New CHEP container rises to challenge for yeast manufacturer

A new addition to its IBC range, the CHEP Intercon has increased efficiencies at Australian yeast and bread improver manufacturer, Lesaffre.

The company was previously using the CHEPBox, an Intermediate Bulk Container (IBC), designed specifically for food industry applications, to move its liquid yeast from its Melbourne manufacturing site to its Perth distribution site.

Then, 12 months ago, CHEP approached the company with the new CHEP Intercon, which Peter Gaddes, CHEP senior business relationship manager, sai would add efficiencies to Lesaffre's supply chain.

Made from food-grade polypropylene, the Intercon is designed specifically for the food manufacturing sector and can be used for liquid and dry food applications including juices, edible oil, meat and vinegar, and, in Lesaffre's case, liquid yeast.

The Intercon is more than 60kg lighter than the CHEPBox and can hold 50 litres more liquid yeast.

Russell Cotterell, national logistics and purchasing manager for Lesaffre Australia Pacific, said "The reduction in the weight of our freight, combined with the ability to move more product has cut our annual freight component. The reduction from 144 trips to 140 trips a year is a huge benefit as the Melbourne to Perth trip is logistically one of the most expensive channels in the country."

Cotterell said staff on the company's manufacturing floor were happy with the change.

"A drop door on the side of the unit enables easy access to the base for manual filling and placement of liner bags, so our staff can reach further down inside the Intercon without having to bend," he said.

"The strong, lightweight construction also means the Intercon is easy to manoeuvre within our plant during filling, while the unit's four-way design allows forklifts access from all four sides, providing improved OH&S standards and greater handling efficiencies across the plant."

 

Pallet manufacturers to merge into CABKA Group

CABKA and Innova Packaging Systems are to merge under the umbrella of the newly founded CABKA Group.

The CEOs of both companies made the announcement on 19 November and said that until a joint brand is announced, the labels of pallet manufacturers CABKA and Innova Packaging Systems (IPS) will remain intact.

The merge will see the new group become a broad-based provider of plastic pallets, boxes and pallet boxes, with company entering the new group with their own niche market; CABKA focuses on inexpensive one-way pallets for export and IPS concentrates on higher-priced multi-way pallets.

The merge is expected to enable both companies to improve their market positions and become more effective in developing innovations.

"We want to organically grow together by way of a strong range and continuous innovation-based expansion," said Gat Ramon, director and management spokesperson of the new CABKA Group.

"For example, we are going to set up a production line complete with recycling plant for mixed plastics in the vicinity of Ypres, Belgium."

The companies are also a good geographical fit. While CABKA has a strong presence in Germany (Weira, Berlin), North America (St. Louis) and Spain (Valencia), Belgium-based IPS (Ypres) serves the Benelux countries, as well as the UK, Ireland, France and Spain.

 

Is food safety getting worse?

With the risk of food contamination increasing, producers, manufacturers, retailers, regulators and the consuming public all continually raise the bar for food safety. The variety of potential contaminants that must be detected across the food supply chain complicates screening procedures.

This is because no single device or technology can screen for all types. Even when an incident occurs, it’s difficult to identify the cause and its source rapidly because of the limited capability of available technology for sample preparation, identification and detection, and tracking and tracing.

There are many types of biological, chemical and physical sources of contamination. New sources of contamination constantly arise from recycling efforts, product reformulation, product counterfeiting, and other malicious and non-malicious sources.

However, the industry is putting improved technology and practices into place and new technology is evolving rapidly to help further protect the consuming public. These include continuous quality verification; state-of-the-art, analytics-based risk assessment; and more timely and granular track and trace systems.

Improving food and beverage product quality and safety goes hand in hand with efforts to lower manufacturing and supply chain cost while reducing business risk.

Global sourcing and rapid distribution have increased the risk of a large-scale incident. The Red Sudan incident is a perfect example.

Sudan 1, a banned carcinogenic red food dye, was used to make red chili powder. This single ingredient created a major global incident before authorities discovered it had entered the global food supply chain, prompting dozens of product recalls.

Over 600 food products were recalled. These included curry sauce, Worcester sauce, pesto sauce, ready to eat meals, soups, sausage, pizza and Dijon mustard mayonnaise from major food companies such as Unilever, Heinz, McDonalds, Tesco and Sainsbury.

Product reformulation

New sources of contamination continue to be discovered. These are due to product reformulation, material recycling, and discovery that some ingredients are not as safe as once thought. Many companies are reformulating their food products with ingredients that help lower costs or improve the health benefits.

However, ingredient changes can also change the water activity of the product and make it more susceptible to spoilage and bacterial growth. Just this year, Nestle announced that it is collaborating with paper manufacturers to evaluate different approaches for developing new grades of recycled paper in light of concerns about oil leaking into foods from packaging material made from recycled newspaper.

Statistics on the number of incidents of food borne illnesses or the number of incidents caused by the five major pathogens do not provide evidence of a decline in incidents. Overall, the number of incidents and their severity seem to be relatively constant year to year.

