the rise.”

To keep up with sustainable packaging trends, companies must implement Industry 4.0 and embrace technology in order to keep up with supply demand, said Broglia.

“More than ever, food processing and packaging is receiving a huge amount of interest, not only in the manufacturing sector, but from governments and environmental groups as well,” he said.

“There is a big focus on food waste and what manufacturers and producers are doing to minimise this. I expect we will see more and more innovation in the processing and packaging of food as the population surges, food becomes in shorter supply, and the topic of waste becomes more urgent.

“With increasing hygiene standards, I think we will see a bigger uptake on automation in the future as customers embrace automation for the safety, hygiene and productivity it can bring to an organisation,” said Broglia.

Automation helps create one-stop-shop

Kaak Group, a company that offers turn-key solutions for the industrial baking industry, had a large stand in the first hall of the exhibition. The equipment specialist knows iba is the place to introduce new products and
services to existing customers, as well as showing its point of difference to potential clients.

The company offers a one-stopshop service – from silo to truck. The total service concept allows companies to deal with Kaak for all product and service needs. Kaak Group ANZ managing director, Tyrone Crook, saw iba as an opportunity to connect with people in the baking industry that like him, come from the southern side of the world where thousands of companies set up shop to create artisan and tin breads, snacks, and pizza products.

Kaak Group has solutions for small,medium and large businesses in the baking industry. The company sells equipment for mixing, dividing, rounding, proofing, moulding, lidding, final proofing, baking, delidding, depanning, cooling and freezing, among other product requirements in the baking and snack industry.

One of the latest services introduced to Kaak Group’s inventory, released at iba, was the e-commerce platform. The service makes it easy for customers to buy spare parts, learn about their equipment, and purchase additional equipment online. The webshop provides easy access to more than 20,000 products and a 24/7 helpdesk, which can be accessed through a multi- user account.

“Each piece of gear that is sold has an online manual. We are able to identify that particular piece of kit,” said Crook. Identifying equipment quickly makes it easier to source spare parts immediately, he said. “If the customer requires something desperately, they could have it almost straight away.”

The multi-user access allows employees to use the webshop for their company, but controlled access ensures safety and security. Access to the account has varying permission levels to allow some users permission to order new products and view account activity. Companies can also set a maximum spend level and they can allow some users to fill the shopping cart and share it with colleagues, while restricting purchases.

Kaak’s stand at iba also featured a newly created dough sensor for inline use. The sensor can test the dough on several parameters during production and allows the operator to take corrective actions on time, instead of leaving it too late.

Baking pans and trays installed with an electronic barcode system have also been introduced to Kaak’s product line. The pans help control product and equipment quality. Every time a pan/tray passes an in-line laser on the manufacturing line, it records whether bread is left on the pan/tray and the frequency of use. “It tells you how the bakeware is   performing, and it rejects the bakeware when it isn’t performing well,” said Crook.

Each pan/tray can be used about 3000 times before the user is informed that it should be recoated – a service also provided by Kaak Group Australia/New Zealand.


While bread featured heavily at iba, Kaak’s equipment can also be used by other businesses such as pizza and snack manufacturers. The equipment can be slowly integrated into an existing factory, or Kaak can provide a system from scratch,
said Crook. “We can help businesses from start-ups right up to industrial bakeries. The unit machines are manufactured to suit smaller or bigger requirements, depending on the capacity of a manufacturer.” Kaak can help companies, traditionally creating hand-made products, transition to an automated process, said Crook. Equipment can be bought as it is
needed. For example, a company may buy a divider first and then buy a rounder or moulder, so employees don’t need to do everything by hand, he said.

“They can buy standalone pieces of equipment, or they can buy a fully automated system. It’s as manual or as automated as you want it.”

Automated systems have their benefit as they can let the user know if there is a failure or a potential risk, said Crook. “It prevents a breakdown. For example, if a gear box that drives the oven has a fault, it will be picked up and it will send an alert to your HMI (Human Machine Interface) screen.”

If a spare part is needed it can usually be sourced from Kaak Group in Brisbane, but Crook also works with clients to suggest spare parts that a customer may benefit from keeping on site as critical spare parts.

Try before you buy

Buying large manufacturing equipment is a huge investment so Kaak provides food manufacturers with the use of its technology centre for trials before deciding on which products to purchase to suit a factory’s needs, said Crook. He has taken Australian customers to Kaak’s technology centre in Holland to test new products as a way to deliver proof of concept and the best solution for them prior to purchase. Alternatively, customers can send their recipes, and preferred processing methods, to Kaak’s team who will test the products to find an ideal manufacturing solution.

Wrapping up iba 2018

Iba may be a baking and snacks fair, but products showcased there work for many food and beverage manufacturers. What made it a special fair, was seeing companies such as Kaak Group and Nord Drivesystems using the event to introduce new and existing “must have” products and services that are available to not only the European market, but the companies’ Australian counterparts too. Iba celebrates success and innovation in the food industry – giving attendees the chance to be a part of creating movement in the sector.

The days, hours, minutes and even seconds are already being counted on the iba website for the next expo. The triennial event is set to be held in Munich again in September 2021 and time will tell whether the next expo will trump this year’s figures and high calibre of exhibitors.

Still Working – ifm cables

ifm takes pride in how robust and reliable its sensors are. In this video Glenn Thornton and Roland Denholm from ifm Australia test the products in some fun but challenging ways, all the while showing that their products are still working.

