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.

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“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.

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.

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.


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CSIRO working hard on African swine flu

African swine fever (ASF) is a fatal pig disease. And it’s on Australia’s doorstep with confirmation of outbreaks in Timor-Leste, 680 kilometres from northern Australia.

The disease is found in sub-Saharan Africa and has been detected in countries in Eastern Europe, including Russia and Ukraine. This year we have seen the disease sweep down through Asia and towards Australia.

ASF kills about 80 per cent of the pigs it infects and there is no vaccine or cure. Some estimate a quarter of the world’s pigs will be dead by the end of this year from ASF.

The consequences cannot be understated as pork and other red meat prices are already seeing an increase in Europe and Asia. There is also talk of a global protein shortage for 2020 as a result of ASF.

READ MORE: Western Meat Packer appoint new Australian sales manager

Australia, which has a $5.3 billion pork industry and 2700 producers, continues to be free from the disease. The CSIRO is working with the Australian government and industry to keep it that way.

ASF on our doorstep
The Department of Agriculture has implemented tight biosecurity measures. This maintains strict controls over imported products, which could be contaminated with the ASF virus. It also has heightened surveillance and increased screening for banned pork products.

Recently, Australia deported a Vietnamese tourist after border officials found 10 kilograms of banned food products in her luggage. This included a large amount of raw pork. She was the first tourist to have her visa cancelled and be expelled from the country over breached biosecurity laws.

In September 2019, researchers at our Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) tested pork products, seized at international airports and at international mail processing centres, for ASF virus. AAHL is Australia’s leading high-containment laboratory for exotic and emerging animal diseases. It has unique facilities and expertise to manage the biosecurity risks of testing samples for the virus.

The results from AAHL’s testing last month showed 48 per cent of seized products were contaminated with ASF virus fragments. This is an increase from 15 per cent in the testing AAHL undertook earlier this year.

Detection of these virus fragments does not necessarily mean they can cause infection. But it does highlight the need for Australia’s strict biosecurity measures. Authorities are now using these results to refine and strengthen Australia’s border measures.

ASF is harmless for humans but spreads rapidly
ASF is harmless for humans but spreads rapidly among domestic pigs and wild boars through direct contact or exposure to contaminated feed and water. For instance, farmers can unwittingly carry the virus on their shoes, clothing, vehicles, and machinery. It can survive in fresh and processed pork products. It is even resistant to some disinfectants.

With no vaccine available, controlling the spread of the virus can be difficult. This is especially so in countries dominated by small-scale farmers who may lack the necessary resources and expertise to protect their herds.

For example, swill feeding—giving pigs kitchen and table waste in which the virus can persist—is a common practice throughout Asia. This is a major factor contributing to the spread of ASF. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to enforce a ban on this practice. Especially across so many small holder farms in resource-poor countries affected by the disease.

But, action is being taken.

Australia’s domestic biosecurity network
many Australian agencies are  working together to manage surveillance and monitoring as the risk of ASF entering Australia is on the rise.

In addition to testing, these agencies continue to strengthen our national biosecurity network. The CSIRO is working with quarantine services, agriculture and human health organisations to build awareness, assessment, resilience, preparedness and response.

Our researchers are working on understanding how ASF infects pigs as well as looking at novel approaches to producing a vaccine. With no vaccine currently available, outbreaks of ASF are difficult and costly to contain and eradicate.

In the policy space, a round table meeting at Parliament House was recently held. Along with other leaders, scientists and governments, the CSIRO shared the work currently being undertaken and the actions needed to keep ASF out of Australia.

Plans are underway for a simulation exercise later this year. This will test Australia’s disease response capabilities to make sure the country is as prepared as it can be.

Helping our international neighbours
AAHL has an important role to play in the Asia-Pacific region. Its international team work with partner agencies and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to provide expertise, training and laboratory skills to rapidly identify disease.

This support enhances the region’s capacity to manage emergency disease outbreaks. It also assists Australia’s pre-border security through better threat assessment and management of viruses circulating in neighbouring countries.

