Printing industry activity to pick up

While production levels for the printing industry during the quarter ending March 2011 are lower than expected, industry is expecting brighter days ahead, according to the latest Printing Industry Trends Survey Report.

For the March 2011 quarter, survey respondents reported:

• reduced orders and production;
• reduced sales and net profits;
• reduced employment and overtime levels;
• reduced investment in buildings but increased investment in plant and machinery during the past six months;
• finance reported harder to obtain for the 13th consecutive quarter;
• labour availability reported to have deteriorated for the 5th consecutive quarter;
• moderating material and wage cost pressures;
• selling prices reported to have fallen for the 41st consecutive quarter;
• reduced levels of raw material stock levels: and
• increased numbers of outstanding debtors.

The survey showed that just 52 per cent of respondents said that they were operating at a production capacity of 70 per cent or more. The figure is slightly less than that reported in the same quarter last year (58.9 per cent).

Around 89 per cent of survey respondents – slightly higher than the 85 per cent reported in the same quarter last year – said the lack of orders was the primary barrier to increasing production levels.

The labels, graphic reproduction, books, magazines, periodicals and newspapers sectors reported higher production capacities. Considerable levels of increased capacity were also reported in the screen printing, packaging and folding carton sectors.

The next six months

The June 2011 quarter is expected to yield the following results:

• Reasonable net balance increases in orders, production, sales and net profits;
• Reduced employment and overtime levels;
• Reduced availability of finance and labour;
• Lower selling prices;
• Reduced stock levels;
• Further net balance increases in all production cost categories – average wages, other labour costs, and average material costs; and
• Increased number of outstanding debtors.
• Increased investment in plant and machinery investments; and
• Reduced investment activity in buildings.

While most sectors are forecasting improvements or no changes to take place in general business conditions during the next six months, the folding cartons sector is expecting a fall in production.

The outlook for general business expectations over the next six months is looking most optimistic for Western Australia with a net balance of 54.6 per cent, followed by Victoria with a net balance of 27.6 per cent.

Printing Industries National Manager for Policy and Government Affairs, Hagop Tchamkertenian, said that differences in performance and intentions were based on company size.

“Mid-size businesses are more optimistic about business conditions then their smaller and larger counterparts. But when it comes to capital expenditure intentions, the larger businesses still have positive sentiments” he said.

“In the area of employment intentions, smaller establishments are forecasting increased workforces while labour shedding intentions seem to be concentrated amongst mid to large sized businesses.”

Tchamkertenian said the March 2011 quarter outcomes may have been influenced by both seasonal influences as well as the general softness in economic conditions.


Pro-Pac Packaging acquires Melbourne bag company

Posted by Rita Mu

Pro-Pac Packaging has acquired Melbourne-based bag distributor, SPD International.

The company will be immediately relocated and integrated into Pro-Pac’s new packaging distribution and manufacturing site in Dandenong, Victoria.

Chief Executive of Pro-Pac Brandon Penn said the acquisition would provide the company with a greater range of bag products and expand its customer database.

“The SPD International purchase is another exciting building block in Pro-Pac’s continued growth strategy, and this purchase will provide further access for the cross selling of the group’s product range into several large national customers, particularly in the retail sector,” he said.

SPD International currently generates a turnover of approximately $2.3 million per annum and is forecast to be earnings per share accretive in the first year post acquisition.


Ardagh Group manufactures first Australian aluminum beverage bottles

Posted by Rita Mu

The Ardagh Group has manufactured the first Australian-made aluminium beverage bottles at its facility in Taree, New South Wales.

The move extends the company’s aluminium portfolio, which originally included the manufacture of aerosols.

"Aluminium bottles offer some specific advantages to beverage brand owners," said Ardagh Group Business Development Manager Sion Orritt.

"The bottles offer excellent on-shelf branding opportunities. They especially lend themselves to packaging a special promotional product – for example, for a sporting event, product launch, anniversary edition drink, or just to differentiate a product from the competition.”

According to Orritt, the bottles are ideal for beer and energy drinks.

"The bottle offers consumers the premium look, feel and functionality of a glass bottle, with the added benefits of being unbreakable.

"It can be used at outside events or functions, where for safety reasons glass cannot."

The aluminium bottle is initially available in sizes from 330-355ml with a crown seal closure.

The Ardagh Group is currently in discussions with the beverage industry to bring the bottles to market.

Entries opening soon for Product of the Year Awards

Posted by Rita Mu

The Product of the Year Awards, which is based on an independent consumer survey completed by more than 5000 shoppers, have been launched – with entries opening Monday 18 April.

To be eligible for entry, products must launch between January 2010 and August 2011 and be either a completely new type of product or a useful innovation to an existing product or brand, such as a new ingredient, redesigned shape or size, new formula, or new packaging.

