Global dairy commodity update first quarter 2020

The fundamentals underpinning the global market outlook remain positive but may weaken with improving expansion in milk supply and a slowing in trade in milk powders. However, the outlook for commodity product values is mixed as butterfat values have stabilised, while increased cheese capacity in Europe will keep supplies abundant and may cap values.

Skim milk powder
SMP fundamentals recently improved with lower EU and US output and sustained export demand. Going forward, this is new territory with SMP fundamentals no longer driven mostly by the EU stock turn. Prices should remain relatively firm, despite improving fresh product availability from Europe and the US. SMP demand in Asian markets has slowed but is likely to revert to trend.

Whole milk powder
China and Hong Kong helped the overall numbers look better and added the most trade in the month – up 69.4 per cent YOY or 14,000t. YOY shipments to this key market have now increased in 11 of the last 12 months for which data is available. Demand for milk powders remained resilient with the changes in China’s internal milk use.

Cheese
The disparity in cheese prices should correct. EU commodity cheese values may be influenced by SMP/butter stream returns, but more milk will be diverted to increased plant capacity, which will keep a lid on values. EU exports again rose more than 8,000t YOY in September – the growth in the latest month was driven by stronger shipments to the US and South Korea.

Butter
Butterfat prices have remained steady with improved domestic EU seasonal demand. The EU balance sheet should improve but demand and supply growth will be closely aligned. Overall demand in developing markets remains price sensitive and may continue to pressure NZ prices. NZ exports of fats continued to shrink, but at a much slower rate – both AMF and butter were down YOY in September, 2 per cent and 7 per cent respectively. Meanwhile, the EU expanded butter exports in September by 74 per cent, despite shipping butter at prices still higher than NZ.

Whey
US exports continued to shrink, down 13 per cent in September, while the EU grew shipments by 3.2 per cent. Meanwhile, NZ trade rose 14 per cent YOY in September – this followed consecutive monthly falls and was driven by stronger sales into the North American market. US product remains competitive as prices have weakened since September while EU and Oceania prices remained steady.

Dustin Boughton, procurement, Maxum Foods

How will the coronavirus affect agriculture in Australia?

The coronavirus outbreak is already having a severe impact on China’s foodservice and on-trade channels and this could become “more serious and longer-lasting” if the virus is not contained in the next six to eight weeks, leading agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank has warned.

But the extent of the impact on Australia’s agricultural sector will be limited in the short-term and will depend on how quickly the virus is contained, it says.

In a just-released report by the bank’s China-based research team, Recent Coronavirus Impacts on Chinese F&A, Rabobank says “disruptions are being experienced across the entire F&A (food and agri) supply chain” with the virus – which has infected more than 40,000 people to date – disrupting trade, production and supply chains as well as having a significant impact on out-of-home food consumption with the closure of many foodservice outlets.

With the virus outbreak arriving at the peak of 2020 Chinese New Year activities, it has had a large impact on out-of-home dining in the country, the report says.

“Given what we have seen on the ground, along with news received from major chains – for example, the closure of stores by Starbucks, Haidilao, McDonald’s, and Yum China – potential revenue losses for both retail and foodservice for the Chinese New Year week could range from 20 per cent to 80 per cent”. A loss of between USD 31 billion to USD 124 billion across retail and foodservice, it says.

While the report says a quick and effective containment of the virus could lead to a rapid bounce-back, the longer the virus is uncontained beyond March, the more extensive, sustained and structural the impact will be on the F&A chain.

For Australia
Regardless of when coronavirus is contained, Australian-based head of Rabobank Food & Agribusiness Research, Tim Hunt says it will “almost certainly” have a larger impact on food and beverage industries than the global SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic in 2003 – including in Australia.

Discussing the current and potential impacts of the virus on Australia and New Zealand’s food and agribusiness industries in a podcast, Coronavirus: How worried should we be, Mr Hunt says coronavirus has already spread more widely than SARS but it is Australia’s “much larger exposure to China” that is the biggest difference between current events and SARS.

“If we go back to 2002 just before the SARS crisis, Australia sent eight per cent of its ag exports to China”, Mr Hunt says. And this was largely in the form of fibre to be processed for export.

Fast forward to 2020, he says, and Australia sends around 28 per cent of its food and agricultural exports to China, much of which is consumed within China. “Add to that, the stronger links that have been developed between Australia and China in terms of exports, tourism, education and investment, we have a very different environment in which we might see the potential impacts of coronavirus this time compared to SARS in 2003.”

There are likely to be both first and second-round impacts of coronavirus on the Australian agricultural sector, Mr Hunt says, with the first round already being felt by any food and ag business relying heavily on the food service channel in China, particularly perishable goods.

“For example, rock lobster shipments to China have all but ceased in the last couple of weeks,” he says, “while chilled meat shipments for food service are also a risk category given a lot of hot pot restaurants are closed at the moment.” And while wine isn’t perishable, Mr Hunt says, sales are also likely to be low for those focused on the Chinese food service industry.

While Chinese consumption of meat, dairy and grains is unlikely to fall in the short-term, Mr Hunt says if the virus continued for many months to come, second-round impacts –“likely to hit our F&A industries” – would come into play.

“Hopefully we won’t get to ‘round two’,” he says, “but if we do, incomes may fall in China and we may eventually see less growth in sales of premium food and beverages as that wealth effect starts to kick in.

“And this may start to go beyond just food service sales and logistical disruptions to potentially impacting consumption in general of meat, dairy, grains and seafood.”

That said, Mr Hunt says, in the event coronavirus has second-round effects, the currency exchange rate would act as an “important stabiliser” for Australian agricultural exporters, with the Australian dollar likely to depreciate significantly as the market responded to slowing economic growth and rising risk concerns. And this, he says, would “somewhat offset” any fall in global commodity prices when expressed in local currency terms.

Going forward, Mr Hunt says, it will be important to closely monitor developments, including this week’s return to work in China after the extended New Year holiday and how the Chinese government continues to manage the outbreak including restrictions on the food service sector.

“But the most important development will be when we see a slowdown in the rate of infection,” he says. “SARS took around three and a half months for the infection to start slowing but after that, it didn’t take long for infections to cap a few weeks later.

“While we have no idea how this virus will behave compared to SARS, there won’t be any easing of restrictions until it does.”

Mr Hunt says it will also be critical to monitor the spread of the virus to other countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam and other parts of South-East Asia, because if it spreads “we will start to see the same set of impacts in a second very large set of export markets for Australia”.

By Commodity
Rock lobster – likely to be the most exposed sector, with 95 per cent of sales going to China. While rock lobster sales from WA have ceased for now, fishermen can leave the lobsters in the ocean and catch their quota later if quota windows allow.

Read meat – short-term disruption is likely given logistical disruption and reduced eating out by Chinese consumers. The general shortage of protein in China as a result of African Swine Fever is still expected to result in ongoing strong demand from China once the short-term impacts of coronavirus are overcome.

Grains – limited impacts are foreseen both initially and in the event of a second round phase.

Dairy – at this stage, limited first round impacts as most of what is shipped (i.e. powders and infant milk formulas) have a good shelf life and are consumed at home. That said, cheese consumption could be impacted as it is mainly used in food service (for burgers and pizzas).

Sugar – very little disruption is expected to impact sugar trade flows, processing and consumption. But indirectly, the dip in the oil market – associated with concerns on the impact of the outbreak on global growth – could push Brazilian millers to produce more sugar this season which would lead to a softening in global prices, and ultimately, Australian prices too.

Wine – On-premise consumption of wine in China in 2019 accounted for around one third of total wine sales. Sales into this channel are expected to fall in the short-term while restrictions on group dining remain in place. That said, volumes of wine sold via e-commerce are likely to rise as distributors attempt to push more product into, and invest more money in developing, this sales channel.

Horticulture – Fortunately the cherry industry had air freighted most of its crop to China before the virus hit, something that would have been highly problematic a month later. In the next two to three months the main threat to export fruit and vegetable crops will be logistical, with demand from Chinese consumers for quality imported fresh produce not expected to fall from current levels.

 

Software unleashes inventory solution for liqueur manufacturer

When coffee nerd Tom Baker joined forces with Philip Moore in 2013, they probably didn’t realise within five years they would have an award-winning product on their hands.

Moore, the distiller, and Baker, a designer by trade, both loved coffee and decided that consuming it in a liqueur form had yet to be perfected, and thus Mr Black was born.

Brewed on the Central Coast of New South Wales at Distillery Britannica, Mr Black has not so much found a niche in the coffee liqueur market but taken it by storm.

