National supply chain survey launched

The NHVR has launched a national supply chain survey ahead of an education campaign about chain of responsibility requirements.

NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto told the Australian Logistics Council’s Annual Conference that the online survey will run from September until early October and will take approximately 15 minutes to complete.

“The survey is aimed at both the heavy vehicle industry and the supply chain throughout Australia,” Mr Petroccitto said.

“We need all of industry to be involved, so the right information and tools can be developed and delivered to support business education across the national freight task.”

The results of the survey will be analysed and form the basis of the NHVR’s Chain of Responsibility education program. The information and guidance material will be used to assist all supply chain businesses to better understand their heavy vehicle safety obligations and to adopt safe management practices.

Mr Petroccitto said the survey forms part of a larger Chain of Responsibility project.

“We are committed to a heavy vehicle industry that delivers the information and tools necessary for managing the ongoing safety and compliance requirements under Chain of Responsibility legislation,” he said.

“The survey will be available through links on our website and social media channels as well as through the national bodies and individual emails.”

Managing Director of the Australian Logistics Council, Michael Kilgariff said the survey will be an excellent tool to raise a greater understanding of the supply chain and the vital role it plays for our growing freight industry.

“We congratulate the NHVR for this education initiative and look forward to seeing more industry resources in the future,” he said.

Fresco Systems handles crumbs with new bulk handling system

When a food manufacturing firm in Sydney had a requirement to feed bulk crumbs mixed with oils out of pallecons and into a process line, it knew it had a challenge on its hands.

The product compacts under its own weight causing it to bridge and rat hole, making it hard to deliver into conveyors.

Fresco Systems was able to prove through a series of product trials they had ability to work with the product. Fresco then designed and quoted a system that would allow the client to reduce the physical handling of the product while maintaining a continuous throughput, thus both reducing costs and improving productivity. The system provided is completely unmanned except for the loading and unloading of the bulk materials.

Fresco Systems’ design philosophy makes it a natural choice for this type of application – where ergonomics, safety and productivity go hand in hand. For this application it was imperative that all contact materials were manufactured to the highest standard from 316 S/S and incorporating full safety guarding and interlocks to a category 3 level.

The custom designed solution incorporates a hydraulic bin tipper, with a graduated tipping angle to allow an even flow of product through a mesh into the charging hopper. The hopper was specifically designed with an agitator and fluidisers to negate any chance of bridging or flow issues. This then feeds a charging adaptor for the flexible conveyor, which is tuned via a VSD to match the downstream flow requirements.

This complete system had to fit within tight space requirements meeting site specific protocols around operator access to controls and forklift loading of bulk materials.

Fresco systems is the obvious choice when the requirements are for anything that requires thinking outside of the square, with their team of specialist engineers they are able to customise solutions to cost effectively meet or exceed clients’ expectations.

Bulk handling

Whatever the system, having a thorough understanding of a products specifications before commissioning and being competent in the running of the system after implementation are vital.

As a supplier offering specialist knowledge and turnkey solutions, Fresco Systems believes a major problem with designing and maintaining efficient bulk materials handling system is the fact companies do not know enough about their products.

Turnkey solutions are highly specific and specialised to a company’s particular needs. Different types of sugar, for instance, require different hoppers depending on the flow rate.

“The ingredients size, shape, flowability and density will determine the solution put in placem,” said Fresco System’s Ken Hetherington.

“Many companies will just tell you that they are supplied sugar, but will not know whether it is icing or granulated.”

Once installed, operator competency is essential. Taking the time to read the system’s manual and develop a Standard Operation Procedure will help Turnkey solution providers like Fresco Systems benefit manufacturers as they not only custom design systems but provide valuable after sales support, maintenance and training of staff.

Cadbury sends off Australian Paralympic Team to Rio

Cadbury has presented the Australian Paralympic Team with thousands of personal messages of support from fans across the nation as part of their campaign to Bring on the Joy in the lead-up to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

The activity forms part of Cadbury’s mission to rally Australians together and support the 2016 Australian Paralympic Team as the athletes prepare to compete in Rio. As an Official Partner of the 2016 Australian Paralympic Team, Cadbury has pledged its support with an AUD $1 million contribution towards the development of para-sport in Australia.

The brand has continued its support by championing the Team as part of its consumer marketing campaign which kicked off earlier this year, encouraging fans to show their support for the athletes through a dedicated digital activation.

Australians responded in their droves with over 5,000 messages shared, aimed at inspiring the para-athletes as they prepare to compete on the world’s biggest stage. At an event held in Sydney this week, many of the Australian Paralympic Team came together as part of a celebration of the campaign and Cadbury’s contribution to the Team’s efforts.

Athletes were showered with messages in many different ways as a demonstration of the support received from the public. All messages that were shared have been printed in a specially-designed book for the athletes to keep as a reminder of the nation’s unwavering support for the team.

Lauren Fildes, Head of Strategic Partnerships and Events at Cadbury, said: “We’re delighted to have the opportunity to be partners of the team and we will be right behind them in Rio!”

Lynne Anderson, Chief Executive Officer at the Australian Paralympic Committee, said that they were “…grateful to have such a supportive partner who has helped create an unbelievable buzz around our Team as the Paralympic Games approach. To know the Australian public is right behind us provides all of our athletes with a huge boost.”

The Australian Paralympic Committee will be sending an Australian team of more than 170 para-athletes from every Australian State and Territory to compete in up to 15 sports at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

Why we regain weight after drastic dieting

A few years ago I proudly lost almost 15% of my weight. However last week I stared with disbelief at my scale as I realised all my efforts were in vain and I had regained all of the previously lost weight.

This got me thinking about the mechanisms that underpin such dramatic fluctuations in weight (sometimes known as yo-yo dieting) and the defences the body uses for weight maintenance.

Even losing as little as 5% of our body weight has a myriad of health benefits, including reduced risk of heart attacks, lower blood pressure, improved glucose control in patients with diabetes, improved mental health and reduced risk of osteoarthritis and certain cancers.

Thus one would imagine the body would generally be supportive of weight loss. If so, why is persistent weight loss and weight maintenance so difficult?

Why the body fights weight loss

The control of weight is based on the balance between calorie consumption and the energy spent during our day to day living. The brain’s weight control centre is in an area called the hypothalamus.

The hypothalamus integrates the incoming signals from the body (such as hormonal signals) and other parts of the brain and then controls weight by affecting hunger and satiety.

It also communicates with other parts of the brain that control metabolism (such as the pituitary gland and sympathetic nervous systems). This complicated and fine-tuned system determines a “weight set-point” which is the weight the body is accustomed to and then works to defend it by fine tuning our metabolism and our calorie consumption.

Energy consumption is divided into the resting metabolic rate (about 70% of all energy used), the energy consumed in processing the food we eat (thermogenic metabolism) and exercise based energy expenditure.

A few studies have outlined the result of moderate weight loss. The body defends against weight loss by drastically reducing the energy expenditure. The body also goes into a sort of “starvation mode” to protect against lean body weight loss by preferentially depleting different energy stores including glycogen, fat and then eventually muscle.

The body spends a large percentage of energy in the maintenance of organ function, even when asleep. In obese people, the resting metabolic rate significantly increases, perhaps to try to prevent further weight gain. Unfortunately, when you lose weight, the opposite happens and the body’s metabolism turns right down.

This may occur through reductions in the active thyroid hormone (T3) and changes in the hormonal messages back to the brain promoting hunger.

