Autumn rainfalls of above average in most of Victoria and New South Wales this year mean busy times ahead for Shaun Thorneycroft, whose business, Precise Header & Ag Repairs, helps more than 70 growers in north-west Victoria with their header services each year.
Baler chain failures can be very frustrating when they happen in the middle of the busy harvesting season, particularly at night. As Troy Markland, Product Manager at BSC explains, the broken chain often needs to be replaced right there in the field to continue the day’s job, causing serious delays and reduced productivity.
“There’s also always the risk that a failed or a badly fitted chain can damage other components such as the sprockets,” he says.
When one of BSC’s customers, Rob Pickles from Hayanmi Fodder, complained about frequent chain failures on his baler machines, the BSC Shepparton team suggested switching to Diamond’s high strength (HS) series roller chains for increased reliability.
Rob’s business, Hayanmi Fodder, owns two Krone balers and engages in agricultural contracting work in the north central regions of Victoria, producing 15,000 – 20,000 bales per machine.
Hayanmi Fodder’s existing baler chains were wearing out quickly when put through the heavy workload and failing before even one hay season was over.
When Rob contacted the BSC Shepparton branch in search for a solution, he was advised to switch to the Diamond 60HS-1 chains.
As Troy explains, the HS series of Diamond drive chains features through-hardened, medium carbon alloy steel pins, which enable them to resist higher impact and shock loads and offer better working load capacity compared to the standard heavy series drive chains.
“Diamond’s high strength series chains are built to ASME/ANSI B29.1 and B29.28 standards, making them suited to applications subjected to heavy loads or lifting,” says Troy.
Following the upgrade to Diamond 60HS-1 chains, the reliability of Hayanmi Fodder’s baler machines has improved dramatically, says Rob.
“We now tend to put a new set of roller chains on the balers at the start of the harvest season and we get through the season without a hitch. Sometimes the same chains last for two consecutive seasons without needing replacement. Before this, we sometimes had to replace the chains up to three times each year.”
As an additional benefit, Rob says replacing the chains has also reduced the frequency of sprocket wear on the machines.
This, as Troy explains, is due to the Diamond 60HS-1 chain maintaining correct pitch length, ensuring positive and accurate chain and sprocket engagement, combined with a good lubrication process.
In addition to the high strength series, Diamond Chain also manufactures hoist chain and rollerless lift chain for heavy loads or lifting applications.
“The Diamond hoist chain is dimensionally identical to standard series chains but also incorporates pins produced from medium carbon alloy steel, through-hardened to give chains higher working load capacity and additional resistance to fatigue,” says Troy.
“The Diamond rollerless lift chains are designed for tension linkages where frequent articulation requires the increased bearing area of roller chain. Rollerless lift chains are dimensionally identical to standard series chains but are produced without rollers,” he adds.
As strong as the new chains on his balers are, Rob says so is the bond of friendship that has formed over the years between him and the BSC Shepparton Branch Manager, Adam Failla – whom he refers to as his “mate”.
“I’ve known Adam for a long time, and he knows his products very well. In fact, all of the BSC team have a good product knowledge and they are very down-to-earth, so it’s easy to get their advice when an issue comes up,” he says.
“I’ve worked with the Shepparton branch for many years and I can say with confidence that whatever spare part or product I need, they can find and provide to me in the shortest time possible,” he adds.
Adam says as industry experts and suppliers of reputed agricultural equipment parts, the BSC team engages closely with farmers and agricultural contractors through regular site visits and participation in agricultural field days to understand their requirements.
“When we meet with the farmers and our customers, be it during a visit to their farm or on an agricultural field day, we always ask them questions to see if we can offer better products than what they are currently using to get better life out of their equipment,” says Adam.
“Contractors like Rob invest heavily in their machines and they put these through very different conditions. For example, some contractors go to the Mallee region, where the farming conditions are a lot different than what they experience here. The soil tends to be drier and dustier up there, whereas we have had more rain here near Shepparton.
“So, when we offer a solution, we keep in mind all of that based on our experience and this helps our customers get better life and service from their equipment,” he concludes.
Diamond High Strength (HS) Roller Chains:
- Built to ASME/ANSI B29.1 and B29.28 standards
- Intended for heavy shock or pulsating loads
- Through-hardened, medium carbon alloy steel pins
- More resistance to heavy loads compared to standard heavy series drive chains
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When people think of VEGA, they look at it as the BMW of instrumentation – quality, but at a price. But VEGA can also develop Hyundai’s. We also develop ranges that are cost-effective, entry level products.”
So said John Leadbetter, senior managing director of VEGA Australia, when talking about the VEGAPOINT range of point level switches aimed at the food and beverage markets. VEGA has a reputation as a producer of high-quality instrumentation, so for one of its products to have a starting price of $240 is not what some would expect, but there are several reasons for this according to Leadbetter.
“When we surveyed our customers, when they think of VEGA, they look at us as a higher end manufacturer of instrumentation,” he said. “However, we also develop ranges that are cost-effective, entry level products.
“The other thing that we are mindful of is that the Asian market is developing products at 1/10th of the price of the US and European markets.
“That is why when we sat down three years ago to develop new products, we decided to aim them at the cost-conscious industry. And the food and beverage industry is cost conscious and one we didn’t have a big presence in. We needed to change that.”
Even Leadbetter’s own sales team asked him how VEGA could make a product so cheaply.
“I said, ‘go back to the year 2000, how much did you pay for a television?’,” he said. “Back then big plasmas and LEDs could be up $15,000. Today, you’d pay less than $1,000. The more we get advanced the cheaper the product becomes.
“When we look at a lot of products these days, like a mobile phone, the technologies get better and better. The prices come down because of the competitive nature of those things. It is a natural progression. I won’t say we were tunnel visioned, but we were caught up in part of the market that we do very well in. We kept walking past other markets and wishing we had something for that. Now we have. What it has done for us around the world, it has given our guys a new lease of life, because we now have new customers to visit.”
However, just because something is cost effective does not mean build has been compromised. Leadbetter knows that even though VEGA is aiming its products at a new market, quality is still king.
“The VEGAPOINT’s body is 316 stainless steel,” he said. “When you look at it, you see VEGA quality. We’re not talking about something that weighs 50g, we are talking about a decent amount of weight because of the metal in there.”
One of the industries that VEGA is targeting within food and beverage is microbreweries, an industry that has ramped up its footprint in the beverage space over the past decade.
VEGAPOINT’s key feature is to see through the viscosity and grime that can cover a switch when it is in a vat, to give process managers accurate information when it is needed, such as the level of product – something that microbreweries would know all about. Leadbetter illustrates how it works.
“I’ll use the example of honey,” said Leadbetter. “When you dip something in honey and you pull it back out there is a coating of honey on it. The way these switches work traditionally is you put it in, it switches, then you pull it out but it remains switched because the front of the switch is covered in honey residue. As far as it is concerned it is still immersed in the honey. With VEGAPOINT, we have given it a feature where you can push another button on your iPad and say, ‘that is called build-up’ and once it churns that out, your switch goes back to off again.
“In a real life situation, when you are dealing with sticky or adhesive type products, build-up on the face of your probe is a natural occurrence. We can take away that annoying switch problem that most switch probes have.”
Another feature of these switches is that they have I/O link capability, which is important when it comes to process workers wanting to communicate with the device.
“The I/O link is giving them information constantly so their system’s re-evaluating and monitoring, everything,” said Leadbetter. “It’ll give information like, ‘ok, bin 101 looks like it has a deterioration in performance,’ or, ‘looks like we have more build up in that product than we normally have. Do we have a blend mixture problem?’
“A plant manager can access the information via their mobile phone. They can look at the performance, change the settings without ever interrupting the cycle. I didn’t think five years ago I’d be programming something with a mobile phone. What we have done is taken the simplistic, overcome a problem, and made it futuristic.”
Customer reaction has been great, said Leadbetter, but there has been an issue outside the control of VEGA – something that is affecting most businesses.
“Feedback has been brilliant. However, we released it in late January and early February. We sent demonstration back packs to all the sales reps around the world, which had the VEGAPOINT with batteries and all the other gear to show customers. Then, on the March 13 the world shut down, so we were fighting COVID,” he said.
Like a lot of companies, a little bit of a lateral thinking has gone a long way. Early on, when COVID-19 first hit, the VEGA team came up with the VEGAPOINT challenge, whereby the company’s sales reps around the world were challenged to upload a one-minute video on LinkedIn that showed an array of applications for the device.
“With restrictions, they were not able to go to different sites, so a lot of it has been done on the kitchen table or bathroom or laundry or whatever,” said Leadbetter. “What this exercise highlighted was that we’ve got a little bit of sleeping giant with this product.”
As well as having FDA approval, there are also a lot of adaptors that can be fitted to the device so they can be used in a variety of applications within the food and beverage industry. Leadbetter said the VEGA team is looking forward to offering problem-solving solutions to the food and beverage industry.
