Multiple benefits of environmentally friendly water disinfection

One of the world’s most advanced hydro-optic disinfection (HOD) water treatment technologies is being used by Australian food manufacturer SPC Ardmona to curtail chlorine dioxide use at its biggest processing plant.

The environmentally friendly process that leaves no disinfection by-products has been installed at Shepparton by Cleanteq for Eimco Water Technologies, which is part of the global group GLV Inc, master distributor for Atlantium out-of-the-water UV disinfection systems for the treatment of water and wastewater used in industrial and municipal processes.

The new technology, which won the 2007 International Institute of Food Technologists Award, being cited for its innovation, technical advancement, scientific merit and its benefit to food manufacturers in its materials handling and cleaning operations, is used by SPC Ardmona on wash down water for food processing equipment and on water used to convey up to 1000 tons of produce over 24 hours.

Major health, safety and maintenance benefits have been achieved by the option of not having to store and handle large quantities of chemicals, as well as enhancing process water purity and reducing potential corrosion of machinery affected by chlorine, said SPC Ardmona maintenance supervisor, Mick Williams.

“The technology is integral to our commitment to being clean and green,” explained Williams, whose company is part of the Coca Cola Amatil group, which uses the Atlanium technology at other plants in Australia and internationally, including plants in Israel, USA, Spain and Russia.

Making the move

According to Williams, “by changing to the out-of-water UV system, the use of chemicals was removed, causing a valuable flow-on with reduced chemical storage on-site, reduced movement of chemicals, a reduction in the risk of spills, reduced chemical handling and reduced risk from handling chemicals.

“There were also immediate maintenance and process water purity benefits when we applied the technology to our three megalitre storage tank, from which we draw town supply water that arrives chlorinated at four parts per million.

“When we were adding chlorine dioxide, we were having corrosion issues with cooking equipment. Now the chlorine issue seems to have abated, even though we are still drawing chlorinated town water. The water treated with HOD just stays clear and clean. You can now stand at the top of the big indoor tank with a torch and see the bottom clearly when you shine it down.”

Williams explained that the company “made the move to HOD technology because our chlorine dioxide dosing plant was at the end of its accurate working life and required replacement. This created an opportunity to upgrade and the new system we chose has completely lived up to our expectations in its first year of service, performing reliably and making it particularly simple to budget CIP (cleaning in place) and lock in maintenance costs each year.”

Light at the end of the tunnel

Atlantium’s innovative HOD technology unlocks the power of UV light’s environmentally friendly disinfection capabilities and shifts the paradigm from conventional in-the-water mercury lamps to having the lamps out of the water.

Innovative features of Atlantium’s HOD systems include:

  • The large quartz tube that acts as an effective light trap, using the concept of “total internal reflection” (the same phenomenon used in fiber-optic cables). This creates a uniform distribution of the UV light throughout the system’s cross-section to achieve high levels of micro-organism inactivation;
  • Dual-controlled sensors that independently monitor system performance, ensuring the light intensity matches specific customer requirements, and allowing customers to adjust the dosage based on the water’s flow rate and UV transmissivity;
  • The compact design provides for simple maintenance, with negligible reactor cleaning, near zero downtime, low energy consumption and easy installation and retrofit;
  • The technology eliminates the mechanical and thermal drawbacks of immersed lamp designs, separating the electrical mechanism from the wet chamber and reducing the possibility of sleeves fouling; and
  • The lamp out of water design eliminates the product risks involved with lamp breakages.

The installation used by SPC Ardmona constantly circulates water through the HOD, which is always switched on with a flow rate of 150m3/hr, water UVT (ultra-violet transmittance) of 92-94% and UV dose of 90mJ/cm2. It supplies water to the plant’s cooling towers, as well as being used in fruit processing machinery, including peaches, pears, apricots and apples. It is also used in beans and spaghetti blanching processes, and supplies water used to clean equipment such as autoclaves/pressure cookers, as well as being used with steam in cleaning of tin cans and plastic bottles.

CIP maintenance was conducted weekly for the first year of use of the system. “We may trial planned shutdowns in the future, but because the water is drawn from the tank 24/7, it just stays on at peak times of the year,” explained Williams.

