Lessons in mass production

Socrates and his student, Plato, are a perfect example of how good leaders are shaped by observant students. Darcy Simonis, industry network leader for food and beverage at ABB, explains what can be learned from global manufacturing leaders such as China.

China, a leader in mass production, has firm plans to build upon its proud history by investing in the robotics and automation industry. However, because labor is plentiful, mass production is not always automated in China at present. Because China’s working-age population is falling significantly, labor costs are increasing by 15-20 per cent year on year, compared to only 1.6 per cent in the US. This opens opportunities for automation across all economies.

In 2014, the International Federation of Robotics announced that China was buying more robots than any other country each year, partly due to government funds as part of China’s five-year plan to develop intelligent manufacturing. This trend has continued, in 2015 China bought more robots than every European country combined. Generally speaking, Chinese manufacturers are choosing to buy robots from the same global suppliers as other countries, including ABB, despite there being a number of small Chinese robot manufacturers.

READ MORE: ABB awarded unique aquaculture project

“This trend is driven by the Chinese Government´s 2025 initiative to support automation. The country aims to become a leader in automation globally,” explained Joe Gemma, President of the International Federation of Robotics, in February 2017.

Given the clear manufacturing focus in several governments’ foreign policies, including UK and US policy, it’s clear that the progress China is making in automating mass production is something that many countries aspire to. But there is also a clear reciprocal relationship, just as there is with Plato and Socrates, which is allowing countries around the globe to benefit from technological advances.

History
Mass production became possible because technology and processes evolved to the point that it was not necessary for the majority of workers to be skilled. Three decades of economic growth towards the end of the last millennium was powered by the flow of labor from countryside to city in China. This was a direct result of automation allowing workers to move into manufacturing without retraining from their agricultural background.

Chinese entrepreneurship led to rural inhabitants starting their own manufacturing businesses in the 1980s. To take full advantage of economies of scale, similar entrepreneurs eventually pooled together in production areas and development zones. One good example of this is the city of Datang, where eight million socks are produced each year, one third of the world’s total.

Importing
As well as being a thriving hotbed of entrepreneurship, China is also the largest food and beverage market in the world, relying highly on imported goods. In an effort to produce more in the country, China’s 35,000 food processing and manufacturing plants are finding success by using automation in innovative ways. For example, by using automation controlled LED lighting and an innovative growth liquid, Jinpeng Plant Factory outside of Beijing grows up to 15 million seedlings a year in a 14,000-square foot area.

Even in the mass markets of China, automation is being used to great benefit. Reduction in production times, increases in accuracy and repeatability, less human error and increased safety are all benefits cited by Chinese plant managers. However, in keeping with Chinese tradition, automation is being used successfully in innovative, unusual ways to remarkable success.

“What you’re seeing is a really high level of investment in Chinese manufacturing, but most of this is not going to expanding capacity. It’s making the workers more efficient,” explained Andy Rothman, an economist in Hong Kong.

It would be possible to argue that China is the observant student, learning about automation from the rest of the world. Nevertheless, just as Plato was inspired by Socrates, global manufacturing would be wise to pay close attention to China’s progress over the next decade, perhaps the student will quickly become the master.

 

FCI ST80/ST80L mass flow meters

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The ST80 Series transmitter’s outputs are a match to your DCS, PLC, SCADA, recorder, or alarm system.  Whether your output needs are traditional 4-20 mA analogue or advanced digital bus communications such as HART, Foundation Fieldbus, PROFIBUS, or Modbus, ST80 has you covered.  Then for local display, the ST80’s graphical, backlit LCD is unmatched in showing what’s happening in the pipe. Flow rate, totalised flow, and temperature are continuously displayed in both a digital and bar graph presentation, while alarms and/or diagnostic messages will display as needed to alert operators.

 

Macadamias aim to disrupt chocolate category

Australian Macadamias has today released findings from independent research agency, GalKal, revealing macadamias are an underutilised ingredient in the traditional chocolate and nuts pairing. As consumers constantly crave new and creative confectionery, macadamias can bring excitement and interest to commonplace product formulations.

While chocolate and nuts are an established pairing, the space is dominated by nut varieties such as peanuts, hazelnuts and almonds. Over 13,000 chocolate products were launched globally in the past year; more than 1,400 (11 per cent) featured hazelnuts and a further 485 (4 per cent) featured peanuts, while only 75 (0.5 per cent) products launched featured macadamias.

Be it to unwind, de-stress, uplift or re-energise, consumers around the world crave chocolate confectionery to bring a sense of indulgence and escape from the everyday. There is a global demand for new flavour and texture combinations that inject luxury and surprise into the everyday chocolate experience.

READ MORE: The macadamia challenge returns

Lynne Ziehlke, general manager, marketing for the Australian macadamia industry said, “While consumers are very familiar and comfortable with the idea of nuts in chocolate, the current pairings have become quite commonplace and expected.

“The research showed that macadamias are the ideal ingredient to disrupt the tried and trusted nut-chocolate relationship and help create more exciting, novel and unique expressions of chocolate.”

The findings also brought to light the notion of ‘permissible indulgence,’ meaning consumers seek out chocolate that justifies the indulgence they crave either because it is perceived to be high-end or contains ingredients that are healthy. However, consumers do not want to compromise by settling for products that don’t deliver on the inherent pleasure of eating chocolate.

Ziehlke adds, “We continue to see the concept of ‘health as the new form of wealth’ dominating the consumer landscape. Macadamias are recognised as a guilt-free ingredient due to their nutritional value but at the same time are recognised as a premium product that will add luxury and deliver an indulgent eating experience.”

“The distinct, rich and creamy taste and texture of macadamias means they are the ideal ingredient to inspire chocolate innovation and bring excitement to a category in need of disruption. Macadamias also have a unique ability to balance out very sweet or very savoury flavours and create a harmonious overall taste profile. This opens up a wide range of opportunities for new product formulations.”

Methodology
Interviews were conducted with influencers in Germany, China and the US, followed by an online community with prosumers in Germany and the US and focus groups in China

Trade agreements critical to Australia’s regions and red meat jobs

The Australian red meat industry urged both sides of Government to proceed with ratification of two critical free trade agreements without delay, following today’s release of a Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) report.

The report (#186 tabled 9 October 2019) into the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA) and Australia-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement (A-HK FTA) determined that the IA-CEPA and the A-HK FTA are in Australia’s national interest. The Committee therefore recommended binding treaty action in both cases.

“The Australian industry strongly endorses the JSCOT outcomes for both the IA-CEPA and A-HK FTA,” said Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC) Chair Don Mackay.

“Indonesia is a vitally important trading partner for the Australian live cattle and beef industry – along with a steady requirement for sheepmeat. Combined, the existing trade was worth over a $1 billion in 2018.

“The benefits of ratifying IA-CEPA and securing more trade certainty with a key export market are unsurpassed – particularly at a time of global trade disruption.”

In addition, the implementation of the A-HK FTA promotes a closer economic relationship between Australia and Hong Kong and will ‘lock in’ Australia’s current duty free access for red meat products.

“The A‑HK FTA will complement the benefits our sector has derived from the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement as well as Australia’s other trade agreements throughout Asia – bilaterally with Japan and South Korea, regionally with ASEAN and via the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP-11),” Mackay said.

“In 2018 alone, we exported just over 7,000 tonnes of beef to Hong Kong, worth $96 million, demonstrating the critical importance of diverse markets to returning prosperity back to Australia’s red meat businesses and regions.

“We applaud the efforts of the Australian Government in pursuing trade reform globally and look forward to the ratification of these two agreements in the Parliament, and the subsequent entry into force of both agreements at the earliest possible opportunity.

“Our industry represents in excess of 80,000 businesses and 405,000 jobs, with a large portion of these located in rural and regional Australia.

“For every 10 jobs in our industry, six rely on our trade with the world. Deals like the IA-CEPA are vital for these jobs and vital for our regions, especially Australia’s north.

“Trade agreements such as these are integral to helping ensure the cost competitiveness of the Australian supply chain – at a time of weather related challenges and mounting international competition.”

Roots targets the high growth organic plant-based ‘meat’ market

Consumers are quickly waking up to the fact that consuming meat — especially highly processed meat — can have negative health outcomes and is contributing to the destruction of the environment.

Recognising both the health and environmental upsides of eating plant-based meat alternatives is translating to commercial success for businesses savvy enough to capitalise on this early trend.