“At the end of the day, we were saying to people that they were wanting to get rid of a certain problem, but they don’t want to spend $5,000 doing it,” he said. “Now they have something that is $240, that with a little bit of self-tuning, you have got rid of any annoying issue.”
When an iconic confectionery manufacturer in Western Sydney had complaints about premature failure of their conveyor chains, BSC Sales Service Representative Fady Elchab recommended using Alemlube multi-point lubrication systems to auto-lubricate their chains. This resulted in extending the serviceable life of the chains by more than 100 per cent.
Fady, who regularly checks on the manufacturing plant on behalf of BSC to make sure it is well-supplied with lubricants and other consumable products, says implementing Alemlube’s auto-lubrication solution resulted in a considerable reduction in downtime and labor requirement.
“This manufacturing plant has 12 roller chain assembly lines that help run the confectionery products through various stages in the production process. The chains previously had a serviceable life of only 6-8 months. After installing Alemlube’s automatic lubricators along the line, the chains’ serviceable life has increased to as much as 12, 18, and in some cases even 24 months,” says Fady.
Auto-lubrication has also helped the plant improve operational safety by taking the manual labor out of the maintenance processes, Fady says.
“In food and beverage manufacturing, there are many applications that involve hot processes or are hard to reach for manual lubrication. In these cases we recommend using automatic lubrication systems. For example, our confectionery customer is using Alemlube automatic lubricators to lubricate the bearings in their ovens and combustion fans, which are otherwise regarded as high-risk areas for manual lubrication,” he says.
As a national supplier of industrial solutions, BSC works closely with Alemlube to bring automatic lubrication solutions to a wide range of customers, including those in the food and beverage industry.
John Knight, Alemlube’s Lubrication Systems Product Manager for Australia and New Zealand says of the many operating conditions that can cause premature component failure, few are more predominant than lack of lubrication.
“Chains, particularly in the ovens, will lock up if they are not correctly lubricated, which can cause major downtime and wear and tear,” he says.
“Bearings are also susceptible to premature failure from poor lubrication. Over half of bearing failures happen either from lack of lubrication or contamination. If bearings are kept properly lubricated and contamination-free, their life span can be improved many times over,” he says.
Alemlube multi-point lubrication systems can be designed to lubricate anywhere between 2 to 200 application points simultaneously, providing constant lubrication at desirable pressure and dosage. Among these solutions is the Pulsarlube M Series, which can be set up to lubricate up to eight lubrication dispense points with a single unit.
John says using automatic lubrication systems frees up the maintenance crew’s time to focus on other important tasks.
“When the lubrication systems are installed, the daily drudgery of greasing is taken care of. When the bearings are greased hourly by the automatic lubrication system, bearing failures become less frequent and therefore production efficiency increases. This promotes a positive feedback loop where the maintenance staff can start to focus on preventative maintenance, condition monitoring and planning instead of rushing from one breakdown to the next,” he says.
Through their partnership, the teams at BSC and Alemlube bring extensive expertise on maintenance best practices to their customers, according to John.
“The team at BSC knows and understands their customers very well. Combining this with Alemlube’s experience in design and installation of automatic lubrication systems helps address the customers’ issues related to bearing and lubrication reliability,” John says.
“Many plants tend to put production first and maintenance second. This can be detrimental to the reliability of the operations and the long-term plant health. The collaboration between BSC and Alemlube often gives the customer a new portfolio of tools and strategies to increase efficiency and reduce the costs of maintaining their plant,” he adds.
John’s views are echoed by Fady, who says both BSC and Alemlube are customer-oriented companies.
“At BSC, we are very much driven by customer satisfaction. It is quite common that I meet my customers after business hours or on weekends. That’s because I love my job and I enjoy building relationships with my customers,” he says.
“Because of this strong relationship with customers, they often call me to ask for solutions to their problems and I try my best to either help them or point them in the right direction. And the feedback that I get from customers is that they too love the support that they get from us,” Fady concludes.
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The Costa tagline is a promise: well grown. It’s a simple, down to earth statement that’s completely fitting of the leading Australian fresh produce grower. It’s also apt when describing the relationship that’s been cultivated between the BSC Campbellfield branch and Costa’s mushroom farm in Mernda, located on the outskirts of Melbourne.
Costa’s Mernda mushroom farm is the largest mushroom farm in Australia. They harvest both white and brown Agaricus mushrooms and supply to major supermarkets – the punnets that readers see on the shelves of major supermarket chains in Melbourne are likely to have been grown and packed in Mernda.
According to David Quadrino, who plays the dual role of Pre-Harvest and Maintenance Manager at the farm, on average 260 Tonnes or 8 million individual mushrooms are picked every week. They also employ over 500 people onsite and run 7 days a week, 364 days a year – with New Year’s Day being the only day the farm is closed.
It’s a large operation and David is responsible for the process “all the way until the mushrooms are picked” in addition to the site equipment and staff who provide maintenance services, including the security and cleaners. The scope of his job is extensive and as such, he has come to rely on the supply and expertise of BSC’s nearby branch in Campellfield, which is managed by Mark Shaw.
“They’re always available to me when I phone and will go out of their way to supply us with the parts and equipment we need – even if it’s out of their scope,” explains David. “They’re a critical part of our operation, providing invaluable service and products that range from consumables in the workshop to motors, gear boxes and bearings.”
Being available to David and the Costa crew at Mernda is a commitment that BSC Campbellfield manager Mark Shaw and his team take seriously.
“The solutions we provide are all in one, ranging from basic consumables through to the industrial side which encompasses power transmission, gear boxes, bearings and the like,” says Mark. “We go out to the site three times a week to check their consumables and address any needs they have. They have a consumable section that we keep stocked with greases, aerosols, nuts and bolts, cutting disks, abrasives, glues and so on. They also have a hydraulic section to make hoses, and we provide all the fittings for that as well.”
The BSC branch provides a maintenance package to the Costa Mernda mushroom farm, which means they provide a regular and ongoing service, as well as parts and equipment as needed. However, Mark clarifies his team is available beyond the site visit times allocated.
“We provide a reliable service through and through. What that means is we’re available when they need us. As long as they communicate their requirements, we’ll make sure we get that product to them as quick as possible,” he enthuses. “Sometimes it may be challenging to arrange the parts or equipment on time, but we enjoy that challenge and find the result very satisfying. This type of customer is a hidden gem – we really value them and are glad to be the ‘go to’ branch they rely on.”
The level of support the BSC branch provides to the Mernda operation is certainly appreciated. From David’s perspective, the BSC team out at Campbellfield will “always go out of their way” to assist and service the farm’s needs. He provides an example of where Mark organised a replacement oven for the farm’s canteen, despite this piece of equipment being outside the scope of products that BSC typically supplies.
“A few months ago, the oven went in the canteen and I couldn’t find a supplier in our list, so I rang Mark and gave him the oven details. I asked if he could help us out by buying it and charging it to our bill – next thing I know we have a new oven here. The exact replacement needed,” David recalls. “This illustrates the lengths that Mark and the team will go to help us out, and it means a lot to us.”
Importantly, the BSC team out at Campbellfield have an understanding of the farm’s timelines and commitment to production. This translates to providing a fast and efficient service.
“A few weeks back we had an issue with our bag sealers on the spawn lab. Four of the belts were worn and the machine had stopped running. We didn’t have any spares,” explains David. “I rang Trent at the Campbellfield branch and gave him the size I needed. He located the parts out in Dandenong and had them sent to me within 2 hours. Even though I’d advised that production for the day had stopped, he knew I needed the machine to be working the next morning so he just made sure I had the parts as soon as possible.”
All in all, the relationship between the branch and the Mernda farm could certainly be described as ‘well grown’, with a mutual respect for the others’ operation evident.
“I’m a phone person. Many people tend to stick to email these days, but I prefer to speak to someone over the phone,” adds David. “The guys out at BSC in Campbellfield always answer my calls. They’re always there to provide support. It’s a level of service that we take personally because we know they will go above and beyond for us.”
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For a winery with a history as rich as South Australia’s Oxford Landing Estate winery, choosing the right equipment is essential to ensuring the wine’s quality. This is why when BSC Sales Representative, Robert Harris first introduced Gates’ food-grade hoses to the winery, he did not expect the winemakers to approve the product right away.
Robert says he knew about the stringent quality assurance process that the winery had in place, but he also had great confidence in the quality of the product he was offering.
Robert says when he called Oxford Landing Estates’ cellar manager to set up an appointment to introduce Gates’ hoses to him a couple of years ago, he was told to not keep his hopes high. He took his shot and went in with samples of the high-end Gates hoses. The winery agreed to test the wine transfer hoses and soon placed their first major order, forging a relationship with BSC that has flourished over time.
Chris Leggett, the Logistics Manager at Oxford Landing Estate, says the winery has one of the most stringent quality control processes in the industry.
“Any product that comes into any form of contact with the wine, such as the inside surface of the hose, needs to go through a quality control process and be approved for use before we can purchase it. Once we purchase a hose, it will go through a cleaning process and then through the quality control verification process,” he explains.
