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.

READ MORE: Snack food manufacturing develops a taste for the future

“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.

Domestic manufacturing sales increase but downturn in dairy prices could begin to bite

The latest New Zealand Manufacturers  and Exporters Association (NZME) survey of business conditions in December showed a 9.02 per cent  increase in domestic sales almost made up for a 10.76 per cent drop in export sales.  

Chief executive Dieter Adam said despite net confidence falling to 18, down from 24 in November, manufacturing had been a "relatively good space" for the last 12 months.

The current performance, change and forecast indexes were all over 100 in December, indicating expansion.

"The forecast index, which indicates investment, sales, profit and staffing expectations, stayed high at 107.33, coming off the back of the most positive result recorded since 2004 in November, so there remains a fair chunk of optimism for the future."

"We find manufacturers are saying they have a bit of breathing room to employ more staff, but also to be able to invest. That's the critical thing because to survive in the medium to long term, manufacturers need to automate more, and to update their machinery."

Adam noted that last week's Overseas Merchandise Trade release by Statistics New Zealand showed even brighter results for exporters. 

"For example, export values for electrical machinery and equipment manufacturing  improved 9 per cent on the previous month and 11.5 per cent year on year, while logs, wood, and wood article manufacturing increased 25.1per cent on last month and 13.8per cent year on year."

The really big influences on manufacturing were the uncertain global economy and the value of the dollar, he said, and uncertainty in world markets tended to push down the New Zealand dollar which benefited exporters.

"Having said that, the underlying causes of the global uncertainty is not good news for exporters because people tend to hold back on purchasing our goods overseas."

Adam said exporters would love the US dollar to be closer to 60 cents but the really big problem was the relatively high value of the Australian dollar. 

"Forty per cent of our manufactured exports go to Australia and anything over 90 (cents) is really eating into our competitiveness. When it was 85 (cents) people were a lot happier. "

However, the strength of the domestic economy was helping make up for the loss of export sales. It was a little surprising that the drop in dairy prices, and the consequent  effect on the rural economy, had not had a bigger impact on manufacturing. 

In some instances sales of  products, such as hoses used to wash down dairy sheds, dropped quite quickly when farmers "shut their pockets."

If farming losses continued into the next milking season, Adam said, the consequences could be much more serious because farmers didn't have any cash reserves left. 

Wine Solutions from Spray Nozzle Engineering

Spray Nozzle Engineering, a leading Australian spraying solutions company, has a long history of providing solutions to the wine and beer processing industries in Australia and New Zealand.

From stainless steel washdown and tank cleaning systems, to wine racking equipment, Spray Nozzle Engineering’s support of local industry expands more than 30 years.

Strahman washdown guns are certified with the Smart Approved WaterMark. Their washdown solutions are powerful and water-saving. Add their stainless steel hose reels, and food grade hose for a complete washdown solution.

Spray Nozzle Engineering’s CIP solutions for the wine industry combine exclusive Gamajet Alfa Laval tank cleaners, and their own innovative, engineered products.

Gamajet tank cleaning machines, such as the GentleJet™, are powerful, yet gentle on toast, making them ideal for larger vessel and tank sizes. For smaller sizes, Spray Nozzle Engineering has designed and patented their M Series tank cleaning heads. Originally designed as a replacement for spray balls, they are fast, efficient and effective.

The Rack-it-Teer™ is a precision stainless steel spear wine racking solution, with patented locating finger and ‘positive-seal’ system that allows filling, decanting and oxygen purging without wasting gas. Rack-It-Teer™ adapts to all barrel sizes, making it extremely versatile.

In addition to supplying equipment to the wine industry, Spray Nozzle Engineering also repairs and services tank cleaning equipment in their Centre of Excellence service centres in Melbourne and Hamilton. This allows for fast local service that minimises downtime and costs, with loan heads available to approved customers.

Jungheinrich Unveils Totally New Combi Stacker

Jungheinrich is market-launching a new narrow-aisle forklift – its EKX 514-516 electric order picker and trilateral forklift – in short, a “combi” (combination) stacker.

With a payload capacity of 1,600 kilograms and a lift height of 17.5 metres, the new model will be officially unveiled before a global trade audience at the LogiMAT 2016 exhibition in Stuttgart (hall 9, stand 9B02 and 9B04).