A key finding in the above studies is the reduction in resting metabolic rate is disproportionately large, and potentially persists for long periods. This explains why a return to a pre-weight loss lifestyle inevitably results in weight re-gain, and possibly more than was lost.

Only by maintaining a healthy lifestyle with calorie restriction of around 25% and exercise can we avoid the inevitable. The reduction in resting metabolic rate may be particularly problematic in people with severe obesity.

Drastic long-term weight loss

This led me to examine the published data on contestants with severe obesity in The Biggest Loser. I wondered what had become of the contestants who had lost amazing amounts of weight over a relatively short period of time.

Majority of The Biggest Loser contestants regained a significant proportion of their lost weight.
AAP Image/Channel Ten

One study confirmed that despite the rigorous exercise programs, the drop in resting metabolic rate persisted. In a study published this year that followed 14 of the original 16 contestants, the majority had regained a significant proportion of the weight loss. More importantly, their resting metabolic rate was still low, almost six years after the end of the show. This suggests the metabolic adaptation against rapid weight loss may be profound and sustained, possibly explaining why we potentially regain even more weight than we originally lost.

This same phenomenon was found after weight loss following a type of bariatric surgery, where weight loss is achieved by reducing the size of the stomach with a gastric band. The metabolic adaptation in these patients was very similar to that found with similar weight loss in The Biggest Loser.

The long-term data for bariatric surgery in terms of sustainability of weight loss suggests other factors (most likely related to gut hormones such as ghrelin) must be influencing energy balance as there is evidence that weight loss is maintained even after many years.

How to avoid the slowed metabolism

So is there a way to counter nature’s opposition to weight loss?
Certain types of exercise such as strength exercises preserve muscle mass and this assists in preserving the resting metabolic rate. However it doesn’t always work.

Thus it may be that only sustained modest exercise and a permanent reduction in calories are both essential for weight loss and maintenance. Although there is no data on the rate of weight loss at which metabolic adaptation occurs, most guidelines recommend gradual and steady weight loss of between 0.5-1kg per week, as part of a sustainable lifestyle change which includes appropriate exercise activity and a balanced nutritious diet.

The Conversation

Sergio Diez Alvarez, Director Of Medicine, The Maitland and Kurri Kurri Hospital, University of Newcastle

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Automation company in prime position to take its cut of the beef boom

The keen interest from the Chinese marketplace in Australian beef has disrupted the Australian meat processing industry in more ways than one. Aside from the controversial purchasing of meat processing plants by Chinese investors, there is also the demand for huge quantities of Australian beef to feed China’s growing middle classes.

Industrial Conveying Australia (ICA) General Manager Bruce Granger said that the growing demand for Australian beef underscores the reason many in the meat processing sector were turning to automation.

“Recently we manufactured a system for a family owned and run abattoir who are seeking out opportunities in the global export market. There were two main drivers for the upgrade: meeting the biosecurity requirements for a Tier 2 export licence and increasing throughput to meet demand from the international marketplace.

“Its previous operating system relied solely on manual handling and as a result they were unable to meet the benchmarks required to export large volumes of beef overseas. It simply wasn’t possible to achieve the volume of output required.”

The challenge put to Bendigo based ICA was to manufacture a system that would significantly reduce manual handling, increase efficiency and ensure world’s best practice food safety standards were met. To meet the requirements for a Tier 2 export licence a number of stringent tests and inspections are carried out onsite by the industry governing body, and the new system had to be built with this is mind. It is particularly important to avoid contamination of raw meat, something that can easily happen when manual handling is involved.

“Biosecurity issues around food are huge and that makes Australia a desirable food source. Not only do these markets – particularly China – want clean, safe food, but they want a lot of it and they want it now,” Granger said.

He noted the growing demand for paddock to plate identification was also a consideration when designing for the meat processing sector.

“The food safety technology industry has advocated for greater traceability throughout the supply chain and automation aids this process,” he said.

In this case, the ICA designed equipment is split between the boning room and packing room. The boning room system delivers empty cartons to where the meat is processed into various cuts. The meat comes in on hanging rails as full beasts, with workers stationed on the outside of the rails manually breaking the beasts into different cuts. The cuts are placed onto the table (designed by ICA) and the boning staff then slice these pieces down into smaller bulk cuts.

The meat on the cutting tables is divided into three sections: bulk cuts of meat, good meat trim and waste trim. For example, on a full porterhouse there will be the porterhouse cut itself, a portion of trim that is good meat and a portion that is purely fat and waste. The bulk cuts of meat (such as the porterhouse) are packed into cartons which travel down the conveyor system to be packed and sent to butchers.

The tables have holes with chutes and conveyors positioned underneath to catch the trim. The boner will drop the good meat trim down one chute and the waste trim down the other. The conveyors at the bottom of the chute manoeuvre the trim to where it needs to go – good meat trim is packed for mince or similar and waste trim is disposed of.

Before this system was integrated, the staff would start work an hour earlier to stack boxes and pallets etc. This is no longer required because there are staff upstairs stacking the boxes to go in the chutes and it goes down into the conveyor system efficiently.

The possibility of a small abattoir competing with large scale meat and smallgoods manufacturers by integrating elements of automation into its operations is a testament to the technology and engineering designed by ICA.

“Previously this client relied solely on manual handling. It can be daunting for small manufacturers to invest in automation for the first time, so we designed a system within the budget and specifications provided to us that can be enhanced in the future, Granger said.

“Even without a full turnkey system this abattoir will reduce biosecurity hazards and increase throughput. This will enable them to achieve a Tier 2 export licence and meet export demand while saving money on raw materials and labour.”

Granger added that the demand for Australian beef will only grow as a result of the free trade agreement.

“We deal with many clients in the food processing sector – particularly meat and dairy. We believe these sectors will benefit significantly from the FTA. Conditions have never been better for these markets than they are now. We encourage producers who haven’t already done so to invest in automation to build their production capacity and position themselves as a supplier of choice over the next decade.”

Ammeraal Beltech acquires Australian partner Rydell

Ammeraal Beltech, a Netherlands-based developer and manufacturers of process and conveyor belting has acquired its long-standing Australian distribution partner Rydell Industrial (Belting) Co.

Based in Melbourne, Rydell has seven additional loacl branches located in Moorabbin, Victoria; Hastings, Victoria; Kings Park, New South Wales; Darra, Queensland; Darra, Queensland; Dry Creek, South Australia; and Malaga, Western Australia.

The company will operate for the time being as Rydell Beltech Pty Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ammeraal Beltech.

Current Managing Director Wayne Durdin will continue to lead the company and its existing 88 staff. He will report to Ammeraal Beltech’s Asia Pacific operations.

Jordi Crusafon, Head of Sales & Service for the EMEA and APAC regions at Ammeraal, welcomed the move.

“Rydell are solutions providers with a strong customer-focused approach, which matches perfectly the strategy of Ammeraal Beltech. We have worked together for 25 years now, so it is therefore a great pleasure to formally welcome this excellent team to our family,” he said

Pepsi claims victory at the 2015 Australian Supply Chain & Logistics Awards

Pepsi has been awarded both the 2015 Supply Chain Management Award and the 2015 Storage & Materials Handling Award by the Supply Chain & Logistics Association of Australia in Sydney.

Over 55 years, the ASCL recognises an individual or a company for outstanding achievements and contribution working within the Transport, Supply Chain and Logistics Industry.