Why partnerships are important to finding solutions in automation

Building the innards to the cabinets that control automation processes are the lifeblood of Weidmuller, a company that was founded in Germany in 1850.

The Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0 are starting to become mainstream manufacturing technology trends that are being implemented within the food processing industry – something that Weidmuller is well placed to take advantage of due to its expertise in the arena. The company has three divisions. There is the aforementioned cabinet products, then there is device and field connectivity, as well as automation products and solutions. All three have relevance in the food sector, especially the latter where automation has had impacts on productivity and other efficiencies.

Rafael Koenig is the managing director of Weidmuller Australia and has extensive knowledge of automation, connectivity and electronics within a variety of industrial applications including food and beverage. He said having knowledge is one thing, but building partnerships is just as important.

“In today’s technical world it is not just enough to sell components,” said Koenig. “We try more to partner up with customers. We want to give them the value-add component of our business. They want the product, but it has to be fit for purpose. We have many areas that we are looking to build. One is comprehensiveness of the connectivity program, which spans the portfolio by starting with the different types of DIN terminal blocks. You’ve got the spring cage, you’ve got the traditional screw cage, and now the push-in blocks series.

“Then we have the components and stainless-steel cabinets that are designed for the food industry,” he said. “The beauty of automation is that it has broad applications that you can adapt products and solutions into any type of factory setting. Most of our components are not specifically designed for food. They are designed for automation, but can be used in many industries including food.”

Most manufacturing and processing enterprises are coming onboard with the digitalisation that is taking place in the industrial sector. Weidmuller is one company that sees itself as part of the equation, not just in terms of hardware, but also the important, peripheral non-tangible aspects of the technology, which helps companies with the maintenance aspect of their business.

“We have this automation and digitalisation side of the business – and then there is management of data and data analytics,” said Koenig. “For example, we have a highly regarded department for analytics that we use to optimise manufacturing processes. We manage to collect data, then analyse and interpret that data with some complex formula and algorithms to make sure we go towards predictive maintenance rather than preventative or scheduled maintenance.

“Then there is product development, or solution development, which is a lot more about self than it is about the products,” said Koenig. “You will find that a lot of products from different vendors are very similar. So, I think, ‘who can you partner up with who has the specific knowledge of that industry to develop your solution and really fit in that industry?’ This is why I think partnerships are an important part of doing business.

“We currently have a joint venture with a WA company that is probably one of the market leaders globally in the power substation communications. We like what they are doing and the way I want them to use my product is to make sure that the right software is being used. I see this as an offering to the market that is beyond the product. If you want to be in the market and exist in five years’ time you must have something that others don’t. The differentiator these days is the intelligence offering and the way you solve the customer’s problems – not, ‘how good is your component or product compared to the others’.

“One of the things that we are trying to develop is a cloud solution specific to what the customer wants. Some use different clouds. You have the common cloud, Microsoft cloud, Amazon cloud and others. Really, the trick is to have the connectivity you need.”

Along with that connectivity comes communication, according to Koenig, which is also an important component of digitisation. However, along with these aspects of automation, comes security risk. Something that Koenig knows needs addressing.

“Security is one of the big issues at the moment. You have to look at it from both sides,” he said. “One of the keys to being successful in the utilisation of digitialisation in Industry 4.0 is standardising the communication. What that also means is that you should use common communication tools so that your office will only have a residual security risk. The question is how you deal with the issue of security. There is no one-type-fits-all solution.”

There are not a lot of companies that have an individual solution for every company, or can come up with a complete security solution. When it comes to a security solution, Koenig believes it is necessary to have multi layers of protection – and that includes physical protection as well as firewalls.

With that in mind, Weidmuller knows there is strength in numbers and doesn’t only believe in partnering with its clients, but with the bigger players in the market, too.

“We are constantly developing problem-solving competency which I am really proud of,” he said. “I mean, in the big scheme of things we are a relatively small player. However, if you see the German market, where one company has about 85 per cent of the share in control systems, the strength of the industry at large comes from collaborating with German “Mittelstand”, small to medium-sized companies that are technology leaders in their field. Our desire as a company is to be independent. So, we offer solutions that work in tune with those of the big players. The openness of our systems is what is really important to us.”

With automation ramping up in the manufacturing sector, connectivity is going to be an important part of the equation over the next decade. Koenig believes that Weidmuller is one company that can not only provide the products to help run plant and machinery, but has the expertise to give the best advice possible.

Apart from the connectivity solutions, Weidmuller has in recent years vastly expanded its Automation Technology portfolio and has identified digitalisation as a critical strategic area.

“The future direction of companies like Weidmuller will see a significant build up in expertise for digitalisation, communication technologies as well as software capabilities,” said Koenig. “Our activities in industrial analytics is one example that demonstrates the progress of our business towards becoming a technology partner not just for connectivity.

“Our strong relationship and proximity to our customers is key to our success in Australia and we take particular pride in the quality of the distribution partner network we are part of. This network allows us to work shoulder to shoulder with other leading global brands.
“We see our role in supporting our channel partners through our Weidmuller experts and together with them make our customer more competitive in a world that sees massive changes in our industry.”

International baking expo highlights automation

Every three years, anyone who is anyone in the baking industry converges on Munich for the iba, the international bakery exhibition/conference. This year there were more than 1700 exhibitors, 76,000 visitors and about $3.4 billion in trade completed at the event.