“Following a successful second year of the awards program in 2010, Product of the Year is building its profile as a valuable marketing tool helping winners set themselves apart from their competition in the eyes of the consumer,” said Sarah Connelly, the Director of Product of the Year Australia.

“Previous award winners from around the world have benefited from average sales increases of around 10-15 per cent after using the Product of the Year logo on their packaging, promotions and advertising, which they’re able to do for 12 months following their win.”

In 2010 winners were chosen from 21 categories, up from 17 the year before, including Food and Beverage, Packaged Goods, Beauty, Pet Care, Cleaning and Adult Medicine.

Winners in the packaging category last year including Dettol’s No-Touch hand washing system, Berocca Performance with its Twist N Go bottle, Airwick Aqua Mist with its unique trigger and Finish Quantum with a dissolvable capsule that doesn’t need to be unwrapped. The Organic Bubs baby food pouches also resonated with the consumer, as did the new Cadbury block packaging.

Categories in 2012 will be finalised once entries close on August 2nd.

 All entrants will be judged and vetted by a ‘jury’ of industry experts representing retailers, media, consumer researchers and journalists. They will determine whether each meets the key criteria of the program and can then be submitted for judging in the 5,000-strong consumer survey by global research group TNS.

More information on the Product of the Year Awards is available here.

UK retailers move to recycle plastic films

Posted by Rita Mu

UK supermarkets will begin recycling thin plastic packaging such as bread bags and cereal liners under the On Pack Recycling Label scheme.

Currently, there are more than 4500 recycling bins for plastic bags at supermarkets across the UK, according to The Packaging and Film Association (PAFA).

The move to recycle plastic films will prevent up to 650,000 tonnes of plastic packaging going to landfill, according to a report by

“Plastic film packaging helps save food waste by protecting and preserving products and we have always had the technology to recycle it,” said Barry Turner, Chief Executive of PAFA. “Now, through this initiative by major retailers, the consumer has a real opportunity to boost plastic film recycling by placing film wrappings.

Turner said the new initiative by UK retailers was a major step in killing the myth that plastic films could not be recycled.

“In spite of the fact that local authorities are reluctant to collect thin packaging films from households or at the kerbside, this retailer initiative now means that the opportunity to recover the value from lightweight protective plastic film is within everyone’s reach,” Turner said.

“This will be a major step in killing the long-standing myth that plastic films cannot be recycled. In fact such packaging can now be viewed as a ‘borrowed resource’ which is easily converted into other useful products after it has served its initial purpose of protecting goods throughout the supply chain into the home.”

WA builds roads from recycled glass beverages

A detailed financial analysis of waste to landfill and the benefits of diverting glass containers into productive re-use has led to a partnership between the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River in Western Australia and the Australian Food and Grocery Council’s Packaging Stewardship Forum (PSF) to use recycled, crushed glass from beverage containers in road construction.

Opening the construction site at Railway Terrace, Shire President Ray Colyer said, “This is a great regional solution and a model that I would recommend to others. It’s a win for the environment, the economy and for the rate payer.”

“Prior to commencing the project the Shire analysed how much it costs to put glass in our landfill or transport it long distances for recycling compared with the costs of processing it locally.

"This cost benefit analysis showed that local processing of glass and the potential reuse of it locally would dramatically reduce recovery costs, significantly increase recycling rates and minimise uneconomic and environmentally unacceptable practices.

"Crushing it in the Shire and reusing it locally in civil construction provides a net benefit,” Mr Colyer said.

The collected glass is crushed locally at the Margaret River Glass Reprocessing Plant, an Australian Packaging Covenant/WA Government funded facility, to a national standard specification suitable for use in a range of alternative local markets including road base, asphalt, concrete and pipe embedment as a partial sand replacement.

General Manager of the PSF Jenny Pickles said the Shire’s cost benefit analysis will be of enormous value to other councils demonstrating the financial case for using RCG in civil construction projects.

“For the first time this study sets out for councils what they need to know about the comparative costs of processing glass rather than sending it to landfill.

"Through our kerbside recycling systems we’re collecting more than 76 per cent of glass beverage containers annually but due to breakage we’re recycling just over half back into new containers.

"That means around 130,000 tonnes nationally is either stockpiled or going to waste in our landfills annually.

“The road construction sector uses millions of tonnes of sand and aggregate each year. By using RCG as a replacement for sand, we could reduce the extraction of virgin sand, eliminate current glass waste, save landfill space and provide ongoing local markets for the glass we collect through kerbside,” Ms Pickles said.


Baco fruit juice launch in an O-I bottle

Baco Pty Ltd, the Victoria based fruit juice manufacturer, has launched four new flavours of its Apple Tree fruit juice range in O-I glass bottles.