With a market cap of almost US$7 billion, none have been more successful than Beyond Meat (NASDAQ: BYND).

Beyond Meat’s burgers and other plant-based products appeal not only to vegetarians, vegans, and the environmentally conscious, but they have now received official kosher certification. In a major coup, last month the company was selected by McDonald’s to supply the patties for burger its burger chains. The burgers will be known as P.L.T. burgers.

Also capitalising on the trend is the Bill Gates backed Impossible Foods, which just raised US$700 million from US venture capital firms to further its plant-based meat offerings.

Impossible Foods’ sells its burgers in US supermarkets and supply a number of major fast food outlets, including the country’s second largest fast food company, Burger King.

Its plant-based Impossible Burger “bleeds” like the real thing. Yet, it’s made from soy and potato proteins and its signature ingredient — the iron-rich compound, heme. Heme is produced when soy leghemoglobin is cooked and gives the veggie burger a meat-like flavour and its bleeding look.

However, plant-based meats may not be as healthy or environmentally friendly as its seems.

The industry relies heavily on industrially grown, high protein crops including soy, pea and potatoes, which require heavy use of herbicides and pesticides. This is the case for producers Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods and is one of the major criticisms they face.

For that reason, there’s growing demand for organically grown and environmentally conscious options for consumers.

Roots Sustainable Agricultural Technologies addresses critical problems being faced by agriculture, including plant climate management and the shortage of water for irrigation.

Importantly, its technologies can assist in growing high-end organic meat replacement crops.

Roots has expanded into the plant-based meat market, initiating a planting program to examine the effects of its Root Zone Temperature Optimization (RZTO) and Irrigation by Condensation (IBC) technologies on several protein-laden crops to increase the content of leghemoglobin.

Its technologies work to increase a crop’s leghemoglobin – also known as “heme” — a form of haemoglobin in plants and the key ingredient in what makes plant-based meats so tasty.

Stabilising plants’ root temperatures stimulates their immune systems, reducing susceptibility to pathogens and increasing the total biomass, and therefore potentially increasing total protein content.

Off the back of this discovery, ROO intend to lead the organic segment of the artificial meat replacement industry.

Roots is examining crops with a high protein content, either in the roots or in the canopy, which can be grown year-round using its RZTO technology. High end protein laden crops can be grown indoors where organic methods and cater for a lucrative organic meat replacement niche.

Roots will formally test the concept on high protein crops already planted at the company’s farm in Bet Halevi, Israel. Two high protein crops were planted in September 2019 using three configurations of the RZTO technology — horizontal, “Stub T-shape”, and a control group.

Dairy industry code of conduct to be delivered early

The Australian dairy industry mandatory code of conduct will come into effect in January 2020, months ahead of schedule.

Minister for Agriculture, Bridget McKenzie, said the aim of the mandatory code is to improve the contractual arrangements between dairy farmers and dairy processors.

“As Deputy Leader of the Nationals we understand the importance of the mandatory code being delivered as soon as possible in order to provide clearer safeguards for how farmers are treated as members of the supply chain,” Minister McKenzie said. 

“That’s why we have taken measures to speed up the process and deliver the code well before the original deadline of July 2020.

“The dairy industry is on notice to make sure that the contracts offered to farmers are appropriate and fair ahead of its formal introduction—the community expects no less.

“The mandatory code is an outcome of the April 2018 Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) report into the dairy sector.

“Following extensive consultation with the dairy industry, a draft mandatory dairy code of conduct was developed by the department. This will be released as an exposure draft for consultation next week.

“I expect dairy processors to keep the exposure draft in mind when developing new contracts with dairy farmers in the coming months.

“Consultation on the exposure draft will be open for four weeks and, from January 2020, the industry will be bound by the new code.

“Stakeholder consultation is an essential component of the development of this mandatory code and vital to its success.

“The department has run targeted consultations on the discussion paper and code options in order to develop the draft code.

“These were held across eight dairy regions with a broad representation of farmers, processors, industry representative bodies and other relevant stakeholders to ensure view points from all stakeholder groups were included.”

Top food trends for 2020

Increased consumer interest in the stories behind their food and beverage products and their notable influence on purchasing decisions has resulted in companies increasingly paying attention to storytelling in branding strategies.

“Storytelling: Winning with Words” leads the list of Innova Market Insights’ Top Ten Trends for 2020. The top five trends for 2020 are:

  1. Storytelling: Winning with Words
    Although ingredient provenance has always been important, consumer interest in discovering the story behind their foods has risen further and increasingly influencing purchasing decisions. Consumers’ attention is piqued by opportunities to learn more about how products are produced, which promotes an understanding of product benefits and helps build all-important trust in the brand.As a result, manufacturers are increasingly focusing on ingredient provenance platforms in order to highlight the taste and quality of their products, as well as their uniqueness and sustainability efforts. Provenance platforms can communicate a whole range of messages to the consumer, including flavor/taste, processing methods, cultural and traditional backgrounds, as well as the more obvious geographical origin.

READ MORE: Consumer trends and the ‘new food world’ of 2015

  1. Plant-Based Revolution
    Plant-based innovation in food and beverages continues to flourish as a result of consumer interest in health, sustainability and ethics, which ties into the broader consumer lifestyle trend towards cleaner living. As the use of the term “plant-based” moves more into the mainstream, the industry and start-up companies in particular, are taking up the challenge to deliver more clean label meat and dairy alternatives with improved nutritional profiles.
  1. The Sustain Domain
    Consumers increasingly expect companies to invest in sustainability, with Innova Market Insights research indicating that 85% of, on average, US and UK consumers expected companies to invest in sustainability in 2019, up from 64% in 2018. In the area of food waste, upcycling is the new recycling, as companies strive to follow a zero-waste approach by creating value from by-products. Meanwhile in packaging, the focus is on using less of it, as well as developing sustainable alternatives.
  1. The Right Bite
    Stress and anxiety are key concerns in modern life as consumers manage careers, families and social lives while striving to maintain healthy lifestyles, both physically and mentally. Responses to this vary, although the majority of consumers aim to balance the benefits and costs of busy lifestyles. This, in turn, raises the demand for nutritious foods that are easy to prepare, convenient and portable.Indulgent treats play a role in relaxation and enjoyment.
  1. Tapping into Texture
    Last year’s leading trend “Discovery: the adventurous consumer” is still prominent, with consumer demand for something new and different being reflected in more product launches with textural claims. Consumers increasingly recognize the influence of texture on food and beverages, allowing a heightened sensory experience and often a greater feeling of indulgence. According to Innova Market Insights research, 45% of, on average, US and UK consumers are influenced by texture when buying food and drinks, while 68% share the opinion that textures contribute to a more interesting food and beverage experience.

The other top trends for 2020 identified by Innova Market Insights are:

  1. Macronutrient Makeover
  2. Hello Hybrids
  3. A Star is Born
  4. Eat Pretty
  5. Brand Unlimited

Industry 4.0’s firm hold on iconic Australian brand

Aeroplane Jelly is a national treasure. Created in a bathtub in 1927 in Sydney, it was once one of Australia’s largest family-operated food manufacturers. Even today, hearing the old jingle, “I like Aeroplane Jelly, Aeroplane Jelly for me, I like it for dinner, I like it for tea, A little each day is a good recipe” creates a strong feeling of nostalgia.

Acquired by what was McCormick Foods in 1994, today, more than 20 million packets of Aeroplane Jelly are consumed each year. Now incorporated as McCormick & Company, the nostalgic jelly brand’s owner is no stranger to large-scale food production, as it is a global flavour company that manufactures, markets and distributes an extensive range of spices, seasoning mixes, condiments and other flavourful products to the food industry.

McCormick & Company’s enthusiasm and appetite for innovation is now taking its operations into the Fourth Industrial Revolution – Industry 4.0.

READ MORE: Bosch and Billerudkorsnas intensify innovation collaboration

The teams at McCormick & Company and Bosch Australia Manufacturing Solutions have commenced an Industry 4.0 pilot project in conjunction with Australian Manufacturing Technology Institute Limited (AMTIL) and Australian Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC), which will start at the McCormick facility in Clayton South. As the lead technical partner, Bosch Australia Manufacturing Solutions is responsible for implementing the project across the three existing Aeroplane Jelly automatic packaging lines.