One person hitting the stands and looking over the event was Total Construction’s general manager for its food and beverage division, Tony Tate. It’s an industry he’s been involved with for more than 30 years and is deft at spotting upcoming trends and where the industry is heading. He thinks the next big thing to hit the baking industry will be “Indulgence Individual Creation”. The Universal Bread production is focusing on sourdough long fermentation and process Quality.

Walking around the show clearly is showing Automation of artisan breads, is happing now which will mean they take the step from being a specialty product to becoming a commodity.

He believes that there will be an uptake in both national and multi-national bread bakers opening up new premises, or converting current ones into those that will meet the demands of consumers who no longer go after traditional white and brown breads – in other words, traditional tin-baked breads.

“In the 60s bakers were trying to get the baking of white loaves automated because white bread was part of the staple diet of Australians,” said Tate. “You look at it now, it is in decline. It is only added value breads like grain breads or low GI breaks that is keeping the tin bread market open. You look at the large bread companies who are shutting down bakeries and consolidating manufacturing to survive the large supermarkets low price strategy.

With artisan and sourdough loaves now becoming popular, bakers have to shift gear and start producing facilities that will cope with influx of demand.

“In the 1970s and 1980s they developed mechanisation and made white bread more competitive. The Chorleywood bread mixing process was invented and started bringing in 3000-loaves-an-hour lines, then 8000-loaves-an-hour lines. In the late 2000s they brought in 10,000-loaves-an-hour lines. Now everybody is going for the sourdough. If you go around the show it is all about artisan, sourdough and French baguettes, Vienna’s etc.”

And the building of plants based around these breads has already begun. French-based artisan bread specialist, Laurent, has just invested huge amounts of money on building an Artisan plant in Victoria. Their first plant in 2009 they could bake 3000 baguettes an hour now over 8000 baguettes an hour.

Early demand of Sourdough bread sold for premium $8.49 per loaf now they selling them in the supermarkets at $4.99.” per loaf.

Tate believes that baking will go through an interesting transition over the next 10 years due to the expectations of not only consumers, but what bakers will be capable of doing – the hard part is to gauge is what that will entail.

“White bread rose and then declined, sourdough will follow because of the automation of mechanised plant cable of mass producing Artisan bread available now but couldn’t do artisan 10 years ago.

Tate see an opportunity for individualised, indulgent artisan creations made to order same day. Order in morning pick up or get delivered the afternoon.

The process equipment automation will struggle to try and automate these kinds of products. But you have to start somewhere and start chipping away.

When it comes to automation, Tate said there was a demonstration at the event that could be a precursor to what the future holds for some fast-food outlets and how their food is served.

“There was a booth with a robot in it,” said Tate. “It grabbed a bun. The robot put a knife through it and sliced the bun. The robot turned the bun over, put butter on it, it then changed its arm to pick up a piece of salami, then put on some lettuce and then some cheese. It then put the bun into a wrapper station, folded it over, then put a stamp on it that said ‘freshly made for you’ or something like that. But it took 15 minutes. So somebody who works at McDonalds has still got a job at the moment, but the technology will eventually come through.”

One of the main drivers for attending the event was about building relationships, and taking those associations a step further.

“It was more than just about building relationships, it was about understanding the relationship all the way through,” said Tate. “It’s that relationship building and being consistent to the industry that means if anybody has a referral then people’s first port of call will be Total Construction. We have the knowledge. We know the industry. We know about bakeries and we can build it.”

One more key take out from the iba for Tate, was some of the oven technology coming through whereby several types of products can be baked at once.

“Mecatherm has designed an oven to encompass flexibility. The oven itself can cost up into the thousands depending on specification and flexabliity” said Tate. “This allows the entrepreneur baker to have the flexibility to take several format such as sourdough breads, tin breads, batch soft rolls or cakes. For this investment bakeries can get into the market and say, ‘by the way I have the flexibility to do my tin bread in the morning, I can do my artisan in the afternoon and do my cakes whenever.’”

With his final thoughts on the exhibition, Tate has some definitive ideas on where the baking industry is heading, but is a little unsure when it will get there.

“Is automation here? Yes, it is,” he said. “Artisan and sourdough are the main drivers going forward, and it is the level of automation as to whether it will become a commodity. The next phase I believe will be indulgent products that are being created whether it is chocolate, whether it is bread, whether it is a work of art and those processes will eventually become automated robots, but it’s a long time away.”

With another three years before the next iba comes around, it will be interesting to see if Tate’s predictions come true.

Meet ifm expert: Darryl Blackeby

Meet product sales manager Darryl Blackeby – an expert in the vision and identification product range of ifm (such as sensor cameras). Darryl is inspired by how customers use ifm sensors and is always interested in finding new applications for sensors that can help businesses improve and increase their efficiency.

Gates provides cost-saving solutions for food manufacturers

There’s no doubt that the food manufacturing industry can present a number of challenges for food manufacturers.

From food contamination to belt stretch, manufacturers need to be constantly on the ball with regards to maintaining a clean, efficient and functioning system. And that starts with equipment.

Downtime can be costly. Then there’s the potential reputational damage you could also incur. A cause of downtime is maintenance and efficiency losses due to roller chain drives. Roller chain drives present a contamination risk.

They require constant lubrication with oil or grease which can contaminate your products and, beyond that, carry an environmental risk and ongoing cost to your business through unnecessary maintenance downtime.