The bottles include an applied ceramic label (ACL), which states the bottle typically uses 30% recycled content, reduces carbon emissions by around 15% and creates an energy saving of close to 10%.

Baco’s Managing Director, Mark Epstein, said O-I’s glass bottle also helped create an environmentally responsible brand.

"We believe people intuitively know fruit juice tastes better in glass but we think there is an important environmental story to tell too as glass is made from natural materials, mainly sand which is abundantly available in Australia,” said Mr Epstein.

“Glass is 100% infinitely recyclable and is the perfect packaging choice for our Apple Tree juices which are made from 100% Australian fruit juice and contain no added sugar or preservatives and no artificial flavours or colours.”

O-I Asia Pacific’s General Manager of Marketing and Sales, Jacqueline Moth, said customers continued to recognise glass as a sustainable packaging choice.

“We recently conducted a complete life cycle assessment (LCA) to examine the carbon footprint of different packaging types including glass, aluminium and PET,” said Ms Moth.

“The LCA demonstrated glass packaging produced the least amount of carbon dioxide and any increase in recycled content (cullet) further improves the CO2 footprint of glass packaging.”

Apple Tree fruit juice packaging features an ACL label helping to create a clean, fresh visually appealing product which complements the bottles’ contents.

Not made from concentrate, Apple Tree’s new flavours include Apple, Blueberry and Blackcurrant, Apple and Honeydew Melon, Apple and Pomegranate, and Valencia Orange.

Tna acquires Arcall, seasoning equipment supplier

Posted by Rita Mu

Packaging and processing solutions provider, tna, has acquired Arcall, a supplier of seasoning and cutting systems.

Tna’s Director of Business Development, Bob Fritz, said the acquisition of Arcall would position the company as the only supplier of seasoning solutions for the entire food production line.

 “This acquisition underlines our commitment to becoming a single source supplier of flexible, high performance food packaging solutions,” Fritz said.

“Seasoning is an integral part of the manufacturing process and finding an effective seasoning system is vital for the success of any production line.  Our acquisition of Arcall has given tna access to market-leading seasoning technology…We are confident this will bring added value and increased opportunities to customers and they, in turn, will reap the rewards.”

Arcall was found in 1961 as a pioneer in the development of innovative continuous seasoning systems suitable for use in both wet and dry applications.

Tna is a leading global supplier of integrated food packaging solutions with more than 5,000 systems installed across more than 120 countries. The company provides a range of products including conveying, seasoning, weighing, packaging, metal detection and identification solutions, plus promotional and cutting equipment.

Image: Arcall team, Source: tna

AUSPACK PLUS 2011 exhibition space selling out fast

Companies looking to exhibit at next year’s AUSPACK PLUS exhibition will need to get in quick, according to the event’s management team, who have indicated that 80 per cent of exhibition space has already been sold.

The biennial event, owned and presented by the Australian Packaging and Processing Machinery Association (APPMA, will showcase the latest products available in the packaging, processing and plastics machinery industries.

AUSPACK PLUS Event Manager, Mark Walsh, said all exhibitors, are guaranteed key buyer campaigns, visitor promotions, media and public relations campaigns, exhibition previews in all industry trade magazines and much more.

“Small things like forklift and equipment hire during the bump in and bump out schedule is inclusive of all exhibitor packages; a unique offering that the APPMA is extremely proud of,” Mr Walsh said.

“AUSPACK PLUS 2011 continues to receive strong industry support from both national and international companies, who have decided that participation is a cost effective sales and marketing medium to showcase the latest innovations and technology available.”

“It is all about the quality lead for exhibitors and seeing the latest in innovation and technology for the visitor,” Mr Walsh said.

Government, industry to address national label standards

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and the Australian and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council have agreed to undertake a comprehensive review of food labelling and its policies.

Former federal Health Minister Dr Neal Blewett will conduct the review, which will include two rounds of public consultations and address issues, including the accuracy, truthfulness and consistency of labelling; enforcement of labelling laws across jurisdictions; the cost to business and consumers in meeting labelling standards; and the difficulty consumers have in understanding and using the information contained on food labels.

“We felt that we needed a plan that laid down principles and criteria to provide future ministers with some policy reference to making specific decisions rather than just make them ad hoc,” Blewett told .

The ongoing battle surrounding the issue of food labelling has many sides and attempts to determine what is appropriate and what should be mandatory for food manufactures to include on packaging, as well as to resolve any confusion for consumers. Recent industry cases help illustrate the dilemma faced by manufacturers and government and industry bodies.