In the US, this translates into 76 million gastrointestinal illnesses, 325,000 hospitalisations, 5000 deaths, and billions of dollars in costs. This is the result of poor producing and manufacturing operations as well as poor food safety practices on the part of the consumer.

However, a single, highly publicised incident has the potential to devastate brand value or even destroy a company. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges for the industry is to identify and deploy new technologies that can prevent contaminated product from reaching the consumer more effectively as well as technology that can help minimise the impact of incidents that do occur.

Accurate tracking

Companies must put technology and enforced workflow procedures in place across the manufacturing supply chain and out to the customer. This includes constant risk assessment. Continuous quality verification technology should be deployed wherever possible.

More granular and accurate tracking and tracing will also be required. Tracking and tracing using pa-per records or extensive manual entry into electronic records is no longer sufficient.

Packaging and bottling operations typically lack sufficient continuous quality verification. While most packaging line machinery is highly automated, most labelling and inspection operations remain manual or semi-manual, open-loop systems.

As a result, allergen mislabelling and non-readable date and bar codes still occur all too often. Product inspection is often limited and relies on older, less effective technology to detect non-metal impurities. Continuous quality verification systems in packaging operations are be-coming a business and regulatory requirement.

Optical character recognition (OCR) systems ensure that information such as date and lot codes are accurate and readable and provide 100 percent in-line inspection. Laser measurement-sensor technology is at the heart of other packaging line, "continuous quality verification" solutions.

These verify proper package positioning and detect jams online, and can detect other rejects, such as faulty carton seals and inadequate cap closures. New, continuous on-line X-ray systems can detect many foreign objects such as most metal, glass, plastic, bone and rock.

Packaging operations

Other technology providers now offer complete process equipment plat-forms for high-speed packaging operations. These integrate robotics, motion control, and vision technology for handling food products such as meat and poultry.

The industry must constantly raise the bar for food safety.Such platforms eliminate human handling of product to eliminate a source of product contamination. Inspection by automated vision technology also eliminates error-prone human inspection.

Food manufacturers are deploying new software solutions to address product quality and safety. These include quality management systems, production management systems, model predictive control, and electronic track and trace systems.

Production management software solutions have evolved to include many functions such as workflow design and enforcement; KPI dashboards for analysing quality, productivity, and asset utilisation; and several levels of data analytics that help identify problem areas and assess potential product quality and safety risks.

Some now include more sophisticated model- based analysis and control. In fact, most suppliers now offer some form of model predictive control (MPC) in their production management software suites.

Quality, risk, and compliance management systems (QMS) have evolved over time to address the growing needs of the regulated manufacturing industries. These systems help ensure product quality and safety as well as compliance with government regulations and industry standards, while minimising the risk to a manufacturing enterprise associated with off-quality product or noncompliance with government regulations.

Mission-specific functionality is included for manufacturing, engineering, quality, customer service, purchasing, and corporate management. Typically QMS software include modules to manage quality, documents, change, internal and external audits, training, BOMs, supplier quality, compliance and submissions, customer complaints, incidents, risk, nonconformance and deviation, corrective and preventive action (CAPA), and environmental health and safety (EH&S) compliance.

Business and regulatory requirements drive a global effort to improve product genealogy tracking and tracing from the "farm to the fork." It impacts companies that produce, manufacture, process, pack, hold, transport, distribute, and receive food products for human or animal consumption.

While most regulations require "one up and one down" record keeping, good business due diligence requires tracking and tracing from the source of an ingredient or product to the purchase by the retail customer. This includes information on companies as well as the products.

As real-time tracking and tracing systems evolve, they should be designed with all possible business benefits in mind. A tracking and tracing system should be integrated into all business activities including balancing incoming and outgoing supply chains, product recall, theft, anti-counterfeiting, asset management and tracking, and other business functions.

Production management systems

The new generation of quality management systems enables quality management tracking and tracing of suppliers and other partners in the supply chain. Production management systems provide significant tracking and tracing within manufacturing prior to packaging operations.

This includes such functions as recipe management, batch lot tracking, and in-process genealogy.
Driven by the increased need for product serialisation, packaging operations management systems are improving in functionality. However, most systems lack the full level of required functionality.

ARC believes packaging floor product identification and traceability systems must provide specific functionality to help reduce or eliminate inaccurate data, minimise the financial risk and scope of a potential product recall, and simplify current and future regulatory compliance.

While government regulations and the industry itself are doing more to ensure food safety, with the constantly changing sources of potential contamination the risk of a major incident continues to increase. In response, the industry must constantly raise the bar for food safety by continuing to implement best practices and deploying the latest technology.

[John Blanchard is Principal Analyst, ARC Advisory Group.]

UK company allows manufacturers to see potential factories in 3D

An equipment company in the UK has launched a 3D virtual reality warehouse simulator which allows food manufacturers to test warehouse options before making decisions on changes.

Briggs Equipment UK is currently offering the virtual reality experience to clients’, who experience the potential warehouse through a visor while sitting in a chair.

Users can look at warehouse designs, hourly flow rates and visual indications of bottlenecks and Briggs can then source the necessary resources to make the vision a reality.