READ: Gates Poly Chain GT Carbon designed to replace roller chain drives

Food processing environments are subject to frequent washdowns to remove bacteria, germs and other contaminants, using aggressive cleaners and chemicals.

These liquids can damage roller chains – meaning you need to fix them, or replace them over and over again. High moisture environments can also cause rust problems, which you definitely don’t need.

The ravages of time also impact roller chains; in service, chain joints will wear, causing the drive to ‘loosen’, resulting in timing and synchronisation problems in food processing operations.

Finally, there’s the location of your drives to think about; drives in areas with difficult access are more time consuming to maintain. And, since metal and chain components wear quickly, they have to be replaced more frequently.

One immediate change that could be implemented is a switch from roller chain drives to belts, which offer numerous benefits and solutions to many of the common problems facing food production operations – helping you to meet production goals and save money.

Gates belt drive systems are virtually maintenance free – no lubrication, no messy and expensive oil baths.

Being maintenance free, they are designed for difficult-to-access spaces that would usually require disassembly, costly health and safety procedures, or the use of ladders or crawlspaces to get to for that maintenance ritual.

Gates can provide belt drive components that don’t need to be covered prior to washdown; that’s because the polymeric belts such as Gates Poly Chain and stainless components are resistant to water and caustic chemicals.

Equipment can be washed down in place, again reducing the time needed to maintain your system. Polyurethane belts combined with stainless-steel or nickel-plated sprockets and bushings are unaffected by most common disinfectants, bactericides, and cleaners used for washdowns.

The aggressive caustic solutions used in food processing plants have no effect on Poly Chain belts or stainless-steel sprockets and bushings. Gates belts rarely need re-tensioning and do not stretch over time. Gates offers a variety of belts and components suited to food manufacturing environments.

Poly chain GT carbon belts

• Clean-running, high-powered polyurethane belt drive alternative to roller chain.

• No slipping, 3X longer life than standard roller chain, virtually maintenance free.

• Ideal for low-speed, high-torque drive applications. Conveyor applications.

Stainless-steel and nickel-plated metals

• Sprockets, sheaves and bushings available in stainless steel.

• Nickel-plated sprockets also available.

• Non-corrosive, chemical resistant.

• Ideal for aggressive washdown environments.

Power curve belts

• Engineered to handle transverse bending and twisting.

• Unique under cord construction for optimal flexibility.

• Gates patented Flex-Weave cover.

• Power turn conveyor beds.

PowerGrip GT2 twin power belts

• Designed with teeth on both sides of the belt to provide synchronisation from each driving surface.

• Equal load capacity on both sides of the belt.

• Suitable for serpentine applications requiring rotation reversal in some driven shafts. Conveyor applications.

Round endless belts

• Designed for 1/4 turn or twisted drives where more than an O-ring is required.

• Power turn and line shaft conveyors.

Specialty synchronous belts

• Line includes long-length belting, Twin Power belts and spliced belts.

• Wide variety of belt materials, constructions, and backings available.

• For food conveying, washdown applications, and antibacterial conveyors.

• Micro-V profiles can be provided as backing for synchronous belts for applications that require synchronization on one shaft and have the ability to run an alternative shaft off the back of the belt as in flour mill applications.

• FDA construction option

• Low durometer option with higher friction coefficient for applications that must convey packaged materials up inclines or transfer fragile food products (e.g. packaged potato chips).

Gates Mectrol food-grade belting

• High strength, low stretch polyurethane belts designed specifically for the food processing industry.

• Clean-in-place convenience for washdown environments.

• Reductions in downtime, wastewater, and maintenance costs.

• Conveyor applications.

Futureproofing can help businesses sustain growth

The future of manufacturing – indeed the future of most industries – is becoming increasingly automated.

The director of process automation and software at Schneider Electric, Brad Yager, talks about futureproofing and how it helps a business sustain growth.

Many rote tasks are now being performed by machines and artificial intelligence (AI) with human oversight, and many of the applications that will be needed to manage production in the future have not yet been developed or even imagined.

Operations and plant managers, when thinking about making efficiencies and chasing profitability, would do well to consider the bigger picture and make strategic decisions that could futureproof the entire organisation instead of fixing short-term problems.

READ: Schneider Electric and Foss and Nutrition Innovation collaborate to produce low GI sugar cane

Ultimately, this will lead to a streamlined, more profitable business.

This holistic approach can take many forms — it goes far beyond merely upgrading existing technology and instead identifies and implements new sources of automation enabled, sustainable business value.

It is essentially cost effective modernisation — in addition to boosting revenue through improved execution of business strategy, it can reduce overall modernisation costs by up to 10 per cent over haphazard piecemeal approaches.

Some examples of the types of applications that can make the process plant of the future available – and affordable – today are the following:

• Server virtualisation, which allows the user to consolidate many PCs and servers into a high availability virtual host server, reducing heat load, weight, and power consumption, as well as improving maintenance efficiency and hence reducing total cost of ownership associated with maintaining many computers.

• Workflow automation software, which, for example, might store and enforce a sequence of proven procedures by which a plant worker might respond to an alarmed incident or event, notifying all affected parties of status and progress in real time.

• Real time energy management systems, in which profitability based on consumption in energy intensive operations is monitored in real time, in the context of dynamic energy markets.

• Real time online modelling, in which, for example, every bit of raw material that comes into a process is tracked, measured, and compared to output with analysis of variance pointing to process variances.