It also provides regional expertise to the World Organisation for Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture Organization (a specialised agency of the United Nations) for emergency preparedness missions to the number of countries at risk of virus.

We can all help
Fortunately, Australia’s pig industry is better equipped to manage the necessary biosecurity measures. And producers are willing to put strict controls in place to keep the disease at bay. Hobby farmers must also be careful to follow the rules.

Nobody wants to see images of dying pigs and farmers struggling to make ends meet on our screens. Everybody can play a role in good biosecurity.

Be aware of the risks and, most importantly, please don’t import illegal meat products or feed pigs with food scraps.

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.”

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.”

Why Aussies need to eat more vegetables

Eating a healthy and balanced diet can help reduce the risk of many chronic diseases. Yet, less than four per cent of Australians consume the recommended five serves of vegetables a day.

What can we do to change this? Inspiring and empowering healthy eating for all Australians is the mission of Nutrition Australia, Australia’s peak nutritional body. One of their annual initiatives is Tryfor5, an awareness campaign run during National Nutrition Week (13 – 19 October) encouraging Australians to increase their vegetable consumption, with this year’s theme “Embrace Your Veg Waste” which supports Australians to consume five serves of vegetables each day by learning to embrace their food waste.

According to Nutrition Australia’s CEO Lucinda Hancock the Tryfor5 campaign reinforces the healthy eating message. “Australians aren’t eating enough vegetables and are throwing away large amounts of edible food waste and so we’re calling on everyone to rise to the challenge and Embrace their veg waste”

READ MORE: Opportunity for frozen vegetables in health-focussed diets

More than one third of rubbish bins in Australian kitchens contain leftovers and wasted food, which equates to nearly $4000 worth of groceries per household per year that can end up in landfill, where food breaks down and can emit harmful greenhouse gases.

Nutrition Australia senior dietitian, Amber Kelaart says there are a few ways we can try for 5 serves of vegetables a day, while helping to save money and the environment, by embracing vegetable ‘waste’:

  • Eat more parts of vegetables such as skins, stalks and leaves.
  • Use up ageing vegetables that would otherwise go in the bin
  • Choose ‘ugly’ and ‘imperfect’ vegetables to prevent them going to landfill. They’re just as nutritious, and often cheaper.

“Eating your ageing vegetables and eating the parts you usually throw out (like skins, stalks and leaves), makes every dollar stretch further, and reduces your household’s impact on climate change. It’s win-win.”

Kelaart says to start by using more parts of the vegetables you already have on hand. “Vegetable skins contain fibre, vitamins and minerals. Rinsing vegetables like carrots, potatoes and mushrooms, instead of peeling them, means you keep more of those important nutrients in your body and out of the bin.”

“And don’t throw out things like broccoli stems or the leaves of leeks. You can chop the broccoli stems and use it in a stir-fry or soup. And chips, tart and stock made from the leaves of leek will add a unique new ingredient to your repertoire.”

If your vegetables are getting a little wrinkly, having some go to recipes up your sleeve will help you use up your ageing vegetables.

“Give your ageing vegetables a second life by adding them to vegetable soups, egg frittatas or savoury muffins. Just add a few handfuls of chopped left-over vegetables to create delicious and colourful new meals or snacks. Plus they freeze well and can be added to the kids’ lunchbox or taken to work.”

Nutrition Australia also recommends learning how to store different types of vegetables, so they stay fresh for as long as possible.

“If you have bought a lot of something but only need a little, think about preparing the extra vegetables in a way that you can use in future. For example, chop up extra celery and carrots for snacks. And freeze herbs while they’re fresh so you can trim some off each time you need more,” Amber suggests.

Bayer is the founding sponsor of the Tryfor5 Program and is committed to actively supporting the health and wellbeing of all Australians through programs that improve health literacy.

“Working in partnership with Nutrition Australia we are dedicated to improving health outcomes through increased awareness of nutritional and everyday health needs.  The Tryfor5 campaign provides practical information and tips on nutritional requirements to support positive self-care practices.” Jeorg Ellmanns, CEO Bayer Australia and New Zealand.