“The technology is less expensive than chlorine units and highly effective and reliable. There is no need to be calling technicians out at more than $100 an hour plus accommodation and meals and it is well backed with service. When we were setting up, we had Atlantium in as soon as there were any programming or setup issues to address. They were very quick off the mark.”

Eimco Water Technologies regional sales manager, Paul Keegan, said that Atlantium Technologies’ chemical-free process can replace traditional disinfection methods, such as chlorine, ozone and pasteurization.

“This ground-breaking technology has already been adopted by some of the world’s leading food and beverage manufacturers including major Australian companies.

“The global range of applications is already very broad with the food, beverage and aquaculture industries being among the first to realize its value. This technology is eminently suited to Australia, where it will offer a breakthrough solution for primary disinfection.”

Atlantium’s solutions provide complete sustained microbe inactivation, are environmentally friendly and have no disinfection by-products. They are also extremely cost-effective and can provide a rapid return on investment. Consumers benefit too, as using HOD to disinfect process and product water results in healthier, tastier food, free of chemicals and disinfection by-products, and extends the food’s shelf life.

According to the jurors at the 2007 International Institute of Food Technologist’s Award, Atlantium’s HOD solution “is an advance in the use of UV light to disinfect water. The technology seems to address shadows, which until now has been a major limitation of the use of UV. This technology may lead to advancements of UV sterilization with other liquids and has a “novel technological approach with hydraulics and optics; addresses two large areas of consumer concern: food safety and environment sustainability.”

NTP & Jungheinrich join forces

Leading materials handling company, NTP Forklifts Australia, has been appointed the Jungheinrich importer/distributor for Australia, as of 7th April 2008.

The agreement extends across all Australian states and territories and allows NTP to sell the full Jungheinrich range, as well as provide after-sales service and spare parts.

Hamburg based Jungheinrich, who began producing forklifts in 1953, is currently considered to be the largest battery electric materials handling equipment manufacturer in the world and is was the 3rd largest overall forklift manufacturer with unit production exceeding 80,000 units during 2007.

The appointment has been hailed as an important step forward for both parties, with NTP gaining access to an extensive product range in the battery electric warehousing equipment sector and Jungheinrich benefiting from NTP’s national coverage and considerable 25 year experience in selling and servicing forklift trucks.

NTP Forklifts Australia National Sales Manager, Damien Garvey, said the agreement is of significant strategic importance to the NTP Group as it adds further depth to their existing equipment range and well complements the range of TCM industrial forklifts that they currently distribute nationwide.

“Jungheinrich stands alone as a true innovator and world leader in the design and manufacture of materials handling equipment,” said Garvey.

“Their attention to detail and use of advanced technology throughout their large product range is testament to the fact that they are considered the benchmark when it comes to battery electric warehouse equipment”.

Jungheinrich offers a complete battery electric range including powered pallet trucks, stackers, reach trucks, high/low level order pickers, counterbalanced forklifts and warehouse material flow systems.

Garvey added that “One of (Jungheinrich’s) latest products is a pantograph reach truck, now only available from two other American manufacturers. This will be the first European manufactured type available in the Australian market and offer users a real alternative in this popular product for high level warehousing.”

Commenting on the agreement, NTP Forklifts Australia’s Managing Director, Nick Perdelis, said that their new alliance will have a primary focus of elevating the Jungheinrich brand back into the mainstream of the Australian battery electric forklift market.

“Jungheinrich has been distributed in Australia for over 30 years, so it is by no means a new brand in the market. We now intend to show our customers and the wider Australian market what a world class product Jungheinrich is and the many benefits it can offer them in terms of safety, efficiency and cost of operation,” says Perdelis.

“We are delighted to have entered into this partnership with Jungheinrich and are confident that in NTP, we have the scope of operations, skills and attributes to re-establish the Jungheinrich brand in Australia and help us further grow the local market.”

NTP Forklifts Australia already represents major brands such as Manitou and its rough terrain forklifts and telescopic handlers, TCM and its industrial forklifts and Taylor-Dunn and its family of industrial personnel and burden carriers.