Last month, Standards Australia, in collaboration with the Australian Olive Association, called for the need to develop a national standard for olive oil because they said consumers are paying for premium-grade olive oil when, in many cases, what they’re buying is either a lower grade or not olive oil at all.

Another, more extreme, example saw Australia’s largest smallgoods manufacturer Primo charged with falsely labelling imported pork products as Australian. The NSW Food Authority found that imported pork middles were processed by Primo and labelled as “Product of Australia” and “Meat content 100% Australian.” The company pleaded guilty to 63 charges under the NSW Food Act 2003 relating to the packaging and the labelling of its meat and was fined $233,325 plus $200,000 in costs.

Geoffrey Annison, deputy chief executive of the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC), said the food industry has been asking for the review for some time in order to avoid such situations.

“Food labelling has essentially become a battleground in the food industry,” he said, adding that the review will help bring consistency that current laws and policies related to food labelling lack.

“It’s mainly to make sure that the food industry can respond to consumer and community needs on food labels in their own way, but also to recognise that the government has a fundamental role to mandate information, particularly for public health and safety protection.”

In other words, the government also looks to identify issues that lie outside of food safety, but that still fall within the government’s responsibility, continued Annison.

Country of origin labelling, gene technology labelling – which reveals when there is genetic material in the food that might be modified – and labelling based on welfare concerns, e.g. environmental concerns about carbon footprint labelling, are issues Annison raised that fit within the categories of consumer choice and the right to know.

Under review

The first round of the Blewett Review commenced in October 2009 and asked the public to identify the food labelling issues it wanted considered in the review. The review panel received 6,000 submissions, many of which addressed four main issues: food technology; ingredients, including additives and allergy concerns; presentation of information on labels; and the enforcement of consistent food labelling.

“We might have ideas about labelling, but it was pretty important we got some insight into what consumers, what government agencies, what the industry, what medical professionals thought about labelling,” Blewett said. “And that was really a starting point to facing up to the issues.”

One of those submissions came from the AFGC. It explored the need for a national food policy to be consistent with international food trade obligations, the idea for the use of voluntary codes in food labelling and the need for clarity where food-labelling regulations intersect with other regulations.

“There are specific food regulations [that are mandatory], but there are also other regulations like the Trades Practices Act and also the Weights and Measures Act that govern food labelling,” Annison said. “They don’t always meld together.”

Following the first round of responses, the panel initiated a second and final public consultation, addressing issues on what people wanted from food labelling, including useful information on packaged, canned, processed and fresh foods. This resulted in another 700 written submissions from businesses, organisations and individuals, including Mars Australia, Fonterra Australia, Biological Farmers of Australia, New Zealand Food and Grocery Council, Anaphylaxis Australia and South Australian Independent Senator Nick Xenephon.

Blewett said the panel hopes to have proposals in response to the feedback in March 2011.

“We hope to be able to respond with proposals that will deal with some of the issues that consumers have raised,” he continued. “This might impose extra burdens on industry, but at least it will provide a more effective framework in the way the industry does its labelling.”

Battle’s end

Annison said he hopes the final document will put food labelling as a battleground well behind the industry, as well as develop a transparent framework.

Not only to the food industry but to the community and consumers as to what information they can reasonably expect from food packs and what information the industry can reasonably be expected to provide. Ultimately it’s making sure consumers have all the information they need one way or another to make the choices they need to construct healthy diets.”

Robatech walks the Thin Green Line of Generation Green

Breakthrough technology enabling customers to decrease the energy consumption of their hot glue applicators by up to 17 percent has positioned global glueing technology leader Robatech as a leader of the “Green Generation”.

Robatech Australia Managing Director Charles Graham said the groundbreaking technology of Robatech’s Greenline energy-efficient Concept hotmelters made them the greenest on the market.

“For more than 35 years Robatech has strived to produce the most energy-efficient equipment on the market – long before green technology became buzz words,” Mr Graham said.

“Our latest Greenline Concept hotmelters are at the cutting edge of energy-efficient technology and have made Robatech the champions of ‘Generation Green’.”

Mr Graham said the secret behind the Greenline series’ energy-efficient performance was the combination of a heated hose with the Robatech’s unique fully-insulated SX Diamond applicator head, launched as a world’s first at the 2008 Interpack exhibition.

“This groundbreaking technology, which is unique to Robatech, means users can decrease the energy consumption of their hotmelt glue applicators by up to 17 percent, thus saving them money and increasing their green credentials,” he said.

“No other similar product on the market can make this claim and it is more important than ever for businesses, especially in areas such as packaging and manufacturing, to be able to demonstrate their green credentials.

“To show that you are striving to improve energy consumption levels makes good business sense on all levels – from saving money to increasing your customer base.

“In a business climate where customers are increasingly making decisions based on a company’s green credentials, being part of the green generation is critical to a business’ long-term sustainability.”