“Instead of interfacing with McCormick’s existing machines, we are strategically placing sensors onto the line that can detect the parts going past. With this simple and cost-effective solution, these sensors are counting parts going into and out of machines,” said Bradley Trewin, national sales and business development manager at Bosch Australia Manufacturing Solutions.

“This simple solution will eliminate McCormick’s existing manual data collection process, and by doing so, will remove possible errors in data collection and give them real-time insights into what is happening on their lines. Now, instead of collecting manual data, they can focus on analysing this precise cloud-based data to make improvements to their production,” continued Bradley.

Currently, McCormick’s factory is similar to many other manufacturing facilities across Australia – there are multiple operational shifts, with different operators manning each shift. Under the existing system, if there is a machine breakdown on one shift, incoming operators have no knowledge about the reason behind the break and whether there have been solutions implemented. With the Industry 4.0 project, the factory will now centrally control all machine data, providing a fault tree of reasons, which will also include a finite set of solutions for technicians to reference as they troubleshoot.

With this pilot programme in place, McCormick & Company has begun to add transformation to its local operations.

With successful implementation underway, the company continues to seek future implementation for Industry 4.0 practices to solve other pain points.

“Through this first level Industry 4.0 pilot project, McCormick & Company will see the benefits of real-time visibility of accurate, reliable data. This allows them to identify where there might be problems and solve them, quickly and easily,” said Bradley.

For Bosch Australia Manufacturing Solutions, the recipe for success is combining the best data and machines, with people being the secret ingredient. The solution created for McCormick is the perfect example – by recording and providing meaningful data and insights, the solution enables the company’s people to make critical decisions and actions required to improve production.

“Through our ‘Journey to Excellence’, reliable production performance data plays a critical role in supporting loss analysis and continuous improvement,” said Stewart Dwelly, operations manager McCormick Foods.

“The production team needs real-time information to enable this at the shop floor level. This project is a fantastic opportunity to showcase how a simple solution can improve operating efficiencies.”

Aeroplane Jelly has a special place in the hearts of all Australians. By embracing digital transformation and paying attention to the trends leading the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it will remain competitive long into the future.

Carlsberg moves to create paper beer bottle

Carlsberg Group is trying to  create the world’s first ‘paper’ beer bottle made from sustainably sourced wood fibres that is both 100 per cent bio-based and fully recyclable.

Carlsberg has unveiled two new research prototypes of its Green Fibre Bottle, which are the first ‘paper bottles’ to contain beer. Carlsberg also announced it has been joined by other leading global companies who are united in their vision of developing sustainable packaging through the advancement of paper bottle technology.

These developments are a continuation of Carlsberg’s sustainable packaging innovation journey and a key part of its sustainability programme, Together Towards Zero, including its commitment to Zero carbon emissions at its breweries and a 30 per cent reduction in its full value chain carbon footprint by 2030.

Two new prototypes
The two new research prototypes are made from sustainably-sourced wood fibre, are fully recyclable and have an inner barrier to allow the bottles to contain beer. One prototype uses a thin recycled PET polymer film barrier, and the other a 100 per cent bio-based PEF polymer film barrier. These prototypes will be used to test the barrier technology as Carlsberg seeks a solution to achieve their ultimate ambition of a 100 per cent bio-based bottle without polymers.

READ MORE: Kelloggs tap into craft market with cornflakes beer

Myriam Shingleton, Vice President Group Development at Carlsberg Group, said: “We continue to innovate across all our packaging formats, and we are pleased with the progress we’ve made on the Green Fibre Bottle so far. While we are not completely there yet, the two prototypes are an important step towards realising our ultimate ambition of bringing this breakthrough to market. Innovation takes time and we will continue to collaborate with leading experts in order to overcome remaining technical challenges, just as we did with our plastic-reducing Snap Pack.”

New partners onboard
Carlsberg kicked off the project to develop a bottle made from sustainably sourced wood fibres, the ‘Green Fibre Bottle,’ in 2015 alongside innovation experts ecoXpac, packaging company BillerudKorsnäs, and post-doctoral researchers from the Danish Technical University, supported by Innovation Fund Denmark. These combined efforts have resulted in the emergence of Paboco, the Paper Bottle Company – a joint venture between BillerudKorsnäs and bottle manufacturing specialist Alpla.

Carlsberg will now be joined by The Coca-Cola Company, The Absolut Company and L’Oréal in a paper bottle community – launched today by Paboco. The community unites leading global companies and experts with the vision of advancing sustainable packaging, offering high-quality products while reducing their environmental impact.

Myriam Shingleton continued: “The work with our partners since 2015 on the Green Fibre Bottle illustrates that this kind of innovation can happen when we work together. We’re delighted that other like-minded companies have now joined us as part of Paboco’s paper bottle community. Partnerships such as these, ones that are united by a desire to create sustainable innovations, are the best way to bring about real change.”

“We’re driven by our constant pursuit of better, to create more sustainable packaging solutions that help people to live more sustainable lives. Sometimes that means completely rethinking how things are done – pushing the boundaries of existing technologies and overcoming technical challenges as they present themselves.”

Gittan Schiöld, interim CEO of Paboco said: “It is all about the team! We are collaborating across the value chain, sharing the risks and are united in our vision that the paper bottle will become a reality and fundamentally change this industry for good.”

A constant pursuit of better
Carlsberg’s focus on sustainable packaging innovations is not new. In 2018, the Danish brewer launched a number of packaging innovations including recycled shrink film, greener label ink and the innovative ‘Snap Pack,’ which replaces the plastic wrapping around its six-packs with a solution that instead glues cans together.

Carlsberg’s packaging improvements are part of its long-standing progress of betterment and innovation, including developing scientific breakthroughs such as pure yeast and the pH scale.

Neousys’ PB-9250J-SA and PB-4600J-SA series – standalone Intelligent

Backplane Systems Technology has released the Neousys’ PB-9250J-SA and PB-4600J-SA series, standalone intelligent supercapacitor-based uninterruptible power backup Module.

The PB-9250J-SA and PB-4600J-SA are standalone power backup modules that can protect your box-PC against power outages. Utilising supercapacitor technology, it can operate in harsh environments from -25 to 65°C and have extremely high durability lasting over 10 years.

PB-9250J-SA is composed of Eight 370F/ 3.0V supercapacitors and PB-4600J-SA is composed of Four 370F/ 3.0V supercapacitors, which offers much longer lifespan than its 2.7V counterpart. PB-9250J-SA stores 9250 watt-second energy and PB-4600J-SA stores 4600 watt-second energy to offer extra extended operation time to backup your system.

Due to Neousys’ patented CAP Energy Management Technology it can reliably supply 180W power to the back-end system and automatically manage boot and shutdown without installing additional drivers/ software.

In addition to UPS-like power backup mode, they also offer two advanced ignition control modes for In-Vehicle usage. PB-9250J-SA and PB-4600J-SA series can work with either standard box-PC or in-vehicle controller to provide stable power supply and execute user-configurable power-on/power-off delay according to IGN signal input.

Featuring various modes, automatic shutdown control and up to 180W output power, this series can work with most off-the-shelf box-PCs. With properties such as maintenance-free energy storage and uninterruptible power supply, can prevent the connected back-end system from data loss during power outage in harsh industrial environments.

Key features:

  • Universal standalone power backup module compatible with all box-PCs
  • Supercapacitor-based, -25 to 65°C wide temperature operation
  • 9250Watt second energy capacity (PB-9250J-SA series)
  • 4600W second energy capacity (PB-4600J-SA series)
  • Maximum 180W output power for the connected back-end system
  • Over 10 years lifespan, and 500,000 charging/discharging cycles
  • Patented CAP energy management technology
    • Extending back-up time in the event of an unforeseen power outage
    • Monitoring energy and power consumption to extend operation time for safe system shutdown
  • Versatile operating mode
    • Normal backup mode
    • Ignition control mode for standard box-PC and in-vehicle controller
  • EN50155 certificate
  • R.O.C Patent No. I1598820

Gas the key to fledging micro-brewing industry

Craft brewing has taken off in Australia over the past five years. Driven by consumer demand for something a little different outside the main brands. These usually one- or two-person bands are making inroads into traditional markets right across
the country.

From Perth to Sydney, Adelaide to Brisbane, micro-breweries aren’t just putting down roots in the main cities, regional Australia is getting its fair share of beer aficionados, too. Some craft breweries are driven by wanting to be in an industry they love, others believe their unique blend of hops, barley, yeast and malt offer an exquisite taste to a discerning public, while yet others are hoping one of the big breweries will buy them out.