For further information contact:

Damien Garvey

NTP Forklifts Australia National Sales Manager

08 8243 1222

Celebrating 40 years of forklift sales in Australia

Counter-balance forklift truck supplier, Toyota Material Handling, will this month celebrate its 40th anniversary of sales in Australia.

Toyota sold its first forklift truck in Australia in April 1968, and Toyota Material Handling now sells over 6000 units a year in Australia. It has led the national counter-balance forklift truck market uninterrupted for 21 years.

Toyota is the world’s leading materials handling brand, with more than 50 years’ experience in forklift trucks. The corporation launched its first commercial forklift model, the Toyota Forklift LA, in Japan in March 1956. Toyota Industries Corporation (TICO) is now the world’s largest manufacturer of materials handling equipment

. An industry-leading commitment to research and development has allowed TICO to unveil new products and services every year since 1956.

Toyota began forklift truck exports in 1958 and sold its first forklift in Australia in 1968. The president of Toyota Material Handling Australia, Steve Harper, said the 40-year anniversary of sales in Australia was an important milestone in both the history of Toyota forklift trucks and the development of TMHA as a business.

“From the very start, Toyota forklift machines have reflected the vision and ingenuity of Toyota people and their drive to put the customer first,” he said.

“Success really is about putting the customer first. That was a key factor when Toyota commenced forklift truck sales in Australia in 1968 and applies equally well today.

“Toyota thinks about the needs of any manufacturing or warehousing operation, how to help it improve productivity and how to optimise conditions so forklift operators are comfortable and efficient. These issues are at the heart of what Toyota does as a forklift manufacturer. We would not be the company we are today without our focus on the end-user,” Harper said.

“The Toyota way of working and thinking is critical in this process. The company is admired the world over for the Toyota Production System, which inspires team members to optimise quality, constantly improve processes and eliminate natural waste.

“Without the ongoing loyalty of our customers, we would not be where we are today,” said Harper. “TMHA looks forward to its 50th anniversary of sales in Australia in 2018, as well as delivering ever-stronger solutions to industry.”

Toyota Material Handling Milestones

1956 : Toyota Industrial Equipment production begins in Japan

1958 : First export of Toyota forklifts from Japan

1968 : First Toyota forklift imported into Australia

1985 : 500,000th Toyota forklift produced

1995 : One millionth Toyota forklift produced

1996: 25,000th Toyota forklift sold into Australia

1997 : Sales of Toyota forklifts exceed US$1,092 million

1999 : Toyota’s worldwide sales and supply network covers 169 countries and 699 Dealers

1999 : 30,000th Toyota forklift sold into Australia

1999 : Toyota in Australia wins National Occupational Health and Safety “Solutions Award” for its swing-down gas bottle bracket

2000 : 1.3 millionth Toyota forklift produced

2000 : Toyota acquires both BT Industries, manufacturer of BT Lift Trucks, and Raymond forklifts

2001 : Toyota combines all its lift truck operations in a single business area called Toyota Material Handling

2003 : Toyota’s worldwide sales and supply network covers 170 countries, 80 distributors and 675 sales outlets

2003 : Toyota Industries Corporation Australia Pty Ltd (TICA) established in Australia to distribute and sell Toyota Industrial Equipment

2004 : Toyota Industries Corporation Australia (TICA) wins TICO’s 2004 Global Excellence Award

2005 : Toyota Industries Corporation Australia (TICA) becomes authorised distributor of Raymond forklifts

2006 : Toyota Industries Corporation Australia (TICA) integrates the BT range of warehouse forklifts, thereby giving its customer base the most comprehensive range of products in the industry

2006 : Toyota 8-Series 1.0 – 3.5 tonne forklift released in Australia

2007 : Toyota retains its position as the world’s largest supplier of forklifts, according to industry magazine Logistik Journal. Toyota tops the magazine’s World’s Top 20 Lift Truck Suppliers list with US$8.814 billion in worldwide forklift sales in 2006 and worldwide sales of 190,000 units.