Mr Black is a cold brew that has made headway into the UK and US. Five years ago it won a gold medal at the London Spirit Show and has continued to collect silverware on a regular basis. Mr Black operations manager, Rick Roper, can see only good things in the future for this Australian-based beverage.

“In 2017, Mr Black was launched in the US and has now established itself as the biggest selling Australian spirit there,” said Roper. “It is highly regarded and is developing a strong following coast-to-coast.” The product itself is cold-brew, pressed coffee using speciality lot Arabica beans from Colombia and Kenya blended with high-quality grain spirit to make the final product that you see today.”

However, with that growth came logistics issues. In order to keep on top of the bureaucracy of running the business, Roper knew the company needed something to complement its simple inventory system, so decided to invest in Unleashed Software. Like Mr Black, Unleashed has a good reputation within its market. Roper said Mr Black needed a system that would handle the increased throughput, product size and range as it started to grow. This was because it became apparent that if something wasn’t put in place soon, the ability to keep on top of the increasing volume of product could get out of hand.

“Prior to implementing Unleashed, we were only using Xero but found it inadequate for the business because it couldn’t handle manufactured items,” he said. “Xero is a great accounting system but without a bill of material structure, it can’t assemble finished product from components. There was a need to have an inventory system that integrated with Xero in the cloud that was easy to use and could handle manufacturing to grow as the company did. Unleashed immediately gave us control and accuracy of materials and costs.

“In our case, we convert varieties of coffee, speciality sugars, bottles, and packaging into Mr Black in different concentrations and sizes and we have to have accurate inventory transactions at every step,” he said. “Unleashed does that and keeps track of inventory down to batch and unit of measure with ease.”

Ease of use has been one of the key benefits of Unleashed along with the ability to be partnered with other software. This was why Mr Black management decided the software solution was the right choice for them. In addition to Xero, Unleashed has partnered with other third-party vendors. Users can use their accounting system with an easy-to-use integration module in the integration store.

“You can also custom integrate other software via programming interfaces (APIs), that Unleashed can assist with,” said Roper. “Otherwise, to access support to use Unleashed, with clients like us, you can choose an integration partner. Ours is Cloudsolve in Sydney. Besides providing support to get us up and running between Xero and Unleashed, they also provide ongoing support and some outsourced financial services.

“Unleashed is continually adding modules and capabilities outside of pure inventory management. For example, the integration store offers more sophisticated material planning and eCommerce solutions. We have also integrated Unleashed with Shopify allowing efficient online sales fulfilment and billing.”

The key to any type of integration software is not only how it can streamline processes but also the ease of set-up and use. Roper said that Unleashed was not hard to set up or use and has been ideal for getting on top of manufacturing and inventory.

These integration capabilities have made Unleashed a widely used inventory software that is adaptable to many companies’ different needs, according to Roper.

“They are not trying to be a SAP or Microsoft Dynamics or anything like that,” he said. “It is inventory management software in the cloud and is simple to use.”

Roper said the core modules are great to use when it comes to raising and completing sales and purchase orders. For example, orders can be cloned from an earlier order and emailed from the screen. With some background setups in customers, suppliers, pricing, items, document templates and so on, transaction efficiency is high. Users don’t have to do excessive manual steps. In other words, there are less errors and it saves time, according to Roper.

“The dashboard set up displays relevant data such as period to date sales revenue and margins, purchasing and sales transaction status, inventory levels and stock turn KPIs,” he said. “Data access and exports are straightforward. Standard reports are all there and custom reports can be set up.

“While they are adding new features all the time, many features that are nice to have are there. One is that relevant information is displayed in various formats depending on the screen. For example, in Purchases, order minimums are made visible and supplier prices auto-populate” said Roper. “It has a pricing module by group, customer and product, enabling pre-setting of customer sales terms. Again, this helps with the accuracy and efficiency in order processing. It also has min/max stocking levels that can be set for alerts and reordering, as well as a simple replenishment function, which we use for reordering some items.

“For us it’s a one-size fits all. Set up was fast and no customisations were necessary. Even though we started small, all the modules are available to all users whether it is a one-user account or a larger multi-user account. For us, as we have grown, we didn’t need to upgrade do get additional modules. It’s scalable.”

ELGi determined to make impact on the industrial compressor market

Being a lesser known brand in a competitive industry can be an issue. But if there is a sure way to prove to an industry that you are serious about being a point of difference, while also trying to build your brand, then winning a prestigious award is a good start.

That is what happened to ELGi, the Indian-based manufacturer of high-quality industrial air compressors. When the biggest competitor is German engineering in the form of Kaeser, it can be a hard row to hoe when trying to convince potential clients about the comparitive benefits of your gear. However, winning the coveted Deming Prize for Total Quality Management – the first industrial compressor manufacturer outside of Japan to win the award – goes a long way to show how committed ELGi is to making a dent in the market, including in food and beverage manufacturing plants in Australia.

Having bought Pulford Air & Gas and its subsidiary Advanced Air Compressors in 2018, the company has an ambition to become the second biggest compressor company in Australia.

It concedes that number one, Atlas Copco, is almost unreachable, but the company is keen to get higher on the ladder. ELGi national sales manager, Greg Gillespie, and business development manager, Brian Vegh, both know that they have a hard job ahead of them going from sixth in the pecking order up to number two. However, they also have a belief and confidence that the product not only has the ability and technology to do the job, but the manufacturing process is second to none.

“Atlas Copco is the Empire State Building on the graph you see on a piece of paper,” said Vegh. “We are number six at the moment, but there is not much difference between number six and number three.”

And in order to get up the pecking order, ELGi’s strategy is to espouse the benefits of its products such as the standards they are manufactured to, and the importance of the total quality management measures it has in place when it manufactures the compressors.

“ELGi compressors meet every international standard that any other company meets,” said Gillespie. “They control 100 per cent of the manufacturing process, from the sand they collect for the castings right through to the final product.”

Both Gillespie and Vegh know that there is a perception that compressors not manufactured in the US and Europe are somehow not up to scratch. This is why the company introduced Total Quality Management processes, which culminated in winning the Deming Prize in 2019. Not only that, the company has so much faith in its compressors it offers a 10-year warranty, something most of its opposition don’t do. There is also the perception that their compressors are made to Indian standards, which can sometimes be at odds with Australian regulations.

“A domestic product in India will have a metal starting box on it, which is acceptable over there, but you can’t have a metal starter box here in Australia,” he said. “The ones that arrive on these shores are all up to Australian standards already.”

Two of the key attributes of the compressors are the aforementioned 10 year warranty and their operational efficiency. Gillespie said the efficiency is about 10 per cent better than most similar products that are on the market. There is a reason for this.

“ELGi manufactures all the main components themselves. They mainly use Siemens motors and contactors,” said Gillespie. “We manufacture our own air end, which is the most expensive part of the machine – from the sand to the finished product. The design work they put into the air end to make it more efficient is top notch.

“Then there is the efficiency. Over a five year period, the cost of compressed air is 85 per cent of the cost of electricity/power. If you get a machine you start talking about 200kW of installed compressed air, and they run 24/5 days a week or 24/7 – which is anywhere between 5,000 and 8,000 hours a year. We can supply customers with a machine that is going to be anywhere between 3 and 8 per cent more efficient than some other machines out there. That is a lot of money over five years.”

The most expensive part of compressor is the air-end, which is important when it comes to the 10-year warranty. This is the actual screw where the air gets compressed, and in the case of ELGi, it is one the company has designed itself. It is for this reason they are happy to offer such a long warranty period for their compressors.

“We have heard of situations where only a 12-month warranty on air-ends was offered,” said Gillespie. “The warranty ended on midnight of that day. If it failed the next day, you have got nothing. Absolutely nothing.”

And how suitable is the company’s range for the food and beverage industry? When you’re talking its oil-free range, they are perfect, said Gillespie.

“When it comes to working in food and beverage, our compressors are Class 0,” he said. “With the quality system we use, everything is 100 per cent trackable and traceable. If you open up a machine you will see every screw, nut and bolt hallmarked in yellow.”

“That means every part has been checked. Every single one,” said Vegh. “If you have been in the factory, everyone who works at the foundry is on a production line. They go through a comprehensive checklist when the machines are being manufactured.”

The company is also aware of the impact its manufacturing will have on the environment and have measures in place to make the least amount of impact as possible.

“The sand they use to do their casting will only come from a reputable source and they recycle over 90 per cent of it because of the environmental issues,” said Gillespie. “It is also cost-effective. They’ve built the plant around that supply so they only have to use the minimal amount of sand they need.”