Chris has worked at the Oxford Landing Estate winery since the winery was built in 2004. He says he’s quite happy working with BSC as a supplier.
“BSC supplies us with quality hoses, as well as other equipment such as chains, bearings, seals and spare parts. We have never had any issues or concerns working with BSC. Their response time is very good and they understand what we need,” Chris says.
“The Gates’ hoses being of very high quality, it saves us time when it comes to testing the products. Robert visits us regularly on behalf of BSC and offers consultation to the maintenance department regarding any components that they need,” he adds.
Gates is one of the key suppliers of hosing solutions to the food and beverage industry in Australia and they work closely with BSC as a trusted partner to deliver those solutions.
Gates Australia Product Manager for Food Products, Kent Clark, says the Gates FOOD MASTER XTREME 250SD CR is an ideal hose for transferring wine, as well as any other beverage that could have its taste tainted if run through a lower-grade transfer hose.
“A number of well-known wineries only trust this particular product for transferring their wine. This is mostly based on their experience of being able to maintain the wine’s taste and flavor when it passes through the hose. We also sell the hose to manufacturers of beer, ale, milk, yoghurt, juices, soft drinks, cosmetic and pharmaceutical products.
What makes the FOOD MASTER XTREME 250SD CR unique, Kent says, is the proprietary Sanitron developed by Gates for use in the Food Master premium series.
The tube material, Sanitron provides a glass-smooth interior surface for efﬁcient product ﬂow – a smoothness competitors can’t match. It will not discolour foods and beverages or impart any unusual taste or odour during product transfer. And Sanitron is a snap to clean using open-end steam or high-temperature cleaning solutions up to 110°C. which meets the requirements of Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 3A-Class 3 and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“The hose is also reinforced with a conductive filament and a monofilament helix, which provides crush and kink resistance. This means the hose can be run over or hit up against hard surfaces without any impact to the structure of the hose,” he adds.
Gates also offers a range of other hoses particularly designed for the food and beverage industry. These include, among others, the light and flexible FOOD MASTER BEVERAGE 150SD CR and FOOD MASTER OILS and DAIRY 150SD, which is ideal for transfer of animal fat, vegetable oil and dairy products.
Kent says working with BSC, Gates is able to provide flexible and custom-made solutions when required.
“For example, our hoses are often available in the standard 30-metre lengths. But we also have a custom-length program with BSC, wherein we can provide customised hose lengths to customers on a case-by-case basis,” Kent says.
“We hold our customers in high regard and support them as best we can. We understand that pricing and product availability are top priorities for our customers and that is why we work with BSC to provide quick turnarounds for customers,” he concludes.
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When you’re a big conglomerate like Nestlé, reputation is key – not just in terms of the products you produce, but how you look after staff.
Nestlé is a world-renowned food and beverage company, which means it is a vital industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. This also means it has to go through a lot of adjustments when it comes to the processing and manufacturing of products.
Alain Riesterer is the company’s Technical and Production director and has worked all over the globe in many different environments. He knows how important it is to keep staff safe, which is why the company implemented strategies before the pandemic hit that in turn meant the teams were anticipating a number of challenges that lay ahead.
“Since the beginning of COVID our operations have run full,” he said. “We have not had a single day of shut down because one of our main reasons of existence is to supply food to the population. That is very clear in this situation of crisis. We have seen several countries where there were potential food scarcity situations, which is why it was important for us to be able to supply food to the communities.”
From an operations point of view in, the company’s seven factories in Australia started with best hygiene practices and standards – that included additional hand washing and sanitation for hands with alcohol-based solutions. Also, from the beginning of the crisis, Nestlé implemented mandatory temperature control at the entry of all of its premises.
“We have also created a Team A and Team B structure in every single one of our operations in order to ensure the social distancing,” said Riesterer.
“We have a rule of two metres, some companies have a rule of 1.5m. In some places in our operation we could not ensure the 2m, so we went into physical barrier installation such as plexiglass separation between our employees.”
Team A and Team B were implemented by the company’s head office first. It has also implemented shift patterns on site at its factories – a morning shift, afternoon shift and night shift. Senior staff ensure that the shifts are consistent with start and end times with the same people so there is minimum cross-over. This means less risk of any cross-contamination between a staff member who might inadvertently come to work infected.
Riesterer said that a lot of the practices that the company has implemented, such as social distancing and physical separation between its employees, will stay and probably never go back to the way things were.
“At the end of the day, it is part of good hygiene practice. We also learned a lot and we proved that we could operate with these new circumstances,” he said. “We also ensure that between the shifts – the cross over – is limited to the bare minimum so we don’t have any potential cross-contamination between the different people.”
Panic buying can produce its own set of problems, mainly in terms of the supply chain and with raw and packaging materials. Luckily, Nestlé was also prepared in that instance, too.
“We did have some raw materials that were coming from overseas and we reacted very fast at the very beginning in increasing our stock cover,” he said. “Fortunately for our factories in Australia, we did not have any major disruption. We followed closely what was happening with raw and packaging material in different countries worldwide. At the moment we have certain raw materials coming from the US and we will increase our stock cover in advance. We have managed a very fluent supply during these last three months without major disruption.”
With a lot of uncertainty around the markets in many industries, some would think it might be time to sit back, take stock of the situation, and perhaps even pare back some activities. Not so, with Nestlé – it’s business as usual.
“Planned maintenance and capex are continuing,” said Riesterer. “From a crisis, there are a lot of opportunities. And I think the mindset of the people and how to embrace that change. This is where we have been very good – at all levels of the organisation from the shop floor up to the management of our factories in our organisation. Nobody wants to go through something like COVID-19 but at the end of the day it’s the adaptability of the organisation that will make it successful.”
A lot of the company’s maintenance needs are met by its own technicians. Being an international conglomerate, Nestlé does have parts suppliers from around the world but this has hardly affected its Australian operations, although like a lot of companies at the moment, it is careful about who it allows onsite and when.
“We limit access to third parties because we want to minimise risk. The health and safety of our people is our key priority, we therefore implemented remote support via
web based technologies, such as, video-conferencing.
Nestlé also did something extraordinary for a conglomerate with a huge workforce.
“We implemented a special 14-day COVID-19 leave, which is additional to the sick leave and holiday leave that is paid,” he said. “At the end of the day, it is to keep the workplace safe. A lot of industries have taken similar steps to ensure that frontline employees are safe, are motivated. We need them. Without them, nothing happens.”
Riesterer said that the company is malleable when it comes to how things will be in the future. He knows that COVID-19 will probably have a lasting effect on how a lot of companies are run. However, he isn’t ready to hang his hat on any one aspect that will change, only that the way things are done will not be the same.
“Are we rethinking the way in which we work in the office? Yes. What is the future? I do not know,” he said. “It has been a very interesting period for everybody. I think we have found out that by using new tools, it allows us to achieve a lot, of which maybe in the past, we were not so convinced.”
The last 12 months has been one of the biggest on record for Woolworths’ support of vulnerable Australians, particularly for the many individuals, families and farmers impacted by drought, then bushfire, and more recently COVID-19.
“Supporting the communities in which we operate has always been part of Woolworths Group’s DNA. However, in the current crisis and during recent natural disasters, community takes on a much broader definition,” said Brad Banducci, Woolworths Group CEO.
“We have recently doubled down on our commitment to work together with partners like OzHarvest, Fareshare and Foodbank to provide food to Australians who need it most, while our eCommerce business has remained focused on continuing to support vulnerable customers.”
Being part of almost every community in Australia means that store team members within Woolworths play an integral role in responding to immediate needs of their local community.
They provide the on-the-ground support for national community initiatives, particularly during times of disaster.
“Our store teams should be an integral part of their local community and are often directly impacted themselves by a disaster. They experience first hand what it is like on the ground, and this knowledge plays a key role in informing where our support should be directed in our national initiatives.
“It is about us listening to our team, customers and the community more broadly and uniting over the outcomes we all wish to support and achieving that through collaboration,” said Banducci.
The past year Woolworths and their major charity partners have been particularly busy.
The effects the ongoing drought has on the food industry are measurable in many ways, such as shortages of supplies and price fluctuations.
In 2018, what began as support at a local store level in regional stores in New South Wales and Queensland for communities impacted by drought, turned into Woolworths’ largest national fundraising appeal of the decade.
A combination of customer fundraising and corporate donations saw Woolworths raise over $8 million for Rural Aid, enabling them to deliver 37,231 tonnes of hay on 806 road trains to 3,233 farmers, as well two additional, full-time, on-the-ground counsellors.
In late 2019, with the drought worsening, bushfires were out of control, which saw businesses, homes, communities and habitat across multiple parts of the nation destroyed.
In response to the bushfires, Woolworths Bushfire Appeal in partnership with the Salvation Army was launched in November 2019 and raised over $5m.