The experience is particularly useful for companies with small warehouses, as it allows them to out the space available to the best use possible.

“For example, you can create an additional 18 per cent storage space,” Mark Murfet, VNA (Very Narrow Aisles) and warehouse project manager at Briggs said.

“We can help you store, say, 10 000 pallets using 40 oer cent less space.

The technology also allows manufacturers to foresee and reduce unnecessary costs, including purchasing too many vehicles or storage racks.
 

No jobs lost when Ferrero factory adopts integrated supply chain

Italian-owned international confectionary manufacturer, Ferrero will merge its Australian businesses, Ferrero Australia and Ferrero Australasia Manufacturing under the same name, Ferrero Australia.

The merger will not only bring together the company’s commercial and manufacturing operations, it will also see the chocolate maker introduce an integrated supply chain as well as improved administrative processes to achieve better efficiency through the adoption of SAP.

There will be no change to the operations each of the merged companies. Each business will reportly operate as it did before the merger.

The NSW Lithgow-based Ferrero Australasia Manufacturing produces confectionery and chocolate products. The factory has approximately 90 staff. No job is expected following this structural change.

The privately owned family company is behind popular brand names including Nutella, Tic Tac, Ferrero Rocher, Kinder Surprise and Bueno.

In addition to its manufacturing operations in Lithgow, the Ferrero has a commercial office based in North Sydney.

Image: Ferrero

Tips for supply chain management

The saying, “an apple a day, keeps the doctor away,” suggests that if we eat well, we will be able to perform longer without any major medical overhauls. The same principle applies to a supply chain: to create and maintain a sustainable and competitive supply chain, the people and operations involved must be continuously fed or else the supply chain risks deterioration.

Key elements of a superior supply chain

Reliable delivery
Providing customers and clients with cost-effective and quality solutions

Internal flexibility & responsiveness to the market
Having the ability to quickly adapt to a business model to meet the changing needs of the market

Cost control
Being able to deliver and respond to customers’ needs whilst maintaining a cost effective supply chain that stays within budgetary and financial constraints

Efficient asset utilisation
Ensuring available assets in the supply chain, including staff and technologies, are utilised efficiently

Continuous improvement philosophy
Understanding and instilling in others and believing that real business improvement comes by continuously looking for better ways to operate.

PIP

Underpinning the above key elements of a best practice supply chain are three key building blocks: Process; Information/Technology; and People (PIP).

Process
Periodic review of clear and concise processes and policies that align with business growth can help eliminate “noise” created by unclear business operating rules.

Information/Technology
Also, access to Supply Chain Management (SCM) technology to collate and transform large volumes of data into useful information to base effective, informed decisions can also help better supply chain operations.

People
Whilst the entire PIP concept is important, the core of a healthy supply chain is arguably a team of dedicated and dynamic people aligned to a common purpose. A well-trained team, driven by a strong leader who inspires a shared vision for the future, can overcome process and technology gaps in any company. The effectiveness of the people who create and use the processes and SCM tools, ultimately determine whether or not a company gains a competitive edge in the market via their supply chain activities.

While formal education is beneficial, an organisational culture that allows for ongoing education and practical application of supply chain practice is also critical in harnessing a superior team. Opportunities to develop basic business knowledge and communication and organisational skills, such as the ability to deal with conflict, manage priorities and projects, are important.

It is time to give your supply chain a check-up?

Leanne Armstrong is the General Manager of Full Capacity.

Full Capacity
0418 229 080
www.fullcapacity.com.au

Image: earthmover.com.au

AFGC, CHEP Retail Index predicts economic activity

Posted by Rita Mu

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) and logistics company CHEP Australia have launched an index that measures economic activity up to three months in advance.

Data from the new AFGC CHEP Retail Index, which draws information from CHEP’s pallet movements in the supply chain, is analysed by Deloitte to provide users with an insight into past trends and predictions on economic activity for the next quarter.

The economic indicator has been developed by extensive analytical modelling using years of CHEP transactional data and other data sources, combining historical Australian Bureau Statistics (ABS) data with more than 10 million data points based on CHEP pallet movements, according to the AFGC. This methodology has been tested by Deloitte over the past two years and the results then subjected to a retrospective review over the last seven years.

Chief Executive Kate Carnell of AFGC said the Retail Index was ideal for industry and economic commentators, particularly within the food and grocery sector.

“The value-adding AFGC CHEP Retail Index provides industry with another useful tool to gain a better market insight, assess retail confidence and is a reliable forward look at the future trend of underlying supply chain activity and retail trade,” she said.

According to a report by Skynews.com.au, the first edition of the index, released in mid-May, showed that movement of goods in the March quarter of 2011, in terms of index points, was up 2.7 per cent from the previous corresponding period.

The next edition of the index will be announced in late July 2011.

Image: foodaust.com.au

Gerrard & Associates joins Hapman’s representative network

Gerrard & Associates has joined Hapman’s full line of powder and bulk solids handling equipment to processors in North and South Carolina in the US.

“Along with our entire representative network, Gerrard & Associates is an essential part of working with our customers to understand their challenges and goals and develop solutions with Hapman that will result in real operational improvements,” said Greg Patterson, vice president of sales & marketing for Hapman.