Mr Graham said the Greenline products’ energy-saving capabilities were based on the exact analysis Robatech carried out in-house for each component.

“We determined where the overall system emits the most heat and then insulated these areas specifically,” he said.

“From the applicator head over the hose, right through to the hotmelter, we carefully investigated all appliance components for their energy consumption and heat losses.



…2/ Robatech walks the Thin Green Line

“This enabled us to determine which areas we needed to address to increase the product’s energy efficiency.”

Mr Graham said the first step was the design of Robatech’s groundbreaking fully-insulated SX Diamond applicator head.

“On its own the SX Diamond applicator head consumes 60 percent less energy than its predecessors,” he said.

“Once we had perfected this technology, we turned to the framework of our Greenline products and exchanged the existing 8mm hoses for 6mm hoses – which further reduced energy consumption.

“Add to this the special insulation of the melting tank in our Concept hotmelters, and the cover over the adhesive distributor, and we are able to reduce our energy consumption by up to 17 percent compared with other hotmelt applicator systems.”

Mr Graham said a further plus of the applicator head’s insulation system was increased safety for operations staff.

“Through using the Robatech system, the danger of personal injury such as burns is greatly reduced,” he said.

Mr Graham said late last year Robatech introduced the Greenline execution, including the special insulation, to the five and eight litre Concept hotmelt series – all at the same price as preceding models.

“These are the best-selling products in Robatech’s Concept range so we wanted to start with them,” he said

“We are now working on adapting the Greenline insulation technology to larger tanks and will also provide these at no additional charge in the near future.

“Manufacturing companies and their customers world-wide are coming under increasing pressure to look at their operations’ environmental impact and investigate ways to reduce their carbon footprint.

“Those companies who take the lead in implementing new technologies will come out as clear winners as the time is approaching when measuring carbon output and implementing ways to reduce it will be essential rather than optional to good business practice.

“If change costs little and saves much there is really no excuse for not becoming a part of Generation Green.

“There are those who may not like change, but they will like irrelevance even less.”

Preventative Maintenance – Saving Businesses Thousands





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Large food manufacturers often have teams running Preventative Maintenance Schedules (PMS). This saves the business precious time and money. With contractors now servicing small to medium businesses, Preventative Maintenance Schedules have been made available to all businesses.

 Prevention is always better than a cure but many small to medium manufacturing plants only have time to run reactive maintenance, costing thousands of dollars in wasted produce and downtime.

 Smart Engineering & Technologies performs Preventative Maintenance Schedules for small to medium businesses in the food and packaging industry and has seen positive changes to their clients’ productivity levels.

 “People often come to us for help because their productivity levels aren’t high enough,” says Smart Engineering & Technologies co-owner, Matthew Leimgruber. “We go in there, gather information about the machines and create a schedule, according to how often machines break down and why.”

 Even businesses with an existing on-site maintenance team have been using Smart Engineering’s services; “On-site maintenance teams are often kept busy fixing breakdowns and doing general reactive maintenance,” Mr Leimgruber said. “As contractors, we come in and work behind the scenes fixing faults which would otherwise cause breakdowns. We also install and program new equipment. This frees up the on-site guys and makes it possible for them to maintain a higher level of machine workability.”

 As we all know, systems break down over a certain period of time. For example, a stainless steel spring in a filler may last between five and six months, depending on usage. A PMS would see that spring replaced at the five month mark (outside machine operating hours), avoiding the expensive and frustrating down time that would usually occur when the spring is simply left to wear out.

 A PMS would also include machine assessments. These are carried out at regular intervals. Machine assessments sometimes uncover faults which can then be fixed before any further damage or loss of production occurs – once again, saving manufacturers time and money.

 “We increase productivity by minimising machine downtime,” Mr Leimgruber explained. “Preventative maintenance allows you to work ahead of breakdowns.”

Food Safety Summit to debut at PACK Expo

BNP Media, organiser of the Food Safety Summit and PMMI, producer of the PACK EXPO family of trade shows, will be introducing the Food Safety Summit Resource Centre at PACK Expo International 2010.

To be held in Chicago, the PACK EXPO has expanded to provide processing and packaging solutions with food safety as a leading issue.

BNP Media and PMMI will jointly promote The Food Safety Summit Resource Centre, where attendees will learn from leading experts on food safety about breakthroughs, challenges and solutions needed to ensure the safety of packaged foods before, during and after processing and packaging.

PMMI said it expects more than 45,000 attendees and 1,600 exhibitors to attend the event.

AIFST Convention returns to Melbourne

“Creating the future of food — body, mind, passion” is the theme of the 43rd annual Australian Food Science & Technology (AIFST) Convention to be held from 25 to 26 July at the Sebel Albert Park, Melbourne.