2007 : Toyota Industries Corporation Australia (TICA) changes its name to become Toyota Material Handling Australia (TMHA).

2007 : Toyota celebrates market leadership in the Australian counter-balance forklift market for 21 consecutive years.

2008 : Toyota Material Handling celebrates 40 years of retailing the Toyota Industrial Equipment brand of products within Australia.

For further information contact visit

Efficient chilling system for food processors

Virtually every sector of the food processing industry requires a controlled rate of cooling at one time or another.

Often the solution implemented is vat-style cooling or freezing, which although effective can create a bottleneck in an otherwise fluent system and even create double handling.

Materials handling specialist Industrial Conveying (Aust) Pty Ltd has overcome this problem by combining consistent product movement with the temperature-controlled vat environment.

Spiral Chillers convey products that require a precise rate of temperature drop. This is achieved by using a tailor-made system from most materials including food grade stainless steel (the latter specifically for applications in the food and beverage industries).

By conveying product in spiral configurations within a temperature-controlled environment, this solution provides a logical cooling and setting function in the food manufacture and processing industry or any general engineering application.

Spiral Chillers allow an extremely efficient use of vertical space without sacrificing horizontal travel length or speeds.

In addition, the equipment can be used to hygienically and quickly transfer product between floors using only a small amount of floor space.

Its ability to operate across a very wide temperature band ensures that it performs exceptionally well carrying product in chilling and/or freezing processes – anything from a controlled, gradual temperature drop through to a sudden blast freeze.

This spiral conveyor is compact, reliable and has an applicability and efficiency in almost every food industry process including baking, glazing, cooling, setting, defrosting, dairy, dehumidifying, chilling and freezing. Facilitating continuous product flow, Spiral Chillers allow precise set-up of travel speeds so that each unit of product arrives at the appropriate manufacturing process at exactly the right temperature and physical condition.

This travel speed is set in relation to temperature-controlled drying and cooling times, so effectively a company does not have to specifically store product on shelving or massive bench tops while waiting for the curing process to complete.

Operating environments can be in temperatures as low as -40ºC. It also works efficiently across the entire humidity spectrum – from completely saturated environment to that of low humidity. When required, stainless units can be given hygienic wash downs.

Designed to carry product between floors and machines, Industrial Conveying’s Spiral Chillers have a controlled slope for smooth transfer, are designed to suit individual products, can be assembled on site, can be gravity or powered systems, and are ideal for inline accumulation.

Modular in design, the system is quickly and easily installed regardless of the shape and size of premises.

Units can join together for long holding time if the application requires this. At all times a first-in first-out configuration is possible. This allows different product to run at different speeds for different running times.

The Spiral Chillers allow precise set-up of travel speeds so that each unit of product arrives at the appropriate manufacturing process at exactly the right temperature and physical condition.

If required, stainless units can be fitted to achieve hygienic wash downs.

For more information contact:

Don Erskine

Industrial Conveying (Aust) Pty Ltd General Manager

03 5440 5100

Mobile warehouse cuts times-to-market

Trucks and other road and transport have always been an important element in Australia’s materials handling and logistics industry. As a result the drivers have continued to face increasing pressure to beat the clock and keep handling times down.

Often the reason for urgency is poorly planned or poorly managed warehouse facilities, which increase times to market and put needless pressure on these road carriers.

Australian materials handling specialist, Industrial Conveying (Aust) Pty Ltd, is now ‘fusing’ warehouse and truck operations to expedite stock movement.

The company’s Managing Director, Mr Done Erskine, says the smart operator will know how to fuse warehouse and transport aspects of the business to make use of the expediency of road freight.

“There is high importance to ensure that your road freight carriage in fact becomes the primary source of storage, basically making it a mobile warehouse,” said Erskine.

“Very few companies are utilising this train of thought – in fact they are not even recognising the potential for this to be done.

“When you study official figures on Australian road transport, it is quite obvious that trucks move the majority of the country’s freight, so business managers and owners may need to be just their thinking completely.

“They must consider making trucks the main source of storage and consequently setup materials handling and loading to service it accordingly.”