Gerrard & Associates has been representing manufacturers of bulk material handling equipment in the food, chemical, pharmaceutical, plastics, building products and other industries.

“The addition of Hapman’s line to our equipment offering allows us to provide greater options within existing product categories,” said Bob Gerrard of Gerrard & Associates “What’s more, we can now offer exciting new options, including tubular drag conveying, which is fast becoming the preferred solution for conveying powders and bulk solids.”

 

King Materials Handling installs pallet inverter for Fonterra

King Materials Handling has installed a King Pallet Inverter for Fonterra, removing all manual handling and increasing efficiency at its warehouse.

“We were using traditional methods of transferring the pallet load of bags or cartons by hand, from wooden delivery pallets over to hygienic plastic pallets, before requiring storage in clean warehousing, as we had no record of where that wooden pallet had been,” said a spokesperson from Fonterra.

King Material Handling claimed the King Pallet Inverter does not use hydraulics but rather operates through electro-mechanics.

According to Fonterra, it has enabled the company to cut down time. For instance, with the machine it now takes 20 seconds to invert a load in comparison to 10 minutes when it was complete manually.

 

Eliminate manual intervention in materials handling

Companies investing in materials handling have as a chief aim the desire to eliminate manual intervention in as many parts of the process as possible while maintaining a cost effective functional solution.

According to materials handling technology specialist, Industrial Conveying, the key to maximising technological integration and production flow is to get this factor right at the design stage.

The company has been partnering businesses in most sectors — food, parcel and mail handling, warehousing and third-party logistics, transport and palletising — to maximise flow process at the design stage

Don Erskine, Industrial Conveying managing director, said providers will spend too little time on system design prior to commencement of manufacture.

“What we have found in this sector of materials handling is that although customers have a good idea of what they want they do not have the depth of materials handling experience,” said Erskine.

“Providers such as us should never offer a system without firstly evaluating the material flow to optimise the overall system design.”

According to Erskine, the first step in the equation is when we receive a detailed specification from the client; we spend time evaluating it from a technical and material flow point of view.

“Regardless of how good and suitable the first effort can appear, experience tells us that further improvements can always be made in the functionality and design of a materials handling system,” he said.

“For our clients, it is imperative they receive a detailed engineering presentation of exactly what we have to offer for their needs. It’s all about the materials handling flow and how it has been refined to work better in practice.

“For instance, it might take three or four refinements by our design engineers to find the optimum solution including areas such as control system, or how to gain equal or better performance and functionality from a more cost effective solution, operator locations, fork lift activity and isles, maintenance access, location of production equipment within building or perhaps types of operator HMI screens that are easier for users to understand.”

Erskine said that every time the client presents specifications of their requirements, the company spends a couple of weeks refining the system for better operation and cost efficiency.

“It gives them latitude to analyse and optimise all the technologies better integrated into the processes to provide the most timely and cost-friendly solution. And, by using a local facilitator of this knowledge, there is no delay, communications gap or cost factor which often arises when personnel have to fly in on an irregular basis from overseas.”

Human Machine Interface (HMI) is an example of a rapidly emerging technology that Industrial Conveying’s engineers have been able to integrate for clients who may have considered themselves not up to affording or managing such a system.

In a recent solution, the company supplied its client with a portable RF HMI PC Tablet. This tablet can be used by operators or maintenance personal from anywhere within the plant.

A HMI portable tablet enables the client to run individual conveys or sections of conveyors and receive performance feedback on that specific section. It provides a data about the section (such as alarm conditions or any fault, motor overload, or any other area of concern and it can be investigated in isolation without a shutdown).

Also, it provides a much safer working environment as the HMI tablet can be brought to the section in question and manually operate elements of the system to identify the problems.

“The ability to isolate problems instantly is just one example of the benefits of extra refinement in design,” said Erskine. “Overall, it is all about taking the client’s initial concept and refining the design to make it simpler and smarter, utilising the most intelligent arrangement of conveys powered by optimised software, motors, control, electrical systems and electronics. Companies in Australia making capital investments in materials handling technologies deserve that level of technical excellence. It is all a case of having the expertise to put in the right base processes and adding high-level technology as the design develops and matures.”

The wrong OEM choice could cost you dearly

By Val Pavlovic

Investments in materials handling systems in the food processing can sometimes be ill-conceived and incompletely engineered because the wrong original equipment manufacturer (OEM) is involved, according to an Australian supplier to international markets.

Industrial Conveying (Aust) Pty Ltd urges Australian companies to be highly diligent in choosing the right design engineers and equipment supplier/installer or risk project failures.

Managing Director Don Erskine, says regardless of the size or complexity of a project, success comes down to the design expertise and the standard of equipment that is supplied.

“A materials handling project is only as good as the sum of its parts, and in this case the parts are the original equipment and those assigned to specify it — the design engineers,” Mr Erskine says.

“Often, the task of designing a materials handling system and then sourcing the equipment for it is handed over to a third party company which may have a good general knowledge, but lacks specialised expertise in materials handling,” Mr Erskine says.