When these bushfires hit, the Salvation Army sent in over 3,000 officers and volunteers to support the frontline emergency workers with hundreds of thousands of meals and light refreshments, many times teaming up with the local Woolworths store on the supply of goods and preparation of meals.
On New Year’s Eve and into early 2020, as the bushfires continued to devastate towns and communities, they also destroyed the habitats and food supplies of many vulnerable and endangered native species such as the Mountain Pygmy Possum, Brush-Tailed Rock Wallaby and Grey-Headed Flying Fox, which is so critical to pollination of many critical plant species.
New partnerships were borne out of the impacts the fires were having on wildlife in local communities.
“Our teams in the affected areas and our customers raised the alarm bells on what this loss of habitat could mean to the environment and asked for action to support the rescue and recovery of these animals,” said Simon Tracey, Woolworths community manager.
Woolworths began working with the NSW Government’s “Save our Species” program, to donate tonnes of fruits and vegetables directly into dozens of National Parks to feed these endangered species.
“We also extended our food rescue and recycling program to launch the ‘Woolworths Food for Wildlife Initiative’ with WIRES. This sees many of our stores donating surplus fresh food directly to the many local carers that nurturing these native animals back to health and returning them to new or old habitats as their naturally occurring food sources return,” added Tracey.
Woolworths earlier this year also expanded its S.T.A.N.D. (Support Through Australian Natural Disasters) program to incorporate four major partners – the Salvation Army, Rural Aid, Foodbank and Lifeline. Twenty cents from each sale of Woolworths Spring Water 24-pack and Woolworths Spring Water 10-litre pack is being donated to support the natural disaster work of these charities.
The initial spread of the coronavirus saw many people change their shopping behaviours and led to stockpiling of many essential products. At first it was toilet paper, but then the many key staple foods that Woolworths’ hunger relief partners rely on.
In March, Woolworths entered a new partnership with Meals on Wheels to supply toilet paper to help support their elderly and vulnerable clients across Australia.
“With the elderly being the most vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus and being asked to self-isolate, this partnership allowed us to work together with the entire supply chain and replenishment team,” said Tracey.
Woolworths worked with dozens of local Meals on Wheels centres to distribute 320,000 rolls of toilet paper, which was two packs for almost every Meals on Wheels client in the country, across hundreds of towns and cities in urban, rural, regional and remote locations.
One of Woolworths key commitments is to addressing food insecurity and food waste.
“That is why we have a number of food relief partnerships, but it was our relationships and support of our three largest partners – OzHarvest, Foodbank and FareShare, that we immediately increased to support those in immediate need as a result of COVID,” said Tracey.
FareShare, who operate Australia’s two largest community kitchens in Melbourne and Brisbane, could not rely on its army of volunteers, so Woolworths Group stepped in to provide support with chefs from its shuttered ALH hotels business to work within the kitchens through April, May and June.
Woolworths’ national Fresh Food rescue partner, OzHarvest, likewise saw a fluctuation in food supply and demand.
With an initial dip in available volumes of fresh food from donors, it then broke records with April being the largest volume of food they have ever rescued and distributed.
Foodbank, also saw an immediate impact on supply as the public stocked up on the many essential items such as rice, pasta, pasta sauce, tinned food and toiletries, that are always of the highest demand with the thousands of food relief charities they support.
“To assist our food relief partners without disrupting our stores during a period of increased product demand, we provided additional financial support to help them with their operating costs, then set up parallel supply chains, often purchasing food directly from our suppliers to donate directly to our partners.
“This operation ran from late March through to the end of June, with over $8 million of funds injected and many new and agile business solutions in place to support such needs in the future,” said Tracey.
Excessive corrosion and the subsequent seizure of metal connections is a common problem with assemblies in all industries, particularly so in high-moisture environments in the food industry. When nuts and bolts in the equipment seize up, it makes their disassembly and reassembly a challenge, resulting in unnecessary downtime during maintenance.
According to industry specialist Michael Rowe, who is the Product Manager of Adhesives and Sealants at CBC, using Anti-Seize lubricants while assembling the machinery parts is the best way to avoid maintenance issues down the line.
“There are many reasons why metal assemblies get corroded and seize-up over time. Obviously higher exposure to moisture, heat and pressure accelerates the deterioration of metal assemblies. But by applying the right Anti-Seize products on the bolt treads, the rust and the subsequent seizure can be avoided.”
As a key distributor of lubricants and adhesive solutions in Australia, CBC works closely with Henkel Australia to facilitate the sale of LOCTITE products, with the brand offering a number of safe, metal free Anti-Seize formulations for industries that have safety as a top priority.
But what constitutes Anti-Seize products and why is it important to purchase the right grade of the product for each purpose?
“Anti-Seize lubricants are specialty lubricants that reduce friction between threaded and matted metal parts as well as prevent corrosion and seizure of parts under pressure and at high temperatures. Essentially, they are two-part systems that comprise of a base grease and special fillers that provide the compound with its Anti-Seizing, anti-corrosion properties,” explains Michael.
While most Anti-Seize lubricants used widely in industry user copper, nickel, aluminium and zinc, as well as other heavy metals as the filler compound, LOCTITE is among very few brands that offer the metal free formulation.
Stefano Giacometti, Application Engineer at Henkel Australia, says not many people are aware of how much Anti-Seize products have advanced over time and that metal free Anti-Seize compounds can offer the same benefits as the metal-based grades while being safer for the workers as well as for the environment.
“Quite often when I go to a maintenance facility that is using a traditional copper or nickel-based Anti-Seize product, I find that they are not aware that better choices are now available. LOCTITE is at the forefront of introducing new technologies and our portfolio of Anti-Seize products is a good proof of that,” Stefano says.
LOCTITE portfolio includes six different Anti-Seize formulations, which in addition to the conventional metal-based Anti-Seize products offer two metal free grades for companies looking to enhance the safety levels at their plants and workshops.
Stefano says the LOCTITE Heavy Duty Anti-Seize functions on all metals including galvanized iron, stainless steel, brass, aluminium and soft metals between -29°C and +1315°C. LOCTITE Heavy Duty Anti-Seize has been formulated to resist higher temperatures than most other anti-seize products on the market.
“The LOCTITE Heavy Duty Metal Free Anti-Seize uses graphite as the solid filler, using this type of Anti-Seize with stainless steel fasteners, prevents galling from occurring, as this product more effectively lubricates the surfaces. It is widely used in industries where metal-based Anti-Seize use is prohibited or regarded as unsafe. To assist CBC customers in changing out current used copper or nickel based Anti-Seize, the team at Henkel can provide testing on fastening systems, ensuring correct lubricity is achieved to provide correct clamp force for assemblies,” he explains.
The LOCTITE Food Grade Anti-Seize is another metal free Anti-Seize specifically designed to meet the requirements of food manufacturers, says Stefano.
“Safety is obviously a big aspect in the food and beverage industry. The LOCTITE Food Grade Anti-Seize is NSF H1 rated for incidental food contract and is one of the few such products available in the market,” he explains.
Apart from the choice of the right Anti-Seize product, Stefano says following health and safety precautions is key to using chemical products safely.
“When you are dealing with chemicals, you need to refer to the material safety data sheet which will tell you what safety gear to use. We are happy to work with our distributors at CBC to help educate our customers on the latest products available for their purposes, as well as to ensure the safe use of these products,” he concludes.
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Wayne Willis speaks proudly when he talks about the history of Hodge Industries, where he is the owner as well as design engineer. A brief review of the company’s manufacturing legacy tells us why.
Wayne is the fourth generation of the family-owned business founded in 1914 when Wayne’s great grandfather won a patent for his unique sugar planter. The company has since expanded its range of products to include equipment for every stage of sugar cane plantation, from land preparation to planting, fertilising, weeding and harvesting.
They have exported since 1974 to almost every sugar cane growing country in the world and are the sole supplier to the sugar farming industry for a wide range of products. They also offer machinery repairs and general engineering services from the Hodge factory in Mackay.
Over the past 20 years, Hodge Industries has been relying on the BSC branch in Mackay to source the bearings and bearing components the company requires for a number of its agricultural equipment as well as a number of other miscellaneous parts and components required for their factory.
Wayne says the partnership has been advantageous for Hodge Industries for a number of reasons.
“Our experience working with BSC has been really good. The products we source from them are all excellent, as is the service they provide. More importantly, they constantly talk to us about our requirements to make sure they are well-stocked for whatever we might need in the future. They work hard to ensure we are fully supplied with what we need.”
One of the key components that BSC supplies to Hodge Industries is the NSK Agri Disc Hub – a complete bearing housing unit designed and manufactured by NSK Germany to withstand the rigours of broad acre farming, including Australia’s harsh conditions.
Andrew Rooney, BSC Mackay branch manager says the first time BSC introduced NSK Agri Disc Hub to its client was around 4 years ago. “Since then, they’ve just continued ordering the product. They don’t use anything else,” Andrew says.
Wayne says Hodge Industries has used the NSK Agri Disc Hub to improve the design of its sugar cane fertiliser equipment, which are used to fertilise the sugar cane ratoons when they grow about one metre tall.