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

Glen Grant wins Scotch Whisky of the Year for fourth year in a row

Glen Grant once again is awarded top honours for its category in the latest edition of Jim Murray’s perennially anticipated Whisky Bible – the world’s most-influential Whisk(e)y guide. Glen Grant 18 Year Old, the rarest variant in the Glen Grant single malt range, has once again been named “Scotch Whisky of the Year”, “Single Malt of the Year” and “Best Single Malt Scotch Aged 16-21 years” by the esteemed whisky writer and reviewer, taking home the top prize in the category for a stunning fourth year in a row.

After sampling 1,200 whisky entrants for the 2020 edition of his influential guidebook, Jim chose this winning expression to represent his number one rated whisky from Scotland. Building on last year’s remark that the 18 Year Old single malt “carried the banner for Scotland,” and “displayed Speyside Whisky in its most sparkling light,” Murray this year that that he could find no faults in the liquid, and called it, “As usual, sublime,” adding that he “didn’t think it possible. But this distillery has just upped its game. Though, perhaps it does have two new challengers now: The Glen Grant 15 and The Glen Grant Rothes Chronicles Cask Haven.”

Reinforcing that the entire range of casks is exquisite, The Glen Grant Rothes Chronicles Cask Haven (a Global Travel Retail exclusive) has been awarded “Best No Age Statement”.

READ MORE: Food and Beverage Award winners announced

Calling this particular expression “technically perfect” Murray explains it as “a malt which takes ‘understatement’ to a new level,” and remarked that it leaves the drinker “spellbound as its secrets slowly unfold. To do descriptors barely do it justice.” Cask Haven joins the already-decorated Glen Grant 15 Year Old this year, which takes the prize for “Best Single Malt Scotch Aged 11 to 15 Years” in its category. Additionally, The Glen Grant 10 Year Old wins in the “Best Single Malt Scotch Aged 10 Years and Under” category for a remarkable 7th time.

Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible is the world’s biggest-selling and most influential annual whisky guide. Industry renowned, the compact guide contains roughly 4,500 detailed, professionally analysed and easy to understand tasting notes on the world’s leading and lesser known whiskies. Each whisky is tasted by Murray himself and graded with an overall score out of 100.

Founded in 1840 by brothers John and James Grant in Rothes, in Speyside, Scotland, Glen Grant boasts a remarkable, double distillation process, which sets its award-winning single malts apart from the competition. Introduced over a century ago by the ingenious James ‘The Major’ Grant, these hand-designed, tall, slender stills and distinctive purifiers capture only the finest vapours. Still used to this day, the result is a refined and seductively smooth taste for which Glen Grant is renowned.

Dennis Malcolm, Glen Grant’s Master Distiller, commented, “To be awarded ‘Scotch Whisky of the Year’ for a record fourth year with our 18YO is an incredible honour. Unprecedented! With all of the remarkable whiskies that come from our corner of the world, we are thrilled to share this news, in addition the accolades again this year on our 10 and 15YO expressions. To add, we couldn’t be more pleased that an exclusive offering like Cask Haven is recognised for the complex, beautiful liquid that it is. We take so much pride in creating our unique expressions, and we’re delighted and humbled to see that the consistent quality of these beautiful products continues to be recognised by industry legends like Jim Murray.”


The four steps of food safety systems

Who hasn’t felt nervous before an audit? There is so much pressure today on food safety professionals to accomplish successfully audits, especially when we have a big client requiring it or a certification body doing it. Most of us neglect the fact that audits should be perceived as one (more) powerful tool in the continuous improvement of our food safety system.

What is an audit? Probably one of the most common and used audit definition is the one provided by the ISO 19011 – Guidelines for auditing management systems. In its last update (2018) the ISO document defines audit as systematic, independent, and documented process for obtaining objective evidence and evaluate it objectively to determine the extent to which the audit criteria are fulfilled.

