Food cold chain education needed and is coming soon

A new training initiative based on the thermometer is about to be introduced to the Australian cold chain industry. It is seen as a practical move to help combat the country’s serious food loss and wastage problem, estimated to cost the country nearly $4 billion a year at farm gate value.
The Australian Food Cold Chain Council (AFCCC), the peak advocacy body comprising concerned industry leaders covering refrigeration assets, transport and food distribution, will release an online education program, Thermometers and the Cold Chain Practitioner this month.
The program is aimed squarely at those the AFCCC regards as the super heroes of the food cold chain process – the people who oversee the movement of food through refrigerated transports, loading docks and cold rooms across the nation.
Industry research convinced the AFCCC that Australia desperately needed a new Cold Food Code that should be adopted by industry to stimulate a nation-wide educational push to bring Australian cold chain practices up to the much higher international standard.
The educational program starting with temperature measurement is the first of a planned five-code series.
The AFCCC has invested in new online education software that will be used to develop training programs to support the release of the actual Code document that will cover temperature technologies and how they should be used for monitoring a variety of foods carried in the cold chain.
The initiative runs alongside the work being done by other authorities, including Food Innovation Australia (FIAL) and the Commonwealth Government, which has signed up to a United Nations treaty to halve food wastage by 2030.
Some of the rising levels of national food wastage is considered to be the result of poor temperature management, and poor understanding of how refrigeration works in a range of storage environments. This includes from cold storage rooms through to trucks and trailers, and even home delivery vans.
Australia has world-class refrigeration and monitoring technologies, but the AFCCC believes industry will have to adopt serious training programs so that those responsible for moving food and pharmaceuticals around the country can get the best out of the available technologies.
Because of the vast distances in this country, food transport is a series of refrigerated events, in the hands of a range of stake holders.
Mangoes picked in the Northern Territory may be handled through stationary and mobile refrigerated spaces as many as 14 times by multiple owners on a 3,400 km journey to Melbourne.
If temperature abuse through poor refrigeration practices occurs in just one of those spaces, the losses at the consumer end are compounded, and shelf life can be either drastically reduced, or result in the whole load being sent to landfill.
People working at the coalface of the industry can sign on independently to do the course, which the AFCCC believes will be an important next phase in their professional journey. Kindred organisations involved in the cold chain will be encouraged to become retailers of the education program. Many industry groups have already signed up to help drive cold chain practitioners to the training program from their own websites.
There will only be modest charges for the course, which will help fund AFCCC’s continuing work on assembling the research and expertise to complete further parts of the overall Code of Practice. This will ultimately be gifted to the cold chain industry for the purposes of universal adoption.
The extent of food wastage in this country should not be under-estimated.  It is almost criminal that one quarter of Australia’s production of fruit and vegetables are never eaten and end up in land fill or rotting at the farm gate. This loss alone accounts for almost two million tonnes of otherwise edible food, worth $3 billion.
A government-sponsored study released earlier in 2020 revealed that meat and seafood waste in the cold chain costs the country another $90 million and dairy losses total $70 million.
It’s not just the wasted food at stake. The impacts on greenhouse emissions, water usage and energy consumption will end up being felt nationwide.
The AFCCC was formed in mid 2017 by a cross section of industry leaders covering manufacturing, food transport, refrigeration and cold chain services.
The Council sees itself as an important part of the solution, encouraging innovation, compliance, waste reduction and safety across the Australian food cold chain.
The new Council is not about promoting an industry – it wants to change the industry for the better. It acknowledges that Australia’s track record in efficient cold food handling, from farm to plate, is far from perfect.

How one company's tray sealing technology is continuing to expand and grow

G.Mondini, a name that delivers innovation, quality and experience in providing dynamic tray sealing systems continue to grow with their ground-breaking tray sealer innovation.
With the culmination of over 45 years’ experience in designing and building tray sealing systems, the TRAVE was created to be at the heart of any packaging system. The design and construction mean this tray sealer can handle the demands of all industrial environments, deliver secure packs with every machine cycle, ability to seal any shape and size of packaging materials on the market, and with patented Platform Technology allows for different packaging technologies to be applied in a simple modular way.
The TRAVE range of fully automatic tray sealing systems deliver on reliability, efficiency and can produce a variety of new innovative packaging options including Vacuum Skin, Darfresh On Tray, MAP, Slimfresh, Slicefresh and the Award Winning Paperseal. Attention to design detail means this is the most hygienic tray sealer on the market, guaranteeing customers the best possible solution.
James White, marketing and sales director at Select Equip, a food equipment company which has been in business for over 35 years and the exclusive distributor of G.Mondini, explains, “It isn’t common knowledge that Mondini TRAVE 350 -R & Trave 384 -R tray sealers can be on the water within 4 weeks from order, with the same Trave performance at a more affordable price. Its all about delivering on all levels with no compromise on its functionality with Mondini PLATFORM Technology fully integrated into its construction. It’s all about offering our customers a real competitive advantage to develop and build their business quickly to meet retailer timelines and demands.”
When it comes to making purchasing decisions with food packaging equipment like tray sealing, it needs to be top-of-mind that capital expenditure is a fixed cost, but it is the ongoing cost of ownership that needs to be considered as well. TRAVE is the lowest cost of ownership compared to any other tray sealer currently on the market today.
Select Equip expertise is on delivering a complete system and support service throughout a clients entire growth cycle. The Trave range of tray sealers is the only system on the market that is delivered future proof and ready to adapt to retailers ever changing packaging format requirements.  It’s all about thinking about ‘systems’ and the efficiency and reliability that having one supplier for all your food packaging needs can provide (as opposed to having to rely on different suppliers.) You receive your support, service, equipment, spare parts, and advice all from one place,” said White.
G.Mondini and TRAVE are available through Select Equip. To find out more visit selectequip.com.au email sales@selectequip.com.au or call 1800 1010 122.