“It is regrettable that many times across all industry sectors we have been called in to analyse why a company’s materials handling system keeps breaking down and it becomes apparent that poor design and unsuitable components are to blame.

“Unfortunately, in many cases the most appropriate course of action has been for us to completely remove the existing system and start from scratch; this time using our own engineers and OEM components plus appropriate imported stock.

“Accurately specifying the right equipment, components and controllers that can last the full duty cycle expected is critical in maximising output and minimising ongoing expense of the system.”

Mr Erskine reiterates that solution specialists for industrial materials handling applications are now more crucial than ever due to the rising cost of downtime.

A materials handling specialist — especially one that is an OEM – ensures a more consistent level of technology throughout a project, ensuring no weak points or breakdown points. Hence, a lower likelihood of downtime.

Secondly, when local design engineers are engaged, there is a direct line of communication allowing for fast and more accurate design, component sourcing, installation and ongoing technical assistance.

Lastly, a local OEM allows a rapid supply line of replacement parts if and when they may be required.

“Before a company commits to any serious level of capital expenditure on a materials handling system, it needs to consider the entire life cycle of the system.

“The only way to achieve the desired outcome is to think about the specialist nature of this equipment and partner with a facilitator that knows the business.”

For more information, please contact Don Erskine, Industrial Conveying (Aust) Pty Ltd.

Industrial product buyers guide for 2010

Food Magazine’s sister publication Factory Equipment News (FEN) will release an industrial product buyers guide in early 2010 showcasing new manufacturing products.

The FEN 2010 Industrial Buyers’ Guide will include products in: Automation and Robotics; Motors and Drives; Occupational Health and Safety; Industrial IT; Factory Maintenance; Metalworking; Welding; Pneumatics and Hydraulics; Waste Management; Sustainability; Packaging; Materials Handling; Warehousing; Fluid Handling; Test and Measurement; and Sensors and Instrumentation.

A total of 40,000 copies of the guide will be inserted into February issues of relevant manufacturing magazines published by Reed Business Information. Advertising packages in the guide are competitively priced and include: a product showcase with product image, information and contact details in the print guide; an HTML/PDF showcase e-newsletter mailed to buyers and influencers within a product category or categories; and a product showcase on www.myfen.com.au tagged to relevant categories.

Advertisers can choose from three advertising packages — Gold, Silver and Bronze — depending on their budget. Bookings for a listing in this much anticipated publication close Thursday, 3 December 2009.

For more information, visit: https://www.reedbusiness.com.au/pdf/FEN.SHOWCASE.MK.pdf

Contact:

Jane Atherton Business Development Manager

Reed Business Information

T: (02) 9422 2890

E: jane.atherton@reedbusiness.com.au

Events – June

Snackex Berlin

7 to 9 June, 2009

V: Estrel Exhibition & Convention Center, Berlin

E: esa@esa.org.uk

W: www.esa.org.uk

Smart 2009 Conference

10 to 11 June, 2009

V: Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, Darling Harbour

E: admin@smartconference.com.au

W: www.smartconference.com.au

Queensland Safety Show & Materials Handling

16 to 18 June, 2009

V: Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, Brisbane

E: safety@aec.net.au

W: www.aec.net.au/qss

AUSPACK 2009

16 to 19 June, 2009

V: Sydney Showgrounds, Sydney Olympic Park

E: rkeen@etf.com.au

W: www.auspack.com.au

ProPak Asia 2009

17 to 20 June, 2009

V: Bangkok, Thailand

E: propak@besallworld.com

W: www.propakasia.com

VINEXPO International Wine & Spirits Exhibition

21 to 25 June, 2009

V: Bordeaux, France

E: australia@promosalons.com

W: www.vinexpo.com

Food Legislation and Labelling course

23 to 24 June, 2009

V: Brisbane

E: info@haccptown.com.au

W: www.haccptown.com.au/Australia/forms/CourseSchedule.aspx?ItemID=19

Cost Eective Powder Processing in Practice

23 to 24 June, 2009

V: Matcon House, Moreton-in-Marsh, Glos, UK

E: dnewell@matcon.com.au

W: www.matconibc.com/conference

Expo Pack

23 to 26 June, 2009

V: Mexico City, Mexico

E: LThompson@pmmi.org

W: www.expopack.com.mx

Planning 4 Reliability NATIONAL FORUM

26 to 27 June, 2009

V: Conrad Jupiters, Gold Coast

E: melissa.cameron@sirfrt.com.au

W: www.sirfrt.com.au

55th Summer Fancy Food Show

28 to 30 June, 2009

V: Javits Center, New York City

E: admin@Specialty-Foods.com

W: www.fancyfoodshows.com

APRIL

MAY

JULY

AUGUST

SEPTEMBER

To add your event listing, please email food@reedbusiness.com.au.

Carbon footprint’s shape matters

Knowing where energy is being used is the secret to making carbon management an exercise in profitability rather than just compliance.

So said Coffey Environments, a specialist sustainability engineering service with the benefit of 10 years experience assessing and analysing carbon footprints.