Efficient and Economical, with Just One Battery for Two Shifts

The truck is equipped with state-of-the-art control technology, completely new motor technology and an efficient energy management system. Its intelligent lightweight design makes use of high-strength steels, resulting in a weight reduction of 150 kilograms. “This means we can guarantee the efficient and economical operation of the stacker over two shifts with a single battery charge,” states Dr Klaus-Dieter Rosenbach, Jungheinrich Board of Management member in charge of Logistics Systems Business.

For two-shift operations this eliminates not only the need for extra batteries, but also for charging stations and other expensive equipment, while at the same time reducing manpower requirements. Rosenbach continues: “This is not a mere promise of two-shift operation without changing the battery – we also back up this claim vis-à-vis the customer.” In other words, if a battery fails to hold a charge for two full shifts, Jungheinrich will replace it free of charge.

Economical Motors: 93 Percent of Energy Converted into Output

Completely new motor technology developed by Jungheinrich is at the core of the EKX 514-516. This consists of a synchronous reluctance motor which has been used for the first time in this vehicle – a motor which combines the high performance and energy efficiency of synchronous motors with the cost advantages and low maintenance requirements of three-phase AC asynchronous motors.

According to Rosenbach the motor’s efficiency factor of IE31 is the highest achievable in forklift operations.

The new motor technology converts around 93 percent of the energy consumed into actual output, cutting energy losses by half. “This means that energy consumption has been reduced by a further 15 percent compared to the previous model,” remarks Rosenbach. “And this, despite the vehicle’s much higher performance,” he adds.

Reaching Great Heights Smoothly and Safely, Thanks to Vibration Damping

For the first time Jungheinrich is also equipping this model series with a patented vibration damping system.

The optional Floor Pro module reduces lateral oscillations of the mast and driver’s cab which are caused by uneven floors or other floor types not designed for narrow-aisle forklifts. “This system provides the user with the opportunity to travel more smoothly and up to 30 percent faster on substandard surfaces,” explains Rosenbach. In addition the system is easy on loads and vehicle and helps reduce the level of maintenance.

The goal is to allow narrow-aisle trucks to work safely and efficiently even on floors that were originally designed solely for reach trucks – even at lift heights of 10 metres.

The new EKX 514-516 is fitted with a number of different modules for process integration, including RFID technology, redundant height and distance measurement and the Jungheinrich Logistics Interface.

If the optional Jungheinrich warehouse navigation system with semi-automatic target approach is added, throughput can be enhanced by up to 25 percent. Dr Rosenbach concludes: “By combining intelligent assistance systems with high-performance synchronous reluctance motors, Jungheinrich has made great strides in further optimising energy efficiency – putting us in great shape to meet the future challenges of Intralogistics 4.0.”

TNA assists snack manufacturer stay ahead

As a producer and co-packer of a variety of corn-based snacks, from tortilla chips to snacks mixes, popcorns and extruded snacks, Keystone Food Products depends on flexible, high-performance packaging solutions that can be easily integrated into its existing production line in the US. 

With a growing market requirement for smaller bag sizes, Keystone needed to expand its plant’s manufacturing capabilities while still maintaining profitability.

Flexible solutions for expanded capabilities

Keystone chose the tna robag FX 3ci for its facility, as its turnkey packaging system could be easily integrated with existing equipment. With performance improvements of up to 30% in both output and the reduction of rejects, the new packaging system has significantly increased the speed and precision of the entire production, helping Keystone to optimise performance while catering to the demand for smaller bags.

Allowing for any jaw configuration (single, flat, double or triple) or size, the tna robag FX 3ci offered Keystone the flexibility it needed for its range of packaging services, including its quattropack operations. Plus, the tna system does not require any mechanical adjustments when changing product or film — an important benefit for Keystone, which required a simple, yet efficient machine to facilitate the switch between different bag formats and products. Future performance increases can be realised by upgrading the jaw set-up, leaving Keystone prepared for the future.

Ensuring accuracy

Keystone is responsible for the packaging of both its own and other brands’ premium snacks. As such, the company needs a highly accurate weighing system to ensure that only the exact amount of product would be included in the bag. This avoids raw material waste and allows Keystone to produce an increased number of units from the same quantity of material.

The tna intelli-weigh omega 314 has proved to be an effective solution to Keystone’s challenges. By combining strain gauge load cells with digital filtering to virtually eliminate the influence of external vibration, the system allows for precision, high-speed weighing. As a result, discrepancies between bags are negligible. The modular design enables quick and easy troubleshooting and maintenance, and enhances product flow.