According to a 2018 report by IBIS World, the craft brewery market in Australia is worth about $520 million and is growing at a rate of about six per cent a year. Not only are the brewers themselves excited about the market’s potential, but those providing products and services can also see that the sector offers lucrative opportunities.

As well as the four basic ingredients, there are peripheral – but just as important – constituents that need to be taken into consideration, such as packaging, distribution and gases.

READ MORE: Putting wine on ice – gas’s role in winemaking

Gases are the unseen heroes of a good brew, something that Air Liquide’s Western Australian sales representative, Gavin Lee, is all too aware of. Having a background working at brewing giant Lion, has helped Lee gain momentum in supplying a variety of gases to the large number of micro-breweries popping up on the west coast. And it’s only going to get bigger, according to Lee.

“The micro brewing industry in Western Australia is going gangbusters at the moment,” he said. “There are more than 60 micro-breweries in Western Australia – ranging from Exmouth down to Albany. The majority are in the Perth area.”

Like wine-making, gas plays an important role, from the brewing of the amber fluid, through to it being dispensed at the tap. Oxygen is both the friend and enemy of the brewer. The only time it is necessary is when there is the oxygenation of the wort, which is the liquid extracted from the mashing process that occurs during the brewing of beer. Wort contains the sugars that will be fermented by the brewing yeast to produce alcohol.
“Oxygen and light are the two things brewers don’t like. Dissolved oxygen in beer ruins the taste and flavour,” said Lee.

If gas was a workhorse its name would be carbon dioxide (CO2). It is used extensively to move beer around from one vessel to another, as well as during the bottling process. It has a multitude of uses, and because it is an inert gas it has no effect on the end product. Nitrogen can also be used but CO2 is the preferred option among most brewmasters. CO2 is mainly used in the carbonation process, giving the beer its fizz at the point of bottling, canning or kegging.

“When using it in the bottling process there is tank inerting,” said Lee. “Currently, if the brewer has the brew in the tank and there is a bit of head space in that vessel, they can pump CO2 on top of that beer so it blankets the surface, and that provides a protective layer for the beer, or they can use nitrogen.”

And when it comes to setting up the delivery mechanisms for the gases, Air Liquide has that covered, too. There are two main options.

“Typically we like to use copper piping because it won’t leak and it won’t corrode and can last for a very long time,” said Lee. “Or you can use food-grade nylon, which is a cheaper option, but over time it does have a tendency to spring a leak because it is under pressure.
“We have engineers and an installation team that are very experienced. We swapped out a vessel, down at Little Creatures in Freemantle, which had been there for the past 18 years.
“We swapped out to a 10-tonne vessel and within a couple of hours they were back in full operation without any down time.”

Another growing part of the company’s business is providing mixed gases for the dispensing of beverages in hotels and pubs throughout the state.

“It is often a mixed combination of CO2 and nitrogen,” said Lee. “It is the gas that pumps the beer through to the glass. As with the brewing process, it is inert so doesn’t affect the quality or the taste of the beer.”

Another reason Lee believes Air Liquide is making inroads into the market is that it supports the industry in other ways other than just providing gases.

“Air Liquide supports WABA – the Western Australian Brewing Association,” he said. “We try and support a lot of the brewers who start a business. Although some would argue gas is a small part of the process, it is a very important part. We offer cost-effective safe solutions and are able to provide the right product, at the right time and the right price,” he said.

“We’ve got fantastic aftersales service and logistics solutions to provide any type of gas delivery – whether it be in cylinders, skid tanks, mini-bulk or bulk vessels. All ALIGAL products we supply to breweries and wineries are of food-grade quality and our CO2 is FSSC 22000-certified, guaranteeing maximum quality and food safety.”

Opportunity for frozen vegetables in health-focussed diets

In Australia, producers of frozen vegetables are missing an opportunity to help consumers create high-quality, home-cooked healthy meals without sacrificing time. More Australians are starting to prioritise eating more healthily, and to do so, market research specialist Mintel has information from its surveys that points to increasing fruit and vegetable intake. This is done by following a balanced diet, and cooking more at home, as key steps in this journey.

At the same time, Australians want to make room in their lives for other priorities, such as cultivating strong personal relationships and enjoying social occasions – activities that they understand are important to their health in other ways.

Currently, Australians tend to have frozen vegetables on hand for side dish emergencies. However, these products can actually be promoted to do more – frozen vegetables can act as a shortcut for consumers who are trying to balance many things in their limited time, including eating well. Frozen vegetables provide a solution for time-strapped, yet health-focussed consumers, to create semi-scratch meals that contain lots of vegetables, while still eschewing the processed foods that they seek to avoid. Frozen vegetables are the solution to helping Australians achieve their goal to cook at home more often.

READ MORE: Tool measures the reaction to food launch

While Mintel research shows that almost half of urban Australians say they like to cook, the time taken to prepare for cooking, especially when using whole, fresh vegetables, could be better spent on other pursuits.

Enter speed-scratch or “semi-homemade” cooking. This concept, championed in the US by Food Network host Sandra Lee, instructs home cooks to use partially prepared foods to create dishes that feel like they are scratch-made.

Frozen vegetables are suitable for this, especially as they are already washed, peeled and chopped, and often come without the need to be defrosted before being added to a recipe. Positioning frozen produce as a partially prepared ingredient offers consumers a way to prepare something convenient at home without relying on processed foods – something that over two-thirds of urban Australians say they are looking to avoid.

Frozen vegetables can help home cooks in Australia create inspired, intentional meals that are rich in plant-based ingredients by clearly showing consumers the different ways that they can be used. Adding recipes and usage suggestions on pack is an approach that has worked well for the frozen fruit category. For instance, frozen fruit brands have included recipes and usage suggestions for smoothies on pack. These suggestions give consumers more ideas on how to use frozen produce, and they position frozen fruit as a product that consumers would purchase for this purpose.

By taking on a similar strategy, frozen vegetable brands can encourage consumers to buy their products more often than just something to have at home as a backup or emergency side dish.

In addition to helping consumers see frozen vegetables as a speed-scratch solution, brands need to overcome the perception that frozen is lower quality than fresh. This is especially true as Mintel research indicates the importance of freshness to Australians, with over half of them ranking it as the top attribute they seek in food.

However, according to Mintel Purchase Intelligence, a tool that measures consumer reactions to and purchase intent of food and drink products, Australians are unconvinced by the freshness of frozen vegetables. This reflects how frozen vegetable brands are not telling a strong story that communicates the freshness that these products can offer. While many brands use snap-chilling, and do mention this on pack, most are not using their packaging to talk about the benefits of quick freezing in preserving the quality, flavour and nutrition of vegetables. Telling a more dynamic story about freshness and quality can raise the value perception of frozen vegetables, especially when combined with convenience messaging.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s Goodness Kitchen offers a good example of how these types of vegetables can communicate freshness and quality. The product uses bright colours and a see-through cut-out that reveals the product inside, which are aspects that set this packaging apart from the many bags and boxes in the frozen aisle. In addition, it uses the back of the pack to tell a full and engaging story about the company and its practices.

Goodness Kitchen talks about organic farming, freshness, nutritional quality and how frozen veggies help to reduce food waste. In an aisle where low price drives purchase intent, communicating the added value one product offers over another could open consumers’ minds to the fact that price is just one element of the value equation.

Brands in Australia have not fully exploited the chance to communicate the freshness and quality of frozen vegetables. There is the potential for these brands to show consumers that frozen products can empower them to achieve their health goals by helping them eat more vegetables, avoid processed foods and cook at home more often with less effort.

APS eyes long-term partnerships as key to help industry move forward

APS was born on March 1st, 2018, a time seen by the company as when it provided industry with a new choice by consolidating what can at times be a fragmented market. It brought a range of high-visibility brands in the industrial low- and medium-voltage electrical and automation space under one roof.

Headed by industry leader Lloyd Thomas (chairman – APS Group) and David Hegarty (managing director – APS Industrial), APS came into being when two companies were acquired – Ramelec and HiTech Control Systems. Thomas and his board then quickly set about putting national distribution deals in place with highly rated global manufacturers such as Siemens, Rittal and Weidmüller.

Siemens has a leading global market share, but less so in Australia. It was the apple in Thomas’s eye when he thought about putting APS together.