In this definition, ISO decided to reinforce the importance of the evidence being objective since the only change from the 2011 definition was the substitution of audit evidence for objective evidence. More details can be found in the GFSI definition for audit present in the GFSI Benchmarking Requirements version 7.2: A systematic and functionally independent examination to determine whether activities and related results comply with a conforming scheme, whereby all the elements of this scheme should be covered by reviewing the supplier’s manual and related procedures, together with an evaluation of the production facilities. Clearly, in common, we have that audits should be a systematic and independent process to determine compliance with criteria.

As a systematic process, auditing has two main roles:
1. Validating that the food safety systems are thought and built to fulfil the criteria
2. Verifying that the activities performed to comply with what is planned and are effective.
If we think in simple terms, we can divide a food safety system into four steps. First, we have to research what should be done (based on what the organisation does, the law, criteria or elements of the conforming scheme or system). Then say what you do. That is, we should have defined what is planned to do to fulfil the criteria. But this is not enough. More important even is to do as you say. In daily work, people in the organisation should execute their functions and tasks accordingly with what is established. Finally, we must have evidence to be sure we can always reply affirmatively to the question: is it done as said? During an audit, the auditor should validate that what you say you do is enough, go to the field and verify not only that things are done as said but also look for evidence that was done as said.
The Auditor

As presented above, during an audit the auditor must be able to validate and verify compliance with criteria or requirements. For that, the auditor must have adequate attributes and knowledge. In the diagram below are presented the main elements of an auditor and an audit.

If audits are to be used as a tool to improve the food safety system it must be performed independently and free from bias or conflict of interest, should be systematic and well documented. Although sometimes it may look like that anyone can be an auditor, that is not the case, at least, for food safety audits. The first two essential elements in an auditor, personal characteristics and skills are related to the person and not specific to food safety. Typically, an auditor should have ethical behaviour, be an organised and observant person (even curious) and have an emphatic and diplomatic approach. The auditor will also benefit from having skills related to how to question or interview people, how to conduct a systematic audit, how to prepare an audit report and active listening, among others. On top of the pyramid is, of course, the knowledge of food safety and the industry. It is paramount that auditors know the law and requirements or criteria that apply to the organisation and its product line they are auditing. Education, training and experience in the field they are auditing is also a basic requirement but is also essential for how much the organisation may benefit from the audit.
The Future of Audits
Assessing and harmonising an auditor’s knowledge and skills is certainly an important goal for the future. This is important not only to establish a minimal baseline of competencies for auditors but also to establish credibility for the profession and the process. The recent release by GFSI knowledge exam is a step in that direction, offering a consistent method to assess auditor knowledge across a range of relevant skills for all GFSI-recognised programmes. Auditors seeking to audit GFSI-recognised certification programs will find questions about specific technical skills well as standard audit skills.

Another aspect that needs to be improved is the perception of value added by food safety audits. Auditors should do everything in their power (without compromising the independent, systematic and documented approach) to make the process beneficial to the organisation and their food safety system.

Technology is evolving at an outstanding pace but for the moment the adaptation of new tools and technologies to auditing seems delayed. It is not difficult to foresee that technologies like smart glasses can play a role in the future of audits. Mainly people advocate that this tool could reduce travel costs but maybe we should focus more on how this technology could increase the number of audits for the same cost.

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.

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.”

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).

Ceramic sensors ideal for food processing plants

With the introduction of the plics family almost 18 years ago, Vega turned the vision of simple, standardised measurement of level and pressure into reality.

The Vegabar 80 series represents a systematic further development of the concept and the products.

The clear structure of the new instrument series ensures easy selection when looking for the right instrument for a particular application.

The new handling with “quick start” procedure allows fast, simple and reliable setup and commissioning. The integrated diagnostics system makes fast maintenance and servicing possible.

Making three from five
With the new Vegabar 80 series, all conceivable applications can be covered with only three process pressure transmitters.  There is the all-rounder Vegabar 82 with ceramic measuring cell, which can cover 80 per cent of all applications.  Then there is the Vegabar 83 with metallic measuring cell that is designed for high-pressure applications.