Finally, there is the back-up service that is available. Both Gillespie and Vegh point out that while the product is very good, if there are not people on the ground to help customers, then that can cause a whole range of problems.

“One of the hardest issues with industrial compressors in Australia is retaining and getting good service personal,” said Gillespie. “Most of them started out as fitter and turners. That is what I started out as and there are not of lot of us that stay on the tools their whole career.”

He believes one of the reasons it is hard to employ service technicians are the specifications of the job.

“Being a service technician means you are on the road a lot,” said Gillespie. “You have to like that. Some guys get sick of the travelling and driving. You have to be very autonomous.
“You do routine maintenance of products but then you have to walk into a business where everybody is looking at you. There’s 30 people standing out on the street like there is a fire drill waiting for you to fix it for them. When that machine is down, the down time is so costly to a company they want it fixed now. And some tradies are just not interested.”
Vegh reiterates that you can’t underestimate the back-up service.

“Some of the bigger air compressor manufacturers, for want of a better description, are just selling boxes. That is all they do,” he said. “Once that is done, they are onto the next customer and that’s it. One of our biggest selling points is our after sales service. We have the Advanced Air and ELGi distribution network. We have 52 service technicians nationally, as well as New Zealand.

“If you need help at 11.59pm just before the whole country is waiting for the fireworks to go off on New Year’s Eve or 9.32am on Christmas Day, we will be there to help you. It’s the 24/7, 365 days a year help and support that we pride ourselves on. Selling a compressor is not the hard thing, it’s what you do for the customer in three years’ time that makes a difference.

“Each person who works in the plant prides themselves on the quality of the product.
“We have a rigorous checking process here in Australia when it comes to the ELGi gear we bring into the country. If it is not up to scratch we send it back.”

iBase’s IB995-based PICMG 1.3 full-size CPU card

iBase’s IB995-based PICMG 1.3 full-size CPU card is a slot-card server designed for the 8th Gen and 9th Gen (codenamed “Coffee Lake Refresh”) of Intel’s Core Processors with support for up to 8 cores and CNVi architecture for wireless connectivity devices. The new CPU card delivers cutting-edge performance with intelligent security and hardware monitoring features for real-time applications in process control, surveillance or Imaging in the field of automation, transportation, medical technology and digital surveillance markets.

This full-size CPU card is currently available in three models, integrated with different chipsets: C246 (IB995AF-C246), Q370 (IB995AF) and H310 (IB995EF) – all of which feature an M.2 storage interface with NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) that enables rapid storage with write speeds of up to 3500MB/s (7 times over SATA SSDs), and up to 32 GB of DDR4-2166/2400 memory.

Additionally, the board offers advanced TPM 2.0 to provide a high level of hardware-based security that carries out cryptographic operations for access control and authentication and prevent phishing attacks. With Intel AMT 11.6, remote maintenance of operating systems and Hardware enables IT managers to protect networked computers to improve service quality and reduce service operation costs.

The IB995 provides a wide range of interface and expansion flexibility. These include DVI-D, DVI-I and 24-bit dual channel video outputs, and three USB 2.0, five USB 3.0, five SATA III with RAID, four serial ports and two M.2 sockets (M/E key). It also comes with two Gigabit Ethernet, a PCIe x16 (from backplane), and four PCIe x1 expansion slots (configurable as one PCIe x4). The number of USB 3.0 and SATA varies, depending on the IB995 series.

Key features include:

  • 9th/8th Gen Intel Xeon E / Core i7/i5/i3 Pentium QC/DC processor, up to 4.7GHz
  • 2x DDR4 DIMM, max. 32GB
  • 2x PCI-E Gigabit LAN
  • Intel processor integrated graphics, supports DVI-I / DVI-D / LVDS
  • 3x USB 2.0, 5x USB 3.0, 5x SATA III, 4x COM
  • 2x M.2 socket (M/E key)

 

 

BioPak develops packaging using sugarcane pulp

New South Wales-based packaging specialist, BioPak, has developed a sustainable alternative to conventional plastic packaging, which delivers a positive environmental impact.

When we buy a product, we also buy any waste associated with it. In 2016, Australians sent 2.2 million tonnes of plastic and another 1.6 million tonnes of paper to landfill. The environmental impact of packaging waste, plastics, in particular, has become a global issue.

Public demand for improved sustainability and climate change action has resulted in the regulation and banning of single-use plastics in many countries and regions worldwide. This is placing pressure on the food packaging industry to switch to more sustainable options and is driving innovation in packaging.

An example of a high-volume single-use plastic is a disposable food container. It is convenient, safe, hygienic and commonly used for takeaway food. However, when made from conventional plastics, these containers are unsustainable and pollute the environment at every stage in their life cycle. Alternative single-use food-service packaging options with reduced environmental impacts are desperately required. These options need to be easily collected and recycled.

BioCane packaging is made from sugarcane pulp, also known as bagasse. It is the stalk residue remaining after the sugar has been extracted from the cane. Instead of burning this material, BioPak converts the bagasse into an easily moulded packaging raw material. This versatile material is suitable for creating packaging for a wide range of hot, cold, solid, and liquid products and it is ovenable up to 200°C.

The sugarcane packaging is certified home and commercially compostable, is free from contamination and is recyclable in the paper co-mingled recycling stream — making it a sustainable effective replacement for the ubiquitous plastic takeaway container.

BioPak has developed a range of popular sizes and has displayed its solutions at many consumer events and industry trade shows.

Tea bag plastics cause for concern

After water, tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world. It is estimated 281 billion litres were consumed in 2019 and this is a trend that is destined to continue to rise.

Around the world, teabags are becoming a staple in many markets. For example, in the UK 96 per cent of tea is purchased in bag form. Even in countries where leaf tea is still commonly consumed, the bag is now the primary method for launching new hot tea products onto the market. In 2017, these amounted to 87 per cent of launches in the North America, 75 per cent in Europe, and even 45 per cent in Asia-Pacific. The key to its success is its convenience.

Teabags have a problem – roughly 25 per cent of the teabag, excluding contents, is plastic. Global Plastic Action Plan (GPAP) estimates 8 million metric tonnes of plastic leak into our oceans every year and that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in our seas. Thanks to programs such as BBC ‘Blue Planet’ the issue of plastic is now being recognised by governments and consumers around the world. Currently, the focus is on more obvious sources of plastic – single-use straws, water bottles and other food contact products. Stakeholders need to be aware, however, that the focus could soon shift towards items such as teabags.

READ MORE: Plastics save on wear and tear

In the UK, around 60.2 billion cups of tea are estimated to be consumed every year, with most being from teabags. Roughly 96 per cent of UK teabags use non-biodegradable polypropylene in their construction. This will be released into the environment if the teabags are not incinerated after disposal.

As a substance, polypropylene is already targeted in many markets to reduce its use. Under the EU’s ‘Single-Use Plastics Directive’, (EU) 2019/904, plastic use is already being addressed in food contact materials such as cutlery, plates, and straws. The ban will begin in 2021. No national ban exists in the US but several local jurisdictions have introduced bans. Even China has begun to introduce measures to restrict the use of single-use plastic, starting with straws.

Teabag manufacturers and brands should be aware of the way regulations are being used to reduce plastic use and stay alert to the possibility that it will affect them in the future. At the same time, they need to be aware that consumers are increasingly demanding more environmentally friendly products with less plastic.

The difficulty for manufacturers is that the meaning of ‘plastic-free’ is not always clear. Some brands are already claiming their teabags are ‘plastic free’ but this could refer to the use of polylactic acid (PLA), an alternative to polypropylene. PLA is a bio-plastic made from plant materials instead of oil. The problem is, many experts, and Directive (EU) 2019/904, consider bio-plastics to still be a form of single-use plastic.

True alternatives to plastic are, at the moment, rather limited. Obviously, there is the option to use leaf tea. Manufacturers can also stitch their bags together using cotton thread. Other attempts have so far proved to be problematic. One manufacturer is currently working with Sheffield University to design a teabag that will be classed as ‘industrially compostable’ but not ‘plastic-free’. This means it could go for food and garden waste recycling, but the heat generated in a domestic compost heap would not be high enough to break it down.

Creating a truly plastic-free teabag is proving to be difficult but that does not mean regulators and consumers will not begin to turn their attention to the amount of plastic in teabags in the future. There is already a clear advantage among consumers in being able to promote a product as ‘plastic-free’, even if this means free from oil-based plastics.

Stakeholders are now advised to consider the way markets are likely to develop in the future in order to remain compliant with regulations and gain competitive advantage.