“Through this improvement, we’ve created a more reliable product, to the point that we’ve actually never experienced a bearing failure since we started using the NSK unit. The Agri Disc Hubs were actually tested overseas in harsher environments than what we experience here in Australia, which explains their toughness and high performance,” he says.
Wayne says using the Agri Disc Hub has enabled Hodge to make its fertilising equipment slimmer, lighter, and stronger.
“The bearing we used before was a lot bigger, and we had to make them in components at our factory and then assemble them out in the field. The NSK Agri Disc Hub that we get from BSC replaces that whole mechanism. It’s also smaller and thinner, so it works really good for our product.”
According to NSK Australia’s Sales Engineer Dave Healey, the strength of NSK’s Agri Disc Hub lies in its thick solid steel housing body, which has a minimum thickness of 8.5 mm around the seal and bearing.
“This allows the bearing to absorb heavy impact loads,” he says. “The double row ball bearing installed at a 40-degree contact angle also enables the Agri Hub to cope with higher axial loads compared to a standard 30-degree angle of most competitor’s bearings.”
“The Agri Disc Hub is designed to ensure maximum protection for the rolling elements. A five-lip cassette seal protecting the housing and a further triple lip seal protecting the bearings make it very difficult for contaminants to reach the rolling elements, ensuring longer life for the bearing,” Healey says.
According to Andrew, there is great take-up of the Agri Hub in Mackay, both from manufacturers such as Hodge Industries as well as from farmers and equipment repairers.
“We just make sure that we stay on top of our customers’ needs and that we have all of the parts in-stock, when they need it and where they need it.”
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Operating in the self-proclaimed “happiest place on Earth”, the Wine Warehouse distributes fine wine, beer and spirits to companies located throughout California.
The company’s customer base often orders more than once a week, resulting in roughly 15,000 weekly open invoices to collect on.
A challenge to handle that number of invoices in any environment, the matter was further complicated by some sales representatives having to collect payment by hand while on site. Although a common process in Wine Warehouse’s industry, this process led to an increase in Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) and often left sales attempting to reconcile accounts and handle issues better suited for the accounts receivable (AR) department to handle.
Now, the process is more efficient thanks to Esker’s Collections Management solution. Rather than relying on sales to handle invoice questions and receive payment, invoicing and collections are now left to the AR department – resulting in faster collections and a higher level of visibility due to custom reporting tools and real-time metrics being tracked.
On the other end, customers can access a self-service portal. From this portal they may view invoices, setup an auto-pay option or immediately pay, which in turn reduce DSO and improves the customer experience. Not only does the cloud-based solution offer staff newfound capabilities – such as taking payments over the phone or monitoring best possible DSO – it has benefitted multiple teams by centralising all AR information.
“The enthusiasm for Esker isn’t just limited to the AR department,” said Patrick Powers, credit manager at Wine Warehouse. “Our IT team was the one that introduced it to us and recognised its potential. We all love it.”
Since implementing Esker’s automation solution, the Wine Warehouse has managed to streamline its systems, which has led to:
• Increased amount of money collected through solution by 45 per cent over a single year.
• Raised the Collections Effectiveness Index (CEI) to over 80 per cent.
• Greater staff productivity; sales are no longer involved in invoicing and there are less customer calls requesting paper copies.
• Enhanced visibility; customisable reports and real-time Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are easily accessible.
• Customers have self-service options and are able to communicate directly with accounting rather than sales.
• Lowered DSO; sending weekly automated reminders to customers.
The harvest season is a critical period for all farmers. Most crops need to be harvested within a limited window of time for crop growers to achieve the best results. But with the harvesting equipment often kept idle throughout the year, it is critical to ensure that machinery is ready to roll come harvest season.
From small-scale harvesting equipment to large combine harvesters, bearings are key components in the harvesting machinery. If a farmer discovers close to the harvest season that a critical bearing in his machine requires repair or replacement due to excessive corrosion or seizure, the resulting downtime would be nerve-wracking for the farmer and potentially harmful to crop yield.
As Australia’s largest distributor of bearings and industrial solutions, CBC Australia, in partnership with NTN Australia, supplies the NTN Black Bearings, which are ball bearings specifically designed for agricultural applications.
The ‘black’ in the NTN Black Bearings comes from the black oxide treatment that the bearing components go through in the production process to increase the corrosion resistance, resulting in serviceable life of more than twice the equivalent standard bearings, according to Fabio Rebecchi, NTN Australia’s National Product Manager – Bearing Group.
“The NTN Black Bearings are ideally suited for use in harvesting equipment as well as any other agricultural machinery. The black oxide coating covers all of the bearing surfaces, including the inner and outer rings, which offers excellent corrosion and fretting resistance. This helps avoid the common issue of bearing seizure from corrosion that farmers often face with their harvesting equipment,” says Fabio.
With agricultural environments also prone to high levels of contamination for the bearings, NTN also provides trash guard seals specifically designed to protect the bearings in the NTN Black series from any external contaminants, Fabio explains.
“In harvesting, the products that are being harvested can contaminate the bearings, thereby leading to shorter bearing life. The NTN trash guard seals are uniquely designed with a heavy-duty rubber lip bonded to the seal plate to help protect the bearings from both corrosion and misalignment,” Fabio says.
Additionally, the NTN Black Bearing comes 70 per cent factory-filled with a superior heavy duty grease to provide excellent water resistance and long lubricant life, according to Fabio.
“When testing the bearings at our facility in Japan for dust-proofing, the NTN engineering team found that the bearing’s life could be further enhanced by increasing the filling rate of the grease. The filling rate for this particular bearing is higher than you would normally find in the standard bearings, which adds extra protection to keep the contaminants out of the bearing.”
Another plus point with the NTN Black Bearing, according to Fabio, is that the bearings can replace conventional ball bearings without any modifications required in the equipment’s design. This feature is particularly attractive for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) looking to retrofit their existing machinery with a superior bearing option, he says.
In Australia, NTN bearings are available exclusively through the national CBC distribution network, a partnership that Fabio says helps deliver the high-end NTN products and engineering services to the Australian OEMs and end-user customers.
“Whether it is OEMs looking to implement the NTN Black Bearing in their own agricultural machinery or farm-owners looking to retrofit their existing machinery, the collaboration is made possible through the CBC field representatives who provide the link between the end-users and the NTN global engineering team. The CBC field engineers are quite adept and their support is also backed by NTN’s global engineering team,” Fabio says.
While the NTN Black Bearing is more expensive than the equivalent standard bearings in the market, Fabio says the additional cost is absolutely justified when considering the potential downtime losses from bearing failure.
“The feedback we have received from our customers is that they are happy to pay the extra cost in exchange for the peace of mind that they get by having a reliable bearing in their harvesting machine. Timing is of essence for harvesting and so making sure that the equipment is ready to go when it’s needed most is the biggest benefit that we can provide with this bearing.”
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Competition in the food and beverage sector in Asia Pacific is intense, which puts pressure on producers and distributors to become more efficient if they want to stay both competitive and profitable. In a sector of high-volume and low-value perishable goods, having accurate insights into costs, margins, inventory, production and the supply chain can be the difference between surviving and thriving.
Consumers are more demanding too, calling not only for greater variety but for more information on the product they are consuming, where it was produced and where its ingredients are sourced from.
Manufacturers in the food and beverage sector are faced with the challenge of providing a wide range of goods that are safe to consume and are compliant with mounting regulations. With short ingredient expiry dates, tight timelines and the need to be price competitive, even quite minor bottlenecks can have a significant impact on profitability. Therefore, it is essential that bottlenecks are quickly identified and removed to ensure the long-term viability of the business.
When the solution becomes a bigger problem
For many companies in an effort to reduce bottlenecks and become leaner, their instinct is to minimise, minimise, minimise, reducing cleaning and changeover time. However, in the rush to eliminate extra steps, food and beverage producers can sometimes cause new bottlenecks to occur. These can severely reduce throughput, impact product quality, cause delays and annoy customers, resulting in orders being cancelled.
Typical bottlenecks in a food and beverage plant could involve a fault in critical machinery requiring urgent maintenance or a key worker getting sick or going on holiday. These long-term bottlenecks are unpredictable, and their impact can vary from fairly minor to major delays. Australian manufacturers must deal with long-term bottlenecks regularly and should strive to eliminate them.
Systemic bottlenecks that are causing persistent production delays, such as specialised equipment with consistently long queues, need to be dealt with. Some producers will experience significant downtime due to breakdowns and other than regular planned maintenance schedules to keep machinery operational, factories must have contingency plans in case of a worst-case scenario.
With lean manufacturing, it is all about finding the constraint, which is the piece of equipment on the production line with the lowest net output. No matter how fast the other machines can run, the entire line will never be able to run faster than this machine. That is why we call it a constraint, because it constrains the output of the line and this issue needs to be resolved as it will significantly impact profitability.