The 2015 Supply Chain Management Award is given out to encourage and acknowledge the outstanding achievement of an organisation that has demonstrated significant achievements in managing the integration of Supply Chains. This could be functional integration within an organisational Supply Chain or more widely across Supply Chains involving several organisations that have formed trading partnerships or alliances.

PepsiCo were recognised for their Supply Chain Optimisation project, which included automated palletising, AGV pallet transport and put-away/retrieval from ASRs.

Pepsi were also awarded the 2015 Storage & Materials Handling Award, which recognises the significant achievements in the techniques and technology of materials storage and handling at any stage of the supply chain.

Technology covers equipment and design techniques, including the facilitation of design and associated information and control systems.

Other awards given out at the Sydney show included the 2015 Industry Excellence Award, the Future Leaders Award, the 2015 Training, Education & Development Award and the 2015 Information Management Award.

New bubble wrap doesn’t ‘pop’

US-based Sealed Air Corp has done the unthinkable – made bubble wrap that doesn’t pop.

The Wall Street Journal reports the new packaging product promises to revolutionise the packaging – but at the same kill a simple pleasure enjoyed by children the world over.

Sealed Air Corp actually invented bubble wrap back in 1957. The company’s decision to replace the famous product with a non-popping version was not driven by malice but by the fact that standard bubble wrap is bulky and therefore costly to transport.

Currently it has to be shipped on large spools. Because of their size, the company will not deliver them further than 240 km from its factory.

In contrast, the new product (known as iBubble Wrap) can be shipped in flat sheets that take up one 50the the space of the original product. Users will then simply blow it up with a pump.

Efficient, econonomical, but…

CASE STUDY: Flexicon’s bulk handling system

Flexicon Australia has a number of installations for bulk handling and transfer of powdered milk products in Australia and New Zealand, as does Flexicon worldwide. 

One example is Franklin Farms East in the U.S., which has improved blending and transfer of dry milk and non-dairy food ingredients by installing a bulk bag discharger, bag dump station and flexible screw conveyors.

Franklin Farms East is a producer of dry milk and non-dairy food products used in the production of commercial baked goods, ice creams and confectionary products. 

The company installed a Flexicon bulk bag discharging system and bag dump station to improve cleanliness and increase the output of its increasingly diversified product line, while simultaneously elevating product quality. 

A family owned and operated business since 1983, Franklin Farms East was founded as a distributor of dry milk products, which it purchased in bulk from dairy cooperatives and other wholesalers. Franklin Farms then hired contract manufacturers to blend and repackage the final mixes, which it sold to customers ranging from "mom and pop" operations to high volume commercial bakeries, ice cream producers and confectionary firms.

In 1997, as the business continued to grow, the company decided to build its own processing and repackaging facility in Maryland. With its own in-house blending capabilities, the company could expand its product line beyond dairy products like buttermilk and whey to include formulations based on corn and wheat flour, such as non-dairy coffee creamers and lactose-free products. 

Since then, sales have grown from 20,000kg per month to over 454,000kg per month today as the company has expanded into new markets such as ice cream mixes, gelato and yoghurt.

New plant focuses on sanitation

When the new plant first opened, bags of powdered ingredients from suppliers were cut open and emptied manually into a hopper that feeds the ribbon blender. This resulted in dust in the air, wasting product and creating a potentially hazardous environment.  

"This was common practice in the industry at the time," says Jonathan Riggs, Franklin Farms East vice president of Production. "During the early 2000's, however, the USDA and the FDA began strictly enforcing sanitary and safety regulations, including third party inspections. 

"Contact with and possible contamination of food products was strictly prohibited, and a clean work environment was absolutely required. Our customers also began asking for verification of sanitary conditions in our production facilities."

To comply with government requirements and customer demands and to eliminate waste, Franklin Farms East installed a bulk bag discharging system from Flexicon. The system consists of a forklift-loaded model BFF-C-X split-frame Bulk-Out bulk bag discharger, with a 226L capacity sanitary stainless steel hopper, and a manual bag dump station, bag compactor and hopper for adding smaller amounts of ingredients to the blender. Both the bulk bag discharger and bag dump station feed their ingredients to the blender through flexible screw conveyors. "The ingredient discharge, blending and repackaging process is now totally enclosed and dust-free," Riggs says.

Bulk bags unloaded directly

"We receive our major raw materials in 900kg bulk bags," Riggs says. But headroom in the dry blending room is currently limited by the low ceiling. To overcome this limitation, a forklift holds the bulk bag directly over the lower half of the split frame discharger, while the bag discharges through a manual Spout-Lock clamp ring positioned atop a pneumatically-actuated Tele-Tube telescoping tube. The tube raises the clamp ring for dust tight connection to the bag spout, and then lowers, applying downward tension to keep the spout taut for total evacuation. At the same time, Flow-Flexer bag activators raise and lower the bottom edges of the bag, directing material into the outlet spout and raising the bag into a steep "V" shape to promote total discharge into the floor hopper.

Minor ingredients, in 23kg bags, transfer to the batch blender through the manual bag dump station, hopper and flexible screw conveyor – again, all enclosed for dust-free operation.

Bag dump station

A high-velocity vacuum fan activates as the operator opens the hinged lid of the bag dump station. As individual bags are emptied through the hopper screen, airborne dust in the vicinity of the hopper opening is drawn into the dust collector and deposited on the outer surfaces of two cartridge filters. Periodic blasts of compressed plant air blown onto the filters dislodge the dust particles, which fall into the hopper. The process is continuous with compressed air blasts alternating between the two filters.

The operator passes the spent bag through a chute in the sidewall of the hopper hood into the bag compactor. As a pneumatic air cylinder compresses the empty bag into a removable bin, dust generated by compaction is drawn into the dual filters. 

Batches blended in 10 minutes

One blended batch, weighing 1134kg, usually consumes one bulk bag and as many as 25, 23kg bags of individual ingredients. Each batch requires about 10 minutes for thorough mixing, and the blender can produce 30 to 40 batches per day. The blended batch proceeds through a screener, a metal detector, and then to the bagging machine, which fills 11.4kg to 23kg bags, at a rate of one bag per minute, and labels them with the name of the blend. The bags are finally loaded onto shipping pallets.

"We are currently running the blender at maximum capacity, but plan to expand the room to increase production with a larger blender and raising the ceiling," Riggs says. "We will use the entire split-frame discharger by loading the bulk bag in its lifting frame onto the lower half of the discharger. The lower half will be equipped with load cells to control the amount of material transferred through the flexible screw conveyor to the blender by measuring weight loss."


Schweppes Archerfield replaces paper with voice

Schweppes Archerfield Distribution Centre (DC) has called upon integrations systems supplier Dexion and Vocollect by Honeywell to deliver automated voice-directed picking.

Prior to automated voice‐directed picking, Schweppes Archerfield used manual paper processes. This system relies on workers planning their picking routes based on paper picking sheets, which led to inefficiencies and also allowed for human error.

Schweppes Australia’s Archerfield DC operates five days a week, 24 hours a day and can pick up to 16,000 cases every day.

Under the new automated system, workers are directed via the Vocollect SRX2 wireless headset to a specific location in the warehouse to pick a specific type of product, eliminating the chance of manual intervention.

Queensland distribution manager of Schweppes Australia, Mike Heide said that in the first week of using the voice system, picking errors were reduced by 90 percent. “Our employees now have greater freedom, mobility and safety,” he said.