The program includes international and local experts presenting information on food packaging, food marketers, sales and product managers; food technologists and engineers; food educationalists, nutritionists, retailers, management and those in other food-related positions.

Some topics that will be covered include, helping businesses become more sustainable in packaging and processing technology solutions, food safety regulations and food protection.

There will also be workshops running on 28 July that will provide information on sensory technology and running sensory panels; as well as food product development with a focus on process, from ideation and market research through to formulation, development and implementation in plant.

Other highlights include key advances in food engineering, emerging solutions in processing technology, process optimisation and efficiencies and case studies in innovation.

Registration details are available online, and early bird rates are offered for bookings received before 1 June 2010.

Moet Hennessey uses Avery Dennison’s Fassion labelstock for champagne label

Moet Hennessey has partnered with Avery Dennison to create a functional neck label that secures the foil cap wrapping of the company’s champagne brand, Moet & Chandon.

Avery Dennison has used a Fasson self-adhesive labelstock which combines Fasson PE150, a top-coated 150 micron white polyethylene film, with a solvent acrylic adhesive, Fasson S700, carried on a white glassine release liner.

The company said, it ensures high-speed label dispensing on the packaging line.

“The Fasson labelstock we are using for our champagne bottle ‘cravates’ is perfectly suited for use on our production line and also delivers the high quality of presentation which we strive for with our champagnes,” Gilles Cateau, Moet Hennessy process engineer, said.

“The Fasson adhesive gives a finish that is much superior to the wet-glue solution we used before, which left visible traces of glue on the glassware. We have experienced a real qualitative improvement since we have been using the Fasson solution.”

EFIC helps South State increase exports to China and Taiwan

The Australian government’s export credit agency, the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC), is helping South Australia’s South State Food & Beverage to access working capital for new export opportunities in China and Taiwan.

The Adelaide-based manufacturer of ready-to-drink (RTD) alcoholic beverages and food products already exports its products around the world.

EFIC provided a working capital guarantee to Westpac, enabling the bank to lend additional funds to South State to help the company finance increases in the cost of packaging for markets in China and Taiwan.

EFIC’s guarantee, known as EFIC Headway, enables small- and medium-sized exporters like South State access to additional working capital from their bank.

“It’s great to receive orders for our beverages in China and Taiwan, but it also means extra packaging and labelling costs for these markets,” Stephen Williams, South State managing director, said.

“The additional funds available through EFIC Headway have helped us seize these new export opportunities and build on our existing Asian customer base in Japan, Korea and Singapore.”

AIP 2010 National Conference open for registration

Registrations for the Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) 2010 National Conference is now open.

To be held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Victoria on 16-17 June, the biennial event will be themed ‘Back to the Future: The Art & Science of Packaging.’

Over the two days, eight international speakers and 36 in total will be attending the 2010 National Conference.

It has been designed for both personal and professional development and offers networking opportunities with like-minded packaging experts.

The AIP National Conference is open to both members and non-members and is ideally suited for the food, beverage, manufacturing and packaging industries.

Keynote speakers include Tesco UK head of replenishment, Liz Hulbert; Coles operations development manager, Jonathan Reeve; and Amcor Australasia president, Nigel Garrad.

International Speakers include Sigma Technologies International CEO, Angelo Yializis, and Georgia Tech Research institute head of human systems engineering, Bradley Fain.

Exhibitors include Chep, Australian Packaging and Processing Machinery Association, AUSPACK PLUS 2011, Viscount Plastics, Visy, AES, Wellman Packaging, Tronics, Kraton, LeMac, Matthews, KHS, Fibre King, SSI Schaefer, Result Packaging, Snapsil Corporation and Laser Resources.

For further information on attending or exhibiting at the 2010 AIP National Conference please contact the AIP on 07 3278 4490 or email or visit

PepsiCo reveals global commitment to new goals

PepsiCo has revealed its global nutrition, environment and workplace goals.

PepsiCo claimed the goals are designed to advance PepsiCo’s commitment to deliver sustainable growth and apply it to their food and beverage business around the world.

“These commitments are shared by all of our businesses and reflect our focus on profitable, long-term growth and will guide us as we continue to build a portfolio of enjoyable and wholesome foods and beverages for consumers around the world,” Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo chairman and CEO, said.

As part of the company’s announcement, PepsiCo will display calorie count and key nutrients on food and beverage packaging by 2012, reduce packaging weight by 350 million pounds and creating safer workplaces.

Golden Circle makes charity donation after false ownership claims

More than 800,000 cans of Golden Circle fruit and vegetables will be donated to Australian welfare agencies after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) raised concerns about misleading country ownership claims.