• 3D virtual reality simulation systems, in which, for example, workers can train on handling hazardous situations in a realistic virtual situation much like a pilot trains with a flight simulator.

• Controlled combustion, where advanced process control software monitors the firing of boilers and other equipment, and adjusts in real time to minimize excess O2, CO, and NOx emissions.

It’s not always possible to predict the challenges or the demands of the workplaces of the future, but change and development is a certainty.

By taking that extra step and thinking ahead and planning for more automation, plant managers can make the most of technological upgrades and improvements to make their organisation more profitable.

Creating FDA-approved plastic components for the food industry

E-Plas is an Australian company that specialises in industrial and high-performance plastics, especially within the food and beverage industries.

One of its distributorships is for Quadrant EPP’s Tivar series of specialty FDA-compliant UHMWPE products.

The Tivar HPV range of products can be used in food and beverage production for direct food contact applications and many products that enhance productivity and operator safety.

Tivar HPV is predominately used in conveyor applications where companies are looking to achieve dry running chain, therefore reducing the amount of water used to lubricate contact points between the conveyor chain and track/bed.

READ: Top of the line industrial plastics

Tivar MD, which is a metal-detectable grade of UHMWPE, can be used wherever low coefficient of friction is required prior to passing through metal detectors.

One example of its use is for name plates for batch numbers, which are placed onto batches of meat prior to food processing to identify them then removed before processing/mixing.

Any shards that may have broken off the labels during handling are then easily found and removed through metal detection before packaging.

Tivar HOT, as its name suggests, is used wherever low coefficient of friction is required with a high operating temperature such as entry or exit points of ovens for baked goods.

Another polyethylene product by Quadrant EPP is PE 500, which E-Plas supplies to be made into change parts, such as star wheels and scrolls for food conveyors. It is also FDA approved.

Sustarin C Acetal, which is available in natural or black, is FDA approved for direct contact with food. Sustarin MDT Acetal, metal detectable, is used for chopping blades or mixing blades for food processing and cutting and can pass through a metal detector prior to packaging. Also available is HDPE in natural and black.

It is FDA approved and is well known for its use as commercial cutting boards both small and large scale, worktops, knife holders and rollers.

Polycarbonate is known for its use in machine guarding and safety screening and is selected for its clarity combined with extreme break strength and durability. A safety favourite for many years, it offers the visibility of glass or acrylic with a high impact resistance.

E-Plas Manufacturing provides fabrication services, such as CNC, standard machining and cut-to-size. It can produce roller-chain guide profiles, conveyor tracks and corners, sprockets, filter cones, test trays, star wheels, machine guarding and other associated components to specifications. E-Plas is ISO 9001 accredited.

A barcoded apple is more important than you may realise

What is the significance of barcoding every single apple in a mountain of fruit at the supermarket? It seems a tedious process when an apple is surely just an apple. But, an apple is much more than what is seen at face value.

It comes with a history – a place of origin, a past in which it was grown in specific soil and shipped in a certain container.

This is valuable information, even for the humble apple, as a food recall could affect any product at any time.

Many products go through a number of processes before landing on a consumer’s plate.

READ: GS1 Australia and Drinks Association join forces to drive industry standards

Unfortunately, there have been many instances where products are recalled for a number of reasons.

Products are often recalled due to potential presence of glass or metal, or e.coli contamination.

Items can also be nixed in cases where cross contamination occurs, such as wheat being present in a gluten-free product.

In August alone, Food Standards Australia New Zealand warned of nine products that had been recalled due to undeclared allergens or the presence of foreign matter.

Keeping track of products

To help keep track of products, GS1 Australia offers barcode numbers based on current global standards as well as services to help its clients trace items and action recalls with ease.

GS1 Australia recall services sales manager, Andrew Brown, said the traceability of products was important, including for fresh produce such as apples.

In early 2018, rock melons from one Australian producer needed to be recalled. It became a difficult task as it was hard to distinguish the good rock melons from the contaminated ones, Brown said.

This resulted in many rock melons being taken off Australian shelves that were not necessarily in the recalled batch, or from that particular company. “Because the rock melons weren’t labelled, it had a big impact.

Most retailers and all consumers didn’t know which rock melons were affected and which ones weren’t. So the impact wasn’t just on the company that had the product issue, it also flowed on to the rest of the industry,” he said.

“That instance showed it is important to identify which products had been affected to facilitate the quarantine of only the affected ones.”

In instances where products aren’t labelled properly, retailers often take all similar products off the shelf to be on the safe side, he said.

GS1 Australia works with the fresh product market to get products labelled correctly. Barcoding fresh produce is becoming more popular as people understand the importance of it, he said.

Labels help from an environmental impact as well. Having labels on fresh produce and other products saves food from ending up as rubbish if it is actually ok to sell, he said.

“Our role at GS1 is to help industry in these situations. The more that get on board, the greater the benefit for other companies.”

Working for a common goal

GS1 is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to help food industries by minimising waste and harm. “The recall portal was designed by industry for industry,” said Brown.

GS1 Australia helps companies beyond the barcode. GS1 gives companies the power to figure out how much of a product may be affected.

For example, this could be based on where a particular product was packaged rather than where it was grown. “They need to be able to know what products have gone where and why,” said Brown. The same cereal may have been made in different factories and may not all need a recall, for instance.