The essential sector

Knowing that you are able to walk into your local supermarket and buy what you want to feed yourself or your family and stock your pantry is something that we take for granted. Australia is fortunate that we make enough food to feed 75 million people, three times our population and that we have a strong and resilient food, beverage and grocery manufacturing sector in our country.
COVID-19 has taught us all many things about our sense of community, our vulnerability and not to take this $127.1 billion food, beverage and grocery sector for granted. We realise now more than ever how essential it is.
When there was panic buying in early 2020, when shelves were stripped, this was equivalent to three Christmas buying periods all at once, on the same day, with no notice. Retailers and suppliers were caught unprepared, and shelves were emptied.
However, the 274,835 people who work every day to make the food, drinks and grocery items to ensure our shelves are stocked stepped up – they are our essential heroes. This sector went into overdrive straight away to help meet the runaway consumer demand, working 24 hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week to make the products that Australians were wanting. The shelves have not been empty since.
The supply chain was sorely tested. Speciality ingredients not made or found in Australia had to be acquired in other ways, or substitute supplies found, as borders closed.
Movement of goods across such an expansive country is always a challenge but the logistics sector met the challenge to move more products, more often. Workers in the factories, who are the most important asset to our sector, split shifts, implemented COVID-safe plans right away and socially distanced to help ensure transmission of COVID-19 was kept at bay from our essential sector. Everyone met the challenge to keep the supermarket shelves stocked.
Australia’s food, beverage and grocery manufacturing sector works hard, and it has had to. Rising input costs and market challenges have long been an issue for the sector.
Companies in Australia want to invest in capital and invest in more jobs. They want to buy the exceptional, high-quality raw commodities from Australian farmers, transform them into products, and then send them around the country for Australians to enjoy. And they also want to export them around the world, capitalising on the international appreciation for the high quality and safe food products made here.
This is how traditional supply chains work but there needs to be certainty for business to invest. Certainty, through a stable economy, a skilled workforce and access to markets.
There also needs to be a responsive domestic market too, which will help foster innovation and business growth. As the world modernises and becomes highly automated, this sector strives to do so as well. This will help ensure the sector remains competitive on the world stage, innovation will flourish and jobs will grow.
To do this, the Australian Food and Grocery Council has called for the Federal Government to implement a Food, Beverage and Grocery Site Modernisation Program that provides short-term incentives for the food, beverage and grocery manufacturing industry. It does so by bringing forward investment in manufacturing plant infrastructure and equipment through an instant asset write off, or grants program for smaller investments, and targeted and efficient investment allowance for larger investments.
Without investing to improve efficiency and innovate, there is a real risk that businesses will either need to reduce the scale of their operations or move offshore.
Taking the jobs offshore would result in job losses at a time when we need to ensure job growth. While nearly 60 per cent of the sector’s jobs are in metropolitan areas, around 40 per cent, or 108,000 jobs, depend directly on this sector in regional Australia.
This sector is the backbone to regional Australia and the bond in so many communities – it is the heart of the community. The jobs and support services in so many country towns and regional centres rely on the economic contribution the sector brings through the wages it pays and the flow on to other businesses servicing the sector or the people who work in it.
In turn, the sector also supports the community through social, environmental and other outreach programs and direct contributions. This might include supporting the construction of local assets being built like a swimming pool, donating to local soup kitchens or getting involved in environmental programs like tree planting. This is happening right across the country with the support of this sector.
At the same time as strengthening our local economies and communities, the sector has seen a growth in exports. In 2020, food and beverage exports have increased 5.8 per cent, led by 7 per cent year-on-year increase in food product manufacturing.
Supply chain dependencies and priorities within countries changed with COVID-19 but recent Australian Bureau of Statistics data proved that COVID-19 hasn’t destroyed
our global trade. So, the trajectory of a growing and strong export market should weather the pandemic, even though it has definitely complicated things due to geopolitical developments.
A strong international trade system is crucial to maintaining global food security while Australia can benefit through local economic stimuli. Trade helps to stabilise food prices and supply volumes, which in turn improves social stability across the globe. During the 2007-08 food price crisis, restrictions by countries on exports of certain commodities led to significant increases in world food prices and intensified the impact on food insecurity and poverty. To date, we have not seen a repeat of this food price crisis and trade flows have continued, albeit with some delays at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While we like to know that we can walk into our supermarket and buy what we want on nearly every occasion, we also need to stop and realise what goes into ensuring we can do just that. Australians should be proud of the food, grocery and manufacturing sector here on our shores, for what it makes, supplies us with and the value it brings to our local economy and communities.

AIP offers the Fundamentals of Packaging Technology Residential Program

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

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

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

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

as 4x semesters over 12 months.

OR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to grow overseas market share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patented technology supplies Australian pet food ingredients to the world

Pet owners are constantly assessing the many food choices available to feed their furry friends. Prepared pet foods are becoming an increasingly popular choice, offering a variety of food types and flavours while meeting nutritional requirements.

With a growing reputation for providing safe, consistent and nutritious pet food, the Australian pet food industry is valued at approximately $1.6 billion with opportunities growing within both Australian and export markets.

Cool Off is the pet food raw material manufacturing division of Staughton Group, which is an Australian, family-owned company with manufacturing facilities in Walget, New South Wales, St George in Queensland and its head office and main manufacturing plant located in Howlong in southern NSW.

Staughton Group oversees the manufacture of bulk raw materials for the pet food industry, as well as retail pet foods and supplements for domestic and export sales. Staughton Group also sources and processes wild game proteins through its recently acquired Wild Game Resources Australia.

Offering unique access to Australian raw materials for pet food manufacture, Cool Off delivers high-quality products including: lamb Mechanically De-boned Meat (MDM), plate-frozen offals, boutique meat meals and natural dried treats – sourcing its red meat offal raw material from more than 30 abattoirs across Australia, processing more than 150 tonnes of raw material per day.

As market opportunities continued to grow, Cool Off designed innovative new technology to help meet this increasing consumer demand.

Automated plate freezing
To help maintain a high quality product, Cool Off developed a unique offal collection process that involved installation of a customised collection and chilling unit onsite at the abattoir. This enabled Cool Off to control all aspects of quality from the onset, providing a dedicated focus on quality of the pet food products, with minimal abattoir labour input. This system has been installed at over 30 Australian abattoirs.

Once the offal was processed, it was pumped into large plate freezers, with the capacity to hold 2000 kg of product, and frozen at -20˚C. The product is then unloaded and palletised for delivery to pet food manufacturers. In the past, this was a labour-intensive process that required manual handling by operators. To increase throughput and limit manual handling requirements, Cool Off, together with VK Logic, designed a new automated plate freezing system. VK Logic has a longstanding relationship with Cool Off, resulting in a detailed understanding of the plate-freezing process. Justin Van Klaveren, managing director at VK Logic, explained that in order to meet increasing customer supply contracts, Cool Off undertook some expansion work at the plant that included building works and new freezer panel rooms.

“There wasn’t a simple, automated unload process for the large plate freezers so together with Cool Off, we placed an arrangement of pneumatically actuated panels and built plate freezer apparatus to utilise the existing infrastructure to release each block one by one down the plate onto a common conveyor belt, eliminating the requirement for manual handling,” said Van Klaveren.

“Given that margins for pet food are not near margins for human consumption, the opportunity for automation becomes more important,” Van Klaveren added.

High-performance architecture
Combining integrated control and safety, the Allen-Bradley GuardLogix was selected as the most appropriate choice for this application. The Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture system, including PowerFlex 527 drives with safety over Ethernet, offered an innovative, modular design to support fast and easy installation and configuration. These compact drives also offered embedded EtherNet/IP communications and standard safety features.

The Allen-Bradley Kinetix servo drives provided advanced motion control for the system and the capability to standardise on a single communications network for easier commissioning, configuration and start up. A FactoryTalk View SE human machine interface (HMI) was used to monitor and control the plant. To help with remote assistance and maintenance, VK Logic had VPN access to the site.

“We saw an opportunity in terms of that single platform with safety over Ethernet. The PowerFlex drives provided an integrated solution with motion, drives and safety all on the one common platform. This helped reduce engineering time and ongoing maintenance requirements,” explained Van Klaveren.

Rockwell Automation authorised distributor, NHP Electrical Engineering, supported this project by identifying the most appropriate equipment to meet the application requirements. According to Jason Campbell, business development – automation at NHP, “There’s no technology that rivals this new patented system. The solution allowed Cool Off to increase throughput, reduce downtime and redeploy operators that were doing manual labour.”

The new automated plate freezing system improved throughput and reduced manual handling requirements.

Patented innovation to meet consumer demand
Cool Off’s patented plate freezing technology was the product of intelligent engineering and problem solving – resulting in an increase in plate freezing capacity by 120 per cent. The technology and innovation around the plate-freezer design was developed together with VK Logic, a business with a growing reputation for “out of box” thinking for large and small projects alike.

The plant is in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week as there is significant demand for the product. With consumer demand continually increasing, Cool Off was recently awarded a government grant to double capacity of the plant.

Edward Staughton, managing director of Cool Off and Staughton Group, highlights the significant advantages the company enjoys over international and domestic competitors via its technology: “The quality and freshness of red meat offal products collected from supplying abattoirs and delivered daily to Cool Off at Howlong is guaranteed via the unique chilling system installed at supplying abattoirs. This patented system was developed by Cool Off and VK Logic, using experience gained over 20 years of collecting offals from abattoirs located throughout Eastern Australia. The system ensures all product from abattoirs in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia can be delivered in any season over long distances and maintain its freshness.”