How bottlenecks impact profitabilityThe main way bottlenecks impact profitability is by compounding the effect of downtime along the production line. Downtime costs manufacturers a huge amount of money. By one estimate, companies in the food and beverage industry experience as much as 500 hours of downtime every year.
Fortunately, it is easy to calculate exactly how much this compounding effect is costing producers. They should determine the difference between what they are producing and what they could be producing if the bottleneck did not have to stop every time another machine on the production line went down.
ERP software provides manufacturers with a structured view of how their processes, systems, data and people are designed, so they can identify ways to be leaner and remove these types of bottlenecks. This can be critical especially when dealing with increased complexity and growth, therefore manufacturers need a way to review, revise and revamp operations right down to the individual process level.
Supply chain visibility & traceability
With the rise of global food and beverage product recalls, more regulations than ever before have been implemented to protect the end consumer and here food safety is covered by the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. This aims to lower the incidence of foodborne illness by strengthening food safety and traceability throughout the food supply chain.
When a food product is found to be deficient or contaminated, the first vital step is to trace and account for every suspect item throughout the value chain. This requires an ERP solution with traceability capabilities which must be able to track several units of a stock item from the same lot or batch number. Once these have all been found, manufacturers can then implement product recalls or quarantine suspect goods.
Most food products are made up of a wide range of ingredients that come from different providers, often located around the world. Additionally, most food and beverage finished products and ingredients have a limited shelf life and can quickly perish.
The food and beverage sector supply chain is incredibly complex and presents many challenges. Complete visibility of location and status of shipments is therefore essential for freshness and just-in-time-arrival of ingredients needed for the processing schedule. An advanced supply chain system that allows producers to make real-time adjustments can be a clear advantage and will help manufacturers to avoid supply chain bottlenecks and surplus stock.
Surplus stock management
When sales teams do not have clear visibility of surplus and expiring stock, companies tend to end up with a combination of fire sales and price erosion. Customer service takes a hit as well due to a lack of understanding of available stock. With an ERP system that provides forward visibility of any excess and expiring inventory, sales can put the right plans in place to maximise sales and minimise waste and heavy discounting.
The agility to make changes
To minimise the stress associated with eliminating either production, people or supply chain bottlenecks, food and beverage manufacturers need strong ERP project management with careful planning to steer the change management process. For most businesses in this sector, irrespective of size or structure, change is not easy, but this can be done more effectively if they have a structured view of their entire business. This will enable them to see the logic of how processes, systems, data and organisational hierarchies are designed and can easily make changes.
Bushy Park Estates, located in a scenic landscape 55 kilometres north of Hobart, is the birthplace of Australian hops. Built in 1867 by Ebenezer Shoobridge, the son of a hop grower from Kent, the farm has been supplying top-quality hops to the Australian and global brewing industries for over 150 years.
The farm is one of the three gardens where Australia’s leading hop grower, Hop Products Australia (HPA), grows its six proprietary varieties plus a few open market varieties for brewers around the country.
With an area of over 250 hectares, the farm utilises on average 70 different vehicles, ranging from front-end loaders to tractors, trucks, cherry pickers and utility vehicles to manage its daily operations. With the farm’s busy schedule, the farm managers rely on Industrial Solutions’ Tasmanian business, WebsterBSC and Shell Lubricants, supplied by Viva Energy, to keep their vehicles and equipment in top shape.
Tom Parry, farm manager at Bushy Park Estates, says he’s very satisfied with the customer service support he receives from WebsterBSC, as well as with the performance of Shell Lubricants.
“WebsterBSC offers a brilliant customer service and Shell is known for brand quality. With Shell having such a wide range of oils for our vehicles and machinery on the farm, the partnership fulfills all of our needs. Outside of our general vehicle servicing routine, we also use a considerable amount of Shell Gadus grease in our picking machines, which we run five weeks of the year during the harvest season,” he says.
Tom says one advantage for the farm in working with WebsterBSC is that they can receive a wide range of products from a single supplier, which adds convenience to their business.
“Working with WebsterBSC is very easy. We just call and order the oils we need and they are delivered to us on time. It’s also very convenient to be able to get a range of other products, such as the tractor oil filters and other tractor parts like sprockets, gears, and so on from a single supplier,” he says.
Joshua Morrison, the Sales Representative catering to the farm’s needs on behalf of WebsterBSC, says he has built a strong relationship with the farm managers at Bushy Park Estates over the last eight years, supplying a range of bearings, power transmission products and more recently, Shell Lubricants, to the site.
He says the transition to using Shell Lubricants for the farm’s ongoing vehicle and machinery maintenance and bearing re-greases was a smooth process, given Shell’s reputation as a top-quality product.
“The farm managers were looking for top-end lubrication products to enhance the performance of their vehicles and machinery. They were already familiar with Shell, as they had used Shell products previously and were quite happy with their performance,” says Joshua.
After an initial discussion, Joshua and Viva Energy’s Account Manager visited the site together to assess the farm’s requirements.
“After reviewing the oil and grease products and pack sizes that the farm was already using, we were able to get a good understanding of what the workshop needed. Whenever we visit a customer’s lubrication store, we always try to consolidate the number of redundant products being used. But in the case of Bushy Park Estates, they already had the right number of lubricants in place, so there was no need for any reduction,” says Joshua.
Joshua says Shell’s high-performance Shell Rimula R4 L 15W-40 diesel engine oils, as well as Shell Tellus hydraulic fluids and Shell Spirax transmission oils are some of the key products he regularly supplies to the farm.
“We worked with Viva Energy to present HPA with a high-quality lubrication supply, usage and storage solution.” This was an attractive proposition for the farm and workshop team, according to Josh.
“This offer included a range of lubrication equipment, from oil pumps to extract the oil from the drums right to the hose reels and oil guns for easy application in the servicing workshop. It also offered colour-coded magnets for the oil drums and matched these with the colour of the lubrication equipment to help avoid any risk of cross-contamination,” he says.
Robert Clayton, Viva Energy Account Manager, says the colour-coding program is part of Viva Energy’s commitment to safety in lubrication storage.
“Using the colour-coded magnets and equipment makes it easy to differentiate between different lubricants being used in the workshop and reduces the risk of cross-contamination. It can also help save money and time by avoiding the risk of one lubricant getting mixed with another and going to waste.”
Robert and Joshua continue to have a close relationship with the farm managers by offering a range of consultative post-sale services.
“The HPA team are very satisfied with the ongoing service they receive from WebsterBSC and Viva Energy. This relationship ensures that as their business gears up during the harvest season and if they are also looking to acquire new equipment, they trust us to provide the right solutions at the right time,” says Robert.
Post transition, the farm managers are able to easily identify the products they require for specific vehicles or machinery using the Shell LubeMatch app. They can then place their order accordingly with WebsterBSC or ask our team any questions.
Joshua also praises Viva Energy’s Technical Helpdesk for their high-quality customer service and expertise.
“If our team or our customers have any questions about Shell products or lubricants in general, we try to answer their queries to the best of our knowledge, or otherwise direct them to the Technical Helpdesk. They always respond promptly and help to educate us about different lubricant products, applications and specifications.”
Joshua believes the collaborative effort with Viva Energy to provide Bushy Park Estates with quality Shell Lubricants and a solution to improve their operations is an excellent example of WebsterBSC’s commitment to support the industry with quality products and services.
“At WebsterBSC, we are not interested in making quick sales. We believe that a long-term view on the total cost of ownership is what benefits our customers the most and that is why we focus on providing quality products and ongoing service that meet or exceed our customers’ requirements for longevity. This view resonates with the values that we share with Viva Energy, which is what makes us a great team.”
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When a leading Australian grain producer needed to replace three hammer mill couplings at its grain mill, the BSC Shepparton branch in Victoria delivered the Lovejoy Quick-Flex couplings by Timken overnight and replaced the old couplings within minimal time, resulting in zero downtime for the customer.
Adam Failla, BSC’s Shepparton Branch Manager, says the branch had the Quick-Flex QF250 couplings readily available. The team then arranged to not just deliver them overnight, but also to remove the old couplings, install and laser align the new Timken couplings so that they were running at full capacity, without causing delays to the mill’s normal operation.
This resulted in considerable time and cost savings for the grain producer, Adam says.
“The couplings that our customer was previously using were no longer available in Australia. This meant they would need to wait at least 3-4 weeks and pay an additional airfreight to get the couplings delivered to them from overseas. Our branch is well-stocked with the Quick-Flex couplings as these are very popular products, so we suggested to help them with the replacement.”
The Quick-Flex couplings are designed to allow for quick replacements which streamlined the process. As needed, the elastomeric urethane insert is able to be replaced quickly and easily without removing the hubs or moving connected equipment.
“This brings down the coupling replacement time to minutes instead of hours,” Adam says. “By eliminating the need to move or disassemble the drive system, it also makes it easy to inspect the couplings from time to time to make sure they are working perfectly.”
