Digital technology a main focus at this year’s Queensland FoodTech

Queensland will open its doors on July 28 to the second edition of the FoodTech exhibition, showcasing the latest innovations in the state’s food manufacturing industry.

The exhibition, which is held every three years at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, provides exhibiting companies with the opportunity to showcase brands, products and services to key decision-makers within the industry.

The event is hosted by leading food manufacturing trade show, FoodPro, through Diversified Communications Australia (DivCom) from the 28-30 July.

DivCom event director for FoodTech, Jonathon Wilczek said that the global development of technology within the industry has meant that this year’s edition of FoodTech promises to showcase the latest trends in digital technology.

“Right now globally, food and drink manufacturers are experiencing a digital shift. There are some huge efficiencies that can be gained by implementing a digital plan and the offset can be mammoth,” he said.

“This year there will be a high level of content and the exhibition stands to showcase the latest products in the market.”

One of the main areas of focus for this year’s exhibitions has been an increased concentration on educational content through key industry workshops and seminars.
“We’ve spoken with industry about who is the best to speak at FoodTech and we’ve put together a list of the top 20 topics of interest,” Wilczek said.

Representatives from the federal government and key players in the food manufacturing industry such as the Australian Institute of Packing (AIP) will run seminars in order to encourage innovation and growth within the food manufacturing industry.

Food Factories of the Future is one of the new seminars being presented at this year’s FoodTech which provides information on the impact digitisation can have on bottom line and also in driving operational excellence.

This coincides with the presentation of case studies which entices companies from different states to attend FoodTech due to common issues that are occurring across the industry.

“That’s why FoodTech came about – companies like to hear case studies, so we made an event for them,” Wilczek said.

“We’ve designed the event so that it suits specific needs and purposes, as a lot of issues that are occurring in Queensland are similar to those in Melbourne and Sydney.”

The cyclical nature of the food manufacturing industry means that the event aims to pick up on trends that have affected the market both locally and on an international scale.
This year’s increased focus on IT and digital techniques represents a growing push by the state and federal governments to compete with European food manufacturing companies – who Wilczek said are leading the way.

“The Queensland government is fully endorsing food manufacturing. They can see that in 15-20 year’s time, if manufacturers don’t get on board the digital wave, we’re going to struggle to compete.”

“We are behind Europe and other parts of the world, so this exhibition ensures that we are still competing and, in particular, getting onto this digital idea.”

The Queensland food sector contributes more than $16.9 billion to the state’s economy and is the second most important export commodity earner.

Its close proximity to Asia-pacific markets, coupled with the quality of local produce, makes it an important industry for the government to protect against increased competition overseas.

FoodTech’s positioning in Queensland therefore allows for ease of access from neighbouring countries as well as local residents according to Wilczek.

“A lot of our exhibitors are going through Sydney and Melbourne and we also have a lot of New Zealand and international visitors,” he said.

“We would normally struggle getting people from Queensland down [to Melbourne and Sydney], so that’s why we’ve been asked to host FoodTech in Queensland.”

The dominance of food and beverage events in Melbourne and Sydney means that FoodTech also assists in putting Queensland on the map, potentially attracting more business from both within Australia and neighbouring countries.

While FoodTech currently boasts a 42 per cent retention rate of exhibitors, more than half the stalls this year will be new, offering a range of the latest equipment and ideas to visitors.

Key players within the industry will still be present among the 140 exhibition stands this year, including Vemag Australia, Multivac, Select Equip and J.L.Lennard.

The exhibition is aiming to attract an array of companies ranging from small butchers to large-scale food manufacturers. However, an increase of SMEs entering into the industry over the last three years has seen a slight change in FoodTech’s target audience. “There are a lot of incubators popping up in Queensland due to a lot of SMEs wanting to take the next step, whether that be through networking with contract manufacturing or taking the big step of setting up their own factories,” Wilczek said.

“FoodTech this year isn’t just for big companies but also SMEs. And Sunday’s content (28th July) is actually designed to be very SME focused whereas Monday will be focussed a lot more around food safety.”

FoodTech is anticipating a similar turnout to its inaugural event in 2016 given the steady number of participants within the market.

The last exhibition attracted 2,431 attendees, with a total of 136 exhibitors – numbers are expected to be replicated this year, according to Wilczek.

“The total area market size is the actual market size, hence we have kept the exhibition to the same floor level this year,” he said.

“We haven’t allowed exhibitors to go larger because we want to match exhibitors to visitors and we’re expecting around 2,300 – so that’s going to be representative of the market size.”
In terms of visitors, FoodTech is expecting to have a wide variety of occupations from a range of industries present at the event.

2016’s exhibition saw the meat, poultry and seafood industry most heavily represented, taking up 18.98 per cent of visitors, closely followed by the packaged foods industry at 15.68 per cent.

In terms of occupation, 14.53 per cent were CEO’s or Company Directors while 13.04 per cent of visitors held the occupation of manager.