Coffey Environments Sustainability Engineering Services is a major sponsor of the second Carbon Reduction & Trading Expo in Melbourne.

Coffey Environments manager of sustainable engineering, Kirsty Gregory, expects that most visitors to the Melbourne Exhibition Centre over the expo’s three days from March 31 to April 2 will still be in information-gathering mode rather than ready to cut emissions.

That thirst for information about the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit drove 11,521 visits to last year’s event, which ran in conjunction with Safety In Action and Melbourne Materials Handling in April 2008.

Gregory said changes to the Australian government’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reporting requirements and the imminent introduction of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme has encouraged companies to actively explore how their obligations will be met.

“The number of companies now approaching Coffey Environments to undertake carbon footprint assessments shows industry is beginning to appreciate the broad implications of the Act.

“The starting point is to understand your carbon footprint. Without measuring it, your organisation won’t know whether it is required to report under the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) Act.”

Carbon footprint — urgent action necessary

The National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) Act came into effect on 1 July, 2008 and corporations that exceed 500 terajoules (TJ) or have facilities that use more than 100 TJ of energy must report their 2008/09 emissions by October 31 this year.

The federal government anticipates around 1000 Australian businesses will be affected, with many more caught under far lower thresholds the following year.

Payoffs for emissions control

“The good news is that this is not just an exercise in red tape in determining a company’s carbon footprint.

“Coffey can also undertake an energy audit that will, for most businesses, identify plenty of energy savings that can be achieved with a payback period of less than three years,” Gregory said.

“The important aspect of a carbon footprint isn’t the size. It’s far more important to know where the energy is consumed because this allows Coffey Environments to identify where savings can be made. Often these are low-cost initiatives: the ‘low-hanging fruit’.”

Gregory said far greater savings and improvement in sustainability are achievable when companies commit to an ongoing management program for carbon emissions by:

  • measuring existing efficiency levels of operations, plant and equipment;
  • benchmarking against other facilities and best practice;
  • highlighting improvement opportunities;
  • evaluating implemented improvements; and
  • tracking ongoing performance.

Blending engineering with accounting and environmental management, Coffey Environments believes the secret to identifying energy savings is a good understanding of business operations.

To achieve this objective the input of environmental engineers is integral to energy audits that underpin an accurate carbon footprint.

“We find that environmental management expertise is not sufficient to create a working emissions program — you need specialists.” Gregory said.

“We employ electrical, mechanical and chemical engineers to look at the equipment, maintenance programs and to analyse the business processes. Their recommendations often blend new technology with streamlined operations that bring a variety of efficiency gains.”

Gregory said the fiscal drivers of environmental policy should not be overlooked. To bring added financial rigour to emissions management, Coffey Environments has teamed up with accountancy firm, RSM Bird Cameron.

“It’s important that businesses build in an assurance system into their environmental accounting practices,” said Gregory.

“Our alliance with RSM Bird Cameron allows clients to go beyond mere compliance and prepare for the future. Aside from measuring, monitoring and reporting emissions, this combination of engineering and financial expertise provides for the verification and assurance of emissions reports.

“The dollars involved in carbon trading will mean that evidence will be required to substantiate claims. Just as accountancy firms complete annual financial audits, they are now beginning to undertake annual emissions audits.”

Gregory said large emitters were also using the combined skills of environmental engineers and accountancy practices for strategic planning and scenario modelling of the impact of permit pricing.

“Most companies are currently looking for a three-year return on their investments in carbon saving initiatives but the carbon trading scheme will probably mean that measures that would normally take four or five years to break even will be more appealing to companies,” she concluded.

The Carbon Reduction & Trading Expo and Conference will be held at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre from March 31 to April 2.

Retrofits with less interruption

Industrial Conveying is successfully using a new approach which causes minimal intrusion when retro-fitting Australian factories, warehouses and sortation plants with materials handling systems.

Rather than make a complete shutdown while an old system is replaced with new, the company engineers its retrofits in stages, allowing businesses to carry on trading during the process.

This is a major step forward for Australian industry as until now businesses had been forced to factor in many weeks of operating losses just because they want to upgrade for the future.

Industrial Conveying managing director, Don Erskine, said the new approach is further helped by the company being based in Australia, and therefore offering instant communication, as well as complete turnkey availability on the project.

“The best outcome for any business looking to retrofit its materials handling system – typically one that uses a conveyor network – is to stage the installation from one section of the plant to another so they don’t have to shut down the whole operation,” said Erskine.

“Because we are implementing section by section, we almost eliminate the risk of shutdown if there is an unexpected failure while any of the old equipment is being replaced; purely pillar because any problematic section can be switched off immediately, allowing the rest of the factory or warehouse to continue running.

“This is a much quicker and much later method of implementation. When you do a mass change, all sorts of issues can arise which impact the entire operation.

“Staging installations is a much faster option, is much easier to process, and is much easier for plant personnel to learn and understand the new issues gradually (such as software, conveyor characteristics, controls, processes).”

Any factory or warehouse owner would not be in business unless it was their objective to expand operations and grow the company.