Paul Phillips, regional manager of Australia and New Zealand for Vocollect said the system helps enhance the facility’s customer service levels.

“The Vocollect Voice solution directs workers to their correct location, tells them how many cartons or products they need to pick, gets them to confirm this back to the system – taking a carton count, all of which helps ensure correct products are picked and go right to the customer,” Phillips said.


There’s more to pack integrity than meets the eye

The days of careless wrapping of packaged food and drink bound for retail are all but over, as large supermarket and grocery chains force ever greater liabilities on suppliers who take short cuts, writes Nelson Joyce & Co’s Nelson Joyce.

With packaging integrity such a key factor for product placed on shelves, the tiniest blemish or dent during transit renders an item ‘un-sellable’, and the burden is instantly shifted back by powerful retailers to the supplier.

There are so many examples, but bottled water and other drinks is an excellent case in point.

Deep down the majority of operators view their packaging as a cost impost rather than an asset, and this sets off problems. The solution, though, is rather more straightforward. Although each case will differ, it is simply a matter of being shown ‘how’.

There is a proper, ‘engineered’ approach to packaging that is designed to ensure any business can derive a good margin at all levels – being mindful that there is a chain of events that make up the packing and transporting process.

The likes of Coles, Woolworths and other powerful retail giants have very strict rejection criteria to protect their own quality standards and aesthetics, so suppliers need to be wary of the situation.

There is such strong competition to be on the shelf space of the retail giants, so the retailers themselves have to protect their own visual standards and bottled drinks are a very good example of a product line that’s often rejected and returned to suppliers.

As a packaging specialist, we are regularly consulted by suppliers whose palletised goods have suffered some sort of change before or during shipment and thus paid the price. For instance, if a mineral water supplier’s pallet moved under its shrink wrap during transport and bottles were bumped so that, say, the tops and necks were bent inwards, the retailer will not place them on the shelves, it will reject the pallet, plus it is highly likely to charge for the space on the shelves reserved for it.


It may sound like rough justice, but the retailers run operations based on margins and quantity sales and will not have time to replace that product with anything else, so the supplier suffers the penalty – which is likely to be written into the agreement.

The importance of an engineered approach is even more prominent in the regional areas where freighting takes even longer and a Plan B is almost always out of the question.

It is like a demurrage cost in the transport game where the stock movement failures by one party will not be suffered as incurred charges by another.

Even an evaluation of a packaging line – which is an inexpensive exercise – can identify so many shortfalls and provide answers as to how a supplier can professionalise, increase quality and speed up its own packaging and delivery systems.

Various emerging packaging technologies can protect against such incidents; cheap stretch wrap should be avoided, versatile and cost-identifiable machines can replace slow, wasteful and substandard manual wrapping.

Retail-ready packaging often is ignored because of the multi-faceted approach it requires; for instance, fill form and seal/rewind films and machines, barrier products, carton liners, separation sheets, crate liners, carcass covers and all other manner of products are affordable and can make the ultimate difference in maintaining a profitable supply line free of mishaps.

Again, the bottled water sector is such a good case study on this issue. A place that packs bottled water needs to ensure its product is presented to customers in a uniform way. The moment a single item moves out of alignment during transit, it can pop out and cause damage to more of the shipment – and bear in mind this type of item can be moved five or six times depending on its final destination.

From warehouse to secondary handlers and finally to retailers, restaurants and cafes, it is multi-handled and suppliers need to protect the integrity and clarity of each pack, making sure no deformation takes place.

Once plastic bottle necks are turned inwards, they are harder to stock properly. Even to take a basic re-evaluation of their heat-induced wrapping systems can make an enormous difference. In some cases, we have found that reducing heat from 200°C to 175°C and increasing the rate of pack movements through blow formers and fillers etc will optimise your bundle shrink systems and positively affect overall productivity and transport quality.

We have seen in so many food and beverage handling plants that making such straightforward analysis of the entire supply procedure can increase speed and efficiency by 30 percent, plus protect the packaging integrity.

Nelson Joyce & Co is an importer, converter and distributors of flexible packaging products, based in Sydney’s Seven Hills.

How investing in logistics can lift your standards

Whether you're running a small food manufacturing business or a large scale distribution operation, logistics matters. By Aoife Boothroyd.

There are a myriad of logistics models that businesses can subscribe to, with the size, scope and nature of the business being the key determining factors influencing which model is most appropriate.

Food magazine recently spoke to two food manufacturers that employ automation as a key part of their overall logistical operations: South Australian tomato producer D'VineRipe and cereal giant Kellogg's.

D'VineRipe was established in 2006 as a joint venture between food marketing company, Perfection Fresh Australia and investment company, The Victor Smorgon Group. 

The company produces a wide range of tomatoes from cocktail-sized, right up to the larger truss varieties.

D'VineRipe has the capacity to produce up to 15,000 tonnes of vine-ripened fruit year round in its state-of-the-art, 27 hectare glasshouse facility, complete with climate control and irrigation.

D'VineRipe supplies some of the nation's largest retailers including Coles, Woolworths, Aldi and Costco, and delivers to all the eastern states, with a smaller concentration in Western Australia and South Australia. Most impressively, they do this within a 24 to 72 hour turn-around from when the fruit is picked from the vine. 

D'VineRipe operates to the Delivered In Full, On Time (DIFOT) logistics model which is designed to measure delivery performance throughout the supply chain, and is geared to tailor deliveries to the customer by measuring how often the customer gets exactly what they want, at the time that they want it.


As D'VineRipe is in the business of perishable goods, it is imperative that its operations run as timely and as smoothly as possible. To achieve this, the facility is fitted out with a network of automatic guided vehicles which run down the rows of each glasshouse to collect fruit, and then deliver the full boxes straight back to the pack house where they are automatically weighed, entered into a buffer system, graded, and packed based on variety.

"All the picking operations are manually done, however the automatic guided vehicles improve efficiencies by eliminating that extra operation of someone transporting the fruit back to the pack house, picking up the box, weighing it, recording the weight on a piece of paper and then entering it into a computer," says Jon Jones, general manager of D'VineRipe.

"The vehicles enable all those steps to happen automatically."

The automatic guided vehicle system was built for D'VineRipe by Belgian company, Bogaerts Greenhouse Logistics. The vehicles deliver accurate recording data capabilities in terms of weighing the product, and also feature a built-in sensor, or a photo eye, that picks up if a person or object is within its range, enabling it to slow down or stop to avoid a collision.

When asked about the reliability of such a sophisticated system, Jones says that it's almost "bulletproof."

"It's like any computer system, it is » extremely reliable. Sometimes you can experience a glitch here or there, but the majority of the time it's bulletproof," he says.

Jones says that since the system was put in place over four years ago, operational efficiencies have improved even further thanks to various updates in technology.

"We are always looking for new efficiencies. We as a company have changed and gotten bigger; the technology in the automatic guided vehicles has also been upgraded and improved."

Logistics automation is key to the operations of many businesses, however the processes required by long shelf life FMCG's are obviously different compared to that of perishable produce like tomatoes.

Global food manufacturer Kellogg's decided to make the switch from an almost entirely manually operated 27,000 square metre distribution centre in Botany, New South Wales, to a system that could automatically process high demand volumes whilst also achieving high storage densities.

The system back in 2003 was capable of accommodating 28,000 pallet positions across the warehouse's 27,000 square metres, but the introduction of a new system saw the company achieve impressive storage and operational efficiencies that it did not expect.