Nestlé announces collaboration with Burcon and Merit for plant-based ingredients

Néstle has announced a collaboration with Burcon and Merit, two key players in the development and production of high-quality plant proteins. This partnership will enable Nestlé to further accelerate the development of nutritious and great-tasting, plant-based meat and dairy alternatives with a favorable environmental footprint.

The partnership combines Nestlé’s expertise in the development, production and commercialization of plant-based foods and beverages with Burcon’s proprietary plant protein extraction and purification technology, while leveraging Merit’s state-of-the-art plant protein production capabilities.

“Developing nutritious and great-tasting plant-based meat and dairy alternatives requires access to tasty, nutritious and sustainable raw materials as well as proprietary manufacturing technology,” says Stefan Palzer, Nestlé Chief Technology Officer. “The partnership with Burcon and Merit will give us access to unique expertise and a new range of high-quality ingredients for plant-based food and beverages.”

Globally, Nestlé has around 300 R&D scientists, engineers and product developers located in 8 R&D centers that are dedicated to the research and development of plant-based products. To complement its internal capabilities, the company also strategically collaborates with researchers, suppliers, start-ups and various other innovation partners.

Nestlé’s plant-based product range includes pea, soy- and wheat-based burger patties, sausages, mince meat, chicken filets and various prepared dishes. The company also developed pea and oat-based dairy alternatives, almond-, coconut- and oat-based creamers, plant-based coffee mixes as well as a range of non-dairy ice creams. It also recently announced its plans to launch vegan alternatives to cheese and bacon, designed to complement its existing plant-based burger patties.

Burcon Nutrascience is a global technology company with a portfolio of patents related to composition, application, and manufacturing of novel plant-based proteins derived from pea, canola, soy, hemp, sunflower seed and various other crops.

Onsite injury prevention and management: beyond the treatment room

According to the latest update from SafeWork Australia, body stressing injuries topped the list as the most common injury resulting in a claim (36 per cent).

Taking a proactive and preventative approach to musculoskeletal injuries onsite is proven to affect the duration of an injury, while also reducing the risk of it going to claim. This is great not only for your employees, as they remain productive and at work, but also for your business.

READ MORE: The four steps of food safety systems

“The World Health Organisation (2008) has clearly identified the workplace as an important area of action for health promotion and disease prevention.” – Comcare, Effective Health & Wellbeing Programs

What should you look for in an onsite health provider?
An onsite healthcare provider is more than just ‘the person who comes to you’ for injury treatment. A qualified and experienced allied health professional will partner with you, fully integrating with your workplace.

With a focus on injury prevention and management, an onsite health provider will:

  • Identify how a worker is using their body to perform their role
  • Understand the injury and health risks associated with each task being performed
  • Identify underlying health conditions that may affect injury recovery and outcomes (diabetes, for example)
  • Develop tailored return to work programs

Learn more about Work Healthy Australia’s approach to Onsite healthcare here.

A physical presence onsite, dedicated treatment / rehabilitation space and key stakeholder engagement are key to a successful onsite program. But the proactive and preventative elements of an onsite system of care will be informed by the valuable treatment data and health insights that are gathered along the way.

Data example: Body region by length of service
In this example you can see that the top 3 body regions being treated are shoulder, lower back and neck.

Data Source: Work Healthy Australia

If we look closer, we can see that 85 per cent of these injuries have occurred in workers who have been with the business for under three years.

Data Source: Work Healthy Australia

Why is it important that an onsite health provider records this information?
A skilled onsite provider will be able to use and interpret treatment data to help you improve your processes, programs and ultimately help you reduce your risk of injuries in the workplace.

The example given above could form the basis for your approach to your induction program, a targeted strengthening and exercise program, or it may even inform your pre-employment medical process.

“Work health and safety improvements are best achieved when health and safety is supported by the organisation’s culture and embedded in its procedures and processes.

–SafeWork Australia, Australian Work Health & Safety Strategy (2012-2022)

Everyone wins with an onsite program
Engaging workers is key to maintaining a healthy and productive workplace. When a successful onsite system of care is implemented, workers can:

  • Better understand the importance of adhering to health & safety processes
  • Contributed to a positive safety culture
  • Utilise treatment services at the appropriate times
  • Safely perform their duties; and
  • Feel valued in the workplace

By utilising specialist onsite services to develop an effective system of care, businesses can experience positive change in the health and safety of their workplace.

Onsite care, including the integration of onsite treatment, provides:

  • Easy access to allied health professionals
  • Less disruption to worker schedules
  • A close-up and unique understanding of the workplace environment
  • Positive employee morale and workplace culture
  • Direct communication lines with relevant safety supervisors and management
  • Tailored data driven solutions
  • A focus on productivity efficiencies

If you’d like to find out more about implementing an onsite system of care in your workplace, contact the team Work Healthy Australia.

Wholefoods online store packages its commitment to environment

An Australian online wholefood store is upping the ante on reducing its carbon footprint by moving to compostable packaging made from 100 per cent vegetable material.

Lismore-based Affordable Wholefoods sells quality bulk organic, non-organic and gluten free wholefoods in resealable, reusable packaging but wanted to offer a more environmentally friendly option.

Mark Evans, owner of Affordable Wholefoods, said customers are happy with the current option, “But we wanted to give them a choice. More people are looking for ways to reduce waste. That is why we are seeing people move towards reusable and compostable packaging,” he said.

“Since we opened in 2008, we have been searching for a more eco-friendly packaging option. But nothing we tested made the grade. Our packaging needs keep the products fresh from the time of packaging to delivery. With many of our customers in rural and remote areas, that’s important.”

Evans and his team’s search lead them NatureFlex; based on cellulose, which is one of the most naturally abundant organic materials derived from renewable resources such as wood pulp from managed plantations.

“We heard great things about its ability to keep items fresh, which was exactly what we were looking for. Being 100 per cent home compostable, now that was speaking our language,” Mark said.

Affordable Wholefoods did not rush the packaging to market. “We tested it over and over, sending parcels to ourselves and back again to see how well the food travelled,” Evans said. “The results were spectacular. Every single time, the wholefoods arrived fresh.

“This is another way we commit to sustainability. Whether our customers use our soft zip lock bags that can be reused repeatedly for food storage or the new NatureFlex bags, which can be disposed of in worm farms, green recycling bins or home composting systems, it’s another step towards reducing plastic, which is important for the environment.”

 

 

Unifying control systems in the food and beverage industry

Many food and beverage plants have incrementally upgraded their systems over the years, with them now being a complex network of distributed control systems (DCSs) and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems. Connecting a mix of DCS and SCADA systems into one master system can have multiple benefits. Here, Darcy Simonis, Industry Network Leader for ABB, explores how a single integrated system architecture can benefit plant operators and managers alike.

The first SCADA systems were independent, with no connectivity to other systems and were traditionally used for operating and monitoring production in a plant. The evolution of SCADA capabilities means that the new generation are now more advanced.  Modern systems can remotely monitor and control operations with coded signals over communication channels and log data for auditing purposes

The importance of collecting, storing and analyzing data is crucial, but this increase in data raises new questions of cybersecurity. If systems are not maintained and software becomes outdated, SCADA-based systems can be left open to vulnerabilities. For this reason, operators should regularly review their systems to protect them against cyber-attacks.

With an increasing amount of data, a DCS system can process a large amount of current information, however the failure of one controller affects more than one loop and requires a skilled operator to minimize downtime. In the food industry, any period of downtime can have catastrophic effects and can result in lost production. With new challenges faced by SCADA and DCS systems, unifying all operations into one master system is key to improve efficiency.

Coupled with technological advancements, rapidly changing consumer demands in the food and beverage industry have forced manufacturers to adapt quickly to retain a competitive edge. Consumers expect traceability throughout the entire supply chain, meaning the need for real-time continuous data is essential. Digital transformation in the food industry continues to be driven by these two key trends. So, what do these shifts mean and how can a move towards an integrated digital operating environment benefit food manufacturers?

Control system modernisation
Unifying control systems into one fully integrated system provides the synchronization of all applications and devices involved in the manufacturing process. This allows for the successful merging of information flow from DCS and SCADA systems, so that it is available in one interface in real-time. And one of the best means of unifying these communications is by using a single industrial software system.

ABB’s Manufacturing Execution System (MES) is an award-winning solution that allows users to optimize plant manufacturing and maintenance as well as a host of other benefits. These include powerful data analysis, improved quality, targeting areas for efficiency improvement and business-wide visibility. ABB’s system allows users to visualize pending tasks, work instructions, materials, equipment and quality test specifications, all of which are particularly important in the food and beverage sector.