GS1 Australia could help companies find out how, where and when products were moved to a new location, he said. “GS1 facilitates not just traceability, we help conduct the recall,” said Brown.

Getting prepared before a crisis hits

A company needs to be able to ask its trading partners, such as supermarkets, to action a recall as soon as possible. “Companies need to prepared to act in a crisis,” said Brown.

“In lots of situations, in most organisations within the food industry, they will have a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points programme or another food safety programme designed to stop these situations occurring. But in most instances, we would expect that a product recall comes from an unforeseen situation,” he said.

“What we help organisations do as part of a mock programme, is create a template recall notice. That template enables them to go into a product recall meeting prepared to get the right information, rather than having that meeting, going away and filling out forms, and then having more meetings.” Communicating well in the first instance is key, said Brown.

Having worked with numerous companies, Brown realises that many companies aren’t prepared for recalls.

This means that when a product is recalled, it can take days to action as phone calls and email communication go back and forth, he said.

“There’s a time factor that’s very important. You want to get that notice up as quickly as possible. Getting prepared and having a structure is very important.

“A company has to identify what part of production is affected, and then find out all the locations the product went to.

“If they’ve got all the information together, they can probably get a notice done in 20 minutes for a recall, but the limiting factor is having all of the information at hand,” said Brown.

Recalling products quickly, also helps keep a brand’s reputation intact, he said. “Consumers want to feel like they can buy your products again.”



Flexibility achieved with MODU System conveyors

MODU System was established more than two decades ago in Singapore based on the concept of modular and flexible products to meet the ever-increasing demand for conveyors and automation systems.

MODU straight beams, support structures and bend sections are made of various re-assembled components enabling these conveyors to be easily installed, reconfigured and realigned.

They are flexible and can be extended or shortened within a small time-frame by using standard hand-held tools.

All MODU conveyor standard parts are made of lightweight materials, such as aluminium alloy and engineered plastics designed to precision tolerances for a good fit.

MODU Conveyors are available in both aluminium and stainless-steel options.

MODU System provides a range of plastic chain conveyor systems with chain width sizes of 63mm, 83mm, 140mm and 220mm and belt width sizes of 315mm, 438mm and 585mm. Standard chain and belt material is PolyOxyMethylene (POM). Other available materials include Kevlar, Anti-static POM and Polypropylene (PP).

MODU’s spiral conveyors are manufactured and designed to be reliable, flexible and easy to operate. The MODU Automatic Lubrication System (ALS) and Chain Tension Adjustment System makes the spiral conveyor easy to maintain.

MODU Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) is a modern and modular mobile robot that can automatically navigate and transport materials from one location to another. It is suitable for manufacturing, textile, automotive, food and beverage, warehousing, hospital and many more industries.

MODU, together with its robotic supplier, is able to design and roll out customised robotic and palletising system solutions across all industries in Australia.

Twin-track pallets assembly solutions are designed to convey pallets/slave board from one process or assembly station to another. Based on MODU’s modular system, the twin track design offers customers plug-and-play solutions with flexible configure options.

The MODU Gripper system is flexible and lightweight, easy to install and compact, saving precious factory space. It comes in many gripping options suitable for all products. Quick change over time by incorporating adjustable crank system and digital adjustment readout.

Finally, the MODU elevator system features quick access maintenance touch panel, comprehensive guiding, universal mounts for any type of infeed and outfeed conveyor, continuous flow elevating with no reciprocating action, available in multiple heights, capacities and payload sizes as well as space saving.

Meet ifm expert: Syed Ahmad

One of the key reasons Syed Ahmad is passionate about working with ifm is that the company is always generating innovative, technologically-advanced products.

As an Internal Product Specialist, Syed sees the difference that ifm solutions can make to businesses, helping them with preventative maintenance of machinery and automation.

Hear what Syed has to say about ifm’s unique product and service offerings in the Australian market.

Total Construction explains complexity of building a food processing plant

Hidden away on the top storey of an old brick building at the heart of North Strathfield, Sydney are the offices of Total Construction.

If a company ever wanted to show off its wares, then its own offices are a great advertisement.

Old cracked bricks surround the open-plan working space with modern furnishings, polished floors and designer furniture making it an inviting place to do business for potential clients.

Started almost 25 years ago by Steven Taylor (the number’s guy) and Bill Franks (the practical man), it has grown into a business that services many industries including food and beverage.

READ: Total Construction explains pros and cons of buying and leasing

Heading that department is the affable Tony Tate, a Carlisle man from Cumbria in England’s north who had the distinction of playing against the likes of Alan Shearer, Chris Waddle and Peter Beardsley – not in the English Premier League, but at the more modest school boy level.

It is a memory that is bound to last a life  time. However, Tate then went on to a career in the food industry. Starting out as an electrical engineer, you could almost call Tate the accidental tourist when he arrived on Australian shores.

He never intended to stay for long in Australia, but 20 years later, he is still here.

“I got headhunted from the UK to come to Australia to head up Top Notch, which was the first ready-meal, high-care facility in Australia, which was owned by Goodman Fielder,” said Tate.

“In the UK, the ready-meals industry was booming. Meals had a five- to seven-day shelf life. In Australia, we were trying to break into the market but the downside was that you could go to Darling Harbour and have a good meal for $20 instead of paying $9 for a butter chicken or lasagne from the supermarket shelf. Australia wasn’t ready, so it was probably 20 years too soon.”