Kellogg's worked with Dexion, a distribution management specialist, and supply chain solution company, Linfox, to create a more efficient and sustainable distribution model.  The model incorporated an automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) which was implemented as part of a broader Real-Time Distribution System (RDS). 

ASRS is designed to tackle some of the most difficult challenges that FMCG distribution centres face including completing orders that cover high volume, fast moving and fluctuating quantities of goods that can be subject to strict use-by dates, while RDS controls the physical and operational aspects of a company's distribution centre from the receipt of goods to processing, storage, order fulfilment and despatch in real time.

Kellogg's new ASRS includes pallet conveyors, robotics, storage and retrieval systems and IT hardware that enabled the new distribution centre to hold 32,000 pallets – 4,000 more than what was previously possible – within the automated storage component and the conventional section of the warehouse. 

The new system enabled pallets to be stored in five aisles, six pallets deep on either side, with each aisle serviced by its own automatic crane. The ASRS enabled Kellogg's to have the capacity to put away up to 90 pallets per hour, and retrieve 120 pallets per hour.

Another impressive aspect of the new system was the command and control centre that provides a pictorial overview of the ASRS system, enabling the operator to see what the system's doing in real time and quickly resolve any issues that arise.

Since the introduction of the system, Kellogg's has reported a 10 percent reduction in pick error; production damage has been reduced by a staggering 85 percent and labour costs have also dropped as only half the amount of forklifts are now required, even with the increased capacities.

The most important part of any logistical operation is to have appropriate processes in place, enabling the operation to run as smoothly as possible by eliminating inefficiencies. 

While investing in sophisticated automation systems might mean a reduction in staff levels and a considerable investment initially, the productivity and long-term financial gains can most definitely outweigh the disadvantages. 


Conveyor cooking systems rolling towards profit

The use of advanced conveyor cooking systems is improving product quality and cooking efficiencies among food processors in Australia – and saving on costs.

In search of enhanced quality, safety and efficiencies food processors throughout the world are adopting more advanced, sophisticated cooking systems. In Australia there is more incentive to upgrade these systems – government grants to incorporate added energy efficiencies into plants via the use of innovative technologies and equipment.

“Emphasis on the quality of the foods is one of the more noticeable trends in this market, particularly on the retail side,” says Barry Hansell, sales manager at Sydney’s Reactive Engineering, a supplier of processing and packaging equipment for medium to large-size processors.

“Ready-to-eat meals sold by retailers are a good example. Ten years ago you’d be hard pressed to find really good quality in frozen meals. But now processors are focusing more on the fresh-prepared meals, which allow for a lot higher quality, and on much greater variety of dishes than we saw in the past.”

There is strong evidence that the move towards improved quality and greater variety is also being driven by the availability of more advanced and flexible cooking systems. Another influence is the Australian government’s grant programs that support the investigation and implementation of energy efficient projects. Such grants to food processors can help to reduce the payback period of projects, and offset the financial risk of investing in innovative technologies.

“Yield improvement remains important to Australian processors,” Hansell says, “but with newer cooking system designs, they no longer have to sacrifice quality to get a bit of extra yield. Today the opportunity exists for them to gain or at least maintain yield while improving on quality and cooking efficiencies.”

Hansell explains that, increasingly, his customers are switching over from sometimes unsystematic and more labor-intensive batch cooking to high-efficiency inline or conveyor processing that improves on quality, consistency, yield improvement, and throughput. Extended shelf life plus improved taste and appearance are significant among quality improvements, he adds.

Invigorating meat fillings & toppings
Sydney-based Prontier produces ready-to-eat protein sandwich fillings as well as meats for pizzas and salad toppings, and covers all aspects of manufacturing, distribution and retail operations.

“The majority of our business comes from sandwich meats that we cook, slice, and marinate for the lunch trade in the foodservice category,” explains Saxon Joye, Prontier founder and managing director.

Joye adds that his philosophy doesn’t follow a rulebook. “I grew up in a restaurant kitchen – if you dream it, I’ll find a way to make it,” is his trademark position on sandwich fillings.

This philosophy has led Prontier to a stream of innovations, such as the recent acquisition of two conveyor cooking systems, a flame grill and a spiral oven. This equipment enables Prontier to achieve added flavour and a more authentic appearance for its products, plus the improved efficiencies of inline cooking.

The flame grill individually quick-flames products and maximises the effects of flame-searing while minimising yield losses. The multiple independently controlled burners and touch screen recipe selection make this unit flexible and efficient.

“We use this equipment to wrap the outside of ready-to-eat items in flames and seal the meat,” Joye explains. “It also browns meat products such as chicken with a char-grilled stripe, which creates a fabulous presentation. The natural-looking flamed colour and authentic grilled flavour are important advancements for us. They are dramatic improvements in the quality.”

Prontier’s meats are fully cooked in a spiral oven, a highly flexible, small-footprint cooking system developed for processors who want the benefits of continuous conveyor-style cooking with reliable consistency and lower energy usage.

“Now, instead of batch processing we have a ‘production river,’ which provides huge labour saving advantages, and gives us real control over the way we finish every individual piece of food, making it a beautiful product,” says Joye.

Spiralling into control
The spiral oven is also a key cooking system at Sydney-based Primo Moraitis Fresh, which manufactures, processes and packages high quality ready-to-eat salads, soups and fresh cut processed vegetables. Primo Moraitis Fresh caters to retail, foodservice, industrial manufacturers and quick service restaurants.

“Before getting this equipment we used little combination ovens and other small cooking devices,” says Ben Watt, general manager. “When we first looked at the spiral oven, it seemed like a great piece of equipment that could have a lot of potential uses, which is exactly what it has. We’ve had ours for about 18 months, and we run a whole lot of items through it. We can steam, roast, bake, and super roast (roast and steam). The system is really versatile, so it’s in use almost all the time.”

Among Primo Moraitis Fresh’s principle products are wet salads, including items such as creamy pastas, potato salads and coleslaw.

“We use a lot of bacon, pancetta and meats like that,” Watt explains. “So we roast those items through the spiral oven. The continuous process gives us great volume with a very even cook and great consistency.”

Watt says that his spiral oven is also used for steaming potatoes, not only because of the systems versatility, but also because of its speed and the fact that the spiral oven does a better job than boiling the potatoes in water. Currently, Primo Moraitis Fresh produces approximately 400 kilos of steamed potatoes per hour using this conveyor cooking system.

Improving efficiency and output
Jewel of India is another Australian processor using a spiral oven in combination with a spiral chiller to meet its high quality standards while improving yields and other efficiencies.

Jewel of India is a ready-to-eat, chilled-meal manufacturer cooking a range of authentic Indian foods including chicken and meatballs dishes, ready-to-eat curries, simmer sauces, cocktail and finger foods and Naan breads.
Headquartered in Sydney, the company supplies to clubs, hospitals, airlines and stadiums as well as butchers and delis, supermarkets, and caterers that service the military and mining industries.

“A spiral oven is installed in our new high-risk production facility, which will provide us with food safety similar to the newest European and pharmaceutical standards,” says Jim Keating, Jewel of India general manager. “We will primarily cook chicken on this system. But the system will be able to cook other items that we may adopt in the future. We have done trials on meatballs, molded lamb balls, chicken balls and fish through the spiral system and it has proved to be very flexible. The system will allow us to adapt quickly to market changes, so we don’t run the risk of being left behind.”