Environmental factors such as trade instability, tightening industry standards and changing consumer preferences mean that manufacturers must ensure their MES is effective and secure to allow swift adaptation to new challenges.

Improved performance
The full integration of systems allows actionable information to be available in real-time to operators, often across multiple plants. Greater control and visibility of data improves security and allows for targeted improvements to processes. It also makes digital twinning feasible, where plant managers simulate plant operations virtually to achieve full plant visualization, support proactive maintenance and aid the decision-making process, not only from an operational but also from a cost-cutting perspective.

Secure reliable processing and an increase in manufacturing flexibility can boost efficiency and productivity, letting users optimize plant manufacturing and maintenance to the maximum.

Meeting industry standards
The food industry has been hit with numerous safety scandals, resulting in former UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove announcing a new law that will require manufacturers to include full ingredients labelling on pre-packaged foods from 2021.

 

Working to rigorous industry standards, key regulations and new manufacturing practices is vital. Plant managers in the food and beverage sector can improve the safety and quality of their operations, reduce unplanned downtime and mitigate food emergencies by viewing all data points in one place. Faster reactions to any manufacturing process anomalies can improve quality standards which also cuts down on wasted ingredients.

An integrated master system also allows for a shorter time to market for new products due to less delay. If less stock is held up at different stages of the process, this can reduce inventory levels and help raise quality standards.

The future of the digital factory
The successful integration of all systems in the manufacturing process means that plant operators can leverage the diverse capabilities of each system to improve productivity, cost-effectiveness, meet price competition, launch innovative products, and enter new markets. The consideration of multiple data sets with interconnected factors allows for businesses-wide improvement, which is essential in the current climate.

With many food and beverage companies now embracing an integrated control system, the future of manufacturing is digital.

What to consider when choosing lubrication systems for food and beverage processing equipment

When it comes to balancing between food and beverage productivity and compliance with safety regulations, selecting the right lubricant system for use with food and beverage processing equipment such as chain driven roller conveyors, is highly critical and can be challenging. By using proper lubrication procedures, businesses can reduce the risk of contamination and optimise their operations in the long-term. Contamination of food or beverage products can have a negative impact on manufacturers, leading to a substantial financial loss, lower productivity, and irreparable damage to business reputation.

John Sample Group, through its JSG Industrial Systems business, holds the distribution rights to SKF Lubrication Systems across the Asia Pacific. JSG Industrial Systems has been providing access to products and solutions from SKF which has the engineering competence to design state of the art bearing assemblies, incorporating customised lubrication systems that greatly extend maintenance shutdown periods.

For businesses within the food and beverage processing industry, JSG offers the SKF ChainLube systems for chain driven roller conveyors. Dependent on the application, this can incorporate either air assisted nozzles or airless oil projection type nozzles. These systems can be configured to ensure a food-safe, reliable, and easy-to-use solution.

The SKF Chainlube systems can be designed to operate in low and high temperatures between -25°C to 220°C, and high humidity as well as in applications where condensation might occur. In particular, the oil projection type nozzle system is specifically developed for food and beverage applications such as baking plants, proofers, cereals processing, freezers in ice-cream and frozen food processing, conveyors for calibration, washing, cooking and pasteurization, and conveyors for fruits, vegetables and meat processing, among others.

An example of the wide range of systems that are available is the SKF Model CLK Chainlube system, which includes a central unit with an oil reservoir of 7.5 litres capacity that precisely delivers a metered volume of lubricant to the points of friction of each chain link whilst the chain is in operation. This solution also uses double projection nozzles to project the lubricant on the lubrication points; a chain roller sensor that emits a signal used to control the volumetric piston pump when the system is in lubrication phase; and two stainless steel tubes to deliver the metered lubricant quantity from the central unit to each nozzle. All of these features make this solution suitable for the particular requirements of the food and beverage industry.

Some advantages found by companies when using the SKF Chainlube systems are that these systems help prevent foreign body ingress and reduces energy consumption and maintenance costs compared to manual lubrication. Additionally, the system eliminates the risk of lubrication points being missed through human error, decreases chain wear, improves productivity by eliminating unplanned downtimes, and enhances operator safety by reducing intervention for maintenance.

JSG Industrial Systems designs, develops, and supplies engineered industrial systems which increase assets lifetime, reduce operational risk and contribute to environmental sustainability. The company has paved the way to growing the lubrication systems business in Australia and other regions. It provides access to products and services for a variety of global sectors including food & beverage, mining, transportation, agriculture, marine, energy, construction, and manufacturing.

 

AIP offers the Fundamentals of Packaging Technology Residential Program

In today’s challenging packaging environment, you can’t afford to make mistakes or overlook the critical details that cost precious time and money. You need the knowledge—from materials properties and selection to transport packaging issues—that can help you make better decisions regarding your company’s packaging dollars—now.

The Fundamentals of Packaging Technology course content is developed in consultation with packaging subject matter experts at leading global consumer packaged goods companies who face packaging challenges just like yours. Undertake the complete course and learn about all the major segments of packaging—and beyond.

The Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP), in partnership with the IoPP, are bringing the Fundamentals of Packaging Technology course to Australasia as a residential course for the first time in 2020. The residential course is divided into semesters to provide maximum flexibility around your work schedule. This course is also the basis for the examination side of the Certified Packaging Professional Designation; bringing you one step closer to becoming an internationally recognised CPP.

Take the entire course
Participate in the full Fundamentals of Packaging Technology residential course which will be broken up into 8x classroom days

as 4x semesters over 12 months.

OR

Attend Semesters relating to your subject-interests or knowledge gaps
Content is divided into 4x Two-Day Semesters with each semester focussed on specific areas of packaging. You have the choice

to enrol in one semester, or as many as you wish based on your professional development needs & knowledge gaps.

The Fundamentals of Packaging Technology Residential course will be broken up into 4x Two-Day Semesters over a 12 month period. An extensive array of packaging topics will be covered including graphic design, market research, printing, lithography, gravure, labelling, barcoding, paperboard, folding cartons, corrugate fibreboard, box compression, supply chain and logistics, polymers, extrusion moulding, flexible packaging, thermoforming, blow moulding, injection moulding, closures, bottle design, metal cans, adhesives, containers, glass packaging, packaging machinery, filling machinery, production line equipment and more.

Fundamentals of Packaging Technology Residential Course
Semester One
Day One – 29 April
Day Two 30 April
Viewpoint, St Kilda, Melbourne

Fundamentals of Packaging Technology Residential Course
Semester Two
Day One – 22 July
Day Two – 23 July

Fundamentals of Packaging Technology Residential Course
Semester Three
Day One –16 September
Day Two – 17 September

Fundamentals of Packaging Technology Residential Course
Semester Four
Day One – 18 November
Day Two – 19 November

Industry 4.0 delivers opportunities to manufacturing in 2020

2019 was another interesting year for the manufacturing sector. Competition and cost cutting forced manufacturers to operate more efficiently and as a result, the industry turned to Industry 4.0 for its long-term benefits.

More than a fad or buzzword, Tim Keech, Sales and marketing director for SMC Corporation says that Industry 4.0 is here to stay, and it’s set to have a major impact on the industry in 2020.

“Manufacturing has become increasingly competitive. We’re competing both locally and on an international front where many manufacturers are already advanced in the implementation of IoT (the Internet of Things) solutions,” said Keech. “Australia should leverage the benefits of implementing Industry 4.0 solutions to remain competitive.”

Keech notes that challenges around cost reduction, energy savings, compliance with environmental initiatives, effective supply chain management and stringent health and safety standards can be alleviated through the implementation of Industry 4.0 technologies.

READ MORE: SMC’s smart thermo-chillers for peace-of-mind

“Some of the most recent challenges addressed by Industry 4.0 solutions is meeting the evolving expectations of consumers, such as immediate access to products and services and access to more detailed information about the products. Smart manufacturing helps to meet this demand and we see this trend continuing to grow and influence production in 2020.

“With changing technology comes a change in job skill requirements. Both production and people need to evolve at a rapid pace. “We need people who can interpret and utilise the data which Industry 4.0 will bring. This is one of the major challenges facing the industry,” said Keech. “This skill can only come through on the job experience, making it critical for STEM undergraduates to be closely aligned and integrated with industry.”

Developing talent
SMC has been evolving not only as a business also as an employer. The company has a keen focus on upskilling and developing their workforce to meet the needs of the changing economy.