Therefore, it is seen as an is imperative to set up any materials handling system to handle throughput which might be several times the rates of which are experiencing today. This is purely to accommodate growth in any business and is a consideration that should never be overlooked.

In a materials handling game, what you set up today will be working for you tomorrow, hence the urgent need to retrofit warehouses and processing plants.

“Any Australian business that factors in a complete shutdown is doing itself a disservice,” said Erskine.

“There is now no need to throw money away like this – especially because a stage by stage retrofit can be supplied by a local company with local engineers and instant communication and assistance.

“If a company from overseas attempted this type of installation in Australia it would most likely cost the client a lot more money because personnel visits would have to be made from overseas.”

Schenker to move freight forward

AUSPACK organisers Exhibitions & Trade Fairs (ETF) have announced that they have signed an agreement for Schenker Australia to be their materials handling and freight forwarding partner for the 2009 exhibition.

According to AUSPACK event director, Rob Keen, this will be the third consecutive time that Schenker Australia have been chosen as the preferred materials handling partner for the largest biennial packaging and processing machinery, materials and associated technology exhibition in Australia and NZ.

“We have always found Schenker Australia to be extremely cooperative and professional – both in their dealings with the exhibitors and organisers — and we look forward to working with them once again in 2009,” Keen said.

Schenker Australia CEO, Ron Koehler, said “we are proud to be appointed as the official freight forwarding and on-site handling agent for AUSPACK 2009.

“Our highly experienced team will assist AUSPACK 2009 clients with professional services in freight forwarding, customs clearance and on-site cargo handling. We look forward to making AUSPACK 2009 a success for the organiser and the exhibitors.” Koehler said.

AUSPACK 2009 will be held at the Sydney Showgrounds, Sydney Olympic Park from Tuesday 16 to Friday 19 June 2009.

Got milk trains?

Fonterra is planning to build a 45,000t drystore and a 17,000t coolstore near Dunedin for milk freight.

According to the company, the 16.45 hectare site at Mosgiel will result in less truck movements on the roads, reducing the carbon footprint of transportation operations.

The site has its own rail spur, allowing it to be linked to the dairy factories at Edendale and Clandeboye.

The company is expecting more milk to be produced at irrigated farms in Canterbury and drought-proof farms in Southlands, as climate change and land-use conversion make their impacts felt.

The development is expected to consolidate Fonterra’s cool store operations in Dunedin, increase the use of rail over road, and provide the additional storage to for outputs from the upcoming Edendale powder plant.

–Materials Handling

Multi-pack’s multi benefits

Smith’s Space Efficient Multi-Pack is a project that achieves the goals of the marketing, engineering and manufacturing departments, while managing to deliver a host of supply chain benefits at the same time.

The multi-pack concept has become a strong family favourite in Australia over the past decade, with a wide variety of snackfoods, such as chips, cookies and crackers, now available in multi-packs.

However, the large volume of multi-packs makes them expensive to handle and transport with a lot of air being handled and shipped through the supply chain. The bulky nature of the multi-packs means they also take up a lot of precious shelf space in retail outlets.

To create clear product differentiation in an increasingly crowded market segment and reduce manufacturing and supply chain costs, Smith’s developed the Space Efficient Multi-Pack (SEMP).

The multi-million dollar project involved the design and installation of a world-class robotic packaging system and associated materials handling systems at Smith’s Tingalpa Production Plant in Brisbane. The SEMP Project team included Smith’s engineering consultant Shandon Projects and technology partners International Packaging Systems (robotic packaging line), Cermex (case packers) and Dematic, which supplied the conveyor system that interlinks various parts of the operation.

The goal of the SEMP project was to help reinvigorate sales in the highly competitive multi-pack arena, with the new SEMP cartons providing a clear point of differentiation for Smith’s on crowded supermarket shelves. The retailer is also able to fit more products in the same area as before, and the new shipper pack, which contains six SEMP cartons, is shelf-ready for those retailers who wish to use that format.

Smart packaging system

The main feature of the upgrade, the robotic packaging system, was installed in a 13 x 50 metre extension at the eastern end of the packing plant.

The SEMP robotic packing line comprises ten robotic packing stations, each with two robot arms fitted with gentle vacuum gripping attachments that enable them to precisely place packs into cartons in a pre-determined location. As empty cartons pass through the robotic packing line, the first inners are placed by the first robotic station, then the next ones by the second station and so on until the carton is full. The accuracy with which the packs are placed means volume in the carton is used effectively.

Supporting the new robotic packaging line is a smart Dematic conveyor system that interlinks various processes and fulfils the role of removing empty Work-in-Progress (WIP) boxes containing bulk quantities of inners from the packaging line and returns them to the packing plant’s interface with upstream production.

A key challenge in designing the new conveyor system was to proof-test the design by computer simulation to prove the conveyor could remove and return the empty WIP boxes for reuse at the required throughput rates.

Dematic’s simulation identified that transporting the WIP boxes individually would create congestion on the conveyor system and reduce the throughput of the system to an unacceptable level.