As a key supplier of bearings, power transmission and industrial products in Australia, BSC has been supplying products to the major Australian grain producer for the past 15 years. The team also conducts regular vibration analysis on the factory’s hammer mills, which was how they learned about the need for coupling replacements in the first place.
Adam says the BSC Shepparton branch has already supplied a range of Timken products, including the Quick-Flex couplings and Carlisle belts by Timken to the 75-acre grain mill, receiving very positive feedback from the customer.
“We’ve built a very positive relationship with our customer. We supply them with quality Quick-Flex® couplings for their grain press and hammer mills. We also supply the company’s farms with a range of Timken bearings for their tractors, headers, pumps and augers,” he says.
Australian Timken’s Regional General Manager, Michael Grant, says the Lovejoy Quick-Flex® couplings by Timken are designed to withstand the shocks and vibrational loads that are common in applications such as hammer mills.
“The Quick-Flex couplings can absorb shock loads and vibration while accepting up to two degrees angular misalignment. They can also handle high speed and very high torque of up to 188,000Nm, making them suitable for a wide range of applications,” he says.
“Also, because there is no metal-to-metal contact between opposing hubs with Quick-Flex® couplings, you’ll save money not replacing hubs or other metal components since they do not wear. For harsh environments, including wash-downs for food processing, we can also offer a stainless-steel version across a large range of the coupling sizes.”
Michael says the BSC and Timken engineering teams work together to support customers across a wide range of industries.
“The Quick-Flex couplings are treated as standard off-the-shelf product for which BSC branches are always well-stocked. The BSC team is very much capable of providing the support required by their customers when it comes to the initial design or selecting the right coupling size to handle the required torque.
“In addition to that, the Timken engineering team is also there to support the BSC team as and when required. As part of the support on offer we jointly visit customers to introduce our products to them or to help with technical support that includes areas such as product selection & problem solving. It’s a partnership that has grown and deepened over time and one that works extremely well in adding value to our end-user customers.”
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Luke Houlihan has spent most of his working life around wine and wineries and up until recently had his own boutique brand vineyard producing vintages out of the Yarra Valley.
With a Bachelor in of Applied Science in Wine Science, it made sense when a position became available to become part of the team at process, automation and control specialists Bürkert’s Australian operation. He jumped on board in a heartbeat and he couldn’t be happier.
“There’s such a huge amount to get my teeth into,” he said. “There is massive scope for me and Bürkert to cover off, so I have a lot to look forward to. We are already getting traction from a large international wine group and the momentum is just starting. The next five years is going to be extremely exciting.”
One of the key focuses for Houlihan is to help winemakers, brewers and distillers streamline their production using innovative process and automation equipment. Houlihan said the industry is traditional, but it is about balancing the art of winemaking with the science of winemaking.
“It’s about maintaining that natural, organic way of winemaking with new processes that will help improve product,” he said. “By maintaining or improving quality, you end up with a better proposition for your customers, in the sense you are offering best value for money in terms of your product. It is in a winemaker’s interest to look at those things. And I think the industry is at a stage where they are in a real consolidation phase. There are a lot of medium-sized and upwards wineries that are ready to recapitalise. They’ve paid down their debt on infrastructure and are in a position where they can put some more money into improving their processes.”
What makes Houlihan stand out from other BDMs is that he has on-the-ground experience in making wine so is well aware of some of the pitfalls that can occur in the process. He knows how important it is to have reliable equipment that won’t fail at a critical stage – something that Bürkert has in abundance.
“A key for us is also being able to offer for example, a simple valve that is good for five million cycles,” he said. “They can put it into place and forget about it. It’s not going to pack up mid-vintage and cause grief because their cooling system has gone down because they’ve put in a cheap valve. The unseen thing is about offering a value proposition to a winemaker and saying ‘Spend a little bit extra now. Put this valve in and forget about it. It’s not going to cause you grief.’
“Mid vintage there are times when you’re running around seven days a week, working 20-15 hour days. If something packs up, you don’t want to try getting hold of a plumber at 11 o’clock at night to sort it out. It is a pain and is not what you want to be doing.”
It has been a baptism by fire of sorts for Houlihan as he came on board in May, right in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, which meant he couldn’t get out and meet clients. However, that is about to change.
“I’m really keen to get out and look at the different control systems that are in place at the different installations. It is much easier to talk about those applications when you can see them in situ rather than on a PDF file, which is how I’m seeing a lot of things at the moment,” he said.
In 2012 Houlihan took a new role in the wine industry with a company that provided technical support and wine supplies, such as yeast and wine additives, as well as filtration equipment. In that role, he developed a strong technical understanding of water treatment for various industries including brewing and distilling. Having offered such technical and sales support in the past, Houlihan knows a lot of people in the industry and has the expertise to help.
“I especially love the integration with network technologies to do jobs remotely,” he said. “I love that stuff. There’s such a huge amount for me to do.”
Houlihan also believes in a holistic approach when it comes to helping clients out. He thinks it is important to develop a long-term relationship and strategy with a client, as opposed to fixing an issue and then moving on. And he has his own reputation to think about, too.
“My goal is to partner with companies,” he said. “Most of my friends are in the wine industry, I couldn’t on face value go to a friend and say ‘buy this valve, you’re helping me out’. I’m not going to burn my friendships over dodgy products. Being able to represent a company that is the Mercedes of process control is really exciting. You’re putting your reputation behind a really strong product. We look at their processes and rather than going into a winery and saying, ‘Right, here’s this valve.’ Or, ‘Buy this or that.’ We’re looking at asking the questions; ‘Where are you guys going? What do you want to achieve and how do you want to get there?’”
Bürkert puts a lot of effort into refining and developing equipment that will suit the customer’s needs. Houlihan sees himself building on the networks and relationships he has already to talk to winemakers, brewers and distillers and help them develop strategies that will help their business grow.
“They need to have a blueprint in place so that when they are going forward, they are putting infrastructure in that will support where they want to be in another five to 10 years,” he said.
“At the end of the day we’re here to help make beverage manufacturers lives easier,” he said. “We are focusing on increasing and improving their production processes and reducing overall costs of production as well as simplifying production, too. We are also looking at ways automation and control can help improve their processes. It’s also about making them more sustainable environmentally, too. Reducing wastage in areas like energy costs, excess compressors – there’s a whole range of ongoing savings with the right fit out. In summing up it’s about Bürkert making their lives easier in partnering with them for the long haul.”
Change is something that can be embraced, or seen as an unnecessary disruption that can cause anxiety. But what happens if that disruption is unexpected and takes away, literally, your whole market share.
COVID-19 has had a negative impact on a lot of industries and businesses. And while food and beverage have generally come out of it okay from a consumer point of view with regard to supply and demand (pasta anybody?), there are certain sectors that have suffered considerably. Imagine you are a caterer who specialises in weddings, or a major supplier to airlines. One way to try and make up the deficit is to diversify.
And quite a few companies have, according to food-grade gas supplier Air Liquide’s Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) specialist Remi Saget. Like a lot of companies hit by COVID-19, Air Liquide has seen a downturn in some of its areas of business, but there has also been interest in other aspects.
Some impacted food manufacturers have decided to expand offerings and started looking at other markets, whether it is online with home deliveries or via retailers. Supplying food products to such channels helps tremendously when shelf life is extended, which is possible using MAP. And in order for MAP to work, you need a good gas supply, which is where Air Liquide comes into its own.
Saget said there has been an increase in queries from SME manufacturers about how they can get longer shelf life for their food. Indeed, supermarket chains and independent grocers need products to stay on the shelf for longer than a day or two, often making it part of their requirements.
“We have had an upturn in requests,” said Saget. “We have seen more demand for food-grade gas, especially for ready meals. For some companies this is already their business, but many restaurant chains and catering companies had to change quickly to the same business model that would allow for home deliveries, selling at supermarkets, or selling online.”
In order for a company to be able to pack ready-to-eat meals, it needs to have a packaging machine that is capable of getting the meal prepared for being sold in store.
“It’s not a difficult transition to make if you have the correct packaging machine,” said Saget. “Obviously, you need to have one that has a gas flushing capability. You cannot gas flush manually.
“Packaging machines come in all sizes. Even your local butcher has a bench-top vacuum machines that could gas flush, or be retrofitted to do so.”
He said that gas is the last piece of the puzzle. Ultimately, manufacturers need to have the food right, then the packaging machine, the plastic tray and film, and then the gas. For ready meals, Air Liquide recommends a mixture called Aligal 15, which is made up of 50 per cent food-grade nitrogen and 50 per cent food-grade CO2. But this ratio may be adapted on a case-by-case basis.
“How it works is that the machine takes all the air out. It is the oxygen that will spoil the food eventually,” he said. “Then you add the gas. It takes a few seconds. The gas is food-grade, it is not chemical or anything like that. It’s considered a processing gas, so it is not an ingredient or a preservative and does not need to be on the label.”
Saget is confident that while some of these companies have had to look for new markets out of necessity, he doubts they’ll stop producing gas-flushed food products once the industry gets back to normal.