SMC has developed a Cadet Program to attract and retain talent. “Through much-needed skills transfer, we are training technical people in sales, operations, logistics and administration to ensure they have a comprehensive overview of the business. These cadets are earmarked for future roles in the business and will be highly adaptable to changing economies,” said Keech.

In addition, SMC is placing more engineers in the field of energy savings and has been setting up digital transformation departments. “Our clients look to us to provide them with insight into automation trends. As a multinational with over 60 years’ experience, we draw on global expertise and skills to ensure that our local teams are trained up and ready to add value.”

Security and IOT
Keech believes that no one company is immune to cyber security threats and that these continue to have major implications on business. “Fear of such risks may initially hamper the appetite for investing in Industry 4.0 technology. It is however a matter of educating customers with industry proven solutions and processes that are available to limit exposure and protect their business.”

The challenge of our environment
Keech notes that shrinking resources, climate change and power hikes continue to affect business. “We cannot ignore this factor. It puts pressure on the supply chain and impacts our ability to compete – both locally and globally. Drought conditions continue to affect our farmers and we are now finding that reduced access to reliable water is having similar impacts on the mining and manufacturing industries.”

Supporting Australia’s 2030 climate change targets, SMC’s energy saving efforts remain active and continuous. “Many manufacturers are starting to realise the hidden costs of compressors running inefficiently throughout their plants. The recent success of SMC with several multinational manufacturers demonstrated real savings at the compressor.”

According to Keech, SMC’s team of engineers work closely with customers to meet their energy saving mandate. “We have the ability to identify areas of savings, from something as simple as identifying excessive leakage through to optimising the pressure and flow through the use of regulators, boosters and more.”

“2020 promises to be an interesting year but manufacturing is gearing up for the changes that are required to remain competitive,” said Keech.

Sustainable packaging extends the pomegranate season

Consumers can enjoy pomegranates for an extended season due to StePac., which has been pioneering advances in pomegranate packaging since 2003. The company introduces its latest range of sustainable packaging solutions for preserving the freshness and extending the shelf life of pomegranates and their extracted arils.

StePac has expanded its range to include new recyclable solutions, as well as packaging formats tailored to automation of both bulk and retail packing.

In spite of their tough exterior, whole fresh pomegranates host a range of challenges that arise with prolonged storage. In the absence of proper protection, the fruit can suffer significant dehydration and weight loss, causing it to shrivel. This may be accompanied by the development of skin blemishes and crown decay that eventually leaches into the fruit and impairs the quality and taste of the arils.

From orchard to table
StePac’s pomegranate packaging portfolio incorporates long storage packaging formats to meet the requirements of growers seeking glut management solutions for post-harvest bulk storage.

Pomegranate growers and packers are now able to load fresh-picked pomegranates directly at the orchard and store up to 400kg of the fruit in each specialized StePac Xtend® bin liner for periods of three months or longer, with no negative effect on the fruit. This is in addition to storage liners for weight of 10-80kg that are already widely used in many countries.

The Xtend line also includes unique carton liners that offer the ideal solution for maintaining fruit quality during the lengthy shipments to distant locations.

Leaner flowpack packaging for whole fruits
StePac developed film structures containing a unique sealing layer that facilitates leaner packaging and induces savings of up to 40 per cent in material use as well as reduced labor costs, by enabling pomegranates to be flow-packed in both bulk and retail formats.

100 percent recyclable retail packaging for arils
The company recently finalized development of fully recyclable Xgo lidding films and standing pouches to add to this category of retail-packaging products. These solutions are designed to inhibit postharvest microbial decay and extend the shelf life of extracted pomegranate arils for up to 17 days, preserving the fruit’s organoleptic properties. The lidding films are available in lean easy peel and resealable formats.

The company’s comprehensive range of lean and sustainable packaging solutions is designed to maintain pomegranate freshness throughout all stages of the supply chain. The technology is based on a unique modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) system that reduces respiration rates and ethylene production for a combined effect of slowing down ageing and ripening. It also inhibits the proliferation of pathogens.

Water vapour transmission technology enhances performance
StePac has developed a comprehensive repertoire of films with built-in abilities to regulate water-vapor transmission rates as well as provide optimal modified atmosphere conditions. The films incorporate distinct properties to cater to a range of pomegranate packaging applications.

“During prolonged storage of this fruit, it is paramount to strike the perfect balance between eliminating excess free moisture to mitigate the risk of microbial decay and to concurrently avoid excessive product dehydration,” said Gary Ward, business development manager for StePac. “Such balance depends on multiple synergistic factors, including surface area to volume ratio, produce weight, supply chain length, and shipping and storage conditions.”

“Pomegranates are in demand in every continent.” Ward enthuses. “The global reach of our technology is instrumental in addressing the challenges facing the pomegranate industry and for ensuring that both the whole fruit and the extracted arils reach the consumers— wherever they might be — in prime condition, while keeping waste to a minimum. Our holistic vision and pragmatic approach are embedded in a range of complex structures and packaging formats that deliver the extended shelf life and sustainability principles our customers seek. This approach evolved from our deep-rooted understanding and 25-year history of researching fresh produce pathology and physiology and its interaction with packaging design.”

How to grow overseas market share

Indonesia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, East Timor, Fiji, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the US and Vietnam – if there is one thing Trisco knows about, it’s exporting.

The Queensland-based company is a fifth-generation company that has been producing food and beverage products for more than 140 years and is always looking for new markets in which to expand.

CEO Mike Tristram has a plethora of dealing with the red tape and bureaucracies when sending products overseas. The first thing he points out is that no two countries are the same – whether they be first or third world. With some countries, getting approval is easy, another might be require more time, while yet others may rely on another country’s approval system.

READ MORE: Anthony Pratt: Value added food will pave way for Australian exports

“For example, the US,” said Tristram. “Officials in another country might say ‘well, if you’re approved by the FDA in the US, there’s no problems here’. Every country has its own little idiosyncrasies. In Pakistan, you need to have specific approval by some office that has to have a physical stamp. Trying to get that physical stamp instead of a photocopy and approval is very difficult. Dealing with those sorts of idiosyncrasies from country to country, can be interesting.”

One of Tristram’s favourite quotes is from LinkedIn founder, Reid Hoffman, who described start-ups as like jumping off a cliff and assembling an airplane on the way down.

“Exporting is a little similar but not quite as dramatic,” he said. “It is one of those things you have to figure out on your own depending on your market and depending on where you are going and what you have to sell. It is how unique or not unique it might be and where your strategic advantage is.

“You need the boldness to be able to go into the adventure and find your own pathway within that and be prepared to solve those problems as and when you see them. Even with speed bumps along the way, you need to keep going and learn from them and not give up.”

He believes resilience is the biggest thing that gets a company through the export journey. Also, it is important to get someone on the ground. It is not something that can be discovered, nurtured and expanded upon while sitting in an office in Australia.

“That is the hardest thing – staying on the path and keep slogging,” he said. “You can’t follow a market you don’t understand so you have to go there. And if you are not prepared to go there on a regular basis, then don’t attempt that journey. If you are not prepared to leave the country – at least initially and put a good bedrock down – you will not be successful.”

However, once the connections have been made, it is possible to tone down the travel schedule as long as there is someone on the ground that can be trusted. These are usually locals who know how local regulators and the laws surrounding imports work.
“Some of those places you can handle through agents once you have forged a relationship,” said Tristram. “As long as you have a trusting relationship with the local agent you can pull back a little on those sorts of visits.”

What does help is Australia’s reputation not only as a quality food producer, but as being upfront and honest.

“Australian products are recognised throughout the world as high quality,” he said. “And being relatively clean and green, we’re recognised as being reasonably easy to deal with and we are straightforward. There are a lot of advantages to being Australian.”

The main reason companies try and get into exporting is to grow their company financially. Australia has a finite number of markets within the continent, so expansion is the only way to grow. And while Trisco is happy to manufacture in Australia, the company is going one step further to magnify its footprint in the US – building a plant over there.

“One of the disadvantages is we are still one of the highest costs of manufacturing in the world,” said Tristram. “Until we solve some of these issues, such as energy and utility costs, we are going to continue to struggle. And until we are competitive with the rest of the world on red tape and tax and that sort of thing, there’s not a huge incentive to come to Australia and manufacture. We need to change that.”

One of the products that the company produces is Thick-N Instant, which is under the company’s Precise brand. It has been on the market for three years and doing well. It is designed for those who have dysphagia, which is a condition whereby people have difficulty swallowing. There are many different types of dysphagia, but it usually impacts on those who are aged over 65. It also has a high correlation with people who have Parkinson’s Disease, motor neuron issues or are a victim of a stroke.