Although the spiral oven is newly installed, Keating says he expects overall yield improvements to be between 15 and 20 percent. Other important efficiency features the new system is expected to provide include improved throughput, optimised product consistency and reduced labour.

“Improved cooking quality and efficiencies are very important,” says Keating. “Today, it’s really about output; it’s no longer all about input – the price of beef or lamb, the price of power, etc. But if you can improve the quality and efficiency within your operation, that is where your competitive advantage and profits lie.”

Adam Cowherd is the vice president of international sales at Unitherm Food Systems, in Bristow, Oklahoma.

Image credit: photo credit: <a href="">Flickr</a>

For more information contact (Australia or New Zealand) Barry Hansel at Reactive Engineering. Phone 61 (0)2 9675 5100; email; website:



Fast-track to accurate checkweighing

A new checkweigher from A&D Australasia will allow smaller operators to upgrade their production line to cater for increasing demand. Isaac Leung writes.

With a new consumer focus on organic and fresh foods and exotic ingredients, supermarkets are increasingly turning to small-to-medium sized Australian food manufacturers for their products.

While these contracts are lucrative, they also increase the demands on the manufacturers’ processes, necessitating faster production while still maintaining accurate portioning.

Accurate weighing of products is critical: it ensures manufacturers are not giving away too much of their product, and at the same time, are not short-changing their customers, which can lead to loss of contracts and fines.

According to Tom Armstrong, managing director of A&D Australasia, many smaller players in the industry tend to start by having operators manually sort product into packaging, and using static scales to weigh units individually.

However, this labour-intensive process can be costly, and slow. The obvious next step when scaling up operations would be to transition to an automatic process line and checkweigher system.

Fast and accurate
Checkweighers weigh products that are moving on a conveyor belt at very high speeds. A&D’s latest checkweigher, to be launched at AUSPACK PLUS 2013, for example, can weigh up to 200 0.5kg products per minute at a 0.1g resolution.

But with the speed of the checkweighers also comes issues with noise and vibration. These can obscure the actual weight of the package.

“As the package goes across the checkweighers, all sorts of variables are fed back to the indicator: the belt moving, the shaking, wind et cetera,” Armstrong explained.

An alternative approach
While competing checkweighers on the market tend towards preventing these variables by engineering very rigid and expensive mechanical structures, and dampening the loadcell, A&D’s approach uses the Japanese company’s expertise in analogue to digital conversion and digital signal processing (DSP) to quickly and accurately filter out the variables.

“For the last ten years, A&D has focused on digital signal processing, which is essentially looking at the variables coming from something under test, monitoring and measuring and simulating scenarios based on that information,” Armstrong said.

Previously, this DSP capability was used for testing and simulating automotive engines in Japan, but its application to the checkweigher means the electronics within the unit can “see” the process in slow motion, successfully isolating the actual weight of the package in under one-third of a second, as it speeds through on a conveyor belt at 120m a minute.

The flat pack advantage
Armstrong says the relaxed mechanical requirements of the A&D checkweigher poses many advantages to food manufacturers.

With an entry level price, small-to-medium sized food manufacturers can quickly upgrade to an automated production line without a massive initial outlay, but Armstrong says the specifications of the product will appeal to larger manufacturers as well.

Delivery, installation and maintenance are also made easier and cheaper.

“With conventional, rigid checkweighers, they come in big crates, and expensive technicians are needed for installation,” Armstrong said. “Our technology allows A&D to deliver it flat-packed, to be assembled on-site.”

“It’s all about reducing costs to the customer. Rather than have to have specialists travel out, with a big crate, this checkweigher can go in the back of someone’s car, and one of our retail partners can go out and do the installation.”

According to A&D Australasia, its sister company A&D TechEng can also help during installation if integration of the checkweigher with a PLC/SCADA system is needed. A&D TechEng is an approved Siemens Solution Partner and Rockwell Recognised System Integrator.

The checkweigher is designed to require minimal maintenance, and can be serviced by local weighing service companies without requiring special service tools or equipment, making it cost effective to run in the long term.

Australia will be the first country to get the new A&D checkweigher, when it is launched at stand 200 at AUSPACK PLUS 2013.


Packaging exhibition to expand

Organisers of AUSPACK PLUS 2013 announced they will add 202 square metres of venue space at the exhibition due to high demand.

Visitors can expect to see over 240 exhibitors, representing 13 countries, 58 international exhibitors and taking up over 7000 square metres of floor space.

Every two years the packaging, food and beverage industries have the opportunity to see working packaging and processing machinery under one roof at AUSPACK PLUS.

According to Brad Jeavons, National Sales Manager- Labeling Systems, insignia, AUSPACK PLUS is considered to be the industry’s premier packaging event.

“Exhibiting at AUSPACK PLUS allows the opportunity to showcase our range of Domino, Bixolon, Datamax O’Neil, Zebra and Intermec labelling and coding solutions, as well as custom made labels,” Jeavons said.

AUSPACK PLUS 2013 will be held at the Sydney Showgrounds, Sydney Olympic Park from Tuesday the 7th to Friday the 10th of May 2013.

Food contamination – a weighty issue

Looking out for certain features of weighing equipment can help food manufacturers maximise their return on investment, and minimise the risk of contamination. Isaac Leung writes.

Food contamination can occur via any number of vectors, so constant vigilance is required during every step of the food supply chain.

One oft-overlooked source of food contamination is weighing equipment, a fundamental part of portioning in food processing.

Current international standards which govern hygiene in relation to weighing equipment in the food industry include the European Hygienic Engineering & Design Group (EHEDG) guidelines, BRC Global Food Standard, SQF program, ISO 22000, and the NSF 3-A/ANSI 14159-1 standard.

Locally, the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code relating to Food Premises and Equipment stipulates that equipment needs to be designed, constructed, located and installed to ensure there is no likelihood they will cause food contamination, and can be easily and effectively cleaned.

In the case of food contact surfaces, for example, where a scale has foodstuff set on it during the portioning process, the rules are even stricter: in addition to the above, they need to be able to be sanitised, and be unable to absorb grease, food particles and water, and made of material which will not contaminate food.

Similar requirements can be found in the policies of food retailers. For example, Woolworths’ Quality Assurance Standard pertaining to Manufactured Foods require well-documented procedures for the microbiological and chemical cleaning of processing and handling equipment. These cleaning procedures are backed up by visual inspection, residue testing, and quarterly microbiological swabbing of surfaces and equipment.

Woolworths also requires planned preventative maintenance programs which include clean in place (CIP) operations utilising documented chemicals, hot water and energy like scrubbing or high pressure hosing.

According to Phil Hyland, project manager at Mettler Toledo, the last three to four years have seen a tightening of hygiene controls as a number of high-profile food contamination cases have emerged globally.

Weighing equipment manufacturers have kept an eye on these stringent demands, and designed their equipment to be correspondingly easier to clean, with less food traps and areas which could become sources of cross-contamination.

By virtue of their function, weighing equipment consists of a mix of direct food contact surfaces and non-contact surfaces.

On a scale, non-product contact surfaces can include the terminal, housing, and feet, but these can cause indirect contamination. Depending on the type of food being weighed, the feet of scales can also be in direct food contact.

Contact surfaces are defined as surfaces in direct contact with food residue, or where food residue can drip, drain, diffuse or be drawn. The scale platform is the most obvious direct food contact surface.