Building on that, APS then signed national distribution deals with a range of other German companies including the aforementioned Rittal and Weidmüller. Other brands under its umbrella include KATKO and Epcos (TDK). In Hegarty’s words, APS has become a “one-stop shop for industrial automation and power distribution needs”. As if to reiterate the point, Hegarty is also clear on what APS has to offer the market.

READ MORE: APS Industrial strengthens commitment to Queensland with branch relocation

“The advantage we bring to local customers is that not only do we sell quality products but the breadth of our portfolio is so impressive,” he said. “Our global manufacturing partners produce an incredible number of products and that’s what we give the local market access to. We are giving consumers a large choice in one place.”

APS is here for the long game, and doesn’t consider itself an overnight success, despite its rapid rise in the industrial electrical space, said Hegarty. He also knows the direction the company is heading is the right one. He feels that the sooner the industry can appreciate the benefits of Industry 4.0 and commence their digital journey, the better for all companies participating in the Australian industrial ecosystem.

“I was at the Siemens Digitalise 2019 in Brisbane, and it is clear a key challenge that the industry is going to face is getting started on their digitisation journey,” he said. “There are already early adopters paving the way, and there are going to be more examples of this over the next six months where companies are willing to take a step from what they are currently doing manufacturing, product and process wise. They’ll say, ‘we’re on the cusp of something big here and we are going to take these first steps to go down the path of digitisation and are ready to commence our journey. It takes courage, but we are going to do it because this is how we will survive and thrive. We have to’.”

Siemens invest billions of euros globally on research and development and the whole idea of Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing, said Hegarty. They are leading the way and that APS can exclusively help bring this to Australia is a unique point of difference for him.

“Take a brand like Siemens – when all of your products are from the same manufacturer you get unrivalled communication and integration capability – power distribution, automation, motor control – everything comes from the same manufacturer and are all connected,” he said. “Nobody else can offer this. In terms of what industries that suits, manufacturing is obviously a big one, as well as mining and utilities who are the ultimate beneficiaries of this performance and data visibility. Switchboard builders can see the benefits, as well as wholesalers and contractors. For the end user, it ultimately means they can manufacture more efficiently, have less downtime, and experience gains across their operation that are currently unattainable. Our manufacturing partners are also at the pointy end of Industry 4.0. This should provide the local market with a lot of faith in terms of what we can offer and help them achieve.”

Hegarty also said that APS will now give local manufacturers more of a choice when it comes to industrial, electrical and automation gear. He knows it will take time for consumers to get to know the company, but is confident that what they have to offer is something unique.

“We want to be in the conversation and we want the industry to understand the full benefits of Industry 4.0,” Hegarty said. “The suite of products, the communication abilities of digitisation technology are what are important and we want to be a trusted partner in that space. Within the next few years we will have proven our offerings to industry, and they will consider us a trusted advisor and partner.”

APS is seen as a relatively new player in the market, but its already having an impact on the industry. This is proven by not only the increase of staff since inception (it has almost tripled), but also by the amount of investment it has put into bricks and motor.

“In September 2018, we moved to a brand-new national distribution centre in Melbourne,” said Hegarty. “And that allowed us to dramatically increase our stock holdings and invest in expanding our team. In August this year, our Queensland office also moved into a new facility, to do the same.”

Although still only young in terms of being in existence, it is the experience it has behind it at management level that will make APS a long-term player in what is an increasingly competitive market.

Tracing every last drop of cooking oil

Oil – in all its forms, including vegetable – doesn’t have the best of reputations when it comes to sustainability and the environment. It takes a long time to break down, can have a disruptive impact on habitats, and can take on toxic forms once used.

With tens of thousands of eating establishments throughout Australia – all of which use one form or another of cooking oil – it is an issue that bulk oil specialist Cookers Bulk Oil knows all too well. When it comes to sustainability, traceability and how vegetable oil can affect its surrounds, the company has processes in place aimed at keeping the environment free from any negative outcomes caused by vegetable oils. National quality and safety manager for the company Hari Srinivas makes no apologies for the standards the company sets when it comes to where it sources its vegetable oil supplies.

“To deal with Cookers, you need to be an approved supplier, which means we look and see what sort of practices and standards you are following,” he said. “Suppliers need to meet minimum standards. And it means we don’t go to any supplier who hasn’t got a certification/traceability system in place that is not internationally recognised.”

READ MORE: Sustainability at core of bulk oil business

He cites the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), which is a private organisation, established and managed by the Consumer Goods Forum in Belgium. It maintains a scheme to benchmark food safety standards for manufacturers.

Certification can be achieved through a successful third-party audit by schemes recognised by the GFSI, including the BRC (British Retail Consortium) Global Standard for Food Safety Issue 8, IFS Food Version 6 and SQF Safe Quality Food Code 8th Edition to name a few.

“Without those types of certifications we don’t even entertain any supplier,” said Srinivas. “We are stringent with our suppliers. If you look into the way the industry is going now, the majority of the supply chains are going through some sort of certification system including HACCP. These sorts of certifications are one of the core fundamentals for traceability. The product could be coming from anywhere in the world nowadays. It may be via an underdeveloped country, a developing country or a developed county. Also, most of my customers whom I supply to have at least some food safety certification. Cookers ensures product integrity with no dilution as we provide Certificates of Analysis to meet specifications. ”

He said that although 99 per cent of the oil is refined locally, even the small amount of product they source from overseas has to have a certain standard of certification. This includes where the seed has been sourced, where it is crushed and even the batch number it came from.

“If they give us a batch number you can trace it back to the farm,” said Srinivas. “This is why farm to fork is the new mode that everybody follows, including us. We make sure we go back to the beginning and we use GSFI-certified refineries where they can trace backward from their end, too.”

Srinivas doesn’t want to tempt fate, but he is proud that the company has yet to have any of its products recalled. He puts it down to not only the standards it sets, but also compliant suppliers, and their own end users as well. This doesn’t mean the company is complacent. In fact, far from it. Frequently, they do an exercise where they have a mock recall, which involves checking its suppliers’ traceability to make sure they have the correct systems in place, and that they are working. This is because he knows that if there ever is a recall, they need to know where every drop of oil they have distributed has ended up. The good news for end users is that if that does happen, Cookers Bulk Oil will be able to trace the batch number and know where the offending product is very quickly through their centralised system.

Traceability is also key when it comes to dealing with customers in case things go wrong once the oil has been distributed. As mentioned, Cookers makes sure its customers also comply with standards and regulations, too. This is important to ensure customers are getting the product they paid according to specifications.

“We get audited every year, and our auditor checks things like how long it takes to check something, and the accuracy of our traceability,” said Srinivas. “If we have an issue we can compare it with the same batch delivered nationally to different customers,” said Srinivas. “We can get a sample and test it with same batches from other customers who have used the same batch.”

And the environmental side of the equation? Well, it is simple really: the customers who they supply their fresh oil to are also their used oil suppliers. The Cookers Bulk Oil truck fleet is divided into two types of vehicle. The stainless-steel trucks deliver fresh cooking oil, while the blue ones pick up the used product. Cookers not only supplies fresh oil and pick up used oil, it provides separate purpose built storage equipment used on-site by the customer, one for fresh and another for used oil. Not only does that help the customer, but it allows Cookers to make sure that they know what is happening with the oil.

“Once a customer uses the oil, we provide the equipment to transfer the used product into our on-site mobile storage units, which are emptied at regular intervals,” said Srinivas. “We get the oil back and we have got mechanisms to handle the oil in such a way it can go into biodiesel production. It means that with every drop of oil we sell, we make sure not a single drop goes into the drain.”

But what about the client? How does Cookers know that the amount of oil they delivered and collected is roughly the same? Sure some, might get absorbed into food, but there could be huge discrepancies between the amount delivered and what they pick up after use, right? Not so, said Srinivas.

“We measure UCO, which is collected,” he said. “We do all the calculations, so if there are any big variations, we will go and speak to the customer to see if there is anything going wrong and find whether we can help with oil management.”

He said another reason to use a company like Cookers Bulk Oil is that, due to its tanker delivery method, there are no empty oil tins heading to the local landfill. If a customer needed 100 litres of oil per week, that would usually consist of five 20-litre drums, which may end up in land fill. With Cookers’ tankers, the drums are redundant.

And where exactly does the company source it oils from? Srinivas is quick to point out that they don’t use palm oil, and their main oils are canola, sunflower and cottonseed.