“The market that manages the condition, thickens products to four distinct levels that are internationally recognised as part of the diet,” said Tristram. “We take those products up to those viscosities depending on what the problem is. Then they can swallow safely, which means the food goes into their digestive tract and not into their lungs, or into other areas that can cause fluid on the lungs, which can lead to pneumonia.”

It is this demand for the product stateside that lead the company to build a plant over there. Thick-N Instant is protected by intellectual property including patents, some of which are still pending.

“We need to build a plant a little closer to one of our largest customers in the US,” said Tristram.

“And we’ve done that for a couple of reasons. First, Thick-N Instant is a product that is unique and is for a vulnerable population and there is nothing like it in the world that we compete against. Nobody makes anything like it.

“The other issue for us is that you have to have some redundancy, so if something catastrophic happened to the plant we would be in trouble. You have to have that redundancy. Plus of course, seven to nine weeks on the water to another country is a long time for something that only has a shelf life of 12 months.”

Does Tristram feel the company has reached the apex of its export potential? No, but there are other issues he can see on the horizon

“The food industry is contracting a little bit,” he said. “What we are seeing now is ingredient suppliers not being as flexible as they used to be. The variety of the products on offer are there. They’re bringing them in from all over the world – Europe, Asia, US – everywhere.

“But getting consistent supply and variety that we can use to draw off the same sort of spec is becoming more difficult. For example, if you have 40 tonnes of strawberries and you need another 20 tonnes, trying to find it locally is going to be difficult.”

Bubs opens corporate headquarters in Victoria

The official opening of the corporate headquarters Bubs Australia Limited was held Friday 13 December at its Australian Deloraine Dairy canning and packaging facility in Dandenong, Victoria.

Danny Pearson, State Member for Essendon, Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier of Victoria, and Gabrielle Williams, State Member for Dandenong and Minister for Prevention of Family Violence, Minister for Women and Minister for Youth in the Victorian Government, signed the Official Certificate of Recognition commemorating Bubs establishing its headquarters in Victoria.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier Danny Pearson said: “We were delighted to support Bubs move to Victoria, which will add considerable weight to our reputation as Australia’s gateway to China. As well as creating jobs, this investment is yet another vote of confidence in our farmers and the Government’s work promoting Victoria as an export hub.”

Member for Dandenong Gabrielle Williams welcomed the arrival of Bubs Australia to  area: “Melbourne’s south-east is the heart of Victoria’s manufacturing industry and having Bubs choose Dandenong for its headquarters is important to local jobs and the broader supply chain.”

Commenting on the occasion, Bubs executive chairman, Dennis Lin said: “We are honored by the presence of two state members. Their participation recognises the contribution of Bubs to the state economy.

“Our relocation to Victoria was a vote of confidence in the state, its goat dairy farmers and its strategic position as a key export hub for Australia. We are truly excited that the management operations of Bubs Australia and its strategic supply chain partners are now so close together.”

Bubs Founder and CEO, Kristy Carr said: “We see integrating supply chain, production and management in Victoria as a natural progression which will help bring greater agility and scale efficiencies to our business.

“The move underlines the Company’s recently announced plan to increase investment in boosting cross border e-commerce with China, both for its existing portfolio and new products.

“By expanding the scope of our portfolio to new demographics we expect to generate further opportunities for growth among our Victorian farming partners who collectively represent the largest aggregation of milking goats in Australia.

“These Victorian goat dairy farms, exclusively contracted to Bubs, are capable of providing some 20 million litres of fresh goats milk from an aggregate herd of around 20,000 milking goats.

“Importantly, most of our other Australian based supply chain partners are also located in Victoria. In addition to our Deloraine canning and packing plant in Dandenong, Bega’s Tatura Industries in Victoria provides onestep goat’s milk blending and powder production and Fonterra’s facility in Darnum, also in Victoria, processes our grass-fed organic cow’s milk for packing at the Deloraine facility,” said Carr.

Also present at the ceremony was Mark Edmonson, one of Bubs’ Victorian goat farmers, based in Echuca, Victoria, whose goat farms provide Bubs with important domestic supply of goat milk under an exclusive supply agreement.

Edmonson said that he was very passionate about the goat industry and happy to be doing what he loves – supporting Australia’s Goat Industry which has been a lifetime goal.

“I’m very proud to be one of Bubs exclusive suppliers. With Bubs we now have the guaranteed off-take that gives us the security we need to put this passion into practice. With Bubs support we know we have a partner that understands our business model and how sustainability can make a difference as well as a partner committed to enabling us to have access to skilled, capable people and supporting the gaining of those skills for generations to come.”

Speed of the essence when it comes to cryogenic temperature control

In different parts of the food industry, various techniques to give foodstuffs the required temperature during or after mixing have been developed. These include adding chilled water, brine, or water ice to the product, using over-chilled or frozen ingredients, or most commonly using mechanically refrigerated mixing equipment.

Spraying or injecting a cryogenic fluid onto the product in the mixer while it is being mixed is also an efficient and safe ways of chilling. Industrial gas company Air Liquide specialises in the latter – utilising liquid nitrogen or liquid carbon dioxide to chill produce quickly and effectively. There are several benefits to using cryogenic freezing, according to Stephen Crawford, who is an Air Liquide senior engineer and expert in food cryogenics.

“It’s not hard to implement,” said Crawford. “Either liquid nitrogen or liquid carbon dioxide can be sprayed onto merchandise being chilled either from the top or the bottom. Both methods are used in industry and can be installed on existing equipment.

“Usually they are injected into some sort of mixer – for example, protein mixing, such as beef or chicken mixing, which is being made into patties or nuggets. It’s cheaper to install top mixing than it is bottom mixing, but the bottom injection method is more efficient.
“We use this type of injection to maintaian temperature. As food is mixed, you get friction between the product and the blades so heat is generated. You need to maintain temperature below 4˚C so you don’t get bacterial growth.”

Another benefit is that the gases have direct contact with the food. If an ammonia chiller is being used in a mixer, users might be able to cool down the walls of the mixer but there is no direct heat transfer that is possible when liquid nitrogen is injected into the mixer itself.
“From a heat transfer point of view it’s much more efficient,” said Crawford.

As mentioned, speed can be a key. Crawford cites the example of one of Air Liquide’s clients that specialises in producing goat cheese, a produce that is temperature sensitive.

“When the milk comes out the goat, it’s at room temperature or above. The longer it takes to get down to 4˚C, the shorter the shelf life will be,” he said. “The company puts it into a mixer and injects liquid nitrogen at -196°C through a cryo-injector. They get liquid nitrogen coming up, which rapidly cools the milk. As a comparison, mechanical chillers can only reach a temperature of -35°C with ammonia refrigerant.

“What would have taken them hours if you had put buckets of it in a mechanical chiller happens in just a few minutes in the mixer. You have blades inside stirring it. You don’t end up freezing one portion and having another portion still warm. They are constantly stirring it while injecting liquid nitrogen. It brings down the temperature of the whole product much quicker.”

Some of the mainstays of cryogenic chilling are chicken nuggets and meat patties, which are popular with those who process fast-food items. However, cryogenic chilling can also be used for dough mixing.

Most large flour mills have the flour stored in big silos outside. Industrial bakers blow it around pneumatically to get it into the mixer. It is the most efficient way for them to move the flour. The flour then comes into its mixture where it is combined with water and other ingredients. It’s mixed mechanically. But the temperature of the product in pastry has an impact on the texture and the final outcome, according to Crawford.

“If you’re trying to make a product that has a certain amount of ingredients and you mix them all together at 15˚C instead of 20˚C, the texture of the final product will be quite different even though the ingredients are the same,” said Crawford. “The bakeries find – especially if they have days like in the middle of summer where it is 35˚C – when you introduce that into the dough, the dough is far too hot and melts the butter. If you can inject a small amount of cryogen, then, depending on the temperature, it can make all the difference. If it is 20˚C you know to inject nitrogen or carbon dioxide for 10 or so seconds, or if it’s 35˚C you might have to inject for 40 seconds. During the process, it brings the dough to a consistent mix. This means there will be the right chemical reactions with the yeast. Over the years, Air Liquide has acquired a deep knowledge of process parameters through hundreds of references in cryogenic chilling worldwide and knows how to implement the right recipe to reach desired outcomes.”