According to a recent report from the Australian Logistics Council, 75% of Australia’s domestic freight is carried by the trucking industry.

This report shows the trucking industry carried 2,148 million tonnes of freight in 2004-05. It was 75 per cent of the 2,866 million tonnes of domestic freight that was carried in Australia.

The rail system handled only 664 million tonnes, or 23% of the total, with the remainder carried by air and sea.

Road transport accounted for 37.5% of Australia’s freight task in 2004-05, with rail accounting for 35.9% and sea transport accounting for 22.1%.

“But with an optimised materials handling system put in place, smart companies, instead of storing stock on the premises for an indefinite period, rarely have to see their goods,” said Erskine.

“Instead, they use a clever materials transfer system on their site that instantly moves goods from incoming to outgoing without storage, or they have equipped their transport carrier with appropriate systems to load and unload palletised or non-palletised product and transport it directly to their clients without warehousing.

“This new approach is bettering supply chain standards and eliminating double handling and storage time that costs business in so many ways.”

Firstly, with floor charges per metre continually rising, the elimination of reliance on warehousing is an automatic, and enormous, cost saving.

Reduction in multi handling of stock also reduces time and operating costs and ensures smoother movement of product from manufacturing base or bond store to the customer.

In the case of perishables, reduction in supply chain steps can only be of benefit to handlers of products with limited shelf life.

“Our involvement in this type of materials handling solution was sparked by a growing call from the industry (saying) that warehouse consolidation alone does not adequately reduce running costs,” explained Erskine.

“It was clear a step had to be taken out of the materials handling sequence to provide a leaner level of operation for many Australian companies.

“That has allowed us to develop fixed and purpose-built systems for a demanding market serious about making transport systems a de-facto storage solution.”

Using its existing product and technologies alongside solution-specific developments, ICA is currently developing several turnkey projects for Australian companies undertaking this cultural change.

Among these technologies are:

  • Automated transport loading and unloading systems including handling unit loads or complete truck loads;
  • Pallet handing systems such as multi-lane palletising equipment, to organise truck loads ready for dispatch;
  • Elevators and spiral conveyors for non-palletised goods transfer between different floor levels, powered roller conveyors and lift tables.

For more information contact:

Don Erskine

Industrial Conveying (Aust) Pty Ltd.

03 5440 5100

Efficient dock loading/unloading technology

In the drive to optimise docks to maximise output from all loading and unloading activities, many companies are analysing their existing setup and revealing that more streamlining is often required.

Australian materials handling and logistics specialist Industrial Conveying (Aust) Pty Ltd is custom designing, manufacturing and installing a new line of cost-efficient technology for bulk loading (and unloading) of palletised product into shipping containers.

This development bolsters the company’s existing suite of dock loading systems that includes the unique Airlift, Airola, Airchain and Transkate systems that comprehensively utilise trucks at the delivery points.

These technologies are powered and allow efficient movement of stock to eliminate bottlenecks, double handling, and dormant freight and delivery delays.

With this new technology, the vehicle/container is raised to a correct height to enable efficient loading (and unloading) with powered docks. Skates for the dock are constructed to allow minimum sideways movement of the load.

Timeframes for handling have been reduced drastically, effectively handing the user a competitive advantage in its own industry sector.

Industrial Conveying has been calling for better recognition of the fact that transport vehicles themselves are largely overlooked as a unit of overall supply chain management that can be configured to suit the user’s purpose.

This new bulk loading system is designed to cater for 20ft and 40ft containers. During the handling process, vehicle/container docking alignment is controlled and verified electronically. Equipment controls are easy to use and minimal training is required.

The docks themselves are designed to both load and unload the containers. Being robust in design and construction, the technology easily copes with the demands of a 24/7 operation.

Applications range across all industry sectors. Loads are prepared on the loading dock whilst trucks are in transit. Once the truck arrives, the vehicle/container loading time is normally less than 5 minutes.

Managing Director of Industrial Conveying, Mr Don Erskine, says the new system increases the ‘smart’ utilisation of truck fleets during the loading and unloading process.