When he left Top Notch, Tate started touring Australia with the intention of heading back to the UK, but then stayed when he got a job offer from Goodman Fielder.

After a couple of other roles, Tate started working for Total Construction in 2008, where his expertise in stringent hygiene standards needed for food processing factories came to the fore.

“The key was my food background – especially cutting my teeth on hygienic standards when supplying Marks and Spencers, which were world leaders in hygiene,” said Tate. “In England, 35 years ago, we were already building high-care facilities. They’ve only started putting high-care facilities in Australia over the past five years. In the last 20 years in Australia they only started doing HACCP (hazard analysis critical control point) systems. You get a lot of businesses coming to me who say, ‘we’ve got HACCP approval, aren’t we wonderful’. But to me, that is the minimum you need for food safety.”

Tate cannot reiterate enough how important food hygiene is when companies are looking at building a new food processing facility.

People can become complacent when it comes to instances of food poisoning and think that it is the purview of third-world countries.

Nothing could be further from the truth. As recently as April 2018, six people died from an outbreak of listeria that was traced back to a rock melon farm in New South Wales.

“Hygiene in Australia has been pretty low,” said Tate.

“It’s not being disrespectful. In England, people still die due to food poisoning. About 250,000 Americans die of food poisoning every year. So food safety is pretty critical. I always say people safety is synonymous with food safety.”

Tate knows Total Construction’s main job is to manage the build but believes his knowledge gives the company’s clients a head’s up on what is needed to build a facility to a certain standard.

“When I talk to the clients, they know nothing about building,” he said. “The key from our point of view is to support the client. The client has to put a roof over their head because they have to keep the rain out to protect the product. They’re interested in the process equipment, which can cost them $15 million from Europe. However, they don’t understand standards. We do. They don’t need to know the building codes of Australia. They don’t need to know the FM standards for insurances. That’s what we bring to the table. There are not many food literate builders or process engineers. We have that expertise here.”

Another key to Total Construction is that it offers an all-inclusive service – from design stage to project managing the build. And it is the extra things that it brings to the table that gives clients added value.

This can be anything from advising them whether to build up or out, through to how strong a roof needs to be on a food processing plant.

“You can’t hang your air conditioning, your pipes or other gear from the roof and its trusses if it has been designed to hold up just the tin roof,” said Tate. “I tell the story a couple of years ago when the roof on a retail warehouse collapsed. There was a huge hail storm and the hail blocked the gutters on the roof. It banked up the ice and water, which caused the roof to collapse because it was too heavy.

“Most developers build a warehouse at the cheapest and most economical cost. They don’t build a warehouse with the mind of, ‘Well, we better strengthen it just in case somebody wants to put a food facility inside of it’. With a lot of food processing plant, you could have up to 80 kilograms in various items hanging off the ceiling. This is the kind of thing we tell our clients at the scope stage.”

Another angle that is a little unusual in the building trade is that Total Construction has an open book policy whereby they will show clients how much something is going to cost. They have had issues in the past where some clients have taken a hard look at costings and not been too happy. However, Tate feels that the way they do things takes the sting out of the tail – people know what to expect.

“I have great coverage on the three major trades – hydraulic, mechanical and refrigeration,” he said. “We had one project where the price seemed a little steep for the client, but that was the market cost. All the subcontractors gave me a price based on the drawings. It was an open book to the client and we brought it under 20 per cent on what the price was. He was still a little cranky but deep down he was pleasantly pleased with the service he was getting.”

Another sticky situation arose when a client wanted to be in their facility by a certain month. However, in order to do so, Tate pointed out that the lead time was too short if they wanted to pour a concrete slab that was going to be affected by changes in temperature from 36°C to -18°C.

The temperature needed to come down gradually over a few weeks in order for the slab to retain its integrity. The client wanted it to happen over a period of days. Tate informed the client that the date had to be moved to a later time. The client was not happy and demanded that the facility be ready by the date he wanted to move in.

“I said to him that we could do what he wanted but we were not warranting the slab,” said Tate. “No cement can withstand that about of temperature range over a short space of time. I told him to hire freezer containers for $250 a week, put them in his yard and put the stock in them until we could bring the temperature down gradually. That is all he wanted. A solution. And we gave him one.”

And Tate says the payoff is tangible and can be measured by repeat business. “We get 80 percent repeat business with clients,” said Tate. “I have clients phoning me up that I haven’t spoken to for two years. They go, ‘Mate, I’ve got a problem, can you come down and give us advice?’ I go and help them and I don’t charge. But I know if they are going to build a facility – whether it be Melbourne or Sydney, or up in Queensland – their first port of call is going to be Total Construction.”

IoT-enabled inkjet printer can save on downtime

Traceability codes and best before dates are a vital part of the production process in the food and beverage industry.

Industrial ink jet coders print the vital information such as best before dates and traceability codes on to products, and their performance can be a major contributor to manufacturing Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) statistics.

With that being said, it is critical they are being monitored effectively so they can be working at optimum efficiency. Through the emergence of IIoT and cloud technology, this has become more achievable for manufacturers.

Industry 4.0, smart factories and IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) are all terms that illustrate the future for manufacturing. They describe a world where each component of a factory is connected through a cyber system that monitors factory processes to achieve optimum OEE.

READ: Insignia discusses challenges impacting the beverage industry

With this in mind, insignia, the sole Australian distributor of Domino marking and coding hardware, have embraced IIoT technology to provide a cloud offering that delivers better visibility and improved performance of their coding solutions. But how exactly does it work?