By investigating various options such as conveyor speeds and routing etc, Dematic identified that the best way to ensure a sufficient quantity of cartons could be transported within a given timeframe was to utilise slug transport of the WIP boxes. That means, slugs of up to 18 WIP boxes would be formed on accumulation conveyors, and would then be transported as a slug. Transporting a slug of cartons is much more efficient than transporting cartons individually as the gaps between the cartons are removed, enabling a greater total number of cartons to be circulating on the conveyor system at any one time.

The simulation also identified that the return of empty WIP cartons from the robotic filling and packing station would ‘overload’ the conveyor system within 10 minutes if the WIP boxes were not being reused by the production lines or removed from the conveyor. This issue was overcome by the addition of an extra conveyor loop from which empty WIP cartons could be easily removed from the conveyor and palletised until needed at a later stage.

The simulation also identified how long it would take for a problem at any point on the conveyor system to impact upstream or downstream.

This was particularly important in determining how long it would take for any local issue on the conveyor system to impact the upstream manufacturing process. The simulation also determined the time required for the system to be fully restored after any such incident.

“Dematic’s simulation gave us a lot of confidence in their design options,” said Smith’s national project engineering manager, Steve Reilly.

“The fact that we could see in real-time how the whole system would operate was very reassuring for the project team.”

A challenge for Dematic was installing the WIP conveyor system within the sensitive packing environment without the need for any ‘hot work’ such as welding and grinding, with every connection in the system that would normally have been welded, being converted during the design phase into a bolted connection.

The SEMP project also has excellent green credentials, removing up to 350 tonne per annum of non-recyclable plastic wrap from landfill. The cardboard used to manufacture the SEMP cartons has a high recycled content and the carton itself is also likely to be recycled.

Applications open for women’s scholarship

The Victorian government has encouraged women to apply for its annual $10,000 Women in Freight, Logistics and Marine Management scholarship.

Applications for the scholarship opened on 1 September, 2008. According to Roads and Ports Minister, Tim Pallas, it is designed to encourage more women to take up top positions in the freight, logistics and marine industries.

Currently, women represent 27% of the workforce in the materials handling and logistics sector, with most working at the frontlines. The government has prioritised attracting and retaining women in the industry as a way to bring balance and diversity to workplaces.

The scholarship is open to any postgraduate student starting or completing studies in any field related to the freight, logistics and marine industries. Applicants will be assessed based on relevant work experience, academic merit and commitment to a career in the industry.

Applications are due to close on 31 October, 2008.

AUSPACK heads to Sydney in 2009

AUSPACK will be heading to the Sydney Showgrounds, Sydney Olympic Park from Tuesday the 16 to Friday 19 June, 2009 and a large number of exhibitors from 2007 have already booked their stands for the largest bi-annual packaging & processing machinery, materials and associated technology exhibition in Australia.

According to Exhibitions & Trade Fairs (ETF) event director, Rob Keen, “many of the major packaging and processing machinery manufacturers have already signed up for AUSPACK 2009, highlighting the success of this prestigious event.”

The theme for AUSPACK 2009 is ‘The future of packaging and processing — Innovation, inspiration, results’. Emphasising the key benefit this event can deliver, according to the organisers, the event is an opportunity to meet agents, distributors and thousands of potential customers who travel from throughout Australia, New Zealand and the surrounding region to attend.

“Visitors attending AUSPACK 2009 in June will have the opportunity to see the latest in packaging technology from more than 200 exhibitors displaying over 900 brands and services,” Keen said.

According to a previous exhibitors of AUSPACK, Romheld manager for business development, Vince West, “2009 will be our third AUSPACK exhibition and this major event has greatly assisted Romheld in launching new automation products into the packaging sector.

“AUSPACK provides Romheld with the best opportunity to present and display new automation technologies to end users and also to network with other equipment suppliers,” West said.

“At AUSPACK 2009, Romheld plan to introduce several new products including for the first time in Australia, a Unigripper LayerGripper for handling full or partial layers of product, a Unigripper BagGripper and a new servo-electric packaging gripper from Schunk.”

Romheld distribute robotic gripper systems and end of arm tooling to enhance the productivity of automated processes, including the revolutionary Unigripper intelligent vacuum gripper system which can be used for all kinds of packaging and palletising applications.

A&D Mercury will be exhibiting at AUSPACK for the first time in 2009 and, according to national sales manager, Kevin Johnson, they selected the exhibition due to its reputation as the premiere materials handling and packaging exhibition in Australia.

“A&D Mercury will showcase a number of innovative products highlighting our measurement and automation capabilities. The Dolphin In Line Checkweigher will feature heavily in our presentation, along with a number of control and automation solutions provided by our Techeng business arm,” Johnson said.

“We feel AUSPACK 2009 will give our products and services, maximum exposure to key industry sectors.”

Attendees of AUSPACK can expect to see exhibits servicing areas such as:

  • packaging and food processing,
  • filling and sealing,
  • weighing,
  • bottling,
  • labelling,
  • palletising,
  • wrapping,
  • capping,
  • quality control,
  • materials handling,
  • vacuum packaging,
  • waste management,
  • coding,
  • marking and more.