“It’s probably going to be the case for most companies that have gone into the ready meal business that they will stay in there once things have gone back to normal,” he said. “They have been doing it for a few months now and they realise that it is working well, and it would allow them to have an extra stream of revenue. People are used to buying online, so they can easily keep their online shop open and keep delivering to people.”
One such firm is catering company Harvest By Darren Taylor, which saw the bottom fall out of its business, with 100 per cent cancellations of weddings and other events it had been booked to supply food prior to COVID-19.
“They also operate a bakery and make great pies and croissants for cafes across NSW,” said Saget. “The sale of bakery products they did went down by 95 per cent. They had to rethink their business model.
“The good thing was for founder Darren Taylor, he could start pretty much right away thanks to a machine he purchased earlier.
“I helped him with the right gas mix according to his food. We did some tests together to make sure the gas was flowing okay. Now he is selling online and is also selling to independent supermarkets across NSW. He also sells to a big chain of butchers where his packed dishes are available in the open fridge next to the counter where you buy your meat. He is very happy.”
Taylor said he got an opportunity to get into the ready meals market in late 2019 and was planning on getting started halfway through 2020, but due to the effects of COVID-19, he decided to enter the market sooner.
The majority of outlets require prolonged shelf life to avoid dealing with products that are past their use-by date. This is especially true for ready meals, where they are packed in air, and they usually stay fresh for only a few days. A preservative-free conservation method like MAP helps.
“We got a packaging machine in Melbourne, and we looked at all the ways of extending the shelf life of the product and we decided to go with the MAP method,” said Taylor.
“We went with MAP because of the look of the product, it keeps the integrity of the product and it is very safe and reliable. After ordering the machine and getting it in, we did a whole lot of tests. We developed a product that we thought would suit that application.”
Taylor was very pleased with the service from Air Liquide in terms of getting it all set up.
“Remi and his team were amazing,” he said. “Remi was extraordinary. He came in at the very beginning and we got the machine working in a way we were happy with it. Remi helped us with our gas levels, our oxygen levels, etcetera. ”
The beauty to the system, according to Taylor, is that he cooks the food, trays it up straight away, puts it in the blaster until it comes down to 1˚C, and then packs it.
“It’s as good as you can get in terms of packaging. The film, the tray and the label – which is stuck on – are all microwave-oven proof. It has zero additives or preservatives,” he said. “By using MAP, you don’t have to put any chemicals in it.”
With the eyes on the future, Taylor and his food manufacturing business emerges from the COVID-19 crisis better positioned to face ever-changing market demands. The fact that he was able to swiftly adapt his operations is a reminder that tight partnerships with suppliers goes a long way when help is required to come out of a dark time, pandemic or not.
New research from Mintel, the experts in what consumers want and why, reveals how the global pandemic presents significant challenges and opportunities for animal proteins, meat alternatives and produce.
In this report, you will read:
– Consumers will adapt a “less but better” approach to animal proteins;
– Plants will play an important role as a source of protein
– Will there still be a place for simple luxuries and self-care in the forthcoming recession environment?
– Double down on health and wellness positioning
– Embrace a more holistic definition of sustainability
For the report, click here.
Redefine Meat has unveiled the world’s first Alt-Steak plant-based products, with market testing at select high-end restaurants to start later this year. Created using Redefine Meat’s patent-pending 3D meat printing technology, the company’s Alt-Steak products have the texture, flavour and appearance of beef steak and can be produced in the volume and cost to enable large-scale market launch.
Working with leading butchers, chefs, food technologists and the close collaboration of taste expert, Givaudan, Redefine Meat has digitally mapped more than 70 sensorial parameters into its Alt-Steak products, including premium beef cuts’ texture, juiciness, fat distribution and mouthfeel. Layer by layer, the company’s proprietary industrial-scale 3D food printers create the Alt-Steak products using Redefine Meat’s Alt-Muscle, Alt-Fat, and Alt-Blood plant-based formulations. By printing with multiple materials, Redefine Meat can create sustainable, high-protein, no-cholesterol steaks that look, cook, and taste like beef.
“Since day one of the company, we have been working on creating a tasty and affordable plant-based alternative to steaks, one of the most cherished food products and the driver of the entire meat industry,” says Eshchar Ben-Shitrit, CEO and co-founder of Redefine Meat. “To enable mass adoption, we knew that creating an alternative meat product that was both high in quality and nutritional composition would require new technologies and production processes never seen before in the food industry. Today’s announcement marks the start of a new era in alternative meat – the Alt-Steak era – driven by production processes that will accelerate the development of a wide range of alt-meat whole muscle products and create a sustainable alternative to raising and eating animals.”
“The importance of using precision 3D printing technology to achieve texture, color and flavor—and the combinations between them—cannot be overstated. By using separate formulations for muscle, fat and blood, we can focus on each individual aspect of creating the perfect Alt-Steak product. This is unique to our 3D printing technology and lets us achieve unprecedented control of what happens inside the matrix of alt-meat. Collaborating with an industry-leader like Givaudan has led to the creation of an Alt-Steak product that is not only healthy and sustainable, but also offers the satisfying flavours, textures and aromas of eating actual meat,” said Ben-Shitrit
Redefine Meat’s Alt-Steak products will be put to the test at a limited number of leading chef restaurants later this year. Incorporating feedback from high-level chefs and butchers, the company will then ramp up production of its 3D meat printers and alt-meat formulations ahead of market distribution in 2020.
For more than 40 years, Victorian-based Enmin has been building custom vibratory and material handling solutions for a myriad of applications and environments.
The company’s knowledge and expertise in this area has seen their list of customers grow to include most of Australia’s leading food industry manufacturers.
Enmin’s range of product handling and vibratory equipment includes the Mi-CON modular conveyor – a hygienically designed full wash-down system to offer multiple standardised components – plus a range of hopper feeders and screeners, spiral conveyors, conditioning conveyors and more.
“All our products are designed and constructed first and foremost to meet the rigorous requirements of the food and pharmaceutical industries such as maximum hygiene, ease of cleaning and the reliability essential to meet the demands of continuous 24/7 operation,” said Enmin general manager, Anthony Gallaher.
Over the years, the company has earned an enviable reputation for designing and building equipment to the highest standards using the finest materials to provide complete reliability and longevity.
Supporting other local manufacturers is a priority for Enmin and the company currently purchases 304 stainless steel, various steel and plastic machined parts, castings, coils and electrical components as well as outsourcing their laser cutting, all domestically.
Gallaher sees several benefits to customers of purchasing Enmin’s locally made equipment. These include the ability to offer individual design and customisation, expert local advice, consistency of supply and outstanding back-up and support.
In many cases Enmin is the only Australian company manufacturing specific material handling components.“We are the only company manufacturing electromagnetic drives in Australia and our many years in application experience will ensure the right drive is nominated for the tray requirements and process,” he said.
“Our equipment is designed to provide years of trouble-free operation with minimal moving parts, next to no on-going maintenance and, best of all, low energy consumption. All this ensures a reliable, low-cost method of product handling,” said Gallaher.
“Customisation is an important part of our business; depending on a customer’s requirement we can recommend either standard equipment components or design bespoke equipment,” Mr Gallaher added.
“A recent example was a requirement for a hopper feeder where the depositing system dictated a height that would be unergonomic for the production line staff to easily and safely access the storage hopper. Using our design expertise and state-of-the-art software, we designed a mobile unit with retractable operator steps. When not required, these steps can be folded out of the way quickly and with very little effort thanks to pressurised struts on each side,” Gallaher said.
“Another benefit of being a local manufacturer is being able to see first-hand a customer’s existing production line set-up to ensure our equipment will integrate seamlessly with other components already in place. We can ensure that mechanical components fit with minimal or no modifications and electrical interfaces are all talking to each other,” Gallaher said.
“There are many pieces of non-branded equipment brought in from overseas and these often need replacement parts; this is where our knowledge and expertise also comes into play to ensure that the right part is specified,” Gallaher went on to say.
“And of course, being a local manufacturer means we are only a quick phone call away to immediately respond to any customer query or provide service and parts support throughout Australia,” he added.
Enmin also invests heavily in R&D to provide Australian manufacturers with the latest developments in materials handling solutions and improve production efficiencies.
An example of this is Enmin’s design and development of a range of modular components. “The key benefit of modular components is that it eliminates equipment redundancy and expands with the customer’s business. It can be added to, extended and modified in the years ahead as a company’s production needs evolve,” said Gallaher.
“Whilst lower cost equipment from overseas may initially seem an attractive proposition, it is ultimately false economy. In the long term delivery turnaround, the ability to work closely with us during every phase of the project combined with the quality, reliability and opportunity to easily add to or modify years later as production needs change, far outweighs any price difference. In terms of return on investment, there is simply no comparison,” said Gallaher.
Enmin also has a range of Industrial vibrators to suit any industry that handles bulk material. The range is designed to suit Australia’s environment and covers a multitude of applications such as mining, quarrying and agriculture.