Keeping the Tim Tams coming

For a lot of Australians, Arnott’s biscuits are associated with sweet memories. From growing up with a vintage Arnott’s biscuit tin, to introducing the delights of a ‘Tim Tam Slam’, Arnott’s products have lodged themselves in the hearts and homes of Australians throughout the iconic brand’s 155-year history. In fact, an estimated 95% of Australian households stock Arnott’s biscuits.

Making tasty treats for the nation comes with responsibilities. The maintenance teams at Arnott’s factories work hard to ensure the plants run as efficiently as possible to keep up with the large orders Arnott’s receives.

For Paul Nitschke, who works as Maintenance Services Team Leader at Arnott’s Marleston plant in Adelaide, working with the iconic biscuit manufacturer is a source of pride. Read more

Food and Beverage National Manufacturing Roadmap released

Released as the fourth out of six key areas under the Australian Governments ‘Modern Manufacturing Strategy’ (MMS), the food and beverage roadmap looks to double the value of Australia’s food and beverage manufacturing by 2030 while increasing the sectors agility, scalability and resilience.

Read more

A chain lubricant for the safety conscious

Safety was top of mind for a top Australian manufacturer of bakery products when they approached their long-term product suppliers at BSC seeking recommendation for a suitable chain lubricant. Nick Gunn, the BSC account manager at the time, recommended the ROCOL FOODLUBE Hi Temp Chain Lubricant from ITW Polymers and Fluids, which resulted in a long-term supply program, covering not just the ISO-certified oven chain lubricants, but also a wide range of other oils and greases in the FOODLUBE family.

According to Nick, the ROCOL FOODLUBE portfolio adds an invaluable safety dimension that not only ensures food industry requirements are met, but additionally works to optimise the production in food plants and simplify the overall cleaning process.

“FOODLUBE’s reputation as a globally recognised lubricant for food and beverage manufacturing means that our customer could use the products with complete peace of mind, with no concerns regarding contamination or machinery performance,” he says. “Due to the wide operating temperatures, FOODLUBE Hi-Temp Chain Oil can operate at temperatures ranging from minus 25 degrees to 280 degrees Celsius, they use the same product in their ovens, as well as in their freezers.”

Emilio Seballos, Channel Manager for Heavy Industry at ITW Polymers and Fluids, explains what makes the FOODLUBE proposition attractive for food manufacturers.

“ROCOL FOODLUBE has NSF accreditation, which is globally recognised, and it is also HACCP certified. On top of that, many ROCOL products provide an additional level of safety assurance through their ISO 21469:2006 certification. Like NSF H1, this certification is globally recognised and important for British Retail Consortium audits as it provides credible, independent assurance that products are formulated, manufactured, stored and supplied hygienically and safely.”

Another area where food manufacturers can benefit from the use of ROCOL FOODLUBE products, Emilio explains, is to rationalise and simplify their lubricant inventories.

“The technology behind food grade lubricant products has improved drastically over the last 10 to 15 years. Whereas many food manufacturers still prefer to keep separate inventories for food grade and non-food grade lubricant in their plants, they are increasingly coming to realise the simplifications they can achieve by switching to food-safe products through more of their applications, thus eliminating the risk of cross-contamination in their plants,” he says.

“In the case of the FOODLUBE product range, all the oils and greases are made with a synthetic base oil, which means they don’t break down and carbonise when exposed to high temperatures. This in turn leads to prolonged maintenance intervals as the lubricant does not evaporate from the chain, nor does it cause the chain to drag. The FOODLUBE Hi Temp Chain Spray also has great resistance to water washdowns, so you don’t need to lubricate your chain as frequently in a high water washdown environment. All of this leads to reduced maintenance expenses for the plants and enhances their total reliability and efficiency,” he adds.

As a routine practice, Emilio says the ITW and BSC personnel often perform joint assessments for BSC clients to help them rationalise their inventories.

“The beauty of the ROCOL FOODLUBE portfolio is that many of the products serve multiple purposes. For example, your gearbox oil in one application can be used as chain lubricant in another application. Similarly, your hydraulic lubricant might double up as a chain lubricant, depending on the situation,” he says.

“Where ITW P&F and BSC come into play is to help our customers rationalise their inventories to simplify their management. In one audit we did in conjunction with BSC some years ago, the customer was using 25 different lubricants from 13 different brands. We were able to simplify this down to 12 lubricants from the FOODLUBE range.”

Within this portfolio, Emilio says the FOODLUBE Premier 1 grease has been a “game-changer” in the food industry.

“The FOODLUBE Premier 1 grease is a food grade grease designed for bearings operating at high speeds and high temperatures. Because this grease has a consistency grade of 1, in addition to a wide temperature range of minus 30 to 180 degree Celsius, it can effectively replace multiple types of greases in one application line.

“The FOODLUBE Premier 1 grease is resistant to water washdowns and ISO21469 certified, so you can safely use it where stringent quality control measures are in place.”

The FOODLUBE WD spray is another popular product within the range, Emilio says.

“The FOODLUBE Water Displacement (WD) spray is ideal for use as a general lubricant to protect small components such as linkages, pivots and pins. Having high temperature resistance (up to 120 degree Celsius) and being synthetic based make this a multi-purpose spray that you can use for many applications. The WD Spray is also fortified with PTFE for increased lubricity and like all FOODLUBE products, it is free from colour and odour – which is very important in the food industry.”