Improved product verification

Keystone also required a more automated verification system to enable it to maintain its quality standards.

Installation of the tna intelli-read 3 barcode scanner has enabled Keystone to maintain rapid packaging speeds while ensuring that its products are checked to the highest standards. The solution automatically scans the barcode on the film and crosschecks it to verify that the correct product is being processed. Mounted directly onto the film system of the tna robag, the tna intelli-read 3 scans the entire product’s width, making it virtually impossible to bypass as every barcode — regardless of where on the film it is printed — will be read. With the barcode scanning system in place, Keystone was able to speed up the bagging process, while being assured that only products at the right weight and with the correct packaging would leave the plant.

Maximising plant footprint

Keystone wanted a system that would increase its production capacity within the limited space that was available. Because the previous production set-up was fragmented, an important part of the installation process was to analyse the arrangement and provide more continuity in the way equipment was laid out.

Previously, each of Keystone’s machines had its own platform, occupying valuable floor space. By designing a single platform that would incorporate the three new packaging machines, tna was able to optimise the plant’s surface area, saving both time and space.

Another challenge was to adapt the layout to the plant’s low ceiling height. New machines were specifically tailored to meet space requirements and facilitate product transfer between different packaging stages. Before they could be packaged downstairs, light corn products were washed in the upstairs station. The lack of space, however, meant that conveyors could not be installed. The tna intelli air distribution system has a small footprint and gently transports bags and other lightweight packed products along a bed of air. It automatically discharges empty packets for optimal output and has flexible configuration plus several layout options.

The tna hyper-detect metal detector enabled Keystone to maximise the available floor space. Its design allows the metal detector to be positioned closer to the multihead weigher, reducing machine height and increasing the speed at which the bagger can produce finished bags. The system offers improved metal detection capabilities, while eliminating degradation in product transfer to ultimately deliver safe product throughout and minimise rejects. This provided Keystone with a stable operation for optimum sensitivity and consistent performance when inspecting products.

Spaghetti with benefits

A 'super spaghetti' has been developed by Spanish and Italian researchers containing more fibre and proteins that can help to reduce the risk of suffering from cardiovascular diseases.

According to results published in the Food Research International journal, new green technologies allow processors to obtain functional flours using the whole cereal grain, thus avoiding waste by products to be produced during the milling process.

Lead project Ana Maria Gomez Caravaca explains that the air classification process allows the division of milling by-products in two different fractions by means of a physical process that doesn't modify the properties of the obtained fractions.

"Comparing the obtained final product with the ones available at the market, we observed that our spaghetti was especially rich in betaglucans. The amount of betaglucans present in our functional spaghetti fulfilled the requirements of the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in order to be able to label it as a 'good source of fibre' and 'might lessen the risk of suffering cardiovascular diseases," Gomez Caravaca said.

The study results have demonstrated that the fraction used in the elaboration of spaghetti allows the enrichment of the final product in soluble fibre (betaglucans) as well as in catechin-derived antioxidant compounds.

 

Food Park set to open doors to Asia

A major food producing state in Australia is on the hunt for large-scale tenants to anchor a premium food hub and take its products to the world.

The South Australian Government will spend $7 million to attract anchor tenants to the Northern Adelaide Food Park, and to promote the use of renewable energy and energy storage solutions at the hub.

The 40ha food park will be built in the Parafield Airport precinct and will provide food manufacturers, food packaging specialists, cold-chain suppliers and transport companies with the opportunity to co-locate on the one site, with access to common infrastructure and services.

South Australia is renowned for world-class wine, seafood, fresh fruit and vegetables, meat products and grains. Its food and wine industries generated a record $18.2 billion in revenue in 2014-2015. Finished food and wine exports increased by 17 per cent in the past financial year.

The food hub site is located next to an airport and major road and rail freight routes.

Professor John Spoehr is director of Flinders University’s Australian Industrial Transformation Institute in Adelaide. He said there was exponential growth in demand for clean, green food, particularly in China.

“We’re wanting as much as possible to export not just the raw produce but also food that has a significant value-add associated with it, that’s where we can build a sustainable food industry and a manufacturing industry around a horticulture industry,” Prof Spoehr said.