Staughton has inspected many plate freezing systems throughout Europe and America. “The development of our patented automated plate freezing system, in combination with the abattoir chilling system, has given the Cool Off production team a massive international competitive advantage in quality and processing efficiency,” said Staughton.

“Three staff are able to fill, freeze, palletise and warehouse 50 tonnes (pallets) of product in an eight hour shift, which, combined with freeze time of two and a half hours, ensures maximum freshness of all products. With the plate freezers being fully Cleaning in Place (CIP), cleaning time is minimal. I have seen nothing internationally that compares with this system.”

“Cool Off is highly appreciative of the combined efforts of VK Logic and Rockwell Automation in enabling the development, and now the ‘bedded down’ operation, of technologies which are unmatched by international competitors. Cool Off looks forward to working with both these innovative and progressive companies to roll out further R&D projects that currently sit in the company’s pipe-line,” said Staughton.

Why send 750 million soiled absorbent pads to landfill if there is a better way?

Reducing the use of packaging materials is one of the aspects that will help lead to a sustainable future. When re-designing plastic trays for ANZ’s fresh red meat sector, Sealed Air Australia ventured beyond “reduce” and found a way to “eliminate” the need for absorbent pads. Sealed Air’s Kevin Taylor is the APAC portfolio leader for the company’s trays, films and absorbents business. Here, Taylor spoke to Food & Beverage Industry News about some of the new technologies behind the latest meat-packing developments from the company.

Why was HydroLoQ developed?
While absorbent pads solve the problem of retaining product purge, they can also be problematic for food processors and our planet.

HydroLoQ was developed to eliminate lost time associated with pad related issues for moist protein Modified Atmosphere Packing (MAP) applications that are estimated to contribute to three per cent of overall down time. Furthermore, pads comprise ‘end of life’ challenges. In fact, each year, more than 750 million absorbent pads used across ANZ’s fresh red meat sector end up in landfill.

Meat discolouration is also a challenge for retailers. Meat in direct contact with an absorbent pad is not experiencing the full colour preserving benefits of the surrounding modified atmosphere and thus can undergo product discolouration causing subsequent product mark downs.

Furthermore, the removal of the pad eliminates any risk of ingesting the contents of the pad if it leaks.

What were some of the issues when developing the products?
MAP technology has been used for more than 20 years. Forgetting what we already knew and addressing supply chain challenges with a fresh view was one of the biggest challenges. Understanding surface tension science and redefining absorbency requirements for MAP applications was critical to success.

The shape of the base design was important. Not only was it required to hold a specific volume of purge, but it could not leave any imprint or indentation on the protein which would lead to consumer rejection and product mark downs. This problem was overcome with some adjustments to tooling.

HydroLoQ is a recyclable pack. How hard was that to incorporate into the design?
All Cryovac polypropylene trays are recyclable in accordance with the APCO PREP tool. It was important in the redesign that the tray components did not compromise this. Also important was ensuring that the new design did not require the use of additional resin to perform suitably across the supply chain.

Sealed Air’s Cryovac brand food packaging is renowned for maintaining freshness and reducing food waste. Does HydroLoQ still enable this?
Yes. Cryovac HydroLoQ continues to deliver high oxygen barrier performance to keep proteins fresh across the supply chain. We all know extended shelf life means a less wasteful food supply chain. With HydroLoQ, the processor benefits by eliminating pad related downtime and product contamination due to pads breaking open during packing. Estimates suggest 500kg of meat is removed from the supply chain and down-graded to pet food every time pad related contamination occurs.

Is HydroLoQ 2025 ready?
Absolutely. HydroLoQ is fully recyclable and has no separable components that consumers need to work with. Each tray contains up to 8g of recycled resin that is recovered from Sealed Air’s “Zero Waste” tray making facility based in Tullamarine, Victoria.

How is the introduction of HydroLoQ impacting the Tullamarine plant, which also produces absorbent pads?
Sealed Air’s sustainability vision is ‘to protect, to solve critical packaging challenges, and to leave our world better than we found it’. In this case, developments such as Cryovac HydroLoQ changes the way we do things and allows our processors and supply chains to evolve. The sustainable advantages for our processors and planet are significant.
After all, HydroLoQ allows us to leave our planet better than we found it.

What has the feedback from clients been like?
Soiled absorbent pads dampen the consumer experience. Because consumers dislike touching a soiled absorbent pad, they avoid separating the pad from the tray and dispose of fully recyclable trays to landfill.

This tray is the first of its kind into Australia’s retail environment. Customer acceptance has been positive and Cryovac HydroLoQ can be found at retailers including Aldi and Coles. At this stage, retail acceptance has been limited to fresh red meats, but proteins including poultry and seafood are also on the radar.

Brand owners can also leverage a strong sustainability story by making the switch to HydroLoQ and meet consumers’ growing demands for sustainable packaging.

What makes these products different from similar offerings in the marketplace?
This tray design is new for ANZ, and padless tray formats have been used in Europe.
This is the first padless barrier tray used for ANZ’s modified atmosphere packaging market. The base design not only retains purge, but offers additional rigidity which is an important design parameter for our distribution chain. Rigidity is also important for packs using retail lidding film – get them both wrong and lid film energy can distort the shape of the tray.

Is there a limit to the size of the produce that can be used with these products?
We have matched the retention capacity of the base of the tray to the current retailer specifications for the products the trays are used for. Water purge for poultry is higher because it uses water chilling technology and subsequent tray designs will take this into account.

Southeast Queensland food and grocery manufacturing generates $7.5 billion

The food and grocery manufacturing industry in South East Queensland generated more than $7.5 billion last year, a new economic snapshot has found.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews, said the industry is a vitally important contributor to the local economy, as shown in the Australian Food and Grocery Council’s South East Queensland Economic Snapshot 2018/2019.

“Australian manufacturing is an important part of our economy, it’s a big employer in our cities and regions, and creates innovative and valuable products and services – and this is nowhere more evident than in South East Queensland,” Minister Andrews said.

“The report shows the food and grocery manufacturing industry employed nearly 12,000 people across the region in 2018, representing 19.4 per cent of all manufacturing jobs and two per cent of total jobs in South East Queensland.

The food and grocery manufacturing industry generated $7.68 billion in 2018, representing 29.1 per cent of South East Queensland’s manufacturing output.

Andrews saw first-hand the contribution of a local success story, while attending the launch of the report at the Vege Chip Company in Currumbin on the Gold Coast.

“It was fantastic to meet with workers of this successful business, which has grown from humble market beginnings to distributing its products across Australia and overseas,” Andrews said.

“This company in my electorate is a great example of what Queensland food and beverage manufacturing businesses can achieve when they combine an innovative idea with hard work and perseverance.”

Bans are effective, but not the endgame in solving the plastic problem

Plastic is an incredible material. It can be airtight and watertight, moulded to any shape, clear or coloured, shock-resistant, lightweight, and is chemically stable. Unfortunately, these last two features also mean plastic pollution poses a huge environmental problem.

In theory, plastic is highly recyclable. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), typically used in drink bottles, can be recycled back into new drink bottles, or even upcycled into raincoats or clothing.

But for this to happen, the plastic waste must be clean and separated by single plastic type, which is challenging when a typical drink bottle consists of multiple plastics – the bottle cap, the label, and the bottle itself. This mixing or co-mingling of plastic means that more often than not, “recycling” becomes “downcycling”, whereby the co-mingled plastic is actually turned into a lower-value product (for example, soft plastic bags returned to a supermarket are often turned into park benches or fence posts).

This is, of course, is still a much better result than it ending up in our waterways or oceans, but given the low material grade of the downcycled product, the end result is an object ultimately destined for landfill due to its inability to be recycled further.

Another obstacle for recycling is that virgin plastic is made from oil, which means its price moves with the oil price, and when oil becomes cheap, the economics of recycling are less attractive. A volatile oil price over the past few years has made the business case for investing in recycling infrastructure and operations particularly challenging.