“We get most of our oil in Australia, and over 90 per cent is refined in Australia,” he said. “For example, the canola oil we sell is 100 per cent Australian. Other oils, depending on the cropping situation, are imported in crude form from reputable suppliers who have proper certifications in place – usually from Argentina and European countries.”

At the end of the day, traceability is one of the key planks upon which Cookers Bulk Oil has built its reputation – thus the plethora of certifications and processes it has in place to make sure its meets its customers’ needs.

“The traceability is so important,” said Srinivas. “When you think about it, it is important in anything you do. If you are buying a piece of land you have to have documentation to see who the previous owner was, and the owner before them, and before them and so on. It is the same with anything that you are putting into your mouth, which is going to impact your health – we need to know the traceability and this is why we have these processes in place.”

Why St.George funds food and beverage enterprises

With interest rates at an all-time low – and some industry pundits stating they might go lower – the opportunities for growth, especially for an industry like food and beverage, are enormous.

Mark Burgess is the experienced and affable relationship director – consumer goods leader at St.George Bank. His portfolio of customers are in the food and beverage arena and he sees solid opportunities within the industry over the next 12-18 months. It is one of the bank’s growth sectors, mainly propelled by the domestic and global demand for quality Australian produce. He’s also a good gauge of what other factors are propelling the market at the moment, and Burgess cites new technologies and food trends as being market drivers.

At a recent St.George Signature Food Event, Burgess talked of not only how the food and beverage sectors are looking healthy, but how the role of banks has changed over the past decade.

“I think within the last few years – the banks have shifted away from being what I would call ‘order takers’ – like at McDonald’s – to that of being more trusted business advisors. That is one of the reasons St.George moved to an industry model four years ago because we wanted to have industry experts to not just be there to take orders from customers, but also have insightful discussions with them about their industry as well as their growth plans and where they see themselves going. Then talking to them about how we can support them to grow and prosper. It’s really about that. It is one of the reasons I joined the bank.”

READ MORE: How a 1960s cartoon predicted the future of food

Having been a director at Ernst and Young and a senior corporate advisor, Burgess likes helping businesses grow. It’s another reason he likes the food and beverage industry.
“While we are seeing growth with our customers who are the larger players in the market, as a bank we also focus on family businesses and the middle marketplace, too,” he said.

Why? Burgess sees them as lean, hungry and leading the charge when it comes to some of the newer market sectors within food and beverage.

“Those companies are really nimble, and quite dynamic and they are looking at new areas that they can diversity in,” he said. “For example, a lot of my customers look to supply Coles and Woolworths, and it is those customers who are leading the charge in the healthy alternatives market. Then there is a push for the vegan movement, as well as alternative substitutes for meats and other core products.

“Some of those businesses are ahead of the curve and have a huge focus on innovation within their organisations. I’ve got one customer who is a traditional meat supplier and they are now getting into non-meat products.”

Although Burgess is excited about the market and where it is headed, this doesn’t mean the bank has a laissez-faire attitude towards doing business. There are still systems that have to be followed. A large portion of food and beverage businesses involve the manufacture of perishable items, not exactly great assets to put in the ledger when talking to your bank.

So what does a company have to do with regard to getting a loan if they need to recapitalise, or more often than not, expand their business?

“If we’re doing cash flow lending as opposed to bricks and mortar property lending in the food space, we look at your working capital cycle. We are relying on your debtor book to fund your business,” he said. “We look at the strength of your relationships and what your terms are like with those debtors. We then look at how efficient your supply chain is. It’s also about the experience of the management of the company, too.”

And how does the bank find the attitude of the big players like Woolworths and Coles when it comes to helping out not just those who are regular brands on their shelves, but those new to the market? Burgess works closely with them and said they are very supportive of entrepreneurs because they want to see new products on their shelves.

“They want to get onboard because an entrepreneur could produce a new product that might fly off the shelves, and that product might also be a reason why consumers go to a Woolworths store instead of Coles or vice versa,” he said.

New technologies are also a driver for the industry, and Burgess and his team are seeing those innovations first-hand from their customers.

“I was talking with a customer today who specialises in ready-made meals, and he has
been flat out,” said Burgess. “His product had a shelf life of three to four days, but because a packaging specialist brought out a new technology, his product now has a shelf life of 7-10 days. Something as simple as that has made a huge impact on his business in terms of wastage and time savings from deliveries.”

Burgess loves the industry, not just because he’s a foodie, but because it is dynamic, ever changing. He is very excited about the future of banking in the sector, and the industry itself.

“The thing I love about this role is that it is all about seeing the customers grow and prosper and supporting them in their growth plans,” he said. “Given my corporate advisory background, I can provide meaningful insights around business strategy and direction. The food and beverage space is a rapidly changing environment and it’s exciting.”

How a 1960s cartoon predicted the future of food

Sharon Natoli loves food. Which is just as well when she makes her living as an author and speaker specialising in the food and beverage industry.

At a recent event held by St.George Bank at urban farm, Cultivate, which is based in the Sydney CBD, Natoli spoke about the future of food and some of the challenges processors, retailers and manufacturers face.

Her first point was that the future – in general – is coming faster and faster. The Human Knowledge Curve has shown that in 1900 humanity’s knowledge was doubling every 100 years. In 1945, the rate was doubling every 25 years. By 1982 it was down to approximately one year. Today, it is estimated that what humans know is doubling every day, while deep learning platform IBM Watson predicts that our knowledge will double every 12 hours by 2020. What is driving this alarming rate of change?

“It is around data collection,” said Natoli. “The fact is that every day that we use our laptop, our phone, we buy things, and we click purchase things online. We use our credit cards, that’s data that is being collected all the time. Wearables, sensors – so much technology around us, and so much data to collect. The key is keeping up with the rate of knowledge that is happening in terms at which it is doubling.”

READ MORE: Federal funding announced for aquaculture development in Northern Australia

And with all these changes starting to occur, it is important that food and beverage businesses don’t get caught ‘sheep walking’ – a term that Natoli said is similar to sleep walking, except people are wandering around with their eyes open.

“We have our eyes open and we are conscious, but it is hard to see the future coming at us because we are surrounded by the status quo,” she said. “If we get caught sheep walking, then it is harder for us to innovate and keep up.”

She gives the example of French yoghurt manufacturer Yoplait, who up until 2015 was the number one brand in the United States. Over a few years it lost 33 per cent of its market share, with 23 per cent of that coming within one year. The equated to about $500 million in revenue. What happened? A rival read the future.

“Chobani came along with a better tasting yoghurt, a lower sugar yoghurt – the kind of things consumers were looking for at that time, and so they took a large chunk of that market share away.”

However, one topic that Natoli covered could have consequences for food processors – 3D printing. Back in the 1960s the cartoon television series The Jetsons had the Foodarackacycle, a device that, with the press of a button, would produce food for the family. Fifty years later, similar technology is coming to fruition with the Foodini.

“Foodini is a 3D printer that enables us to serve food, freshly printed,” said Natoli. “It is a smart kitchen appliance using 3D printing technology that enables us to personalise our food. Not only the amount, but a personalised nutritional profile of the food, and we can personalise the way that it looks.

“It is also attractive to health-conscious people because it puts food production in the hands of the consumer. You can print things like crackers, wraps and pizza bases – some of the things you would usually buy prepared from the supermarket.”

With the future fast approaching, it would be easy to put your head in the sand and say “it’s all too much”, especially as Natoli has already stated, our knowledge is almost doubling every day. However, she also said there are three “plates that need spinning” if the food and beverage manufacturers are going to keep ahead of the knowledge curve. They are: what do you need to keep? What are things that these companies need to keep up with? What do they want to create?

When she talks about what companies need to keep, it is more about their legacy, their history – it is about a company’s culture, both past, present and looking to the future.
Probably the most important of the three “spinning plates”, is keeping up with trends, something that could be argued Yoplait failed to do when it lost its market share in the US. There are lots of trends and different businesses need to keep up with them, said Natoli. She said there are three areas of macro trends that will be relevant to the food and beverage industry.

“The first is this rising rebellion,” she said. “What we are finding is that we have the means and the motivation more than ever to stand up for the things we believe in. We are seeing a power shift from organisations and institutions through to individuals. And this is being shown a Colmar Brunton’s Millennium Monitor. What they monitor is Australia’s changing social sentiment. What they have found, is we are moving from an era of conformity where we had trust in institutions and organisations, through to this rebellious era. What we are valuing is empowerment and individual responsibility and taking on change ourselves.”
This is leading some food and beverage brands to adopt a rebellious approach, such as the likes of Soul Fresh, which owns the brand The Milk Thief.