SMC brings the best to Brisbane for FoodTech Qld 2019

Following on from their success at AUSPACK 2019 and the launch of Open IIoT, SMC will be showcasing at FoodTech Qld in July 2019.

Bringing only the best to Brisbane, SMC will use this as an opportunity to engage with visitors and demonstrate their solutions for the food and beverage industries.

No stranger to the industry, SMC has been promoting its customer energy saving journey which has seen great success around the country and internationally. Here, their qualified team walks the entire journey with its customers and urges any businesses who have not moved towards reducing their footprint to make small in-roads that will in-turn lead to big savings.

In today’s climate, 24.7 operations, stringent hygiene standards and zero defects must be met. William Lebihan, Head of Sales and QLD State Manager from SMC says that this is where their specialist team comes in. “We deliver customised solutions to the industry and ensure that our customers experience the highest levels of OEE (Operational Equipment Efficiency)”.

“Whether you’re farming cattle or vegetables, we have what it takes to support your automation requirements from paddock to plate” he continues.

The company is firmly focused on developing products for the future, delivering the ultimate competitive advantage for their customers. “Our mandate is centered around flexible, efficient components that are designed alongside our customers with factories of the future in mind”.

SMC has a clear strategy and the technology to help implement Industry 4.0 solutions for all its customers. Today its all about faster and more flexible processes and plants to ensure sustainable, increased production and reduced costs.

“SMC is also playing an active role in upskilling industry via ongoing training and using state-of-the-art training systems and aids, to further enhance the skills of maintenance teams for optimised productivity maintenance scheduling and fault finding analysis.” says William.

In addition, SMC will use FoodTech Qld as a platform to showcase one of its latest innovations for robotic applications, the EX600 wireless manifold (EX600-W). This decentralised solution is EtherNet/IP™ and PROFINET compatible, can withstand electric noise and is suitable for harsh, industrial environments.

“This wireless and decentralised fieldbus system can manage both digital and analogue signals, as well as pneumatic products. As a highly reliable unit, it makes use of frequency hopping techniques to prevent interference from other wireless equipment. Data also encryption stops unauthorised access.


Visit SMC at Stand D16 from 28 to 30 July 2019 at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre

Agtech and Foodtech – taking the Australian food industry to the next level

Australia has a good reputation in the agritech and foodtech sectors. The government body charged with showcasing that reputation – the Australian Trade and Investment Commission, Austrade, is looking to establish Australia as a global hub for agritech and foodtech, said its Austrade’s senior investment specialist, Karen Caston, at a recent roundtable event held in the country’s capital cities.

“We are seeking increasing interest from overseas enterprises in Australian agricultural and food innovation.” Caston said that about half of the investment enquiries it receives from overseas companies and investors relate directly to these arenas. However, there are certain issues that have arisen that need addressing if Australia is going to take advantage of this reputation. With that in mind, Caston lead the charge at the roundtable with Austrade’s Agriculture 4.0 initiative, which is designed to showcase Australian capability and create a pathway for investment and partnership opportunities.

The video-linked round table that included companies and government bodies from around Australia, talking about the issues and how some of the more contentious problems might be solved. One of the biggest roadblocks that confounds both local and overseas investment is how to identify opportunities.

“The sector is fragmented with many different innovation hubs and states having their own initiatives,” said Caston. “Austrade’s clients – investors and businesses seeking agtech or foodtech services and exports – are confused about where to go for information and help for opportunities in trade and investment. Austrade is also seeing other countries taking a stance in relation to foodtech and agtech capability, which is resulting in increased competition globally in relation to investment and trade opportunities.”

Australia already has a couple of advantages over a lot of its global competition. It has strict standards around the quality of its products, its traceability is of a high standard and only getting better, and its status around the world – especially in the lucrative Asian market – is fantastic.

“There is a broad spectrum of clients approaching Austrade that are investing in agtech and foodtech,” said Caston. “Private clients looking to get a commercial stake in technologies to improve investment returns.

“We have impact investors interested in long-term gains and to meet social license obligations. Institutional investors have created new funding matrixes focussed on technology. International food manufacturers are looking to expand into the Asian market; to meet those consumer characteristics and to capitalise on Australia’s free trade agreements. Multinationals are looking to source and develop specific expertise in order to create regional specialist business units or centres of excellence. ”

Yet, confusion still remains. This is what the Agriculture 4.0 initiative is hoping to address by focussing and streamlining opportunities for partnership and investment. And what does Austrade have in mind to help alleviate some of the concerns of companies navigating their way around the bureaucracy? Caston has already put the wheels in motion and it is a three-pronged strategy.

“First, we will showcase Australia’s capability worldwide through a new micro website that will have video case studies and marketing material,” she said. This site went live in February. “Second, we will establish a Team Australia portal and tool kit that will feature consistent messaging as to the reasons why Australian agtech and foodtech investment and trade are good. This will include new materials to be used by all stake holders including government, research institutes and industry.