“South Australia is respected as a place that is producing clean green food but the challenge is to scale up and improve quality and readiness for export in a way that also transforms the clean green food into manufactured food goods.”

Prof Spoehr said the government would be looking to secure an anchor company with “deep market connections into Asia and one that is also capable of working to the international food standards that are necessary to do that successfully”.

“The food industry is one of the brightest spots we’ve got for growth over the next two decades so we just have to get better organised and cluster together some of the companies that can really do it well to international standards,” he said.

Food SA Chief Executive Officer Catherine Sayer said the hub would encourage world’s best practice, collaboration and the opportunity to reduce manufacturing costs through new, efficient facilities and shared services.

“The South Australian food industry is very well networked and a hub, such as the Food Park, will continue to bring the industry together and will benefit those inside the precinct and other industry players who will want to use the facilities,” she said.

The $7 million government funding is part of a broader $24 million investment in new initiatives for northern Adelaide to drive economic and social transformation in the region ahead of the closure of General Motors Holden’s car manufacturing plant in 2017.

Other initiatives in the Northern Economic Plan include:

$10 million for a Small Business Development Fund for northern Adelaide, to help small businesses to grow and create sustainable jobs;

$4 million for a new Disability Employment Hub to train former automotive workers, upskill existing workers, and encourage university students to work in the disability sector; and,

$2 million to support an alliance of northern businesses to trial electric/diesel bus prototypes, manufactured in northern Adelaide.

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said Adelaide’s northern suburbs were dynamic and diverse and the investment would generate opportunities for the people who lived, worked, studied, and invested in the region.

“The plan identifies key industry sectors that could help to deliver a viable future for northern Adelaide and new careers for auto workers – agriculture, food and beverages; health, ageing and disability; construction and urban renewal; defence; tourism, recreation and culture; and mining equipment and technology services,” Weatherill said.

Printed with permission of https://www.theleadsouthaustralia.com.au/ 

Safe biscuit bulk handling

When an iconic Australian food company needed a new method of reliable, continuous supply of snack biscuits to its high-speed weighers and feeders for packaging, it sought the assistance of two Australian manufacturing companies, who are both leaders in their fields.

Victoria-based Kiel Industries collaborated with Pro Ali Design in Sydney on the project to design and build a new production line for the snack biscuit manufacturer. A project that illustrates the expertise and skill of the two companies.

From a modest beginning as a small, family-owned and operated company, Kiel Industries has grown into a prominent leader in the rotational moulding industry. 

Founded in 1989 by the Kiel family, the company now supplies the largest range of plastic pallets in the southern hemisphere and continues to dominate materials handling with innovative designs for pallets, bins, and ancillary products. 

Kiel utilises some of the most technically advanced moulding equipment in the world and over time, its custom moulding division has grown to be a prominent participant in the industry. Their equipment was specifically selected so that the company can offer economical short production runs, together with competitive pricing on high volume production. 

Pro Ali Design's dedication to quality, design and service, coupled with a commitment to continuous improvement and technological innovation, has made the company one of the most reputable and respected providers of conveying solutions for many of Australasia's leading food manufacturers.

A major requirement of the biscuit packaging line was to replace the existing bins and handling system with a line that used a cleaner, more versatile bin. Colin Kiel, Managing Director of Kiel Industries, said “For the production line, 'cleaner' meant that the bins had to empty completely with no residual biscuits being trapped by corners or edges.”

The biscuit production process involves several basic steps. Pastry is made and spread before the topping is added and then cut to shape and baked. Once through the ovens, the snack biscuits are   placed into the Kiel designed plastic storage and transport bins in large plastic bags. When the biscuits are ready for packing, the bins are moved and the biscuits decanted to portion pack sizes of 25g and 70g. Portion packs are retained in the Kiel bins until bin emptying is required to create multipacks on the packaging line. The portion packs are then boxed, ready to be sent out to supermarkets across the country.

The customer requirements were for 650 litre, food-grade polyethylene bins that were standard pallet-sized with smooth walls and easy to clean. The bins also needed the capability to be safely stacked up to eight high.

The biscuit manufacturer ensures the freshness of its product by insisting on a 14-day turnaround between baking and packaging. During this two-week period, approximately 1000 bins of snack biscuits are produced. To meet this demand and ensure there were always sufficient bins, Kiel Industries manufactured 1500 bins in total.