“They’re saying, ‘we’re a movement, not a corporation’. They are saying they are a disruptor of the status quo versus doing what we’ve always done,” said Natoli. “They’re focussed on creating healthier and better foods for consumers instead of focussing on delivering foods and beverages at the lowest cost possible.”

The second macro trend is the idea of getting more from less. This is around the intersection between disquiet about the state of the environment, combined with consumers concern about their personal health. It’s about growing things with less impact on the environment but also being healthy. She cites the example of Mike Lee from US-based Alpha Food Labs, who is looking at the biodiversity of the supermarket shelf. Natoli said he has flipped things on its head. Usually, when it comes to new product ideas, it is marketing or product development people who come up with new concepts and go out and tell the farmers, or the suppliers, to grow this or produce that.

“What Alpha Labs is doing is turning that around and going out to the farmers and saying, ‘what are you growing? What is good for the soil? What is in season?’ and then the company takes that and makes a product from it. It is the opposite of what we would usually do from a food production perspective,” she said. “They want people to see that these products are not just made from wheat, rice and oats, but they are made from things like lentils, fava beans and moringa powder, millet – all kinds of different grains and that is a way to introduce biodiversity into the food chain.”

The final part in the macro trend equation is the expectations that people have when it comes to what they are consuming. Natoli said they have high expectations of food producers as well as high expectations from their food.

“This is where transparency and knowing where your food comes from – who made it, what’s in it – comes in,” she said. “Also the use of technology in terms of things like augmented reality, where you can scan a barcode of a product and find out the story behind it. Also around health and wellbeing and how we can really improve it through what we eat.

“Companies like Habitoir, which is a US company that takes some of the insights around genetic testing, and develops personalised nutrition plans that meet peoples’ expectations around how food can deliver better health to them.”

Natoli also believes that even though there is a lot of automation, robotics, artificial intelligence and augmented reality creeping into the food processing and manufacturing space, there is still room for human interaction. Some companies even make it part of their marketing plan.

“Harris Farm, they often put themselves forward – like one of the brothers Tristan Harris – as commentators,” she said. “They put a face to the brand. It gives it that human element.”
And getting back to her point about the rebellious disruption going on, The Havas Media Group recently completed a survey that involved 300,000 consumer and 1,500 brands across 33 countries. What it found was that brands that are more meaningful outperform the stock market by double over a 10-year period. Being meaningful meant contributing to the collective well-being of society.

“Overall the future is coming at us quite rapidly and we don’t want to get caught sheep walking. We have to be really future ready. If we can spin those three plates together at the same time, then that is going to help us navigate in this decade of disruption. Many a false move was made by standing still, so whatever you do, just don’t stand still.

“It is really great for food businesses to have the opportunity to come together, to network, and connect, particularly over a meal. To create those social connections over food and to share their ideas and learnings.

“I think the way of the future is really about collaboration and so an event like this that St.George has put on is really beneficial for helping to do that.”

Unleashed a game changer for award-winning bakery

Located an hour’s drive south of Perth, Pinjarra is a little town with a huge drawcard – its renowned bakery run by the Pantaleo family.

Founded just over 22 years ago by patriarch and former panel beater Larry, the bakery has not only put the town on the map, but has won a bookshelf-full of national awards for its pies. Its award-winning ways were capped off this year by taking out the Best Meat Pie award in the Great Aussie Meat Pie Competition at the Fine Food Australia Exhibition held in Sydney.

Like any company, growth is key, and since starting the business in 1997, Larry and the rest of his family, has grown the business to include stores in Maddington and Waroona, also in Western Australia.

However, while expansion is exciting, it does come with a set of challenges, one being more paperwork. When in its infancy, dealing with spreadsheets wasn’t a problem for the Pantaleo family. However, as the business expanded, so did the bureaucracy of keeping it running. The bakery’s general manager, Larry’s son Daniel, knew something had to be done to streamline processes with paperwork. Enter Unleashed Software’s solution.

READ MORE: Integration and easy of use key to cloud solution

“The old system that we had of dealing with the paperwork and spreadsheets was no longer going to work,” said Daniel Pantaleo. “It was very inefficient and time-consuming for us. It all came to a head when we opened our Maddington store.”

Unleashed’s inventory management software was a perfect solution for the family, and Pantaleo noticed the impact straight away.

“What we like about Unleashed is that it is a hosted solution, which means I can jump on it from anywhere in the world and I can check what is going on,” he said. “I can update my prices. I can contact my customers through the CRM. So it allows me – as someone who is here, there and everywhere at any given time of the day – to jump on any time anywhere and see what is going on. This is very important for me, because the last thing I want was a dedicated software solution on one computer at one location. A key to me was having that flexibility.”

According to Pantaleo, the system also streamlined a lot of processes that the bakery had, which were old and clunky. Many mistakes were getting made and Unleashed allowed Pantaleo to enter all the parameters he needed to cover in one place. From there, he could control the ordering of stock, see what stock he had, as well as the taking feedback from the other two stores.

“Everything became a lot clearer as to how we were operating that business,” said Pantaleo. “You need to keep control of your numbers otherwise it is pretty daunting feeling when you think you are losing control of the stock, the numbers and what is going on with that side of the business.

“Unleashed is quite precise in what it does. It is flexible, too. Not only in terms that we can operate it from anywhere, but also how you can tweak it to your style of business. It tells you everything you need to know. If you manage your stock and distribution correctly, Unleashed will do all the hard work for you. It allows you to customise and design your own purchase orders, invoices and stuff like that, which is very handy.”

Pantaleo is confident that Unleashed is capable of being used in many other industries. He said that it takes a while to set everything up, but once it is up and running it is a powerful tool.

“The biggest issue we worried about was that we had all these items that we needed to enter into it, which we thought was going to take forever,” he said. “But we were pretty much given a template of a spreadsheet and then told how we needed to enter the data. And from there, once we had the 1,000 plus items in there – the product, the supplier, the prices, the sell price tiers etc – we uploaded it to Unleashed and then we were ready to use it.”

With more than 70 staff onboard, Pantaleo knows that he is not the only one who needs to know how to use the software, which means he has had to teach others how implement it, too. He said that he has found teaching others how to use it easy for a couple of reasons.

“Unleashed is really easy to teach, because they have a lot of online training tools,” he said. “They have what they call a university that shows people how to use the software. If I do need to onboard somebody to use it, I usually send them to do that training first. From there, I manage them for a couple of days to give them pointers of the little intricacies of how we operate our business. It’s fairly straight forward.”

There are several highlights that Pantaleo points out. This includes being able to run a reorder report, which reads all the stock levels the bakery has at any given time.

“From that report you can generate a purchase order to all of your suppliers with the levels you require,” said Pantaleo. “That saves us a lot of time and this is why it is one of the main highlights of the product.”

The other feature that Pantaleo loves is its business-to-business portal that was released a year ago, which is an online ordering platform. It was a real game changer for Pinjarra Bakery.

“Initially we got Unleashed because it was reducing the paperwork, but as we increased our stores that paperwork was starting to increase again, just through the volume of the stores we had,” said Pantaleo. “Having that online portal allowed us to place our orders online and that would then pull the orders straight in as a sale order, which saves us possibly two or three hours a day of not having to enter stock manually. The orders that come in are now a lot more accurate and saved us a tonne of time and allowed our distribution manager to focus on more things to improve the distribution as opposed to being stuck behind a computer all day.”

One cable solution for automation in processing factories

The One Cable Automation (OCA) philosophy from Beckhoff is based on the connection of individual field devices, decentralised terminal boxes, and machine modules using only one cable.

This cable technology combines ultra-fast communication via EtherCAT, with the power supply required by the connected components. For the 24V field level, this was implemented using the EtherCAT P technology expansion connected via special M8 connectors. To provide additional power supply capabilities via a one cable solution, Beckhoff developed the new ENP and ECP connector families. These combine EtherCAT or EtherCAT P communication with additional power conductors in one cable, and are easy to use, mechanically coded to prevent installation errors and offer a high waterproof rating of IP67.