“Materials handling and supply chain management is much more than just warehouses, trucks and transport, it takes into account how all these aspects combine to make a complete handling spectrum,” said Erskine.

“By lessening the steps in product handling and the time associated with this, increased profit margins become the end result.

“Complete integration is the key to a successful outcome. Many companies are relying on a piecemeal approach, adding bits and pieces of solutions over time, yet the entire handling system can be fully integrated in one go to provide a smooth, lasting and very profitable logistics system.”

For more information visit, or contact Don Erskine, Industrial Conveying (Aust) Pty Ltd on 03 5440 5100 or email

Water treatment technology for manufacturers

Eimco Water Technologies’ advanced hydro-optic disinfection (HOD) process is environmentally friendly and leaves no disinfection by-products, and will be introduced into Australia by a newly appointed sales manager Paul Keegan.

Eimco Water Technologies – part of the global group GLV Inc — has appointed Keegan as its regional sales manager for Atlantium out-of-the-water UV disinfection systems that are used to treat water and wastewater involved in industrial, energy and municipal processes, including large scale water intake and industrial effluent.

Eimco Water Technologies is master distributor for Atlantium Technologies’ chemical-free process, which won the 2007 international Institute of Food Technologist’s award for its innovative Hydro-Optic Disinfection (HOD) systems, which can replace traditional disinfection methods, such as chlorine, ozone and pasteurization.

Keegan has more than 20 years experience in technologies such as fluid handling, liquid and gas purification and water treatment, having previously held State and national product management responsibilities for national and international leaders in their field.

He has worked extensively across broad industrial sectors including food and beverage, energy, manufacturing, materials handling, primary product processing, process engineering and safety.

Eimco Water Technologies Australian managing director Michael Froud says Keegan’s previous experience with international leaders in their field will directly benefit organisations seeking to upgrade their water treatment processes to world-best standard.

“Paul Keegan is well acquainted with the high standards expected in world’s best practice, having worked for companies involved with clients such as McDonalds, Coca Cola, Cadbury Schweppes, Fonterra, Philips, Glaxo Smith Kline and Bristol Myers Squibb.

The Eimco Water Technologies’ ground breaking technology has already been adopted by some of the world’s leading food and beverage manufacturers including major Australian companies.

Eimco Water Technologies specializes in the development and global marketing of equipment used for treating domestic and industrial water and wastewater, as well as large scale water intake and industrial effluent.

For further information, contact Paul Keegan.

Eimco Water Technologies

Airless air pallet dispenser

King Group Materials Handling has made available the next generation of its King Air Pallet Dispenser, for those with no air or who wish to use it for other purposes.

The dispenser plugs into a standard 240V outlet, which powers a compressor that in turn powers a dispenser action via a single lever, raising the pallet stack and allowing the bottom pallet to be removed by a hand pallet truck, powered pallet truck or forklift.

According to the company, the dispenser’s pick-up feet hidden away in the side walls make the forklift driver’s job easier and the system can be reset easily with a flick of the control lever.

King Materials Handling

Auto or manual: size matters

Arguments surrounding operator safety, food safety and plant efficiency point to the benefits of an automated bulk materials handling system over a manually operated one.

But factor in the cost equation, and the apparent benefits of automation are overridden by the large expense involved in equipment upgrades, maintenance, and hardware and software platforms, despite claims by suppliers that automation offers a fast return on investment.

From the point of view of many small and small-to-medium enterprises with relatively low outputs, a manually operated system offers a cost-effective solution to many materials handling requirements such as storage and retrieval, weighing and recipe formulation.

Larger manufacturers, on the other hand, are increasingly discovering the benefits of automating.

Jarrod Edward, operations manager at Byron Bay Cookie Company (BBCC), a medium-sized manufacturer with 70 employees, says large companies will always try and automate where they can.

“If money is not an option then automation will always win over manual,” he said.

BBCC currently employs a manual bulk materials handling system, receiving flour, sugar and other ingredients on pallets in 25kg bags.

However, the company plans to implement an automated bulk materials handling system in coming years in line with its growth predictions.

The company values the simplicity of manual operation while also regarding the move to an automated system as inevitable to ensure future plant productivity.