READ MORE: How Vega has led the way in radar level transmitters

Finally, there is the classic Vegabar 81 with chemical seal, which is deployed when high temperature and/or chemical resistance is required.

Ceramic versus metallic
A lot has happened in the development of both metallic and ceramic measuring cells in recent years.

The biggest leaps in technology, however, are being experienced by the ceramic measuring cell CERTEC. Only a few suppliers have ceramic-capacitive cells in their portfolio, and fewer still have the know-how to produce them themselves. Eighty per cent of all units sold operate with ceramic sensors.

In principle, both technologies can be used in the majority of applications. But the company is convinced that in many cases ceramic is the better technology, because it is more robust and durable.

Nothing can shock them
Ceramic measuring cells have many advantages, but also some weaknesses. For example, they are susceptible to thermal shock and moisture. Through intensive further development of CERTEC, both of these problems could be reduced or even eliminated altogether.

Equipping Vegabar 82 with temperature-shock compensation resulted in a technological masterpiece. A patent for this worldwide innovation is awaiting approval.

When sudden temperature changes occur, it can take several minutes before sensors with ceramic measuring cells begin delivering reliable readings again. Often, users do not know that a sensor is experiencing a temperature shock, which means it is transmitting incorrect values.

With the ceramic measuring cell in Vegabar 80, customers can be sure that they are getting correct measurement data.

Because now, even fast temperature changes cannot affect the pressure measurement.
In addition to the usual temperature sensor on the backside of CERTEC, there is a second sensor in the glass joint directly behind the ceramic diaphragm – this sensor is mounted in a technically challenging process.

Due to its exposed position, it doesn’t miss even the slightest temperature change.
Any thermal shock is fully compensated by means of a sophisticated algorithm.
A side benefit of the second sensor directly next to the process is a temperature measurement of high quality, with an accuracy of ± 2 K.

Earlier versions of the measuring cell could also output a temperature signal.
However, due to its slowness, the sensor was only suitable for storage tanks, which normally have a stable temperature.

In many applications, installation of a separate temperature sensor can be eliminated.

Moisture? No problem
The typical moisture sensitivity could also be lowered. The problem with the naked electrodes of capacitive system – ingressing dielectric fluid, such as water – changes the dielectric constant and the capacitance, and therefore the pressure reading. However, the instrument cannot distinguish the reason for the change in capacitance. The solution? In the new instrument generation, Vega has applied a measurement and a reference capacitor and covered the entire surface of the measuring cell with a thin layer of glass.
Due to the glass passivation, there is no longer any contact with the medium, which means the dielectric constant in the entire system changes – for both the measurement and the reference capacitances.

A coefficient is then formed from the two values and then computationally balanced for the measuring result.

Another special feature of the Vega ceramic is its high overload resistance of up to factor 200 – more than double what other ceramics are able to provide.

Progress has also been made with regard to the temperature range.

Until recently, 120°C was the limit with the standard version, but CERTEC can now withstand temperatures up to 130°C. These additional 10°C are especially interesting for the food and pharmaceutical industry because, in many cases, customers no longer have to buy the high-temperature version for their sterilisation processes.

Application temperatures have increased in relatively small steps, but when it comes to extending the measuring ranges, Vega has put on a pair of proverbial “seven-league boots”.
Vegabar 82 has a tiny measuring range of only 25 mbar (previously 100 mbar). And that is without electronic turndown.

The measuring range has also increased in the upward direction, from 60 to 100 bar.
This has extended the application limits. Customers will be able to solve more applications with the standard Vegabar 82 sensor in the future.

No such thing as impossible
CERTEC is the only ceramic measuring cell on the market that allows absolute front-flush mounting, as its radial seal is recessed and protected from the medium.

It can bring this advantage to bear especially in abrasive applications. Build-up is also said to be a thing of the past. This is because the sensor is capable of cleaning itself in the flowing medium.