One Cable Automation has a flexible design that is suitable for use in a range of applications. Different sections in a network can be connected selecting a suitable one cable solution for devices and components according to their individual power requirements. The unrestricted openness for mixed network topologies is a key benefit, which allows flexible transitions between:
• EtherCAT P communication with integrated power supply (one cable solution with M8 connector).
• A one cable solution using hybrid cables that combine an EtherCAT or EtherCAT P communication element with additional power conductors (one cable solution with the new ENP or ECP connectors).
• A conventional two-cable solution with separate power supply (EtherCAT via M8/RJ45 connector or EtherCAT/EtherCAT P via ENP/ECP connector).

The new ECP and ENP connector series implements the combination of communication and power elements in different performance classes that range from 3A to 64A, all in a compact design. The system is a new product development and meets the full scope of OCA requirements regarding connected devices and modules, including drives, sensors/actuators, control cabinets and machine modules.

Reducing the system to the essentials – namely the EtherCAT or EtherCAT P communication element and DC or AC power supply lines – creates a cost-effective connection concept. In addition, the system is easy to use due to the bayonet connections with mechanical and colour coding. The ECP variant for EtherCAT P also provides another benefit – the power transmission integrated into EtherCAT P enables the elimination of the four wires normally required for 2V x 24V. This allows the use of thinner, lower-cost cables and alternatively, the supply of other voltages.

EtherCAT P as an OCA solution for 24V I/O systems
With EtherCAT P, the company has expanded the globally established EtherCAT technology to combine ultra-fast EtherCAT communication with a 24V system and peripheral power supply (US or UP), all in a standard Ethernet cable. Beckhoff developed special M8 connectors for EtherCAT P with mechanical encoding that eliminates possible confusion with connectors used for standard EtherCAT slaves.

The design of a specific machine or plant installation is simplified using a TwinCAT software tool that helps specify all individual EtherCAT P consumers and cable lengths to configure the highest performance and most cost-effective EtherCAT P network. For that purpose, the new and highly compact EPP9022-0060 EtherCAT P Box module, with dimensions of only 30mm x 86mm x 26.5mm, can be used to gather important data. This module measures the US and UP voltages along with the IS and IP currents in the system and passes on the information to the controller. Provided the system has the data from all consumers, it can also take the individual devices’ power consumption over time into account. For example, if two actuators never switch at the same time for logical reasons, this can be taken into account when configuring the maximum current. This introduces additional savings potential with regard to the required number of power supply feeds and power supply units.

Connector series for EtherCAT and EtherCAT P
If higher power or additional supplies are required in addition to the 24V system and peripheral power supply via EtherCAT P, power can be supplied via corresponding hybrid cables together with the ECP and ENP connector series developed by Beckhoff for this purpose:
• ECP (EtherCAT P + Power): This connector series combines a compact, trapezoidal EtherCAT P element (using the same pin allocation as the EtherCAT P encoded M8 connector) with additional power pins. In this way, the 24V supply integrated into EtherCAT P is complemented with an additional power supply line.
• ENP (EtherCAT/Ethernet + Power): These connectors combine a trapezoidal, central communication element with additional power pins in the same way as ECP. The trapezoidal element has an inverse design to prevent incorrect connections and provides data transmission via EtherCAT, standard Ethernet or other Ethernet-based communication protocols.

Different connector sizes from B12 to B36 are available with a varying number of power pins (two to six pins) so that they can be easily adapted to the requirements of different network types and the power consumption of connected consumers. The complete and full-length 360˚ shielding of the central trapezoidal element continues the typical high performance of EtherCAT. Furthermore, the compact design also provides adequate space for the power pins, ensuring high current-carrying capacity and dielectric strength. The quick and easy-to-use bayonet connection, along with the broad flange spectrum in the diverse housing variants for rear panel, front panel and square installation, provide additional user benefits. Additionally, there are versions for field assembly that enable extreme time-savings during installation.

Broad range of applications
The ECP and ENP connector families, together with the EtherCAT P-encoded M8 connector type, cover all applications from 24V DC on the I/O level to drive systems with 480V AC and a maximum of 64A. The flexibility of the connection system is available in every application area. Depending on specific needs, EtherCAT, EtherCAT P or a mixture of both can be used. Typical engineering requirements for small- and mid-sized systems are covered by EtherCAT P with up to 3A for US and UP in combination with M8 or ECP connectors. In contrast, the ENP connector series is the ideal solution for larger installations involving longer transmission distances. The same also applies for applications without EtherCAT P, such as an endpoint with a 24V power supply unit or for the supply of 24V consumers with high power demands.

Expanding the One Cable Automation concept through the growing diversity of the EtherCAT P, ECP and ENP devices and components constantly expands the range of application options for users. Current examples are the two new infrastructure box modules EP9221-0057 (1 channel) and EP9224-0037 (4 channel) from Beckhoff. Via B17-ENP connectors, these power distributors provide two 24V supplies and a protective conductor along with EtherCAT communication in the trapezoidal element. The power cable has a cross-section that is approximately five times larger than the EtherCAT P element and can bridge longer distances or conduct significantly higher currents (up to 20A at ambient temperature).

High-resolution, high-speed cameras for robotics applications

The i-SPEED 220 and i-SPEED 221 from iX Cameras represent the first cameras in a class of small footprint, easy-to-use, low-cost and high-resolution high speed cameras. A high-resolution 1600×1600 CMOS fast-transfer sensor allows the imagery of minute details even when zoomed in. The maximum full frame rate of 600 fps with both a global exposure shutter and optional G-shock housing makes this high-speed camera suitable for robotics, auto-crash testing, graphics inspection, 3-D biomechanics, web inspection, and more.

The i-SPEED 220/221 high-speed cameras fit in a briefcase, consume little power and create nice images that can be zoomed and analysed. Image transfer is simple via Ethernet. The one-hour battery that comes standard on the model 221 coupled with a standard laptop make this camera suitable for untethered portable field work. Add a layer of rugged durability with the optional Hi-G shock package.

The iX Cameras i-SPEED 2 high-speed cameras provide a variety of storage levels from 2GB, 4GB, 8GB and 16GB, allowing for everything from discrete transient event capture to extended full resolution record times of over 11 seconds. The cameras come in either a mono or colour version.

Control 2 Series software provides a user-friendly interface for recording, playback, and editing of i-SPEED 2 high-speed videos. This powerful camera control software has been developed specifically to handle large amounts of data, fast transmission, and ultra-slow motion in videos recorded at up to 200,000 frames per second. Control 2 Series is suitable for a range of video applications, including manufacturing and process automation, quality assurance testing, research and development and biomechanics.

Other features include certification to 100 G shock, 10 G vibration, long recording times with up to 16 GB memory (Model 221 only), small package fits on microscopes and in tight spaces as well as global exposure shutter and interchangeable C-mount lenses.

How to better manage animal disease threats

Australia will be better prepared to manage significant animal biosecurity threats, such as African swine fever (ASF), through a new comprehensive online field guide for emergency animal diseases.

Head of Biosecurity, Lyn O’Connell, said the guide will help vets with early detection, diagnosis and control of exotic and emerging infectious diseases in livestock.

“Early identification and reporting is critical to minimise the devastating impact that these diseases can pose for our animals, industries, jobs and environment,” Ms O’Connell said.

“ASF and Foot and Mouth Disease could wipe out industries, jobs, impact on trade and availability of the Australian produce we all enjoy, so we need to be as prepared as possible because the threat is real.

“Australia’s vets are vital for biosecurity. If the unthinkable happened and a significant animal disease was to hit our shores, our vets would play a key role in managing and minimising the risks.

READ MORE: Study establishes new method of developing disease-resistant crops

“This guide will help vets identify emergency animal diseases in the field, ensure they consider priority diseases when conducting diagnosis and take appropriate action when they suspect signs of a biosecurity threat.

“The disease list included in the guide will be reviewed and updated to address emerging threats so we are best placed to manage them as they arise.

“We have some of the best vets in the world and this gives them another tool to improve the work they do in protecting Australia from deadly animal diseases.”

The guide is in addition to a range of measures in place to better manage animal biosecurity threats. This includes increased intervention measures at our borders, testing of intercepted meat produce for ASF and FMD, as well as stronger enforcement approaches for biosecurity breaches relating to meat products.

A roundtable was recently held between leaders, scientists and governments to discuss the actions needed to keep African swine fever out of Australia. A simulation exercise will also be held later this year to test our disease response capabilities to make sure we’re as prepared as we can be.