These surfaces need to be smooth, non-porous, non-absorbent, impervious; free of cracks, crevices, pitting, flaking, and chipping; corrosion-resistant; durable and maintenance-free; non-toxic, non-contaminant; cleanable and non-reactive.

The standard material for contact surfaces is stainless steel, which is corrosion-resistant and durable. 316 steel is preferred, while 304 stainless steel is also adequate.

To attain the requisite hygiene ratings, the surface needs to be polished to a smoothness of 0.8 micron or better. Rougher surfaces prevent effective cleaning as microorganisms become trapped in the surface, becoming a bacteria trap.

Of course, cleanability can also be dependent on the finishing technology, which can affect the surface topology.

Where other materials are used, plastics should be food grade, and smooth ceramics is also a common material.

According to Hyland, the common approach to use silicon-based potting material to protect sensitive parts of weighing equipment, such as the load cell, is insufficient for food-grade equipment. Certain cleaning products can shorten the life of silicon potting materials. A better approach is to protect the load cell with a welded, IP69 rated seal.

Designed for cleaning
The ability for equipment to handle heavy washdowns is one of the things which differentiates food-grade industrial weighing systems from, say, a kitchen scale. But Hyland says customers who only focus on the washdown capabilities of equipment may be overlooking other important factors.

“They often haven’t looked at the ability to clean the equipment properly, such as ensuring there are no food traps,” Hyland explained. “The converse applies: you could have a machine which is open and able to be washed down but the equipment eventually suffers from the cleaning.”

“We’re looking for something that can be cleaned to a satisfactory standard and yet be able to withstand that process.”

Equipment which is poorly designed may require more severe and prolonged cleaning. Aggressive chemicals and longer clean/decontamination cycles increase maintenance cost and downtime, and in the long run, can reduce the life of the product.

To avoid food traps, equipment should not have sharp corners and crevices, and mated surfaces should be continuous and substantially flush. Construction should allow easy disassemble for cleaning and inspection.

Internal angles should be rounded to standards-specified radii. Most standards specify the avoidance of sharp corners, less than 90 degrees.

Particular features which allow for easy cleaning include full stainless steel construction, smooth surfaces, continuously welded and completely closed columns with no disturbing cables, and ingress protection of IP68 or IP69K.

“IP69K sealing gives our food industry equipment very good protection against hot, high-pressure hosing,” Hyland said. “When you are in a meat room or a food processing area, the temperature often changes. If a freezer comes on, for example, you can have a large change in air temperature.”

To combat condensation within equipment due to temperature changes, the machines should be well-sealed, and properly vented.

“Food equipment in high-condensation areas will have Gore-Tex vents, which allow a balance of air pressure, so it doesn’t try to suck in moist air, but also does not allow moisture in through the vent,” Hyland explained.

Holistic approach
While the design of equipment is an important aspect of food safety, food safety auditors say many manufacturers often spend millions of dollars on equipment, only to find themselves out of step with their core customers’ requirements.

Standards like the Woolworths Quality Assurance Standards and the Coles Housebrand Supplier Program specify a comprehensive set of requirements, which relate to factors beyond equipment design like equipment placement, calibration, cleaning, interfaces with other equipment, and data retrieval and analysis.

By having a good understanding of all aspects of these requirements, in addition to equipment design, food manufacturers can minimise the risk of contamination, and ensure they are compliant with relevant standards.


Managing food recalls: a manufacturer’s guide

A product recall is a high impact event for any food business. It can be extremely costly and the reputational damage to a food business can be serious and long lasting if not managed correctly, report Michael Lincoln and Martin Stone.

What are the main causes for product recalls in Australia?
According to Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) there are approximately five recalls per month in Australia and this figure has been steady over a number of years.

Approximately one-third of recalls are due to microbiological issues, one-third from labelling issues and one-third caused by physical and chemical contamination.

Looking at these sectors individually sheds more light on the risks:

  • Microbiological issues: nearly half of micro-based recalls are due to the presence of listeria (47 percent), followed by salmonella (20 percent) and then E. coli (12 percent);
  • Labelling issues: 90 percent of labelling recalls are due to undeclared allergens including peanut, gluten, milk and egg
  • Physical contamination: foreign matter recalls commonly involve metal (37 percent), plastics (27 percent) and glass (18 percent).

The risks that cause these recalls are present in almost every food manufacturing business and it is clear that no-one is immune from the threat of a product recall. An objective of all food businesses must therefore be risk minimisation and preparedness.

What are the key factors involved in risk minimisation?
The short answer is documented systems and actual procedures. Systems-wise, food businesses should have a robust food safety risk management program in place which needs to be constantly reviewed and tested to ensure it reflects the risk profile and activities of the business. As a minimum, the program should specially consider each of the causal factors in recalls and those specific to the industry itself.

Importantly, the actual procedures that occur within the business need to be critically evaluated. Significant failures in the food industry resulting in a recall rarely come from a problem with the food safety manual, they result from actual procedures that occur in the facility. HACCP often reviews businesses with lovely documented systems but the actual procedures in the facility fall way short of best practise or even basic common sense. The key here is to spend more time on the production floor and actively hunt down those practises that bring risk into your business. Eliminate these and you will effectively reduce risk.

What about preparedness?
Conducting routine mock recalls is a great way to test your ability to respond to a real life situation. Again, the tip here is critical evaluation. Really test your system to see if it all holds together. A surprising number of recalls occur when a number of factors contribute negatively to the effectiveness of a recall. For example, “the coder was not working that day”, “the logistics manager was on holidays”, “the retention samples were lost”, “it was from a new supplier” are comments we hear all the time when investigating a recall.

Use some of these ‘curved ball’ factors when you conduct your mock recall and see what happens. Does the effectiveness of your product recall hinge on one person or procedure in your business? Is there a back-up plan in place?

On the financial side, recall insurance can make sound business sense. This product is appropriate for many businesses and forms a vital part of their preparedness programme.

What should a company do if it finds itself in a recall scenario?
Firstly, don’t panic. The key activities in the early part of a recall are containment / stock disposition and information gathering. Focusing on these and doing it well will minimise impact. Identifying potentially affected stock rapidly and halting logistics quickly can make the difference between a consumer recall and a trade withdrawal. Accurate information is vital to decision making – any assumptions in this process will reduce the effectiveness of the overall recall.

Accuracy in determining the problem significance is also critical and again, assumptions have no place. We have seen numerous examples of product recalls being triggered on the basis of potentially false positive results, for example. The opposite could also be true with potentially disastrous results for consumer safety. Whilst it is wise to always err on the side of consumer safety, there is nothing better than being able to make decisions based on sound, repeatable data.

Let me give an example of a friend who was recently making an assessment of laboratory capabilities for his company. A single sample was divided into four parts and sent to four individual laboratories. Three significantly different results were returned (only two of the four labs found the same results). One of the results could have triggered a product recall if taken on its own. The outcome here was that at least two of the results were likely wrong, maybe three, maybe all.  The implications in a product recall scenario are obvious.

Finally, the regulators including FSANZ and State Recall Co-ordinators are a huge resource for the food manufacturer when enacting a recall. The recall co-ordinators provide guidance and help the manufacturer to navigate their way through the formalities. Their advice is invaluable but note, the depth of their assistance is limited by the strength of the information provided by the manufacturer.