Kiel Industries tendered for the project but were only given four months to produce the minimum number of 800 bins. “This was a little tight because during our normal operational shifts, one mould can only produce 100 bins per month,” Kiel stated. “We had to maximise the efficiency and utilisation of the production line to make best use of the machines.”

Once the design of the bin had been confirmed, prototypes were sent to Pro Ali Design in Sydney for development of the automated tipping machinery that was to be part of the new production line. “It was interesting for a change for us to develop a bin and have the handling equipment built for it,” said Kiel. “Usually, a company designs and builds a processing plant and then asks us to give them a bin that fits their system.”

Pro Ali was selected because it specialises in the design and construction of state-of-the-art stainless steel conveying systems for the food industry, including customised package and box handling conveyor lines. In addition, all the company's equipment is manufactured to meet the appropriate Australian Standards, as well as AQIS, MAF or FDA 'clean design' specifications.

According to Jon Ball, Pro Ali's Business Development Manager, his company received a very specific brief from the biscuit manufacturer for the development of its new production line. The main requirement was to improve efficiencies and remove the need to manually load biscuits from different shaped bins.

The cubic-metre bins developed by Kiel Industries had to be robust to withstand being picked up and moved around in areas where there were multiple forklifts operating, so the Pro Ali design incorporated a heavy duty bin tipper. 

HD cameras improve safety and quality for processors of frozen fruits and vegetables

Frozen fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries, green peas, sweet corn or baby carrots, are a fast growing market segment in the food industry.

Not only do they meet the demand for food that is quick and easy to prepare, in or out of season, but they can even be nutritionally superior to retailed fresh produce, as they are harvested at their peak ripeness – when most nutritious – and frozen soon after, preserving their vitamins and antioxidants. 
 

Among the biggest safety concerns are foreign materials, such as small stones, pieces of wood and glass, or slivers of plastic. If contained within packaged frozen food products, they will pose health risks – including lacerations, choking or broken teeth. For food processors, they may result in expensive product recalls and damage to reputation.
 

Optical sorters with InGaAs cameras are highly effective in detecting and removing these objects. 

InGaAsHD high definition cameras are able to detect foreign materials down to half the size previously possible, resulting in substantially better detection and removal. 

InGaAsHD will be available in the SORTEX E product range and will enable processors of frozen fruits and vegetables to meet the highest safety requirements, while ensuring maximum quality of their product.

The new InGaAsHD cameras are now available for Bühler’s SORTEX E product line. Processors that are already operating SORTEX E optical sorters with enhanced InGaAs cameras will be offered an upgrade option, enabling them to benefit from the improved detection performance of the new HD cameras with their current solution.

Weis Bars set for China push

According to a report in Toowoomba Chronicle, ice cream bar maker Weis is planning a staggered push into the Chinese market.

The Toowoomba-based company employs almost 100 staff and has been exporting their iconic summer frozen fruit bars to Japan for more than 20 years.

Some 30 per cent of its business is outside Australia and co-owner Julie Weis said the company was looking to further grow its export business.

"We got to a point where our export markets, particularly in the US, took off faster than expected and any excess capacity in our plant was gone," she said.

"We were contained – until we did an expansion at our factory and got equipment in place.”

"That's finished and now we'll be going aggressively to find new markets for our product."

The company said it was focusing on certain regions of China as the next big market.

“That’s going to be our big push over the next five years," Ms Weis said.

Les Weis succeeded his father in 1957, when Weis bars was known as Fruitos and built it into the Australian icon it is today.

Julie and her brother Peter took over the company 20 years ago, and in that time, the duo has turned the company into one of the biggest employers in Toowoomba.

Freedom Foods acquires Popina Foods and launches in China

Freedom Foods Group has completed the acquisition of Popina Foods, a major Australian manufacturer of oat-based cereals and snacks.

Popina Foods is a recognised leader in cluster format cereal and snacks in Australasia, with manufacturing operations based in Dandenong, Victoria. The acquisition will allow Freedom to have dual manufacturing capability in both allergen free and nut based capabilities and integration opportunities across its milling and ingredients operations.

The purchase price for Popina Foods was approximately $AUD35 million. The acquisition is expected to be accretive to earnings in its first full year of operations and is expected to provide operational efficiencies in the medium term.