As an additional safety measure, all plastic components including the lids and actuators in the ROCOL FOODLUBE products are metal detectable and capable of detection by most metal detection equipment.

Read more articles like this at: www.lets-roll.com.au

                

Automated packaging solution for Montague

In response to growth, Australian fresh food producer and fresh produce logistics company, Montague, is developing a $64 million greenfield, automated packaging and export processing centre in Narre Warren North, Victoria. Due to the complexity of the project, Montague turned to supply chain consultants, ThreeSixty Supply Chain Group, for support. The company helped in the system design and development of the 18,000m2 facility. This facility will have the capacity to process 42 million kilograms of fresh fruit product, annually.

ThreeSixty has now delivered on its initial engagement, which was the initiation and design phases, including:

  • Current state review of the overall solution from operational and mechanical perspectives. This will help determine the understanding of deliverables and expectations in respect to each system (ERP, FTS, WMS, PCS and WCS)
  • Design and development of the system architecture and material process flows of all the applications/mechanical equipment. This will help deliver a highly-automated processing centre solution
  • Facilitation and review of the functional, interface and hardware specification documentation to support the build phase

Materials handling software and equipment planned for the automated packaging and processing centre include Montague’s new LinkFresh ERP and its existing Paperless WMS and fruit tracking system. These were integrated with a Compac PCS and Dematic high-bay AS/RS for Montague’s horticulture arm.

Read More: Krispy Kreme opens hot light factory in Mount Gambier

Mitigating Risk

Derek Tan, director of project services at ThreeSixty, said Montague turned to the consultancy to help mitigate risk from resourcing challenges. They did this by working through the complex requirements and developing viable solutions for the fruit processor.

“It was great to support Montague in delivering its highly-automated processing centre solution. [It is] an exciting transformation project for Montague’s manufacturing and supply chain. Our team brings a wealth of experience in reviewing, designing and executing initiatives that lead to improved service levels and efficiency, and future-readiness,” he said.

Due to the successful delivery of the first phase, Rowan Little, Montague’s chief innovation officer, has re-engaged ThreeSixty to implement the IT systems and automation solution.

“ThreeSixty’s partnership approach working through our complex requirements. It gave them a deep understanding of what our business was seeking in a highly-automated production centre solution. In addition, their coordination of crucial technical design workshops ensured all the different software vendors were aligned. We’ve now engaged ThreeSixty to support the second phase implementation of all the IT systems and automation for our new manufacturing and distribution operation,” said Little.

The second phase of Montague’s transformation project is due to commence in October 2020, with completion by December.

Food & Beverage Industry News September Special Feature – Packaging and Processing

With the National Packaging Targets set for 2025 it is not long before the government standards are put in place and food and beverage manufacturers will have to comply. If you supply packaging & processing solutions to the industry then our readers want to talk to you. They are on the lookout for the latest technologies that can not only help them meet the 2025 targets but also make their job easier.

This is an feature to explain to our readers the important role that packaging has in the food and beverage sector – how recycling, composting and the biodegradable aspects of packaging are becoming important. It is also a great feature to introduce new technologies and innovations to the food and beverage processing and manufacturing sectors.

If you are a company that specialises in food and beverage packaging, the September Issue of Food & Beverage Industry News is an excellent platform to get your message across.

Contact Luke Ronca on: luke.ronca@primecreative.com.au
M: 0402 718 081

Reshoring Australia and New Zealand’s manufacturing sector

One of the many learnings over the past few months is that of self-sufficiency. In the past, Australia and New Zealand, like many other countries, gradually outsourced a large part of its supply chain internationally to reduce costs.

Covid-19 saw the best and worst of supply chain management – some companies came to a grinding halt while others couldn’t keep up with manufacturing demand. SMC itself has managed to deliver consistently throughout the pandemic because of their local stocking policy and commitment to local manufacturing.

Manufacturing in Australia has fallen over the last two decades from 13 per cent of gross domestic product to 6 per cent with jobs within the sector falling a staggering 24 per cent between 2011 and 2016; the impact of which certainly came to light during the coronavirus crisis. William Lebihan, head of field sales for SMC Corporation Australia and New Zealand says the past few months have helped strengthen the belief in local manufacturing; to create more jobs, increase local revenues and to safeguard the economy.  “Businesses that relied on importing where caught in a supply chain drought and I sincerely hope that as we all emerge from C-19 that these examples are still front of mind in order to help drive a change in attitude towards Australian manufacturing. Unfortunately, it’s not a simple matter of just switching it all back on again and hoping for the best, government has massive role to play here to help support a ‘reshoring’ of Australian manufacturing; and time is of the essence – I think.”

Committed to local manufacturing
As an established player in the market, Lebihan notes that SMC Corporation has noticed a trend towards more flexible manufacturing and a big drive among local companies to look at how they can improve their local manufacturing facilities; the company remains ever committed to its local customers.

“SMC has resources, people, skills and products to support our customers across both Australia and New Zealand. Whether you’re investing in IOT technologies to enable more flexible manufacturing or whether you are ramping up your automation to cope with demand, or diversifying your current product lines, SMC is a partner in the automation process. We offer a practical approach and want to assist our customers by making the resources we have at our disposal available to customers in our effort to support local manufacturing.”

