Food and beverage trends – sights set on sustainability

With a firm focus on the SDGs, SMC Corporation works with customers who set bold energy efficiency targets and achieving these is paramount.

With a firm focus on Sustainable Development Goals, SMC Corporation Australia New Zealand works with customers who set bold energy efficiency targets and achieving these is paramount.

“We deal with customers with similar targets and objectives to our own,” explains Paul Grantham, global accounts manager – end user lead ANZ for SMC.

“We understand that there is the need to obtain these targets and then there is the realisation of ‘but how do we make this happen?’”

“Customers are looking at their sustainability targets and trying to figure out how this translates into operational efficiency. Many of our customers are multi-site, multi-state companies, and rolling this out across the various sites and operations can prove challenging.”

Take a dairy company for example, says Grantham. One site may be producing white milk while another may be producing hard cheese or soft cheese.

“It is rarely simple as the different sites will have different challenges and also possibly different targets based on what they manufacture.”

This is where SMC comes in.

“We engage with the team at a group level to understand the business target but also at site level to better understand the business’s goals and to develop a tailored solution. Thanks to our national footprint, this is backed by local, on-the-ground support,” Grantham continues.

Food and beverage trends

More customers are in search of energy saving components.

“The recent national budget highlighted the rising cost of energy (by 30 – 50 per cent) which places major pressure on businesses in terms of cost and competitiveness.”

Data is also an important factor as Grantham explains, “Products that can log the data are in demand. Customers want to be in the know – in real-time. These solutions empower customers by giving them detailed insights into air consumption and what they can do it to improve it.”

Grantham adds that washdown technology is a must-have in food factories.

“IP69K valves offer a high flow rate and can also be washed down. They don’t need to be in a cabinet, and you can install them close to the application which is very handy from an installation and cost point-of-view.”

SMC offers FDA and EHEDG compliant fittings such as the KFG and KQG series. “They don’t harbour any dirt or food particles and there are no areas where they can gather so they’re safe for use.”

The SMC edge

“We are continuously innovating to help make factories more efficient,” says Grantham.

“A common query that we receive is centred around running plants’ compressed air at 7 bar. Customers will ask whether it’s necessary to use this pressure across the whole plant.

“Recently, we helped a customer to identify a piece of equipment that required a higher pressure to run, we were able to recommend a solution from our standard range of products and once implemented and monitored to ensure the change was sustainable it assisted the plant on the journey to their goal of running their plant at 6 bar. It’s a simple solution with big benefits.”

This is a perfect example of how SMC tackles an energy saving project.

“Now that we have reduced the pressure from 7 to 6 bar, we can move onto the next pain point.”

Grantham’s advice to customers wishing to achieve further energy savings is as follows:

  1. Break it down into methodical steps: “Every step in the right direction brings you closer to your goal. After dropping from 7 to 6 bar, you will find that you are using your equipment more efficiently and will continue to see improved outcomes in your plant.”
  2. Savings lead to savings: “Efficiencies lead you to places where you can achieve more savings. Companies have listed targets that they want to meet, but they are sometimes unsure of how to get there, and when it comes to compressed air that’s where we come in.”
  3. Apply a long-term view: “We take a long-term approach to identify what’s in the pipeline so that we can help our customers plan. We ask ourselves questions like ‘does the customer have new equipment coming in and can the compressor handle it?’” We constantly review the goals and strategy in place to ensure continuous improvement.”

Looking ahead, Grantham says that SMC is bringing some new technology on-board. “We have a new AMS (Air Monitoring System) coming in 2023.”

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