The ACCC has also accepted a court enforceable undertaking from H.J. Heinz Australia, after it admitted to engaging in misleading conduct by representing that Golden Circle was “Proudly Australian owned.”

After Heinz’ acquisition of Golden Circle in 2008, Heinz continued to sell Golden Circle products with the representation “Proudly Australian Owned” while rolling out new labels. As late as January this year, Heinz was manufacturing some Tetra Pak beverages in packaging bearing the Australian-owned representation.

The ACCC also identified a number of Australian-owned representations accessible through the Golden Circle website in November 2009, including a statement that its “iconic status has been achieved through a commitment to remaining proudly Australian owned.”

“The ACCC is pleased that Heinz will donate an estimated $1.8 million worth of canned fruit and vegetables to feed the hungry,” Graeme Samuel, ACCC chairman, said.

“News of the Heinz undertaking should also be a warning to all firms involved in acquisitions. Ensuring compliance with trade practices law is vital at every stage of an acquisition, importantly including reviewing and amending representations on product labels.”

Blowing the lid on beef packaging

Visy Automation has developed a new-generation box ‘Lidder’ machine founded on innovative drive technology from global designer and developer SEW-Eurodrive, writes Darren Klonowski.

Visy Automation has developed a new-generation box ‘Lidder’ machine founded on innovative drive technology from SEW-Eurodrive, delivering a powerful combination of speed, accuracy and throughput.

Automated packaging machines lie at the heart of many modern industrial manufacturing processes.

Originally developed to ease the burden on labour-intensive applications, automated packaging machines have evolved to incorporate sophisticated control technologies and other complementary systems.

Today, much is expected of automated packaging machines—there is an increasing demand for such machines to deliver increased product quality, while at the same time optimising throughput and reducing operating costs.

The challenge for modern packaging solutions providers is to develop customised machines that improve efficiency and the manufacturer’s bottom line. Here, robotic handling and packaging equipment solutions provider, Visy Automation, is a leader, pioneering innovative machines aimed at optimising packaging processes across a variety of industries.

When Visy Automation embarked on the development of its second- generation in-line VL18 Lidder machine for Australia’s largest meat processor, Bindaree Beef, the company called on SEW-Eurodrive to provide an innovative motor and drive solution.

All of the new Lidder’s motion processes rely on SEW-Eurodrive electronic drive control technology, and servo geared motors. The result is a fast and efficient in-line Lidder machine, adaptable to nearly any box that comes off Bindaree Beef’s production line.

Paddle power

Visy Automation’s new VL18 Lidder machine features a clever dual-purpose conveyor design coupled with precision automation and a rapid-fire ‘head compression’ lidding system. Together, they ensure lids are glued onto unlidded boxes at rates of up to 25 per minute. In operation, un-lidded boxes are transferred into the head compression area for lidding via two side-by-side dual-chain conveyors. Each chain conveyor is equipped with two sets of ‘paddles’ positioned at opposite ends of the chain-set. One of the paddles from the first chain-set is used to push the incoming box into position and hold it in place from the incoming side. Once in position, a paddle from the second chain-set acts as a ‘torque-control’ paddle, holding the positioned box in place from the opposite side.

The head compression system then delivers and glues the lid to the box in less than one second. Once the lid has been attached, the ‘torque control’ paddle releases the box by rotating under the conveyor. The first paddle then over- travels, effectively pushing the lidded box off on to the outlet conveyor. This first paddle then takes on the role of the ‘torque control’ paddle for the next box.

According to Peter Somogyi, Visy Automation Project Manager, the dual functionality of the paddle system is a real feature of the packaging machine.

“The fact that each paddle does not have to go back to the start position after each box is lidded is a real time saver,” he says.

“By minimising the number and length of machine movements, we have been able to develop an extremely fast Lidder machine with the ability to deliver high throughput rates. This was made possible thanks to the clever application of SEW- Eurodrive’s drive electronics.”


The VL18 Lidder machine is equipped with four SEW-Eurodrive geared servo motors—one on each of the chain conveyors, one on the head compression system, and one for the lid-transfer system, which is responsible for feeding box lids to the head compression system. Similarly, each of the Lidder machine’s four servo motors is combined with its own dedicated SEW-Eurodrive MOVIDRIVE ‘B’ application inverter— all of these drives are linked to a single programmable logic controller (PLC) via an EtherCat Fieldbus.

According to Spiro Limberakis, SEW- Eurodrive Applications Engineer, the MOVIDRIVE ‘B’’s integrated ‘Modulo Function’ positioning control is vital to the operation of the VL18 Lidder machine. “The real ‘smarts’ are in the two chain conveyor drives,” he says.