Founded in Japan in 1959, SMC Corporation opened its first subsidiary company in Australia 1967 with New Zealand opening in 1984. “While we have access to a wealth of global resources from our head office, we have invested heavily in the local market with offices and manufacturing facilities across Australia and New Zealand. I am pleased to say that, as it stands, we have $25 million worth of local stock on-hand; in fact, our logistics and production teams never missed a beat during the worst of C-19, working a split shift to accommodate for social distancing requirements and to help support our customers.”

Virtual support – every step of the way
In a new move, the company has moved towards offering hands-on remote support to customers. The company’s wide range of available products are backed by its virtual support strategy. “We are helping customers futureproof their businesses remotely. For the first time our customers have access directly to our applications engineering team and can set up and conduct remote meetings, consultations, assessment of current systems and technical advice with no strings!”

This translates into hands-on assistance should the customer need it at the conceptual, installation or programming phase. “The team, comprising of 88 sales people and 12 application engineers, is on standby to assist with product selections, quotes, placing orders, enabling remote access to set up components, delivering product training, technical advice and more,” said Lebihan.

In terms of lead times, Lebihan notes that popular products are available locally within a day or two while special products on request from its head office in Japan can be imported in as little as five days. The local engineering team is also able to design and engineer solutions which may not yet be a standard product. “Nothing has changed in terms of our delivery and customer offering – we still offer high quality products at low cost with rapid delivery. This is part of our commitment to reaccelerating and invigorating the local manufacturing sector. We want customers to feel safe knowing that no matter where they are in their journey, we are there every step of the way”.

Steps to Smart Flexibility
Lebihan notes that keeping costs down remains critical. “Rather than upgrading entire systems, there are smart and affordable decisions that can be made. We offer a practical approach for new and existing customers to sharpen up their digitalisation, without the hefty upfront investment costs – even if the project is a basic concept only – drop us a line, we have application engineers and specialists happy to assist

Expertise key to a coldstorage and food build

At the Global Food Forum in Sydney last year, non-executive director of brewing giant Lion, Sir Rod Eddington, pointed out that in order for Australia to have a vibrant food and beverage export sector, it needed a good cold store supply chain.

The need for good cold store supply chain is one thing, but that isn’t possible if the facilities that store cold foodstuffs are not up to scratch. This is not lost on Paul Brady, director of Paul Brady Building Group (PBBG), specialists in coldstorage builds.
Having been in the building industry for the best part of 30 years, the last 25 building food and coldstorage facilities, Brady knows how important it is to get it right. And it was 20 years ago that he decided that these builds would be his specialty.

“We specialise in temperature-controlled hygienic environments, which means we understand refrigeration, scale, production, storage, energy outputs and efficiencies and logistics” he said. “We provide all the specialist and necessary expertise and services to build food and cold storage facilities.”

One such build the company recently completed was for Ash Bros Food Services, based in Sunshine West in Melbourne. A company that has been around for 50 years, Ash Bros felt the march of progress when the Victorian government gave the go-ahead for the West Gate Tunnel project, which meant the Ash Bros premises in Yarraville had to make way for the new piece of infrastructure.

It wasn’t a case of just finding an existing warehouse to fit out, there were other factors Ash Bros had to look into, such as servicing clients, as well as staffing considerations.

“It took a while to find the right property, but one was found that was going to work,” said Brady. “We started design in November, and we managed to get it completed in April with certificate of occupancy and Primesafe accreditation.”

But there were a few hiccups along the way. First, to get any type of fit out completed in such a short time takes a lot of effort and co-ordination. Add in progamming building works through the Christmas and holiday period, COVID-19 restrictions, and deadline constraints in terms of Ash Bros vacating their existing premises, the pressure was on.
“There was refrigeration equipment stuck on the docks in China, however, we managed to locate equivalent units within Australia and had the system tested and commissioned one week before the deadline. It is one of the builds I’m most proud of,” said Brady.

Ash Bros director Christos Christou couldn’t be happier with the outcome of the project.
“Going into a new premises was as bit daunting,” he said. “It was a big difference in operation, in sheer size and space. Everyone who has seen it is in awe of the design, quality and workmanship – it couldn’t be any better. Paul doesn’t cut any corners. It is a state-of-the-art premises that will keep us going for the next 20 years. It ticked all the boxes as far as being a great seafood processing premises.”

Australia is a vast continent and most of Australia’s food comes from the country areas of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, as well as the rural climates of South Australia and Western Australia. Distance is a huge problem in terms of getting from A to B with the Australian supply chain. However, these distances cause another problem that is becoming more on the radar of councils and both federal and state government – food waste. This was reinforced by The Expert Group’s study, Waste in the Cold Chain and Opportunities for Improvement, which stated that, “Conservative estimates put the cost of food waste within the cold food chain at $3.8 billion at farm gate values.”

Again, quality cold storage is essential for preserving the food supply chain. This is why it is important to get a company that specialises in such builds.

Brady admits that it is imperative to engage a building company with the right knowledge.
PBBG is also a one-stop shop. “Early design involvement is key” said Brady. They will oversee mandatory planning and building permit requirements, as well as meeting auditing authorities build standards. PBBG are then ready for the build from the beginning right until the keys are handed over to the new owner.

How quickly can they work? Brady gives a recent example.

“We came across a project that had already been designed with a full set of building drawings completed, we found the design did not address key compliance requirements and incorrectly detailed such areas as the cold storage build.