“A Domino Cloud interface plugs into the inkjet coder and uses a 3G network to send data to the cloud,” said Blair Kietzmann, insignia’s head of sales for Domino.

“From there, the data is used to analyse performance and areas that require particular attention, so we are able to provide proactive maintenance.

“The customer’s uptime is paramount,” said Kietzmann.

“With the cloud we can remotely monitor our customer’s fleet of inkjet printers around the country from our technical help desk, and if necessary assist in live issue resolution – before it impacts the production line.

“The other benefit of this kind of predictive maintenance is that if the machine does fail, both the customer and our HelpDesk team are instantly notified of the issue and its cause. The biggest cost in any production line is downtime. If we can help reduce that downtime in our small way, then we are doing our job.”

The main benefit highlighted by Kietzmann is that Domino Cloud has allowed insignia to move their support services from a reactive to proactive approach. With cloud technology the company is able to provide more value to their customers through remote diagnostics and predictive maintenance. Having full visibility allows insignia’s experienced technicians to call the customer, find the right person and navigate them to remedy the issue over the phone. That can turn a potentially lengthy period of downtime into a 10-minute resolution over the phone, or aid in a first-time, field-support fix.

In addition to the support from insignia, Domino Cloud also allows users to monitor their plant remotely via a smartphone or tablet, as well as a desktop or laptop computer, giving real -time visibility of the production line.

“Cloud solutions can be challenging and at times expensive to implement,” he said.

“Having an IoT device ready to go on your printer gives you a window into your production line through the eyes of the printer. It gives a taste of what Industry 4.0 can deliver without the big costs and complicated set up.

“You can log into that printer through a smart device anywhere in the world, any time you like, and you can see in real time what your production line is doing. You can see that it is running and the production output. It gives you immediate feedback on your production line.

“Being an Australian family-owned business ourselves, we understand the impact unplanned downtime can have.

“In a country as large as Australia, being able to support both our metro and regional customers remotely in a more predictive and proactive way, means we can ensure our equipment is running more reliably, maximising their production uptime and driving down their costs,” said Kietzmann.

AIP president explains biodegradable and compostable packaging

Biodegradable and compostable packaging are not interchangeable. Dr Carol Kilcullen-Lawrence, the national president of the Australia Institute of Packaging (AIP) explains why.

Compostable and biodegradable – two terms that are often used interchangeably, but in reality actually mean very different things.

In light of the recent Australian Environment Ministers announcement that 100 per cent of packaging in Australia will be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025 we need to better understand how we can really achieve this and how different this target is compared to the packaging waste streams that are in place today.

The first step is to understand the difference between compostable and biodegradable packaging.

READ: AIP will run food waste and packaging seminars at FoodTech PackTech

Everything will degrade over time but true biodegradation occurs through a biochemical process, with the aid of enzymes produced by naturally occurring microorganisms, both in the presence and absence of oxygen i.e. aerobic or anaerobic, without leaving behind any toxins, yielding only carbon dioxide, water and humus or biomass.

Biodegradable packaging is either completely or partially derived from a renewable source – like paper or starch – or, if it is petroleum based, is specifically engineered with the aid of additives, to decompose in the natural environment. Such additives change the chemical composition of the plastic.

While this does not affect its manufacturing, use or shelf life, such that it differs functionally from other plastics, it is significant at the end of life.

A biodegradable plastic will be considered a contaminant in the plastics recycling stream, as on being exposed to moisture and appropriate microorganisms, the biodegradation process will commence.

Compostable packaging has an organic origin, like sugar cane, bamboo or paper, and can broadly be classified into two types:

1. one that which will compost in a home compost; and

2. one that requires an industrial compost facility.

Industrial composting can cope with a wider range of compostable products as it involves pre-processing – where materials are ground and chipped down into smaller pieces, and in addition, industrial composting provides the higher temperatures needed for more efficient break down.

Home composting takes place at much lower temperatures and over an extended time frame, which can typically go up to a year, compared to a matter of weeks for industrial composting. And what people and organisations need to realise is that there is a different set of standards for materials suitable for home composting, which is governed by Vincotte a Belgium-based certification organisation.

While not currently available in all regions of Australia, industrial composting facilities are becoming increasingly widespread with many more councils and private companies providing bins where food scraps and compostable packaging can be disposed of within existing green waste collection services.

Known as FOGO, participating councils are considering potentially reducing landfill collections to fortnightly, allowing FOGO collections to become weekly. However, most councils also know that there will need to be significant consumer education to ensure the right types of compostable and biodegradable packaging are disposed of in such services.

One of the ideal situations to utilise compostable and biodegradable packaging is at public events where the inputs to the waste stream can be controlled by those at the arenas.

In such situations if all food packaging is manufactured from compostable organic sources and biodegradable plastics, then disposal facilities that capture this with the food waste will allow the packaging to be industrially composted together.

This is an ideal solution as many types of biodegradable and compostable packaging cannot be recycled, hence cannot be placed in kerbside recycling. It would be impossible for a consumer to identify the difference between a biodegradable PLA plastic container with a visually identical petroleum-based polymer one.

The move to biodegradable or compostable packaging is real, and with a 2025 target, now is the time to identify not only the most suitable sustainable solutions to suit each product, but to also ensure that the packaging waste streams have the capabilities to manage this change.