In light of this, it is important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of the two competing systems.

Manual handling

The manual handling of materials in bulk bags is commonplace in smaller manufacturing plants and can simplifying the tracking of stock.

“With our current system, which involves receiving ingredients like flour and sugar inmanually handled 25kg bags, it is easy to keep track of what we are receiving and using,” BBCC’s Edward said.

“A pallet with X amount of bags weighs X amount, which is quite simple.”

If, and when, the company moves to having its ingredients delivered on a truck it anticipates significant costs associated with purchasing a weigh bridge, among other equipment.

He adds that the manual handling of bags, including the emptying, weighing and pouring of different dry ingredients into mixers, can reduce product waste compared with an automated approach using conveyors that can be prone to product loss.

The most obvious and immediate benefit, however, is the cost effectiveness of manual handling.

It does not involve the upfront cost of equipment, and hardware and software platforms like programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and other electrical controllers, making it an ideal solution for smaller companies that might find it difficult to achieve a fast return on investment.


A manual system also offers a significant amount of flexibility in recipe formulation without the capital investment of automation.

For instance, a recipe containing 10 ingredients involves a worker sourcing ingredients from 10 different bags, weighing off the correct amounts and tipping them into a mixer.

If another recipe needs to be made with 10 different ingredients, the same process is simply repeated in another mixer, or in the same one after cleaning it.

With automation, a recipe containing 10 ingredients would require 10 separate feeders to draw the ingredients from the hoppers to the mixer.

If another recipe containing 10 different ingredients was called for, another set of equipment would be needed, adding to the system’s expense.

“The system could be cleaned out but that causes production downtime issues and also increases the risk of cross contamination,” Fresco Systems general manager Ken Hetherington said.

While the initial upfront cost of implementing an automated system may be daunting, Hetherington comments that smaller manufacturers are discovering the benefits of automating parts, or a part, of their process.

“A dairy manufacturer that uses a high content of milk powder could choose to automate the handling of that product exclusively,” Hetherington explained.

“This would cover off 90% of its manual handling requirements for significantly less capital cost.”

Manual bulk materials handling solutions have a place in food manufacturing plants, though its benefits are relative, depending on the size of the company and its output requirements.


An automated system boasts numerous benefits with few drawbacks for the operator.

Cost considerations aside, BBCC realises the significant productivity gains associated with going auto.

The most notable benefits are those to do with operator safety, food safety and recipe accuracy, says BBCC.

In fact, it is these factors alone that have lead BBCC to consider implementing a semi-automated system in the future.

“We have some occupational health and safety issues that we want to address such as the lifting of heavy bags,” Edward explained.

“Currently our workers are lifting X amount of 25kg bags of flour and sugar all day which means, depending whether they are rotating or not, an individual could be lifting upwards of 225kg per day which increases the risk of worker injury.”

Workcover New South Wales’ Manual Handling Risk Guide states that in NSW alone approximately 17,000 workers are injured as a result of materials handling each year, resulting in $370 million being paid out in compensation claims.

Despite large upfront costs, improving worker safety by employing machinery to replace manual handling can result in significant savings for the company.

“By reducing the amount of OH&S issues you have and claims through workcover, you can reduce your workcover premium and insurance costs,” Edward commented.

Accuracy and food safety

As in any process, the fewer steps there are in processing and human handling, the less chances there are for mistakes and cross contamination to occur.

George Weston’s Tip Top bakery in Sydney uses an automated bulk delivery system that offers reliability, speed and accuracy of weight and recipe specifications.

“Using an automated weighing system we are able to achieve an accuracy of 0.001%, which is important for product consistency as well as ensuring you are not wasting product,” Tip Top Bakeries Sydney manufacturing manager Adrian Smith said.

BBCC, on the other hand, relies entirely on the operators who prepare batches to take an ‘honesty approach’ to ensure recipe accuracy.

“If someone makes an error like adding an extra 10kg of flour we depend on them coming forward,” BBCC’s Edward said.

“But this will not always be the case and could result in food safety and productivity implications.”

Human involvement also increases the opportunity for foreign-matter contamination, particularly while opening bags and transferring product into the mixer.