Safe, reliable operation
Another key topic is the second line of defence. This feature is indispensable, for example, in phosgene applications, in order to prevent the toxic medium from penetrating into the terminal compartment and endangering people and the environment. At present, customers have to resort to encapsulated absolute pressure transmitters with special chemical seal assembly.

Vegabar 82/83 is a fully welded sensor module with a second line of defence, which, in combination with climate compensated electronics, can reliably and accurately measure relative pressure even in such applications.

This unique innovation allows high measurement accuracy to be achieved also with small process fittings.

Reliable and stable measurement data is one of the most important features of a pressure measurement setup.

Vegabar 80 with Safe Integrity Level (SIL) differs from a standard instrument both in hardware and in software.

Vegabar 80 with SIL is a separate instrument developed according to the guidelines of IEC 61508. In single-channel systems, Vegabar 80 can be implemented up to SIL2, and in homogeneously redundant systems even up to SIL3 via the software.

Electronic differential pressure
An innovative software and hardware concept makes it possible to combine any two instruments from the Vegabar 80 family, whether all-rounder, high-pressure or high-temperature sensor, into an electronic differential pressure system. What does this mean in practice?

An example is that a customer only has to take a Vegabar 82, a standard instrument that he or she has in stock anyway, order an additional sensor, select the “slave” electronics version and connect them together.

That is all that is needed to be done. Users benefit from simple selection, identical adjustment and operation as well as simplified stocking.

There are many other features of the electronic differential pressure system.

This includes there are no oil-filled capillary tubes that need to be insulated – usually at great cost – to avoid environmental influences, such as temperature changes or strong vibration and the resulting measurement errors. And oil-filled chemical seal assemblies are usually expensive.

If a customer adds everything up, an electronic differential pressure system is not only a simple solution but also a more cost-effective one for their business.

Vega is the only supplier on the market that has a solution with ceramic sensors in its portfolio.

Action to protect native fish ahead of hot, dry summer

The Federal Government is working with the states to protect the Murray–Darling Basin’s native fish ahead of an expected hot and dry summer.

Minister for Drought David Littleproud released the Native Fish Emergency Response Plan. Make no mistake, we are likely to see fish deaths this summer,” Minister Littleproud said.

“We’re facing another hot summer with very little water flowing through our rivers. This plan will give the MDBA and the states vital tools to help protect fish populations. The Federal Government has money put aside for fish-death prevention measures and environmental water holders will replenish areas on red alert, where they can.

“Fish deaths are common during summer but what we saw last year were a major wake-up call about the impact of the drought on our rivers. After the Vertessy Review we have put an emergency plan in place.

“The plan will see more activity in high risk areas, with aerators, fish relocated and algae blooms watched closely.

READ MORE: SIA happy with state of fisheries

“The last Northern Basin environmental watering program refreshed waterholes and fish refuges although there is little environmental water left.

“NSW emergency measures have seen fish relocated so they survive this summer and re-populate the rivers when conditions improve.

“The Commonwealth is also bringing government officials and experts together this month to coordinate plans and identify areas at high risk of fish deaths.

“Communities too have their part to play and we also ask the community to report river conditions and fish deaths to help with fish relocations and recovery.

“We want native river fish such as the Murray cod, silver perch and golden perch to have the best chance of surviving this summer.

“We want healthy and thriving fish populations in our rivers during drought and in the good times.”

The Emergency Response Plan is available at mdba.gov.au/native-fish-plan


Under the Native Fish Emergency Response Plan, the Commonwealth Government will:

  • Provide emergency funds from the Emergency Contingency Fund to help states manage urgent and extreme fish death events, with $300,000 set aside.
  • Provide available Commonwealth environmental water to mitigate fish deaths.
  • Support the coordination of emergency response activities and sharing of resources.
  • Maintain a database of significant fish deaths events.
  • Contribute to water quality monitoring programs to identify areas at risk.

In return, the states will:

  • Identify and monitor high risk sites for fish deaths.
  • Identify priority refuge areas for native fish.
  • Prepare on-ground emergency response plans for priority species and areas.