In landfill, plastic is relatively innocuous on a generational timeframe. On a geological timeline, however, everything underground is eventually churned to the surface, so burying it isn’t a sustainable solution for the planet.

Once plastic gets out into the biosphere, ultraviolet rays from the sun break it down into small, lightweight pieces that clog the ecological systems we depend on for clean air, water and food.

The most publicised challenge is the great mass of plastics accumulating in waterways and the oceans. These micro pieces are eaten by the diverse range of creatures that form the base of the global food chain, clogging their stomachs and effectively starving them on a full belly. Plastic has now become so ubiquitous in the food chain that it’s found in the most remote corners of the globe – in 90 per cent of sea bird stomachs, and in increasing concentrations in our bodies.

READ MORE: The role that sealable packaging plays in minimising food waste

Just over half of this ocean plastic is thought to be leakage from land, with the balance coming from contamination directly into the ocean by way of littering, fishing nets, lost cargo from ships etc.

With their huge catchment areas, the Amazon and Niger basins are significant contributors to ocean plastic pollution. Asia, though, with 15 of the world’s 20 most polluting rivers, is the plastic pollution epicentre. This is partly due to municipal waste mismanagement.

However, given the Western world has been shipping its contaminated, mixed plastic waste streams to Asia for decades with the expectation that Asia would magically make the problem go away, we’ve all contributed to this pollution. Last year, China declared it would no longer be the global plastic dumping ground, providing the rest of the world with a plastic reality check.

Rather than just looking for a new country in which to dump our waste, we need to rethink the services plastics provide, and how we can create systems to maintain the value of these finite materials as they move through the economy. The Victorian government is aiming to stimulate this change through the ban on the lightweight plastic shopping bags, due to come into force on 1 November.

India taking action
India, meanwhile, is taking its plastic action much further. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced his government is aiming to limit the consumption of single-use plastic – including bags, cups, plates, small bottles, straws and certain types of sachets – with expected restrictions on its manufacture and importation. His stated goal is to eliminate it by 2022.

The reality is that with its population density and management practices, plastic pollution isn’t just a global environmental issue; it has a direct impact on the quality of life across the country. As one of the two most populated nations on Earth, and a significant contributor to global plastic pollution, this commitment will hopefully deliver meaningful environmental benefits.

These types of bans help raise awareness of the issues and prompt individuals to rethink daily habits to reduce single-use plastic waste. Significant reductions have been measured in countries that already have “plastic bans” in place, including Ireland and China.

However, it wasn’t the ban on ozone-depleting substances alone that saved the ozone layer – it was the development of economically attractive alternatives that transformed the market.

Single-use plastics provide incredibly useful services. Storing and transporting basic needs such as food and beverages, they’ve become such a fundamental part of modern life that if we’re going to replace them, we need to find convenient and economically attractive alternatives. Further to this, if you’re a mobile food vendor, cheap and disposable packaging in which to sell your product can be fundamental to your livelihood.

Enter the circular economy, where products and material are maintained at their highest value, ideally in perpetuity. Biological materials (such as timber, food and soil) are managed in a regenerative cycle, where food waste is processed back into soil conditioner to sustain the system. Finite materials such as plastics and metals are designed for reuse, repair and, ultimately, economical recycling, maintaining the materials in a closed loop.

Rethink required
Solving the plastic challenge begins with rethinking the “job” we’re asking plastic to do, and how we can do it in a way that creates and retains value. For example, filing a reusable drink bottle with pristine Melbourne drinking water eliminates the energy and material value lost when we throw away single-use plastic bottles. Similarly, dining in with friends on reusable crockery is infinitely more valuable to our wellbeing than eating out of a disposal plastic container on the fly, or at your desk.

In the case of India, bringing products such as bowls and cutlery into the market that retain value after use will enable meaningful secondary markets to form – for example, collecting, cleaning and reselling those products.

As important as individual choices are, global challenges require political leadership to reshape our economic systems to enhance the human experience while protecting and regenerating the biosphere we all depend on for our quality of life and ultimate survival.

This will be explored in an upcoming Lens article, but in the meantime, political leadership is unlikely to self-emerge, especially in the current climate – it’ll be driven by individuals and communities calling for action and walking the talk.

So, although your reusable shopping bags and drink bottle aren’t going to solve the problem on their own, if enough of us show the way, the system will follow.

At the heart of tables across Australia – building Ingham’s state-of-the-art feed mill

What goes into producing the delicious roast chicken at the heart of dinner tables across the nation?

It fries down to an impressive facility that produces 12,000 tonnes of chicken pellets each week to cover South Australia’s feed requirements and service the state’s main hatchery.

This is what the team at Ahrens Design & Construct delivered, proudly creating a landmark multi-million dollar facility for Ingham’s – Australia’s largest integrated poultry producer.

In a move by the poultry giant to meet the nation’s growing demand for Australian-produced chicken, Ingham’s chose Ahrens to build their hi-tech feed mill at agricultural hub, Murray Bridge in South Australia.

As a national full-service construction, engineering, mining and rural infrastructure solutions company, Ahrens were the perfect fit to deliver this complete project.

Their broad in-house capabilities and experience, from design, steel fabrication and procurement through to construction and project delivery, ensured consistency and the maintenance of high standards across the duration of the project.

Scope of works were extensive and complex for this project, consisting of multiple silos of varying sizes, associated structural steel, steel support structures, tower building, warehouse, materials handling equipment and all associated mechanical, hydraulic, electrical and controls services.

Ahrens designed and manufactured all 45 silos required for the facility at their Sheaoak Log factory in South Australia, to suit Australian standards.

This included eight grain silos, 16 meal silos and 21 pellet silos for the storage of various raw materials and grains used for making the many different variations of chicken pellets.

Ahrens also integrated, installed and performance tested all specialised machinery and major equipment that made the journey from overseas.

Having originally produced 500 tonnes of pellets on a weekly basis, the new facility increased operational capabilities to produce a massive 12,000 tonnes each week, and is open around-the-clock.

The project continues an excellent relationship between the two 100-years-plus Australian companies with Ahrens’ wide-reaching footprint seeing them previously complete projects for Ingham’s in Australia and New Zealand.

Ingham’s Executive General Manager Commercial & Trading Graeme Dillon said the facility was ‘fantastic’ and he was more than happy with how Ahrens performed and delivered on this milestone project.

The end result is a perfectly hatched facility that will feed the tables of Australians for years to come.

 

Gas the key to fledging micro-brewing industry

Craft brewing has taken off in Australia over the past five years. Driven by consumer demand for something a little different outside the main brands. These usually one- or two-person bands are making inroads into traditional markets right across
the country.

From Perth to Sydney, Adelaide to Brisbane, micro-breweries aren’t just putting down roots in the main cities, regional Australia is getting its fair share of beer aficionados, too. Some craft breweries are driven by wanting to be in an industry they love, others believe their unique blend of hops, barley, yeast and malt offer an exquisite taste to a discerning public, while yet others are hoping one of the big breweries will buy them out.

According to a 2018 report by IBIS World, the craft brewery market in Australia is worth about $520 million and is growing at a rate of about six per cent a year. Not only are the brewers themselves excited about the market’s potential, but those providing products and services can also see that the sector offers lucrative opportunities.

As well as the four basic ingredients, there are peripheral – but just as important – constituents that need to be taken into consideration, such as packaging, distribution and gases.

READ MORE: Putting wine on ice – gas’s role in winemaking

Gases are the unseen heroes of a good brew, something that Air Liquide’s Western Australian sales representative, Gavin Lee, is all too aware of. Having a background working at brewing giant Lion, has helped Lee gain momentum in supplying a variety of gases to the large number of micro-breweries popping up on the west coast. And it’s only going to get bigger, according to Lee.