“The client came to us in frustration and we managed to turnaround correct design and permits with handover all within four months and in time to meet the deadline.

Unfortunately, the owner had spent the best part of $30,000-40,000 with the initial designer.”

Energy efficiency is also a big issue for any food/cold storage operation, and PBBG covers a range of smart design options and engage building products/systems that ensure ongoing costs savings for their clients.

“We look at such areas as constructing an ante-room as the first point of entry before entering a holding freezer, this separation can prevent direct warm air of any ambient warehouse temperatures entering into the freezer, therefore, decreasing the strain on the refrigeration units and the potential ice up of the fan coils.”

It is for these types of reasons it is important to have the builder onboard from early on, said Brady. With their experience, they can see pitfalls, specify through design building products and systems where they are best suited and make sure the materials being used will do the job properly. Paul Brady Building Group carry out in-house insulated panel construction and recommend the use of FM-approved insulated panels on their projects, which are preferred by insurance companies.

As well as new builds, PBBG can do refurbishments, provide advice on preventative maintenance solutions, and provide emergency repairs. It also custom manufactures insulated door systems to fit the bespoke needs of its many clients.

For more information on the Paul Brady Building Group, please click here.

Flexibility and redeployment needed in times of crisis

Whether they are disinfecting and sanitising, conducting COVID-19 tests, helping to manufacture Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) or ramping up respirator production, cobots can work alongside humans safely or on their own. They are the answer to accelerating repetitive tasks in the manufacturing environment while simultaneously addressing concerns around social distancing and the safety of employees.

Industry pioneers, Universal Robots have noted an uptake in the demand for its cobots in various industries across the globe. “Locally”, observes Darrell Adams, Head of Southeast Asia Oceania for Universal Robots, “the pandemic has seen many companies shifting towards robotic technology to help ramp up production.”

“As the fastest growing sector in the robotics industry, cobots are easy to program and deploy remotely. Viewed as a ‘niche’ product in the past, cobots are now the fastest growing segment in the industrial robotics sector. By 2025, cobots are expected to jump from niche status to thoroughly mainstream, accounting for approximately 34 percent of global robot spend” he explains.

Disinfecting with cobots
The pandemic has seen massive increase in demand for effective deep cleaning and disinfection technologies that do not involve direct human contact with potentially infected areas.

In mid-April, researchers at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore unveiled the eXtremeDisinfection roBOT (XDBOT), which comprises a UR5 cobot fitted with an electrostatic spray nozzle all mounted on a mobile platform.

Researchers programmed the cobot to mimic human hand movements so that it can get into hard-to-reach areas such as under beds and tables – a feature that has been missing from traditional disinfection robots that are not as dexterous.

“These cobots are capable of running for four hours straight on a single charge and has been successfully tested in public areas on the NTU campus. The team is now preparing to trial this technology at local public hospitals”.

Adams notes that the UR5 cobot with its built-in safety features can work safely and collaboratively with humans too.

COVID-19 testing with cobots
COVID-19 has also resulted in unprecedented demand for medical testing. In response to this extraordinary demand, Universal Robots co-founder, Esben Østergaard turned his creative energies to the design and development of the world’s first autonomous throat swabbing robot launched by Lifeline Robotics, a company he co-founded with the Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Institute at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU).

This robot uses UR3 cobot arms fitted with a custom 3D-printed end-effector. The process is simplicity itself, beginning with the patient scanning their ID card. Right away, the robot prepares a sample kit, consisting of a container with a printed ID-label and it picks up the swab. Then, using its built-in vision system, the robot identifies the right points to swab in the patient’s throat. As soon as the swab process is complete, the bot places the sample in a jar and screws on the lid. The jar is then sent to a lab for analysis.

“The process takes around seven minutes and the swab takes just 25 seconds,” said Adams.

Meanwhile in Houston, Texas-based portable detection manufacturer, DetectaChem unveiled a unique smartphone-based COVID-19 testing solution in late May. The company’s at-home, low cost COVID-19 test provides results via smart phone in just 15-30 minutes.

Ventilator manufacturing with cobots
Cobots inherent flexibility helps to support the rapid development and deployment of automation, a feature that really comes to the fore in times of crisis. In March, for example, the Spanish car manufacturer SEAT decided to transform one of its assembly lines from its original automotive role to ventilator production. The auto giant installed a UR10e at the end of the line to perform a quality check of the locking mechanism on the unit’s control box.

PPE production with cobots
Based in Ontario, Canada, Hannafin Automation looked to a UR5 cobot to tend the entire 3D printing cycle of face shields. The cobot picked up a Cognex vision camera to inspect the completion of each print. When print is done, the cobot picks it up, places it in a bin, and presses the printer’s touch screen to start a new cycle.

Each printer makes 25 face shields per day and these are donated to local police fire stations, paramedics, and nursing homes.

How cobots can assist locally
Adams notes that as the local economy starts to ramp up again, there is an ongoing call by government for more local manufacturing to take place.  “More and more, the country is looking to local, sustainable and cost-effective manufacturing practices to help reaccelerate the sector.”

“Sometimes overlooked, cobots seek to add value in the business and allows employees to focus on strategic tasks rather than repetitive and mundane tasks. We have seen many companies putting flexi hours into place, here, cobots can assist during the downtime and can work continuously to ensure ongoing productivity.”