PC integration

An effective bulk materials handling solution is one which assists in the productivity of plant integration.

By integrating its materials handling system with a Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition system (SCADA), the Tip Top bakery is able to keep track of equipment operation, ingredient and product quality, and general plant activity.

Batch coding also gives the company track and trace capabilities throughout an entire line and automatic reporting contributes to overall efficiency.

BBCC regards PC control and integration as one of the main benefits automation offers over manual handling, signalling the end of human interface monitoring and paper trails.

Manufacturers and suppliers alike say automation is gaining momentum in the food industry and that demand will continue to grow in line with OH&S concerns, labour issues, food safety issues and to enhance overall plant efficiency.

However, the growth of automation in bulk materials handling will not render manual systems obsolete, as smaller companies find them more cost effective.

Many companies also find benefit in semi-automating their plants and keeping systems like sieving manual, in order to exercise greater control.

Most importantly, the system should be well supported by a high level of competency from both supplier and manufacturer, and be geared towards company growth.

IBC system helps coffee producer

Matcon was awarded a contract for the supply of the Materials Handling System for Chek Hup, a Malaysian company that owns the Chek Hup brand of White Coffee popular in over 15 countries, and when they experienced great international market demand.

This interest from the international market has caused an upsurge production, which has increased to over 80 tonnes per month, and Chek Hup needed to implement new systems.

Matcon used their regional experience in 3-1 powder processing to implement a Smart Drum IBC (Intermediate Bulk Container) system of 300L capacity.

The Smart Drum system is a closed system in which the batch is contained in a sealed IBC. Each Smart Drum IBC incorporates cone valve technology, which is used to provide the necessary controlled feed into the packaging lines without the risk of segregation of the 3 to 1 after blending.

The Smart Drum system is used to transfer batches between the process steps, which include:

Bulk and minor Raw Material dispensing to an IBC

  • IBC Blending
  • Discharge of 3-1 Coffee into the Packing lines
  • IBC Cleaning – off line

The IBC system is a modular approach, which can be added to later, and this was an advantage to the coffee producer. Now that the Matcon system is in place, the Chek Hup factory output has increased from 80 tonnes to 110 tonnes per month and the factory is cleaner, reducing the time needed for cleaning and mopping.

Click here for further information.

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The sites will feature information and multimedia pertaining to each topic and a newsletter will be sent out from each site weekly.

Register your interest in subscribing to one of the newsletters and go into the draw to win one of 20 $100 Westfield Gift Cards!

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National Foods switches to Linde

One of Australia’s largest food companies has begun a major upgrade of its materials handling capabilities as it progressively switches over to a fleet of Linde equipment.

National Foods (NFL), a wholly owned subsidiary of San Miguel Corporation, has core activities in milk, fresh dairy foods, juice and specialty cheese, with 3500 employees and 20 processing plants around Australia and New Zealand.

“With the acquisition of National Foods Limited by San Miguel and the integration of Berri Juices, the acquisition of King Island and more recently Lactos, the group had a number of material handling equipment (MHE) suppliers,” Logistic Development Coordinator, Jody Hussey said.

“There was also a mixture of owned and leased equipment, so our aim was to rationalise that situation and ultimately select a single, national preferred MHE supplier.”

After an extensive selection process over several months, National Foods chose Linde to be that supplier and the company is now rolling out more than 200 Linde pallet stackers, forklifts and reach trucks.

“The decision came down to four key areas: occupational health and safety issues, productivity, repairs, and maintenance and battery management for our electric forklifts,” Hussey said.

Linde’s equipment came out ahead in all four areas.

Linde will assist NFL by supplying materials handling equipment as well as being a fleet management company.

“We are not MHE experts and therefore we are looking to Linde to assist in obtaining improvements in areas such as battery management, equipment utilisation and reduced down time,” she said.

“Safety initiatives are also a high priority.” As current equipment leases expire across all NFL sites, the units are being replaced with Linde equipment in a process expected to be completed within 18 months.

Although the total number of units involved is expected to be around 200, a final number has not yet been determined.