“The micro brewing industry in Western Australia is going gangbusters at the moment,” he said. “There are more than 60 micro-breweries in Western Australia – ranging from Exmouth down to Albany. The majority are in the Perth area.”

Like wine-making, gas plays an important role, from the brewing of the amber fluid, through to it being dispensed at the tap. Oxygen is both the friend and enemy of the brewer. The only time it is necessary is when there is the oxygenation of the wort, which is the liquid extracted from the mashing process that occurs during the brewing of beer. Wort contains the sugars that will be fermented by the brewing yeast to produce alcohol.
“Oxygen and light are the two things brewers don’t like. Dissolved oxygen in beer ruins the taste and flavour,” said Lee.

If gas was a workhorse its name would be carbon dioxide (CO2). It is used extensively to move beer around from one vessel to another, as well as during the bottling process. It has a multitude of uses, and because it is an inert gas it has no effect on the end product. Nitrogen can also be used but CO2 is the preferred option among most brewmasters. CO2 is mainly used in the carbonation process, giving the beer its fizz at the point of bottling, canning or kegging.

“When using it in the bottling process there is tank inerting,” said Lee. “Currently, if the brewer has the brew in the tank and there is a bit of head space in that vessel, they can pump CO2 on top of that beer so it blankets the surface, and that provides a protective layer for the beer, or they can use nitrogen.”

And when it comes to setting up the delivery mechanisms for the gases, Air Liquide has that covered, too. There are two main options.

“Typically we like to use copper piping because it won’t leak and it won’t corrode and can last for a very long time,” said Lee. “Or you can use food-grade nylon, which is a cheaper option, but over time it does have a tendency to spring a leak because it is under pressure.
“We have engineers and an installation team that are very experienced. We swapped out a vessel, down at Little Creatures in Freemantle, which had been there for the past 18 years.
“We swapped out to a 10-tonne vessel and within a couple of hours they were back in full operation without any down time.”

Another growing part of the company’s business is providing mixed gases for the dispensing of beverages in hotels and pubs throughout the state.

“It is often a mixed combination of CO2 and nitrogen,” said Lee. “It is the gas that pumps the beer through to the glass. As with the brewing process, it is inert so doesn’t affect the quality or the taste of the beer.”

Another reason Lee believes Air Liquide is making inroads into the market is that it supports the industry in other ways other than just providing gases.

“Air Liquide supports WABA – the Western Australian Brewing Association,” he said. “We try and support a lot of the brewers who start a business. Although some would argue gas is a small part of the process, it is a very important part. We offer cost-effective safe solutions and are able to provide the right product, at the right time and the right price,” he said.

“We’ve got fantastic aftersales service and logistics solutions to provide any type of gas delivery – whether it be in cylinders, skid tanks, mini-bulk or bulk vessels. All ALIGAL products we supply to breweries and wineries are of food-grade quality and our CO2 is FSSC 22000-certified, guaranteeing maximum quality and food safety.”

Brownes Dairy switches to plant-based renewable packaging

Brownes Dairy will replace its existing milk cartons with an Australian first, a carton package made entirely from plant-based, renewable materials in a new sustainable packaging move.

Tetra Rex Bio-based package is the world’s first fully renewable beverage carton, with the protective layers derived from sugar cane.

“There is a lot of emphasis on the importance of recycling, but less of a focus on how we can make products more sustainable from the beginning. Brownes Dairy wanted to improve the sustainability of our packaging across the entire lifecycle of our products,” said Brownes Dairy CEO Tony Girgis.

The bio-based packages offer a more sustainable alternative to the standard milk cartons, reducing the reliance on fossil based polyethylene plastic in the lining.

READ MORE: Being truthful about sustainable packaging claims

“Brownes Dairy scoured the planet in search of the best sustainable packaging on the market. Making the switch to a protective layer derived from sugar cane is not only better for the environment, but our consumers can trust the package is made from a renewable source that has a lower carbon impact to climate change,” said Girgis.

Brownes Dairy will switch 25 of its milk carton products to the new sustainable packaging – about 17.8 million milk cartons per year.

“We have done the due diligence on this packaging format to ensure our product quality, freshness and food safety are fully maintained,” said Girgis.

The Brownes Dairy white milk, cream and CHILL range will all be packaged in a Tetra Rex Bio-based pack.

“Across the industry we have seen almost all flavoured milk products move to bottles, but Brownes Dairy has made the conscious decision for its CHILL range to remain the ‘King in Cartons’,” said Girgis

Tetra Pak has delivered more than half a billion renewable packs since the bio-based package was first introduced in dairy by Finnish brand Valio in 2015.

Brownes Dairy will be the first company in Australia to integrate the renewable cartons across its entire milk carton range.

“Consumers globally are concerned about protecting the planet, with research showing people of all ages believe businesses should take responsibility for their impact on the  environment. At Brownes Dairy, we wanted to support the global movement by looking at packaging across its entire lifecycle, from source to end of life,” said Girgis.

The role that resealable packaging plays in minimising food waste

With Australia producing 7.3 million tonnes of food waste across the supply and consumption chain, and a Federal Government National Food Waste Strategy to halve food waste that goes to landfill by 2030, now is the time for packaging technologists to review pack designs that could minimise food waste and losses.

According to the National Food Waste Baseline, which was launched earlier this year, in 2016-17 (the base year) 2.5 million tonnes of food waste (34 per cent) was created in our homes, 2.3 million tonnes (31 per cent) in primary production and 1.8 million tonnes (25 per cent) in the manufacturing sector. Australians recycled 1.2 million tonnes of food waste, recovered 2.9 million tonnes through alternative uses for food waste and disposed of 3.2 million tonnes.

So what role does packaging play in preventing and or minimising food waste? The primary purpose of packaging is to contain, protect, preserve, promote and communicate, handle and transport and provide convenience for a product – all the while ensuring the safe delivery of food to the consumer. Without adequate packaging design features, and fit-for-purpose packaging, food can be wasted all the way through the supply chain to the consumer. By modifying packaging designs and ensuring that Save Food Packaging guidelines are followed, food waste and loss can be minimised.

READ MORE: AIP education director appointed Professor Sichuan Unveristy

As a core participant of the newly-established Fight Food Waste CRC, the Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) has been working on producing Save Food Packaging design criteria and communication material for the implementation into food packaging that will lead to better packaging design, material and format selection to assist retail, food service and consumers to minimise and prevent food waste.

Resealable packaging to minimise food waste
An important Save Food Packaging criteria is resealable packaging. Under the umbrella of resealable packaging there are many intuitive technologies including resealable zippers, resealable lidding films, extrudable reseal adhesives, resealable packaging, sliders, resealable zipper tapes and labels, valves and more.

Resealable packaging provides a myriad of benefits including extension of shelf life, reduction in spillages, retention of nutritional value and freshness of product, ingress of flavours, prevention of further product contamination, consumer convenience, controlled dispensing and pouring, allowance for multiple uses of the same pack and easy storage.
Through this packaging design consumers have the ability to retain the product in the original pack and not add additional plastic film, foil, bags or containers to maintain freshness and quality of the product. All of these benefits in turn ensure the prevention of unnecessary food waste and loss.

Reseal versus reclose
When selecting the best resealable technologies, it is important to ensure that the pack can in fact reseal and not simply reclose. There is a difference between intuitive resealable designs that guarantee seal integrity and a closure that could compromise the quality of the product. Choosing the wrong solution can potentially stand in the way of preventing food waste in the household and also damage consumer perceptions of your product.

Undertaking trials
Just like for any other style of packaging, trials need to be undertaken before the resealable packs are commercialised. This is to ensure that the design provides the required freshness, nutritional and food waste objectives for the product. Integrity of seals, freshness, shelf life and barrier, oxygen, contamination, leakage etc can be assessed during trials.