Why manufacturing transformation will change Australia’s economic trajectory

Manufacturing and automation is now more top-of-mind than ever before.  As Industry 4.0 takes root in businesses across the globe, the opportunity to embrace highly-advanced technology and new, forward-thinking ways of working has never been greater. From smart cities and cashless payments to autonomous vehicles, there is no shortage of buzzworthy, headline-grabbing advances in modern industry.

One innovation that has become particularly important is intelligent manufacturing or smart factories. A combination of cyber-physical systems, automation, and the Internet of Things (IoT), these facilities have the potential to rapidly transform business. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Australia has identified and embraced the benefits that this industrial wave holds. Automation adoption among Australian manufacturers has picked up substantially in recent years. According to the Australian Manufacturing Forum, there are around 83 robots per 10,000 employees in the country. This trumps the global average of 74 robots per 10,000 employees.

Global consulting company, Mckinsey, has also identified the economic potential that the rapid introduction of robots could hold for the country. In its 2019 Australia’s Automation Opportunity: Reigniting opportunity and inclusive income growth report, the agency noted that this opportunity could add $1.1 trillion to $4 trillion to the economy over the next 15 years, providing every Australian with $4,000 to $15,000 in additional income per year by 2030.

“As the country faces a modest 2 per cent GDP growth this year, and some economists speculate that the country could even face a recession in the wake of the recent bushfires and the coronavirus (COVID-19), is it perhaps time that Australian manufacturers grab hold of this automation potential and reshape the industry?” asks James McKew, regional director at Universal Robots.

Curbing Economic Concerns
As close economic allies, China’s halt on production has had significant impact on the local supply chain. Here, McKew notes that advancements in AI and specifically, cobotics, can be used in areas where it’s unsafe for humans to work or more simply Australian workers are unwilling to do the monotonous tasks to which cobots are so well suited.

“One of the latest and most exciting robotic breakthroughs, collaborative robots or cobots – robots that work alongside human operators safely - enable businesses to improve cost efficiency, productivity, and output quality. These intelligent tools foster a more inclusive workspace, too, by relieving workers from strenuous, repetitive and sometimes dangerous tasks so they can focus on higher-value assignments,” McKew said.

Cobots are user-friendly, flexible, compact, safe, and have a lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) compared to traditional industrial robots. TCO includes both direct and indirect costs, including maintenance, factory floor upgrades (including the ease a cobot can be re-deployed), employee training, and safety barriers, all of which are factors that typically apply to traditional industrial robots. Cobots are also less costly to set up, which further makes them a financially attractive option for manufacturers turning to automation for the first time.

What can we learn from the COVID-19?
Besides finding a vaccine or a cure, automation has now also been lauded as one of the safest ways to bridge the gap between the virus and service delivery.

In light of the global COVID-19 outbreak, the opportunity exists to further understand and implement automation across the country, placing Australia in a stronger manufacturing position and improving its global competitiveness rank.

“The World Economic Forum’s 2019 Global Competitiveness Index revealed that those economies that have invested in innovation capabilities are best placed to revive productivity and weather a global slowdown,” said McKew.

While Australian manufacturers are lagging slightly behind global and regional peers in Industry 4.0 adoption – compared to Korea’s 631 robots per 10,000 employees – the country is renowned for its high number of SME and micro-businesses in local manufacturing. “Many of these producers are hampered by costs, which could reduce as the uptake of automation on the factory floor increases. To better compete as a major player in global supply chains, they should embrace the digital transformation with haste,” said McKew.

McKinsey supports this notion, estimating that between 25 per cent and 46per cent of current work activities in Australia could be automated by 2030, helping to drive a renaissance in productivity, income and economic growth.

Utilising robotics and Industry 4.0 technologies, the pivot to intelligent manufacturing may just be the solution that helps countries in beating coronavirus now and future viruses that might arise.

 

 

 

 

Industry 4.0 delivers opportunities to manufacturing in 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rockwell Automation acquires Mestech

Rockwell Automation today announced that it has acquired Mestech Services, a global provider of Manufacturing Execution Systems / Manufacturing Operations Management, digital solutions consulting, and systems integration services.

Mestech is a Rockwell Automation Recognised Systems Integrator with  experience applying Rockwell’s software-based solutions within the manufacturing technology space. The company offers technology consulting services, solutions design and deployment, support, plant asset management, and staffing solutions for discrete, hybrid, and process applications across multiple industries. Mestech, founded in 2008, is headquartered in Pune, India with operations in Germany and the United States.

READ MORE: Rockwell Automation’s TechED offers collaborative environment

“The acquisition of Mestech expands our capabilities to profitably grow Information Solutions and Connected Services globally and accelerate Rockwell’s ability to help our customers execute digital transformation initiatives,” said Matthew Fordenwalt, vice president and general manager, Systems & Solutions Business, for Rockwell Automation.

“India is one of Rockwell’s fastest growing markets and Mestech’s footprint and expertise will enable us to implement solutions faster, helping our customers increase their connectivity, efficiency, and productivity. At the same time, by joining the Rockwell family, Mestech will be able to leverage Rockwell’s products and solutions in the areas of control, process, power information solutions and industrial IoT, including FactoryTalk Innovation Suite, powered by PTC, in order to help customers develop the best possible solutions while minimizing risk.”