Existing oat based manufacturing capabilities at Popina are at capacity, reflecting increased market demand for cluster format cereal and snacks in Australasia and recognition of Popina as a leading manufacturer in this area.

To provide additional capacity to meet the growing demands of existing Popina customers and its branded portfolio as well as capability to grow into China and SE Asia, Freedom Foods has committed to a significant expansion of cereal oven capabilities at Popina’s facility in Dandenong, Victoria.

Freedom Foods is also reviewing options to fast track volume, format and efficiency opportunities across its combined snacking capabilities.

The market for oat based cereal products including cluster and premium muesli porridge formats is expected to grow at a fast pace, driven by demand for better quality oats in existing consumption formats and also changing consumption patterns. 

The demand for high quality Australian origin oats will also be further developed by consumers accessing product through China’s cross border free trade zones and the China Australia Free Trade Agreement that will reduce tariffs on oat based products over the next five years.

With the newly acquired Popina product range and capabilities, Freedom Foods has fast tracked the launch into China of Freedom Foods “Arnolds Farm” cluster and muesli products to coincide with the upcoming 12/12 and Chinese New year promotional periods. 

Australia’s top 100 food and beverage companies

IBISWorld has released its annual list of the Top 100 food and beverage companies in Australia. The list offers detailed insight into the largest companies in two of the nation’s most diverse subdivisions.

 
The largest 100 food and beverage companies in Australia generate in excess of $AUD100 billion in revenue (up from over $AUD96 billion in 2014-15) and employ more than 130,000 Australians. 
 
IBISWorld has identified key industry trends underpinning major company movements in 2015-16. 

These include:
·         Strong growth in food processing industries – particularly meat processing – driven by free trade agreements and increasing global demand for Australian produce.

·         Milk production in Australia has benefited from joint ventures and expansion of airfreighted fresh milk exports to growing Asian markets, particularly China.

·         The beer manufacturing industry has struggled as consumer tastes have shifted towards craft beer, and industry revenue is set to decline as alcohol consumption, particularly of traditional beer brands, continues to fall.

·         The wine production industry is moving towards recovery, following a wine glut that negatively affected the industry for the better part of the past decade.

The list also highlights:
·         Fonterra: remained number one on the list of top food and beverage companies by revenue generated.
·         Lion Nathan: remained number two on the list.
·         Coca-Cola Amatil: remained number three on the list.
·         Parmalat: jumped from number 27 last year to reach number 19 this year.
·         Green’s Foods: made it onto the top 100 list for the first time at number 87.
·         a2 Milk: made it onto the top 100 list for the first time at number 100.
·         Goodman Fielder: slipped 3 places to settle at number 11.
·         Mars: slipped 3 places to settle at number 22.
·         Bindaree Beef: moved from number 51 last year to reach 35 this year.
 
“The two newcomers to the list are Green’s Foods and a2 Milk. Green’s Foods has entered the list at rank 87, while a2 has entered at 100. Green’s Foods posted a surge in revenue of 72.6% over the year through December 2014. This was the result of the company’s acquisitions of Goodman Fielder’s and Waterwheel’s biscuit businesses in 2013. a2 Milk posted revenue growth of 40.2% over the year through June 2015, on the back of fresh milk exports to China and substantial sales growth in a2 Platinum Infant Formula across Australia and New Zealand,” said IBISWorld senior industry analyst Spencer Little.
 
“After purchasing the remaining 50% interest in the a2 Milk Company Limited joint venture and converting it to a fully owned subsidiary, a2 Milk began exporting fresh milk to China in August 2014. Sales of the company’s infant formula skyrocketed in 2014-15,” concluded Little.
 

Fonterra to invest $128 million in cheese plant

Fonterra Australia will invest AUD$128 million in building a state-of-the-art cheese plant at its Stanhope factory in Victoria. The new facility will replace the hard cheese plant, which was destroyed by fire in December 2014, with a larger, modern facility that will produce cheeses for Australian consumer, foodservice and export markets.

 
Fonterra Oceania Managing Director Judith Swales says investing in the new plant will help Fonterra to deliver on its multi-hub strategy to get the maximum value out of every drop of milk and drive increased returns from the business.
 
“Today’s announcement is strategy in action, where we are delivering on our strategic plan to transform our Australian business and return it to strong and sustainable profitability.
 