“Third, we developed and supported the week-long, themed, inbound missions around the inaugural Evoke Ag conference that was held in Melbourne in February. Austrade’s mission is results based and client focussed. Our collaboration includes market testing through a task force of key stake holders established to provide advice and support for implementation of this initiative.”

A key ingredient is the aforementioned microsite, which is designed to bring the fragmented sector together. Getting all the different stakeholders to come on board will not be easy – each state and territory has its own agenda. However, a taskforce lead by Tenacious Ventures’ Matthew Pryor, is leading the way. Pryor himself is bullish about the task ahead.

“We want and need international investment in our agricultural innovation ecosystem in the way we produce, and in the way we conduct and commercialise research,” he said. “And we should seek to function as a testing ground for agricultural innovation regardless of where they are sourced.

“With the taskforce we are providing feedback on who the stakeholders are and there is a significant amount of stakeholder mapping – and we have to decide, who are the core people we are trying to reach, what are the core messages that we need to deliver?”
He is also adamant about how it needs to be implemented.

“In terms of the establishment of the taskforce and its objectives, it is to grow the innovation brand and Australia’s presence, but it also needs to make some concrete decisions,” he said. “We need to say, ‘if we’ve done this right – we’ve created this global brand and identified the people we want to talk to. We’ve also delivered the message, so how do we know we’ve done something material?”

There is a lot of good work being done in establishing Australia’s status as a global player in the production of food and fibre. Most recently – and the best qualification of this – is the Talking 2030 report where the target of $100 million in farmgate output was established.
“Importantly for us, thinking about what part of that could be influenced, was the $20 billion bounty values that are available to drive the performance of the efficiencies of that system. These are going to be largely underpinned by the adoption of digital technology in Australia’s agricultural branching system,” said Pryor.

“We mention this because we can say, ‘as a country and an initiative, we can directly contribute to helping Australia. As a country and as an initiative, we can contribute to helping Australian farmers adopt new technology’. Some of that will come from our own ag innovation ecosystem, but we also need to promote ourselves as the best place in the world to prove the commercial application of internationally sourced agricultural innovation.”

We want the agritech/foodtech sectors are working towards Australia being a world-class producer of food and fibre.

“We know we do it efficiently because we are one of the least subsidised agriculturally productive economies in the world,” said Pryor. “What we know less about is what we call a ‘knowledge economy’ for agricultural innovations. We know we have world-class researchers and we rank highly in international measures in terms of performance of innovation. What we don’t know is what’s the economic value that flows into the country through exports of technology-based products and services. So this is a major body of work that we intend to pursue.”

A major piece of work the taskforce intends to put forward is helping to deliver on that bounty. The next thing for it, is conducting the necessary research to quantify the country’s current state of how much Australia exports in terms of technology-based products and services and what the aspirational target for that will be.

“The taskforce has regular meetings about once a month,” said Pryor. “The first stage of that was the development of stakeholder mapping and messaging. The second part was how would we get that message to be embedded in the sector’s collective marketing efforts. So, we worked with Austrade to develop the microsite and supporting material. The next collective action was, how can we as taskforce members and those at the roundtables become actively involved to broadly promote this brand? Austrade has outlined the tools they are developing to do that.”

The microsite is a good starting point for anybody who wants to become involved in the initiative and see how Austrade and the taskforce are going in terms of reaching their objectives.

SMC to showcase its new Industry 4.0 technologies at Foodtech Packtech New Zealand

As the global innovation race continues, the continent looks to it manufacturers to advance innovation, unlock new opportunities and to ultimately accelerate the economy.

This is evident in the food and packaging industries, where SMC has been working on its new Industry 4.0 technology.

SMC has a clear strategy and the technology to help implement Industry 4.0 solutions for all its customers.

Today it’s all about faster and more flexible processes and plants to ensure sustainable, increased production and reduced costs.

READ: Potato company partners with SMC to bring field to fork while saving energy

The company will be showcasing its latest Internet of Things (IoT) solutions for the food and packaging industries at this year’s FoodTech PackTech event in New Zealand.

SMC has also developed a state-of-the-art training system to further enhance the skills of maintenance teams for optimised productivity and maintenance scheduling.

The SIF-400 is SMC’s latest training system which looks to simulate a production line using IoT technologies.

Training can be conducted at the company’s training facilities or on-site and it allows maintenance team to get hands-on with the latest technologies in a safe and controlled environment.

SMC Digital transformation leader and electronic platforms manager Jozef Ceh will be featured as a guest speaker at FoodTech PackTech and will be talking about Industry 4.0.

Industry 4.0 brings with it a host of jargon and uncertainties.

The feedback from customers in the past when attending Industry 4.0 talks is that at the end of these, they still aren’t too sure of how to approach Industry 4.0 practically and how to incorporate it into their environment.

The team at SMC will be at FoodTech PackTech to discuss industry 4.0 with ease.

The event is at the ASB Showgrounds in Auckland from the 18th to 20th of September.

SMC delivers automation solutions worldwide.

It offers more than 12,000 basic products with over 700,000 variations.