“We are excited about our future with Rockwell Automation, which will enable us to help more customers simplify their industrial transformations and accelerate their production timelines,” said Yatin Sankholkar, managing director, at Mestech. “Over the past decade, we have grown Mestech into one of the world’s leading manufacturing execution service providers, with a focus on technology consulting and software implementation for managing manufacturing operations. By joining forces with Rockwell, we will be able to expand our market access and offer more customers the benefit of our strong industry expertise.

Future of manufacturing relies on support from younger generation

Australia’s increasingly vibrant manufacturing sector needs the support of the country’s younger, globalised generation, if it is to continue its growth trajectory according to new research.

A St.George survey of over 1000 consumers revealed ‘Australian made’ is not as important to 18-24 year olds (23 per cent) when purchasing a product, compared to 69 per cent of 55-74 year olds, even sustainable businesses.

The youth age group are also not willing to pay more for Australian products (45 per cent), and 36 per cent don’t believe they are better quality than overseas counterparts. Matthew Kelly, head of manufacturing and wholesale, St.George, said even though the manufacturing sector in Australia has seen 23 consecutive months of growth, the challenge businesses face is competing with low-cost imports, particularly when it comes to younger generation.

“The sector is far from fading; automation, artificial intelligence and pure inventiveness are enabling new business models and processes that are transforming an industry which already contributes $100 billion to Australia’s GDP.

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“However, it’s clear from the research that the industry needs to do more to create a compelling value proposition for the next generation aligned to what matters most to them when purchasing products. This could be through the reduction of carbon emissions, investing in innovative manufacturing techniques to reduce costs and future sustainable materials,” Kelly said.

St.George’s Future of Manufacturing Report has identified greater collaboration and partnerships are needed to drive the sector forward and support a new wave of advanced manufacturers who are future-proofing the industry.

According to the report, to succeed in the face of disruption, advanced manufacturers need connections to research and development, skilled workers and access to financial support.

“St.George is collaborating with scientist and engineer UNSW Professor Veena Sahajwalla and the Australian Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC), to help businesses unlock their potential through access to research and grants to build capabilities towards a tech-powered advanced manufacturing future.

“We are also forming partnerships to help address industry pain points, such as rising energy prices, through working with energy efficiency consultancy Verdia which  customers a financial solution for solar and energy programs.

“Advanced manufacturing has the ability to be more competitive and offer better value to consumers, importantly those who are less loyal to Australian made products. These businesses aren’t necessarily new tech companies, they are well-established organisations reinventing themselves and willing to invest in new ways of doing things,” he said.

One example is NSW manufacturer Genneral Staircase who spectacularly boosted productivity using data analysis and robots to streamline processes, which resulted in the 48-year-old business increasing production from two staircases a day to between 30 and 40 a day.

“New technologies are also bringing a new generation into the manufacturing sector, such as drone manufacturer JAR Aerospace. Founded by four graduates in 2017, the business uses innovative technology to ensure it can compete on a global scale and is now working with its first Defence Force contract,” Kelly said.

The report concluded there is significant room for Australian manufacturers to increase adoption of advanced characteristics through greater collaboration on research and development, generating different revenue streams with new product and service offerings and increased technology investment.

Professor Sahajwalla, director of the Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) at UNSW Sydney and Director of NSW Circular, an organisation that brings manufacturers, industry, governments and researchers together to help develop the circular economy, says her work is benefiting from closer collaboration with manufacturers.

“We know consumers do value sustainability so there are longer terms benefits to manufacturers who embrace ‘circular solutions’ to their materials and waste challenges. A game changing opportunity is to produce niche products and supply high value materials.

One example is what we do at the SMaRT Centre MicrofactoryTM, producing filaments for 3D printing from waste plastic which is almost always imported from overseas. Demand for filaments is expected to grow and this type of technology is ideally suited for manufacturers looking for innovative solutions.”

Kelly added: “We understand one of the significant barriers to manufacturers investing is cash flow shortfalls. St.George has a unique understanding of the sector and specialised expertise and products to help businesses grow and succeed, including an invoice discounting solution that helps manufacturers access capital tied up with aged debtors, and equipment finance to support business growth.

“Transformation can be confronting, but as an industry I believe we all have a role to play in nurturing businesses that will fuel the sector and St.George is committed to helping manufactures create new models for growth.”

Govt. fund designed to modernise manufacturing

The  Government has launched a $160 million fund designed to create jobs in the manufacturing sector.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said the Manufacturing Modernisation Fund would help manufacturers become more competitive by co‑funding investments in new technologies.

“Strengthening our core and emerging manufacturing industries is a key part of the Government’s economic plan to create 1.25 million new jobs over the next five years,”  Andrews said. “This delivers on the Morrison Government’s commitment to help manufacturing businesses innovate and develop competitive advantage so they can thrive globally.

“Investing in technology can transform businesses, enabling them to become more productive, manufacture new products and create new jobs.

“The fund will provide grants to small and medium manufacturing businesses so they can invest in capital equipment and new technologies to modernise and employ more Australians. It will also support businesses to upskill workers to maximise the benefits of technology.”

The Manufacturing Modernisation Fund will include $50 million from the Government and will be matched by at least $110 million from industry.

The fund will have two types of grants;

  • $20 million will be for matched grants of between $50,000 and $100,000 for smaller scale technology investments.
  • $30 million for larger-scale grants of up to $1 million, on a three to one funding basis with industry, to support transformative investments in technologies and processes.