“We are focusing on areas where we can win in a highly competitive market, and that means optimising our product mix and investing in higher value add products that will deliver the best returns for our farmer shareholders. Rebuilding and expanding our Stanhope cheese plant is key to this.
 
“The new state-of-the-art facility will be able to produce 45,000MT of cheeses each year including parmesan, gouda and mozzarella, an increase of 15,000MT on the previous plant.
 
“As the branded market leader in the AUD$1.95 billion retail cheese category, with Bega, Mainland and Perfect Italiano commanding 23 per cent market share, the new plant will supply our Australian consumer and foodservice businesses, and export markets.
 
“It will leverage our footprint in 100 markets and also the recent free trade agreements with China, Japan, and Korea.”
 
“The new cheese plant is an important part of our multi-hub strategy, which sees our Australian business play to its ingredients strengths in cheese, whey and nutritionals complemented by our consumer and foodservice businesses. It will provide whey to our Darnum and Dennington plants, which are at the core of our growing Australian nutritionals business.”
 
”Importantly, the new plant will require significant growth of the local milk pool by 2020, and demonstrates Fonterra’s commitment to growing the industry long term. It means our local farmers can be assured of the future of dairy in northern Victoria,” said Ms Swales.
 
The multi-million dollar project will secure the future of the site and generate up to 30 jobs and is being supported by the Victorian Government through its Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund.
 
 
Speaking at the unveiling of the plans, Victoria’s Minister for Regional Development, the Hon. Jaala Pulford said Fonterra’s investment demonstrated its confidence in the future of Australian dairy.
 
“Fonterra’s significant investment in their Stanhope facility is a major vote of confidence in Victoria’s dairy industry and confirms regional Victoria’s reputation as a great place to do business.” 
 
Construction of the new plant will begin next year, and is expected to be completed in 2017.
                                                             

New analytical methods for micronutrient testing of infant formula

New International Standards have been introduced by the ISO to improve methods of testing vitamins and micronutrients in infant formula.

The nutritional quality of infant formula is often based in international standards and regulations, as it provides essential nutrients for the adequate and development of babies and young children.

Test methods are constantly evolving in an international effort to verify the delivery of nutrients, yet there is a lack of a streamlined approach in which parties can produce similar results around the globe.

A new Stakeholder Panel on Infant Formula and Adult Nutritionals (SPIFAN) project, in which ISO standards are globally integrated and published to help manufacturers of infant formula and official control laboratories check compliance with regulations.

According to ISO Communication Officer Sandrine Tranchard, the new ISO International Standards will be proposed to reference methods that enable them to be utilized for the purposes of dispute resolution internationally.

“This will result in more accurate determination of the nutritional quality of infant formula as well as fewer trade disputes caused by differences in analytical results. In addition, these methods will provide internationally validated anchor points to calibrate routine methods for manufacturing purposes,” Tranchard said.

Approximately 10 to 15 projects are currently underway to provide global stakeholders with up-to-date harmonized methods on other relevant nutrients in infant formula and adult nutritionals.

The Australian Federal Government is currently reviewing legislation to ensure that mums have access to infant formula for children under the age of one, as the popularity of formula feeding in China has meant that health and quality problems become more commonplace as the middle class has continued to rise.

Mechanical way to keep solids in suspension

Traditionally, the food and beverage industry relied on mechanical devices to keep solids in suspension. However there is another, simpler way to mix and maintain desired suspension levels. 

Polished AISI 316 Stainless Steel Eductors from Tecpro Australia offer a solution. They are highly polished inside and out to prevent bacteria build up. Recently installed in large milk silos in a processing plant, the special Tecpro Eductors are responsible for keeping milk solids in suspension. 

The Eductors keep the solids in suspension in two ways:
1)    The Eductors are strategically positioned in the silo to ensure they produce a continuous current, which cycles product from the bottom to the top of the tank. This prevents the solids from settling so they remain in suspension.

2)    Liquid is pumped through the Eductors causing liquid in the vicinity to be drawn-in and through the Eductors, thereby mixing the induced liquid (which usually has a high concentration of solids) with the pumped liquid. 

This system is ideal when adding fresh product to the silo or to ensure all product is continuously circulated throughout the tank.

Typically, the pumped liquid mixes with the induced liquid in a ratio of 4:1

With no moving parts, the Eductors are maintenance free. While a pump is required to move the liquid through the Eductors, it is located outside the tank making maintenance easy.

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