Crawford also talks of the safety aspects the cryogenic chilling can offer. Most large commercial chillers have ammonia in them, which means they have a refrigeration cycle, so they’ll have a pump that is compressing the ammonia. Like a fridge at home, the wires on the back get hot. There’s a heat pump that takes the heat energy from inside the box and puts it into the grill at the back. An industrial refrigerator works the same way but ends up with large cooling towers to get rid of all the excessive heat.

“This means factories have these ammonia lines running through their plants which you wouldn’t want to spring a leak,” said Crawford. “However, with cryogenics, if you have a minor leak of nitrogen, it must be repaired, but it is not an immediate hazard. Eighty per cent of the air we breathe is nitrogen. Ammonia is a corrosive and toxic chemical and customers require ammonia sensors around the place. Often they spend a lot of money maintaining it, and then you have the cooling towers and all the other issues with the cooling water side of it.”

Some synergies are also possible with other processes down the chain, such as food freezing and modified atmosphere packaging that also use nitrogen, carbon dioxide and mixtures thereof, which further reduce the cost of operations compared to mechanical chilling.

“Another advantage is that it is very reliable because there are very few moving parts when working with cryogenic chilling,” said Crawford. “The injectors can be retrofitted on customer’s existing mixers.

“With only a valve to open and close, there is no compressor that needs to be maintained like on a mechanical system. The servicing requirements just aren’t there. The cooling equipment we have is better. There is nothing hard about what we are doing. It’s an easy method for people to learn to do. We can even maintain the equipment for our customers.”

EtherCAT G – ultimate I/O performance for high-performance machines

The EtherCAT G technology extension can superimpose itself on Gigabit Ethernet for data-intensive applications. It is compatible with EtherCAT, which uses 100 Mbit/s. In addition, the operation of parallel network segments is possible with the branch concept introduced for EtherCAT G.

EtherCAT G uses the 1 Gbit/s data transmission rate of standard Ethernet; while the EtherCAT G10 variant, achieves data rates of up to 10 Gbit/s. The increase in data rates compared with the standard 100 Mbit/s EtherCAT increases the possible data throughput. In conjunction with the new branch concept, EtherCAT G (1 Gbit/s) enables a two- to seven-fold increase in performance in relation to communication times and up to 10 times the bandwidth, depending on the application. A hundred times the bandwidth is even possible with EtherCAT G10.

A fully compatible technology extension
With EtherCAT G, the success principle of EtherCAT can be used to leverage the high Ethernet data transmission rates that are technologically available today – without any changes to the EtherCAT protocol itself. The telegram sent by the EtherCAT master continues to pass through all network devices. Every EtherCAT slave reads the output data addressed to it on the fly and places its input data in the forwarded frame, but now with data rates of 1 to 10 Gbit/s. As before, the last device in a segment (or branch) will detect an unused port and send the telegram back to the master. The full-duplex property of the Ethernet physics is utilised for this capability.

All other EtherCAT properties are also retained. Devices with three or four ports (junctions) make flexible topologies possible that can be individually adapted to the respective machine architecture. Optional machine modules can be plugged in or out by Hot Connect as required. An internal network diagnostic function helps to minimise machine or plant downtimes and therefore increase availability with familiar efficiency. The integrated distributed clocks concept also remains available and enables synchronisation accuracies of better than 100 ns between devices. Conformity with the Ethernet standard IEEE 802.3 is also guaranteed.

Rollout of EtherCAT G made easy
Performance is key to EtherCAT G. Not only the protocol, but also the fundamental mechanisms and the configuration options remain the same. Only the function blocks necessary for physical access to the communication cables have been replaced by corresponding Gbit/s variants. The master therefore requires no new software, just one Gbit/s port. The existing cable types can also continue to be used: Cat.5e cables for EtherCAT G or Cat.6 cables for EtherCAT G10.

Consequently, EtherCAT G slaves can be operated on an existing EtherCAT master, provided it has the aforementioned Gbit/s port. Several special protocol extensions for EtherCAT G are currently being prepared that will allow for even higher-performance use. However, the extensions required for this on the master side will not be mandatory for the network to be operational.

Branch concept for mixed operation with maximum efficiency
EtherCAT and EtherCAT G can be operated within the same network, i.e. EtherCAT G slaves will work in a 100 Mbit/s EtherCAT network and vice versa. However, all EtherCAT G devices will switch back to the 100 Mbit/s mode in such a mixed network. In order to prevent this, the new branch concept makes EtherCAT branches possible, which enable the parallel operation of 100 Mbit/s segments in a 1 or 10 Gbit/s network through appropriate speed implementations. In this way, a branch of an EtherCAT G segment can be implemented on a 100 Mbit/s network, for example, using the new EK1400 EtherCAT G Coupler, therefore allowing the wide range of standard EtherCAT terminals to be used within the EtherCAT G network environment. The 1 Gbit/s speed of EtherCAT G communication segment is retained.

The EtherCAT G branch concept offers efficiency benefits that minimise propagation times. The CU14xx multi-port branch controllers are designed for this purpose and enable the interconnection of several EtherCAT and EtherCAT G segments. The individual branches are addressed with a single telegram from the master, which will then be processed simultaneously. This makes much shorter signal propagation times possible and therefore shorter communication and cycle times, because the telegram of a segment travels directly from the branch controller back to the master and not through all other connected segments as well. In most applications, the parallel operation of network segments results in an improved performance increase compared to a slight increase in the transmission bandwidth would render possible.

Application and performance examples
For most present-day applications the high performance of standard EtherCAT is fully adequate. Accordingly, EtherCAT G communication was developed with large-scale applications and many devices in mind, as well as the increasing use of particularly data-intensive devices such as vision cameras, complex motion systems or measurement applications with high sampling rates. Machine vision, condition monitoring or the innovative transport systems XTS and XPlanar require transmission of several hundred bytes of process data per cycle for each device. In conjunction with short cycle times of less than a millisecond, the high transmission bandwidths provided by EtherCAT G are called for in this context.

The first practical EtherCAT G application is the XPlanar transport system, which was shown for the first time at the SPS IPC Drives 2018. This planar motor system enables motion control and highly precise positioning of passive free-floating movers with six degrees of freedom. Due to the continuous position feedback required for the unique new system, extremely large data quantities are produced that have to be transmitted within a few microseconds. This would hardly be possible without the high performance of EtherCAT G.

Yume partners with Suez to combat food waste

Yume has announced a partnership to fight commercial food waste. A fight that cannot be fought alone.

Suez and Yume have formed a first of its kind collaboration to tackle the 4.1 million tonnes
that goes to waste every year in Australia in the commercial sector, before it even reaches
supermarkets, restaurants or homes.

War on Waste and Love Food Hate Waste movements shone a spotlight on food waste in
the home and appealed to consumers to change habits at the end of the supply chain.
However, if we take a trip upstream to where the food is grown and made there is a much
bigger problem – some 55 per cent of all waste occurs in the commercial sector: primary
production, manufacturing and wholesale. This is equivalent to 560 semi-trailer loads of
edible food never reaching its destination, and instead going to waste, every single
day. This waste costs the economy $6 billion every year, on top of the substantial
environmental and social impacts.

This is the uncomfortable truth of food waste, the one no one talks about and only few see. Yume and Suez have both seen it and have joined forces to tackle it. We are partnering to offer an integrated full service waste solution to makers and growers that honours the food waste hierarchy. Yume, an online marketplace for surplus food, will be the first interception point where product will be listed for sale to be rehomed and consumed as intended. Suez a world leader in resource recovery and waste management will then focus on optimizing recycling, composting, and energy opportunities to extract the greatest value from precious food resources.

The partnership between Yume and Suez is founded on shared vision. We both have the environment at our core and believe a whole of industry and government approach is required to successfully transition our take-make-waste economy to a resource-recovery model. Yume, as a relatively young organisation, is benefiting from Suez’s deep specialist knowledge and industry connections. Meanwhile, Suez benefits from the ‘disruptor’ mindset that Yume brings as an innovative start-up. This unlikely collaboration creates a win-win-win outcome that will accelerate substantial improvements to the  performance of the commercial food sector.

Katy Barfield founded Yume in 2014 with a bold vision of a world without waste. Australia
has pledged along with 193 countries to adopt the UN Sustainable Development Goal to
halve food waste by 2030. With only 10 years left on the clock, we need to unite and
innovate. Yume is proud to have united with SUEZ to work together to provide an improved
experience and service that directly and measurably diverts food from waste.

With 560 semi-trailer loads of food going to waste every day, it’s time to ask ourselves, what are we doing together to fight this issue?. The problem is huge, too big and confronting to be solved alone and the clock is ticking.