What costs are associated with recalls?
The cost of these incidents can be startling. We often see recall costs from retailers costing over $100,000, and it is not uncommon to see the total cost of a recall exceeding $500,000. Only recently we had a client with a turnover of less than $15m have a recall cost in excess of $1m.  A recall is rarely a cheap experience and can easily cause long term financial pain.

We are also seeing an increase in clients who contract manufacture to third parties being lumped with significant bills for loss of sales and extra expenses from the third parties following a recall. These types of bills can be multiples of what the client's costs are.

A food recall is a potentially costly and devastating event for a food business, with serious implications for consumer health. However, the risk and impact of a food recall can be significantly reduced through the use of critically evaluated systems, being appropriately prepared and taking the right to mitigate the effects if one of your products is pulled from the shelves.


Michael Lincoln is National Underwriting Manager, Crisis Management at Liberty International Underwriters

Martin Stone is director at HACCP Australia.

For promotional purposes only. The information contained herein should not be considered legal advice or loss control or prevention advice. This information is intended to provide general information only. You should not act on the basis of information contained within this communication without first obtaining specific professional advice.  Insurance coverage is subject to the terms and conditions of the policies as issued. Whether or to what extent a particular loss is covered depends on the facts and circumstances of the loss and the terms and conditions of the policy as issued and the risks involved. This information is current as at 7 January 2013.


Sustainable structure sees Chep move with the times

With a global network in 54 countries, more than 7,700 employees and over 75 sites in Australia alone, CHEP is a leading provider of pallet, container and crate pooling services. Here, Phillip Austin, president of CHEP Australia and NZ explains how its equipment is contributing to a more environmentally sustainable supply chain.

Australia’s supply chain infrastructure has been built around the CHEP pallet – every trailer in Australia is designed to be two CHEP pallets wide; every warehouse rack is precisely one CHEP pallet wide.  Globally, the company manages 237 million pallets, 600,000 bulk containers and 34.9 million reusable plastic containers. It goes without saying then, that CHEP plays an integral role in the manufacturing and logistics industries both here and abroad.

As the company that moves what we make – and with the environment front of mind for many of Australia’s manufacturers, retailers and consumers alike – CHEP’s business model is an inherently sustainable one. It’s based on a pooling system which essentially does away with one-way equipment use by customers.

Phillip Austin (pictured below) elaborates…

CHEP issues a piece of equipment to a customer who has it on hire until they transfer it – usually with their goods – to a trading partner. Equipment moves this way through the supply chain until it is not needed by the last customer in the chain, then is returned to CHEP for conditioning and reissue.

CHEP’s equipment pooling model is sustainable for a number of reasons: reuse of assets, maximised transport efficiency and the responsible use of resources.

Indeed, an independent lifecycle analysis of CHEP’s returnable plastic crate system shows, daily, the system saves more than 175 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, more than 1.2 million litres of water and more than 20 tonnes of solid waste compared to a one-way corrugated cardboard system.

The scale and density of CHEP’s network allows equipment to travel shorter distances, thereby minimising transport-related carbon emissions. Also, CHEP has accreditation to stack pallets 20-high on trucks instead of the industry standard of 18, saving around seven percent of emissions per trip.

And finally, CHEP equipment is 100 percent recyclable. Plastic crates and pallets are recycled at the end of their lives and ground up for reuse, in things like planter pots. Timber cut-offs and timber from damaged pallets are reused at service centres, with about 85 percent of a pallet used to repair other pallets. What is not suitable for repair is mulched and used as garden compost.

In 2010 we established a Sustainability Program to further enhance the sustainability value of CHEP’s pooling system to Australian supply chains, including food and beverage manufacturers.

Our Sustainability Program focuses on four key areas: customer, environment, people and community, and has targets for these to 2015.

Highlights from this program, which benefit Australia’s food and beverage supply chain include:

  • Our unique pool of reusable, recyclable Multi-purpose Beverage Trays (pictured here) eliminating around 1,250 tonnes of one-way cardboard packaging waste each year.
  • CHEP’s accreditation from the National Transport Commission to stack empty pallets 20-high on trucks rather than 18-high, saving fuel and reducing carbon emissions
  • Our in-kind support of equipment to key food distribution charities including Foodbank and The Smith Family, equalling around $800,000 per year.

The new CHEP Retail Beverage Tray and Display Pallet will be released into the Australian market early this year. The benefits of this new system will be similar to the existing Multi-purpose Beverage Tray and Display Pallet, which, as mentioned above, has reduced the environmental impact of the customer’s beverage supply chain by eliminating around 1,250 tonnes of one-way cardboard packaging each year.

The Retail Beverage Tray and Display Pallet will be a one-touch packaging solution. Beverages are packed into the trays and onto the display pallets at the point of manufacture and travel through the supply chain to point of sale.

Additionally, in some cases, transport efficiencies may be gained through loading additional units per vehicle compared to traditional packaging.

Add to this CHEP’s returnable plastic crate system, which is used by the fresh produce industry to cool products and deliver them to retailers and which, when compared to a one-way corrugated cardboard system, saves more than 175 tonnes of greenhouse gases and more than 20 tonnes of solid waste a day.

We are also developing a new generation fresh produce crate in consultation with industry. It is an improved version of the existing fresh produce returnable plastic crate and is expected to be at least as environmentally sustainable as its predecessor. And, like the current generation crate, it will be fully recyclable at the end of its life.


Tesco enjoys improved efficiency with new materials handling system

Material handling and logistics automation company, Dematic, has provided Tesco with an innovative new system for its Enfield 'Dotcom' store.

The automated materials picking and handling system went live in January last year, enabling Teso to fulfil an increased number of home delivery grocery orders from one location.

The Enfield store is Tesco's fourth Dotcom store, which is effectively a warehouse dedicated to home-delivering orders made online. The Dotcom stores replace Tesco’s previous operation in some particularly busy areas where employees pick online orders straight from the shelves of its retail stores. Tesco has transferred picking and delivery of online orders from several of its normal stores into the Enfield Dotcom store.

The fifth Dotcom facility will go live early this year in Crawley, WA, and a sixth is being built, and will comprise further automation technologies from Dematic.

The Enfield integrated installation features zone routing picking for ambient and chilled goods and separate ambient and chilled Dematic Multishuttle tote order consolidation buffers.

Dematic’s zone picking system auto-launches customer order totes directly to numerous pick zones as required within the ambient area, and separate totes across zones in the chilled area.

Tesco staff pick grocery, produce and bakery goods into the order totes according to instructions received via wrist mounted Radio Data Terminals. Once scanned, totes are sent to the next relevant zone via conveyor. Complete totes are then routed to the Multishuttle consolidation buffers.

Two separate Dematic Multishuttle Consolidation Buffer units hold completed customer order totes for both ambient and chilled home delivery orders. Once a full van has been consolidated, the totes are sent in order sequence to one of the centre's van loading bays for operators to load.

Tesco’s operations development manager, David Burroughs, said "This system will help us reduce our running costs and offer more delivery slots to customers from earlier in the day. We wanted to ensure we could get customers’ orders picked, vans loaded and out on time with the freshest possible produce. The system also gives the accuracy we need to ensure the highest possible service levels."

Dematic’s sales project manager Shane Faulkner added that Dematic's complete system enables Tesco to pick and deliver within the concentrated floor space of the Enfield Dotcom store, which removes dotcom pickers in many of the surrounding Tesco stores.

"This is an advantage in areas where rents are high. Also by automating its online order picking process, Tesco can increase volumes while at the same time maintaining the high service levels that are essential with home delivery," he said.