On-pack communication
Developers of the packaging should consider incorporating on-pack communication that explains the key benefits of the resealable option to the consumer. Extension of shelf life, freshness, quality and the ability to minimise food waste in the home are important for consumers. Food manufacturers need to actively engage the consumers in the journey and to explain the important role that packaging plays in minimising food waste,

Balancing 2025 and 2030 targets
Packaging technologists and designers also need to balance the 2025 National Packaging Targets against the 2030 National Food Waste targets when designing resealable packaging. The decision to move to resealable design must also include discussions about the recyclability of the packaging in the country in which the product is sold. Making the decision to move to packaging that minimises food waste, all the while meeting the 2025 National Packaging Targets, is the optimum solution and may require undertaking a Lifecycle Assessment to find the sweet spot.

If every food manufacturer made a commitment to incorporate Save Food Packaging guidelines into their packaging development process, then this would be a considerable step in the right direction to minimise and/or prevent food waste in Australia.

Kellogg’s joins Yume marketplace

Kellogg’s Australia and Yume, an online B2B marketplace for the sale of quality surplus food, have announced a new partnership that enables Kellogg’s to list any surplus raw materials that become available during the manufacturing process exclusively through to the Yume platform.

The Yume platform enables food suppliers such as primary producers and manufacturers to safely sell their quality surplus products directly to buyers in the ­food service industry.

Kellogg’s is the first Australian manufacturer to take the Yume Pledge, helping to ensure that the company continues to find innovative ways to help reduce food waste in Australia.

Tamara Howe, director of marketing and corporate affairs, at Kellogg’s Australia and New Zealand, said that partnering with Yume is another way for us to continue tackling the issue of food insecurity, and ensure that no food or ingredients we purchase go to waste.

We know that the ingredients that go into our foods use our natural resources – including water and energy, plus our farmers work incredibly hard to grow these foods for us. Therefore, we need to make sure all of that hard work and resources don’t go to waste.

We have a multifaceted approach to minimise food waste in our business. This includes prevention through processes to reduce the risk of surplus stock & ingredients through to donating finished foods that are nearing their best before dates, but still good to eat, to people in need through our charity partners.

“The Yume partnership will make it easier for others to get access to any excess ingredients we may have from time to time, and re-use these for other foods.”

“There are many reasons why a manufacturer like Kellogg’s can have surplus ingredients. Either imperfect goods, deleted product lines or raw materials that are no longer needed for production. Due to  Yume, Kellogg’s can continue to focus on creating high-quality breakfast products we all know and love, while Yume can focus on finding a new home for their surplus ingredients.

It is great to see a market leader like Kellogg’s walking the talk and taking direct bold action into fighting food waste” says Katy Barfield – food waste leader  and founder of Yume.

4.1 Million tonnes of food goes to waste every year in Australia in the commercial food sector*, Yume exists to prevent all of quality food from going to waste.

Already, Yume – which works with hundreds of leading food manufacturers – has sold over 1,100,000kgs of quality surplus food, returning over $4.5 million to Australian farmers and manufacturers. In doing so, the award-winning social enterprise – one of only three companies globally using technology to offer an innovative market for surplus food – has saved 72,123 million litres of water and prevented 2,200 tonnes of carbon dioxide from being released

Ceramic sensors ideal for food processing plants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preparing for the future: sustainability, digitisation, and an aging workforce

Supply chain, factories of the future, Industry 4.0, and an aging manufacturing workforce – all subjects that recently have started to have an impact on the food and beverage industry. It’s no longer enough to go after market share; processors and manufacturers in this space have to play the long game and ask themselves some questions about where they are heading, such as: What does the future hold in the supply chain space? Do we need to adopt an Industry 4.0/Internet of Things (IoT) strategy? Does it even affect my business? What is a factory of the future?

Pollen Consulting Group is a company that specialises in value chain transformations in the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector. It recently hosted a networking event where a panel consisting of some of the brightest minds in the digitisation area came together to discuss some the issues that both multinationals and SMEs are facing within the sector.

Facilitated by Pollen’s managing director, Paul Eastwood, the event showcased insights into the aforementioned issues.

Linda Crowe, head of supply chain at wines and spirits producer Diageo, knows that the company has to get onboard with sustainability initiatives –but at what cost?

READ MORE: Branding and supply chain: Why they matter

“We had our global supply and procurement director out recently and we talked about sustainability,” she said. “And the biggest message he landed was that we don’t have a choice anymore, but we need to find a way to be sustainable without impacting costs. Or, if it’s going to be more costly, then we have to pull it out of the profit and loss (P&L) somewhere else. We definitely need to start looking within to get ahead of the trends and do it in an intelligent way.”

And while some talk the talk, as James Magee, CEO of Operations Feedback Systems (OFS), explained, when it comes to walking the walk, some baulk.

“From my time working in Visy’s recycling department, there were many brand owners and organisations that came in and said they wanted to go down the path of sustainability,” he said. “They wanted to promote it, but of course it came at a higher cost. When that resolve was tested, in many cases, neither the brand or consumers, despite outwardly promoting it and testing at shelf, decided they would go for the cheaper option. It’s interesting to hear Diageo’s approach. That is a breath of fresh air because a lot of companies will chase profits over sustainability.”

And while it is easy to be cynical about costs over profit, at least one person on the panel was not willing to compromise when it came to making sure her company was minimising its impact on the environment, even if it affects the bottom line. Diem Fuggersberger is the CEO of Berger Ingredients and food company Coco & Lucas, and her values in her home life cross over into her professional life.

“I have certain values in my personal life, so I have to make sure those things are the same in my business,” she said. “When I started Coco & Lucas I wanted sustainability, but it has hurt my profitability by at least $250,000 a year. All the packaging used in Coco & Lucas is biodegradable. Instead of paying $0.12 for a plastic food tray, I’m paying $0.28 for a biodegradable one. Initially my family wondered why I was paying all this extra money but I was determined to be the first national brand that doesn’t have plastic going into the earth. I felt it was my responsibility for me to have a biodegradable tray.”

The executive general manager at CHEP Australia, Lis Mannes, brought up the issue of waste in the food and beverage industry. Mannes was involved in companies that have had a large sustainability arm, yet the infrastructure within some of them has not been mature enough to handle the amounts of waste being created.

“We are in a lag position where we do not have, as a country, the infrastructure to handle the amount of waste we create,” she said.

To take it one step further, not only do companies have to think about what side effects waste will have on the environment, but there is a generation of younger workers coming through that are interested in their employer’s stance on the environment.

“I did an induction recently for some new employees, and one of my slides goes, ‘Why CHEP?’” said Mannes. “As I went around the room I asked people why they joined us. I would say over half of the room actually cited [the company’s attitude towards] sustainability as one of the core reasons that they joined the company. I don’t think I would have had that answer 10 years ago.”

Another point up for discussion was the role of technology in the supply chain, something that manufacturers and distributors in the food and beverage space need to take into consideration as digitisation starts to take hold. There were duelling trains of thought with this aspect of business in general – digitise completely now, or do it gradually.

Pollen Technology director, Oliver North believed that because technology is ever changing, there is a conundrum, which is that nobody knows what these changes will entail when it comes to supply chain.

“Nobody can predict what is going to happen,” said North. “The only thing we know is that it is going to change. The question being asked was, ‘How do we as a business adopt these changes?’ And when it comes to technology the first thing you should be looking at is where the pain points are in your supply chain.

“You need to look internally at a business and understand the areas where we have a problem, and where we can use technology to solve it. Then you look at the market and understand what technologies can help us there, and what technologies will fix that need.”
Mannes also delved into a few issues that need addressing within the Australian food and beverage industry – distance that products need to travel; legacy plant and machinery that needs upgrading; the need to diversify outputs during production; and an aging manufacturing workforce.