The fund builds on other Government investments in manufacturing growth and competitiveness, including the $100 million Advanced Manufacturing Fund, the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre, the Entrepreneurs’ Programme, and the $40 million Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre.

FII and ANSTO collaborate for broadacre crop fertiliser

Researchers from the Future Industries Institute (FII) at the University of South Australia are collaborating with a group of scientists at ANSTO to investigate a new class of micro and nano-scale zinc fertilisers for broadacre crops, such as wheat.
Zinc is an essential micronutrient required for the growth of wheat with crucial roles throughout the plant. Australian agricultural soils are known to be deficient in zinc and other micronutrients.

Dr Casey Doolette  and PhD candidate Thea Lund Read from Prof Enzo Lombi’s lab are assessing if nano and micro zinc particles applied to leaves (known as foliar fertilisers) provide a more sustained supply of zinc to crops than dissolved forms of the metal.

They are also evaluating two commonly used agricultural formulations, soluble zinc and chelated zinc (Zn-EDTA).

In order to make this evaluation, they needed to use a combination of tools to understand zinc transport and bioaccumulation.

One technique, based on the use of radiotracers to track the distribution of elements, was of particular interest and available at ANSTO.

ANSTO Environmental Research scientist Dr Tom Cresswell  has expertise in the use of radioactive isotopes as tracers in marine organisms to study the bioaccumulation of specific elements.

“It is slightly different working with plants but the concept is essentially the same. By using zinc-65 as a radiotracer, it is possible to detect exactly where the zinc goes after it has been absorbed by the plant,” said Cresswell.

ANSTO Biologist Nicholas Howell has captured a series of autoradiographic images of the plants that show the change in distribution of radioactive zinc, in live leaves, over time.

“Conventional analysis and imaging of zinc is limited because the naturally-occurring zinc in the leaves makes it difficult to identify newly-accumulated zinc,” Said Doolette.

The purpose of the study is to determine what form of zinc is the most efficient for supplying the nutrient to broadacre crops following its application to the leaves.

Doolette explained that although zinc can also be delivered directly to the soil, there are some limitations due to soil conditions that affect its ability to address zinc deficiency in plants. “When you deliver zinc to Australian agricultural soils, the zinc tends to get locked up, particularly in alkaline soils, and is not readily available to the plants,” said Doolette.

This occurs because zinc is largely immobile in soil and only moves short distances from the point of placement.

Leaf applications of zinc are used by crop farmers to supplement soil applications.

Doolette explained that applying zinc in a soluble formulation has a tendency to damage the leaves.

“However, if the zinc can be released slowly into the leaf, such as the case when it is applied in nano form, there is likely to be less leaf scorch” said Doolette.

The investigators are not focused on how the zinc, in the form of soluble zinc, is taken up but rather how much zinc is bioaccumulated.

They are measuring zinc concentrations, as well as identifying where the zinc is transported in the plant, whether it be the new shoots, stems or grains.

“Ideally we would hope to have the applied zinc accumulate in the grains of the plant, where it has the most nutritional benefit as food, which is known as biofortification,” said Doolette.

“We hope to find out if using zinc nanoparticles is a viable way of administering it as a nutrient.”

Doolette and Read transported 140 wheat plants by air to ANSTO, where they were housed in a greenhouse on-site fully licenced for conducting radiotracing studies.

Plants were harvested, or imaged, after one day, 14 days and at maturity (i.e. the production of grains) to evaluate the translocation and biodistribution of zinc.

The imaging technique developed by the team has allowed for single plants to be measured at multiple time points without the need to harvest, producing a true, and unique, longitudinal data set.

The concentration of zinc is quantified using gamma spectroscopy.

The zinc particles for the experiments were made industry partner Sonic Essentials and were made radioactive using the OPAL research reactor.

“By determining the most efficient form of zinc for direct foliar application, crop management strategies can be optimised to increase crop yield and quality,” said Doolette.

Zinc is used by the plant for protein metabolism, synthesis of hormones and in the production of essential enzymes.

“We would also be interested in knowing how much zinc is not taken up by the plant, as this zinc would be released into the environment with rainfall,” said Cresswell.

“From the perspective of an ecotoxicologist, it is important to know if the zinc is affecting freshwater runoff.”

Titanium filters strengthen winery production

South Australian company, Advanced Material Solutions (AMS) began commissioning their first commercial units last month and plans to ramp up its workforce from 26 to more than 200 to cater for increasing global demand.

AMS Filtration managing director Gilbert Erskine said the robust titanium membranes were so strong that they could run 24-hours a day for a week while polymeric (plastic) or ceramic filters could spend 30 per cent of their time in cleaning modes, which often included chemicals.

He said his Viti-flow system could be easily cleaned in minutes with hot water and could extract solids up to 80 per cent, compared with about 10 per cent for many traditional membranes.

“The difference between 10 per cent solids and 80 per cent solids would be at least a 7 per cent increase in the product you can put in a bottle – that’s seven litres in every 100,” Erskine said.

“From when a tonne of grapes came in to when it’s ready for the bottle it’s been through the filtration process several times and each time we can capture that extra 7 per cent that would normally go down the drain so that’s payback right away.”

The system is scalable to suit all sizes of wineries, with the bigger units installed at major Australian wineries so far featuring four sets of membranes capable of filtering 35,000-40,000 litres an hour. They produce clean filtrate at less than 1NTU and solids of up to 80 per cent.