“The ‘Modulo Function’ control with encoder feedback is ideal for accurately controlling position in rotating applications such as this one. In this case, the drive can direct the chain conveyor to any one of eight paddle positions.”

Here, each motor is equipped with a 24-bit absolute encoder, which by itself is not adequate in such an application— after a approximately two hours of operation the encoder will ‘overflow’ effectively forcing the drive and the chain to go out of position. Importantly, the Movidrive B inverter converts the existing 24-bit encoder into a 64-bit encoder by counting and storing the overflows in the inverter, eliminating the overflow issue of the encoder. The MOVIDRIVE ‘B’ converts the motor encoder position into a ‘Modulo’ position on the chain. This means the conveyor/paddle position is known at all times. The drive is effectively programmed to go to a chain/paddle position rather than a motor position.

“Without the 64-bit enhanced absolute encoder and Modulo functionality it would be impossible to determine where the chain is after several revolutions,” says Limberakis.

“Even after multiple revolutions, the paddles can be taken back to the start position automatically—there is no need for the drive to return to a reference or zero point with this system, even after a power down.”

Anti-crash programming

Importantly, the drives have been programmed to use the ‘shortest path’ method of positioning. Here, the MOVIDRIVE ‘B’ is ‘smart’ enough to accept a chain/paddle destination from the PLC and then determine which paddle should be moved in which direction (clockwise or anti-clockwise) to ensure a paddle is in position in the shortest possible time.

“While this saves time between paddle movements and allows production rates to be optimised, it also presents challenges,” says Somogyi.

“There is potential for the two sets of paddles to occupy the same space, so there needs to be high degree of flexibility within the drives to ensure that paddles from different chains don’t collide.” With this in mind, SEW- Eurodrive implemented unique control architecture and developed anti-collision software.

“While the paddle position of both chain conveyors is controlled by the PLC via the MOVIDRIVE ‘B’s, the drives themselves are in continuous communication with each other in the background, via a dedicated system bus,” says Limberakis.

“The drives essentially monitor each other’s position in the ‘Modulo world’. If the individual paddles get within a certain proximity of each other, the drives will ‘fault out’, avoiding a crash. They then go into recovery mode and travel to a known paddle position before the lidding process is recommenced.”

Visy Automation has also built reliability into the control system.

“We’ve set up a ‘handshaking’ process between all of the drives and the PLC,” says Somogyi.

“Each time a message is exchanged between the PLC and any of the drives, an additional confirmation message is sent before any action is taken. This only takes a matter of milliseconds, but adds an extra degree of reliability to the process.”

A collaborative affair

Traditionally, lidding machines have employed pneumatic systems for attaching the box lids, but these often suffer from speed, reliability and maintenance limitations. By teaming up with SEW-Eurodrive, Visy Automation was able make significant improvements on the legacy design, and effectively re- wrote the book on lidding technology.

According to Somogyi, this collaborative approach yielded the innovative paddle design and operation concept of the new VL18 Lidder machine.

“We worked together to establish the best way to facilitate the movement requirements we had in mind,” he says.

“We are able to take our engineering challenges to SEW and come up with an inventive solution. In this case, the Modulo function was the key to the project. Without SEW, we wouldn’t have been aware of this capability.”

SEW-Eurodrive’s after-sales support differentiates the company from other drive solutions providers. “As we supply our packaging machines to clients all over the country and internationally, we need to be confident that all system components are easily sourced and supported,” says Somogyi.

“SEW’s ability to supply total project lifecycle support in Australia and across the globe, sets them apart. In fact, they were one of the few drive solutions providers that could have provided us with the level of software support we required—SEW-Eurodrive is a huge supporter of Visy Automation.”

With the new VL18 Lidder machine online at Bindaree Beef, Visy Automation is continuing to look for ways to optimise its design.

“We’re already thinking of the next evolution of this machine,” says Somogyi.

“There might be merit in integrating the gluing system with the drives. In fact, there’s even potential to go with a completely integrated control system by using SEW- Eurodrive’s PLC/motion controllers, MOVI- PLC. Either way, we know we can count on SEW-Eurodrive’s support.”

The SEW-Eurodrive group is a global designer and developer of mechanical power transmission systems and motor control electronics, headquartered in Bruchsal, Germany. Its broad spectrum of integrated solutions includes geared motors and gear units, high torque industrial gear units, high-efficiency motors, electronic frequency inverters and servo drive systems, decentralised drive systems, plus engineered solutions and after-sales technical support/training.The Australian division of SEW-Eurodrive is headquartered in Melbourne and is supported by a network of offices in Sydney, Brisbane, Townsville, Adelaide and Perth.

Darren Klonowski is SEW-Eurodrive’s strategic marketing and product manager.

SEW-Eurodrive Pty Ltd

03 9933 1000