“When I look around the infrastructure in the food and beverage industry in Australia, there is a lot of legacy assets that exist, and one of the challenges of our economy is the distances versus the population that we are trying to service,” she said.

Mannes also touched on Australia being in a unique situation whereby the nature of the country – its size and the supply chain distances travelled – creates natural constraints that have to be considered. According to Mannes, some start-ups are often scared off by the scale of economies that exist in the country and the possibility of making a business work where they are servicing so many locations.

“To establish a fresh sandwich factory in Sydney, and to service the country, you just can’t do it, because you can’t get it with a three-day shelf-life to Perth,” she said.

Then there is the issue of the condition of the some of the plant and machinery in some factories, as well as the aging population of workers in the food and beverage processing and manufacturing industries.

“We have factories in many of our food industries that have these legacy assets that are looking tired,” she said. “Then, you have the generation of workers coming through who don’t want to work in them. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been in endless discussions about aging employment and aging workforces and what that is going to do the economy, because we have a generation of people coming through who don’t want to work with our aged assets. But we have an economy that makes it really hard to have a business case to keep industry here. I don’t know what the solution for that is.

Generationally, as we start to adopt Industry 4.0 in the appropriate places, we will gradually get a younger segment coming though that do want to work in those kinds of environments.”

Eastwood then touched on workforce issues and how automation would affect factories of the future. In 2018, a Swiss think tank, The World Economic Forum, released a statement that stipulated that half the work force could be replaced by robots by 2025. However, it also said that robots could create twice as many jobs as currently exist now.

“I think the main problem is going to be a race between technology and education and which one is going to win,” said Eastwood. “I think if technology is going to win, you are going to have people without skills; if education wins then we might be okay. At the moment, technology is winning.”

This was backed up by productivity expert Ishan Galapathy who said we should be working smarter, not harder. “If we can build the capability of our frontlines leaders to problem solve, they will be using the skills that won’t go away – like empathy and courage,” he said.

The next topic on the agenda was about working in a factory of the future from an employee’s point of view. They would be ripe for the gig economy, said Magee, with gig referring to independent workers who contract their services out for short-term jobs.
“I would say that in the future an opportunity exists for manufacturing employees to share in the gig economy,” he said. “Why couldn’t there be a star rating where I’m an employee, or a hired gun, who can work in any factory. If you only need me for five hours, you don’t have to pay me to sweep the floor to fill out the contract if I finish early. I’ll walk across the road and go and work at another place for few more hours.”

A similar scenario could be played out for excess factory floor space. Diageo already thought ahead before it built its new distribution centre, according to Crowe. It intentionally built the factory bigger than it needed because it was taking into account the growth of the company. For about four months of the year it runs at full capacity, while in the other months it runs at about 50 to 60 per cent. It can rent out the extra space to, as Crowe puts it, “sweat the asset to make it profitable”.

The final point of the discussion, made by Eastwood, was about food and beverage processors and manufacturers taking on digitisation – don’t rush into it, he said.

“I don’t think you have to worry too much about being left behind because it takes time,” he said. “You won’t change the world tomorrow, but you do need to start thinking about it, because some companies are clearly starting to nudge ahead. There is no one that is miles ahead at the moment. Think about it. Take your time. And get it right. It doesn’t cost millions.”

Steel belts for chocolate manufacturing solutions

Cooling and forming are critical stages in the production of both chocolate and confectionery, and few companies have more experience in these areas than Melbourne-based IPCO.

As an independent company owned by FAM AB, and part of the Swedish-based Wallenberg group, IPCO is a globally active engineering company with sales and service offices in more than 35 countries. As a business its connection with the food industry stretches back almost a century, when its steel belts were first used in bake ovens.

Milestones since then include their use for cooling chocolate drops at an American confectionery company in the 1930s, for ice-cream freezing (1959) and for chocolate conveying (1960). Today, IPCO steel belts are used in applications ranging from simple conveying to continuous processes such as cooling/solidification, conditioning, casting, freezing and finishing.

In parallel with this, IPCO has developed its own forming systems including the Rotoform FD – a food-grade pastillation system used to turn molten product, such as chocolate, fruit-flavoured jelly, gum base, fats and other additives, into solid, consistently sized pastilles.

Processing solution for industrial and decorative chocolate
This expertise in pastillation in general, and chocolate in particular, has seen the company create a specialist division focussed on chocolate processing.

With its own production facilities in Breda, The Netherlands, this division produces versatile forming systems for both industrial (chunks, chips and blocks) and decorative (rolls, shavings, blossoms etc.) chocolate products. These systems are designed to maximise productivity while also ensuring a premium quality end product.

The company has developed a portfolio that includes depositors, extruders, cutters and decorative forming systems, as well as high-performance, steel-belt conveyors and economical plastic belt systems. By combining these different elements, IPCO can offer process lines suitable for everything from low-cost, rapid-deployment start-ups to high-performance, multi-layer systems.

Rotoform rotary depositing chip production
At the heart of every IPCO high-speed, high-capacity chocolate forming system is the Rotoform rotary depositor, a unit first developed for the chemical industry but subsequently adapted for food processing. More than 2,000 Rotoform depositors are now used around the world.

The Rotoform itself consists of a heated cylindrical stator and perforated rotating shell that turns concentrically around the stator. Chocolate drops are deposited across the whole operating width of a continuously running cooling belt. The outer depositor shell can be replaced to enable the production of chips of a different size, with a changeover in less than 30 minutes.

The circumferential speed of the Rotoform is synchronised with the speed of the belt so drops are deposited without deformation. The heat of the drops is transferred to cooling air blown onto the product and also to the belt itself.

The most recent addition to this range is the Rotoform HP, a high-performance system offering a range of advantages including increased productivity, reduced maintenance and the ability to handle higher viscosity products. Reliable, versatile and easy to use, the Rotoform HP is available on all IPCO chocolate production lines, or as a retrofit replacement for piston depositors.

Suitable for the production of chips from 250-35,000 pcs/kg, this versatile module delivers a consistently sized product at depositing speeds of up to 40 m/min. Available in 800mm, 1,200mm and 1,500mm widths, the Rotoform HP can process viscosities up to 25,000 mPas.

Single- and triple-pass cooling lines
IPCO produces a range of cooling systems to meet different throughput requirements. Single-pass, end-to-end cooling lines are designed for low-to-medium capacity requirements from 200-2,000 kg/hr.

These affordable systems can incorporate a gear or rotary depositor for chip production and/or extruder and servo cutter for chunks. IPCO triple-pass cooling systems enable high throughput rates while minimising floor space requirements. The product is deposited on the first belt and adheres to the underside for the second pass. It is then removed on to a second conveyor for a third pass.

IPCO steel belts for confectionery processing
As well as producing complete process systems, IPCO is also a manufacturer of steel belts, supplying third-party machine builders (OEMs) throughout the food industry in general, and the confectionery industry in particular.

Steel belts are a versatile conveying medium. They are available in solid or perforated form and can be manufactured to virtually any length and, at IPCO’s manufacturing plant in Sweden, to widths from 25-9,000mm.

Steel belts offer a unique range of thermal properties, being capable of operating in temperatures from minus 80°C to +750°C. Cooling is an area in which IPCO has end-to-end process expertise, working with machine manufacturers to ensure optimum productivity and return on investment.

These systems are used for cooling and solidifying, with applications including chocolate, sugar mass, caramel, gelatine, hard-melt candy, nougat, nut brittle and more.

Steel belts are also used in zoned conditioning systems; slab and bar casting applications (e.g. caramel and sugar mass); freezer lines; drying units; chocolate melt reclamation; and in finishing operations (e.g. cutting, folding, layering).