Based at Lonsdale in Adelaide’s southern suburbs, AMS Filtration has been in business since 1985 and has had a long affiliation with the wine industry.

It started out making stainless steel fittings, heat exchangers and refrigeration plants for wineries before experimenting with polymeric, ceramic and stainless steel filter membranes.

The stainless steel filters were the most effective but also the most expensive and they were eventually set up in Indonesia to service the palm oil industry, where they proved more profitable.

After many years of experimentation and collaboration with Australian universities, the company developed the titanium membranes and has been secretly trialling the technology with industry partners for the past few years.

“It’s been a 30-year journey but it is very difficult to do, titanium itself is very difficult to work with and it’s taken us a long time and many mistakes,” Erskine said.

“Titanium is very expensive – it’s much more expensive than stainless steel but due to its properties we’ve been able to make it much, much thinner and make the capillary size much smaller than traditional stainless steel so we’ve reduced the weight of the membrane and just by reducing that weight it compensates for the high cost raw material.

“We had a good name in the wine industry so it seemed that the wine industry was where we should launch our filter.”

AMS Filtration exhibited at the 2018 Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in California in January and took orders from American wineries without them even seeing the filters in action. Erskine will return to the US next month to follow up with major wineries that made inquiries at the symposium – the largest wine show of its kind in the Americas.

Erskine said he was confident his titanium membrane filters would eventually be sold almost everywhere wine was made.

“We are talking with Portugal at the moment, we’ve already got orders from New Zealand,” he said.

“We’ve put a salesman in New Zealand and we intend on having a sales force globally so we’ll open offices in South America, North America, Europe and we will definitely have these filters right around the world.

“Right now there’s 26 of us – I’ve already advised three more people to start and we envisage there’ll be over 200 people here within three years.

“We are a tiny little company so we are trying to hammer along as fast as we can go but as we get a little bit stronger we will increase our capacity and we’ll just keep doing that to whatever size we need to be.”

South Australia is consistently responsible for about 50 per cent of Australia’s annual wine production and is home to the world-renowned regions of Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale and global brands Penfolds, Jacob’s Creek, Hardys Wines and Wolf Blass.

Erskine said the AMS Filtration system also improved quality by reducing wine “bruising” and the risk of taint because of its rigorous cleaning system at water temperatures of up to 90 degrees.

He said the micron rating of the titanium membrane could also be adjusted to 0.1 microns to filter out e coli or bacteria, 0.2 for standard white wine, 0.4 – 0.45 for red wine or larger for fortifieds.

“We have the ability to change that micron and again that comes down to the strength of the titanium because as you go up in pore size you are traditionally weakening the support structure but titanium can withstand it.

“There are people claiming to make titanium membranes but there is no one else in the world that we know of producing small pore titanium membranes in commercial quantities.”

AMS Filtration is also exploring systems for a range of other industries including beer, meat processing and water management.

“We wanted to focus on wineries first because we have a history in the wine industry but as other opportunities have come up we’ve taken them,” Erskine said.

“The sky is the limit, the filtration market is absolutely enormous and even if we ended up with a very small percentage of that you’d be talking hundreds of employees.”

Nestlé expands in South Africa

Nestlé South Africa has invested R1.2 billion into the expansion of its instant coffee manufacturing plant in Estcourt.

The expansion included the construction of a waste water treatment plant, new coffee processing plant, upgrading existing coffee processing and a the state of the art coffee drying plant. At least 20 direct and more than 470 indirect jobs have been created since construction commenced.

“We believe that for a company to be successful in the long-term it has to create value for shareholders and communities where it operates,” said Ravi Pillay, Corporate Affairs Director for Nestlé South Africa.

“Investments of this magnitude demonstrate the Nestlé Group’s commitment to long-term business sustainability and economic development in Africa.

“Through this investment we will increase capacity for our coffee factory and meet the growing consumer demand for coffee in the region. This is also aligned with our ambition of being the world’s leading nutrition, health and wellness company while offering our consumers quality, nutritious and affordable products.”

2016 marks Nestlé’s 100 years of operations in South Africa. The company has eight manufacturing facilities, four distribution centres and 3,500 full time permanent employees across the country.

Parisians can now buy steak from machines 24 hrs a day

The first automatic raw meat vending machine has been installed in Paris this week, as customers can purchase steaks or sausages at any time of day or night.

According to L’Ami Txulette Basque butcher owner Florence Pouzol, the machine was installed outside a shop in the fashionable 11th arrondissement.

“We wanted to give our customers an additional service when the shop is closed,” Pouzol said.

“At first you think it’s strange, but then you realise it might be a good way to buy meat if you work late and feel like a steak when you get home.”

The refrigerated meat machine is the fifth to open in France, but the first in the capital. Laetitia Lafaye, the first French butcher to install a meat vending machine, in the south-western town of Sainte-Catherine, said the idea came from Germany, where there are hundreds of such machines.

Last year a cheesemonger in the eastern town of Pontarlier installed a automatic cheese distributor.

Paris got its first 24-hour baguette vending machine in 2011. Since then, hundreds more have been installed across the country.

But the spread of the machines is proving controversial. Traditionalists say they will lead to the demise of craft butchers, bakers and cheese shops.

Emmanuel Gripon, from the French Bakers' Federation, said: "It's contributing to the desertification of the countryside and it harms the social life of communities."

However, many people welcome the convenience they offer.