In terms of cleanliness and hygienic food handling, the flat surface of a steel confectionery conveyor means there are no joints or crevices in which germs can hide. Its smoothness means a cleaner, easier discharge of lollies, chocolate and similar products at the end of a conveying or processing line.

And stainless steel can be subjected to any method of cleaning – steam, pressure, detergents, brushes, chemicals, even aggressive scrapers – to ensure the lowest levels of bacteria and the highest standards of hygiene.

IPCO supplies belts for use in OEM systems and it can also supply every aspect of a steel-belt conveying unit, including drums, compact belt tracking devices, belt and drum cleaners, safety scrapers and belt-edge detectors, cast-iron skid bars, graphite skid bars and both active and passive belt-tracking controls.

Engineers can advise on upgrade paths or optimum process layouts, and the company’s worldwide technical support network means that installations and commissioning can be carried out quickly and efficiently.

The company can also supply complete, standalone conveyor units that represent best practice in terms of hygienic food conveying. These feature a stainless-steel framework designed to allow access for cleaning, with no narrow gaps or other hard-to-reach places in which dirt, debris and bacteria could otherwise collect.

The framework is designed to minimise the risk of water pooling after cleaning, reducing the possibility of bacterial growth. The stainless-steel conveyor belt is “endless welded” to eliminate any trace of a joint and its smooth surface means there are no hidden gaps or recesses in which bacteria could collect. All bearings are food approved and lubricated for life with food-approved lubricating grease. The motor is food-approved and has IP65 protection.

Enhanced technical and service support throughout Oceania
In line with the strategic vision for business growth in the region, IPCO recently announced its relocation to a new office, warehouse and workshop facility at Burwood, Victoria. This new facility will enable IPCO to increase efficiency and enhance support capabilities – resulting in stronger partnerships with clients throughout Oceania.

Compostable cucumber wrap from BioBag World

A fully compostable shrink-wrap for cucumbers has been developed in South Australia and is set to be launched on international markets.

The compostable wrap is manufactured by BioBag World Australia and took 12 months to develop in partnership with South Australian produce and packaging businesses IG Fresh Produce.

It was launched in September as an environmentally friendly alternative to the traditional polyethylene plastic wrap and has already generated export interest from Qatar and South Africa.

IG Fresh executive director George Antonas said he was approached by South Australian independent grocer Drakes Supermarkets to develop a compostable fruit and vegetable wrap to replace traditional shrink-wrap.

Antonas said the product was being used exclusively on cucumbers sold at Drake’s 38 South Australian supermarkets until October 16, after which it’d be available for a wide range of purposes. “JP Drake put the challenge to us and so we gave them product exclusivity for the first four weeks,” Antonas said. IG Fresh produce is a fruit and vegetable wholesaler located the South Australian capital Adelaide.

READ MORE: AIP president explains biodegradable and compostable packaging

Antonas said a potential investment partner from Qatar had travelled to Adelaide for the product launch with Drakes. He expected to begin exporting cucumbers dressed in the compostable wrap to Qatar by the end of October, with exports to South Africa and Europe to follow.

The bioplastic film is made from a compostable resin called Mater-Bi that uses substances obtained from plants including non-genetically modified corn starch.

While there are other compostable products on the market, Antonas said creating a 100 per cent industrially compostable cucumber wrap required a unique process.

“That’s where Scott Morton’s expertise came into it – because it’s heat shrunk onto the cucumber. There’s plenty of compostable products out there but this one is for a specific purpose,” Antonas said.

“There’s a big push to make all single use packaging compostable. So, you buy a cucumber, you peel off the wrapper and you put it in your greens bin and you know it’s not going to add to landfill and that sort of thing. Plastic has its place but not for single use, it just creates too much waste.”

According to Antonas, the cucumber compostable wrap has the potential to be used on all fruit and vegetables, and BioBag World Australia director Scott Morton agrees.

“The potential is endless. It’s improving all of the time. I see it as a direct replacement for plastic,” Morton said.

Norway-based BioBag has six factories and 20 market or distribution partners around the world, producing over one billion bags a year.

Morton said BioBag was also working on a non-shrink-wrap compostable product that could replace plastic cling films.

He said the cucumber wrap developed in South Australia could also be distributed in major global markets including the United States.

“We’re trying to enhance the current cucumber wrap. It’s not quite suitable yet as a cling wrap alternative,” he said.

“We’re developing a new product that’s more for the international market. That’s a product that will especially keep fruit and vegetables fresh.

Compact toothed belt axis for automation in the tightest of spaces

Fast automation in confined installation spaces: igus has now developed an extra-compact toothed belt axis based on its flat drylin N linear system. The new axis consists of a standard fitment of components and is therefore cost-effective and easily assembled within a few minutes. Equipped with motor and control, the new system can carry loads of up to 20 Newton and a translation of 60mm per revolution.

From the lubrication-free plain bearing and the maintenance-free linear guide up to the ready-to-install linear robot, igus develops solutions for the industry with its plastics either as a single part or as a system. With the help of its linear construction kit, the company has combined its drylin N low-profile linear guide with a toothed belt and has now developed the new cost-effective drylin ZLN toothed belt axis as standard. Whether in vending machines, service robotics or even in automation systems, the new compact toothed belt system can be installed quickly and easily in the smallest of spaces. The flat drylin N linear guide ensures compact construction, which is just 27mm high and 40mm wide. The toothed belt mounted on ball bearings enables high speed dynamics. With the combination of low-profile linear guide and toothed belt, loads up to 20 Newton can be moved vertically at a ratio of 60mm per revolution.

By using high-performance polymers in the sliding carriage, users can completely dispense with lubricants and thus, the maintenance of the unit. Moisture, dirt and dust are no problem for the drylin ZLN because it has great advantages, especially for machines that are in use 24/7.

Plug in, install, low cost
The new toothed belt axis for low-cost automation consists of standard components from the drylin modular system that can be fitted together and assembled quickly. Therefore, the new axis is not only lightweight due to the use of plastic components, but also cost-effective and delivered quickly. A ready-to-install drylin ZLN can be ordered with NEMA stepper motors or with EC/BLDC DC motors, as well as a suitable drive control system. The new, cost-effective toothed-belt axis can be delivered from Treotham in the desired size with a maximum length of up to 750mm from 24 hours.

Caspak streamlines Australasian businesses

Sister companies, Caspak Australia and Caspak New Zealand, who specialise in flexible packaging, have merged their operations and brands. While financial management of the companies will remain country-based, the merger will result in streamlining and increased efficiencies of both businesses.

The merger will see the companies operate as a single entity in order to pool their resources, technological capabilities and hasten their advances in sustainable packaging options.

“Merging will improve our buying power, drive internal cost reductions and speed up our ability to offer sustainable packaging solutions,” says Harry Zwalue, managing director, Caspak New Zealand.

For the last 30 years, both companies have had a core objective of preventing food waste through the use of high barrier packaging. “This brand merger strengthens this resolve and adds a massive internal and external sustainability overlay to all operations.” says Bryce Hickmott, Managing Director, Caspak Australia. “Further announcements around this aspect of the merger will follow.”

With Sales Offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Auckland and Christchurch, the group has a balanced market coverage and provides Trans-Tasman customers with a seamless service delivery.

“It’s important to understand that this merger will be seamless from a customer point of view,” Hickmott added. “There will be no personal or systemic changes.”

“From a practical point of view, customers will see a new rebrand for both companies under the banner of Caspak – Sustainable Future. And they will experience the benefits of a new IT system in New Zealand from 1st October 2019, a vastly stronger and more cohesive R&D team across both markets and a freer flow of sustainable technologies between the two regions.”

“This pooling of resources is only common sense and the best way for us to drive sustainable development faster for our customer base,” Zwalue concludes.

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