Wiley to upgrade Australian meat processor

A Casino based livestock processing company, Northern Co-operative Meat Company Ltd (NCMC) is gearing for long-term growth. 

The upgrade and expansion investment will enable its many operators meet increased national and international demand for premium Australian meat. Brisbane based international food facilities designer, Wiley has been trusted to deliver on the four-stage project set to run over 2016.

The projects consist of design and construction of a new state-of-the-art cold chain management facility, design and construction of a beef knocking box and race system, design, supply and install of a steam repair and relocation, and finally the Tannery wastewater treatment plant upgrade.

NCMC Chief Executive Officer Simon Stahl said: “We have more than 100 operators who use our facilities in Casino to process their livestock. Our main focus is to provide them with efficient facilities using a highly trained workforce and specialised equipment to service all major global markets including Australia, the USA, China, Japan, Korea, European Union, Halal and organic markets.

“We chose Wiley to undertake the design and construction of our latest projects because we are confident in their specialist knowledge of the demanding standards of food safety and hygiene, especially in meat and across the cold chain production line.”

“The knocking box and race system are a pivotal part of our abattoir and will set the rhythm for the rest of the facility. Wiley have experience in designing to international standards of animal welfare and this design complied with design principles created by US animal welfare expert Dr. Temple Grandin.

Wiley Managing Director Tom Wiley said: “NCMC has been around for nearly as long as we have and are well known as an industry leader in red meat processing.

“Our team has worked closely with NCMC over the last few years to understand the requirements of each project and their desire to continue providing quality services and products to its customers servicing Australia and the world. They have strong values, which align with ours, which further strengthens our long-standing relationship with them.

Wiley Senior Project Manager Barry Murphy said, “The design we came up with improves carton management, increases storage capacity on site, and improves load-out capabilities, ultimately reducing manual handling, forklift movements, and creating a safer environment for all workers.”

“We’ll also be installing an ASRS automated sortation and retrieval system, which is the first of its kind used in a frozen environment in Australia and only the second in the world. This system provides NCMC with the ability to better manage product flow and traceability.”

“We’re pleased that the building footprint and the equipment we have selected will allow NCMC to expand and modify their operations in the future.

“Meanwhile, our works on the Tannery infrastructure will improve the segregation of the water waste streams.”

A2 Milk wants to raise $40 million

A2 Milk is going on an $AUD40 million capital-raising hunt to support its planned expansion into China, the UK and the US.

A2 Milk, which only last July rejected takeover offers from both Australia's Freedom Foods and US dairy company Dean Foods, has appointed Goldman Sachs to act as sole arranger, book runner and underwriter for the fully underwritten placement, which is being offered to institutional investors.

The placement should raise most of the money, with the remainder coming from a share purchase plan.

Freedom Foods to acquire Ringwood Mill for $5.9 mill

Freedom Foods has entered into an agreement with the Ringwood Group of Companies to acquire the business and assets of the Ringwood Mill for $5.9 million.

Earlier this month, Freedom Foods announced that as part of the Australian Fresh Milk Holdings, it would be jointly acquiring Australia’s largest single-site dairy operations, Moxey Farms.

But it doesn’t stop there, as the a2 milk company revealed it was one of two parties in a bid for the a2 Milk Company, a deal which has yet to be finalised. In early June, Freedom Foods also coughed up $16.6 million for 66,000 square metres of land at Ingleburn for a proposed new integrated Aseptic (UHT) production and logistics facility.

Ringwood Mill, based at Darlington Point in the Riverina district of New South Wales, operates a grain processing facility for the supply of milled flours and popping corn. The facility is a significant processor of popping corn in Australia and processes gluten free grains. It is approximately 32 kilometres from Freedom Foods’ allergen free cereal and cereal snacks facility at Stanbridge near Leeton.

The acquisition of the Ringwood Mill will enable Freedom Foods to expand its milling operations for internal use and external third party customers through increased capabilities and capacity, access to cost efficiencies and the ability to consider expansion into processing of other key grains. Freedom Foods will relocate its existing milling operations to the Ringwood Mill, providing for increased finished goods warehousing capabilities at its current operations.

Under the terms of the acquisition, Freedom Food will acquire assets located at the site including 7.5 hectares of land, several modern large and medium sized grain silos, flour processing plants, other machinery and equipment and buildings including an export container facility. Freedom Foods will also acquire raw materials including popping corn and maize. 


Livingstone Beef $100 mill processing facility opens

The Australian Agricultural Company has officially opened Livingstone Beef in the Livingstone Valley, about 50km southeast of Darwin.

According to ABC Rural, the new abbatoir has started exporting, with the first container sent out of Darwin bound for Hong Kong.

The new facility will process up to 1000 head of cattle a day at full capacity. It will produce export beef, hides and rendered products.

Stock will be sourced from the northern areas of Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, supporting northern Australia's cattle industry where there are currently no processing facilities.

The facility will allow cattle to be processed in northern Australia, reducing transport and freight costs as well as carcase weight loss for northern producers who currently need to truck live cattle large distances to southern processing plants.

At the launch, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the opening was “a sign of the new hope that has returned to agriculture in Northern Australia.”

“This is the biggest private sector investment in agriculture in Northern Australia for many a long year.”

“I'm also really pleased that thanks to the Free Trade Agreements put in place by Andrew Robb under this Government, that the prospects for our agricultural exports, particularly our beef exports, have never been better.

“Soon, thanks to these Free Trade Agreements, there will be a zero tariff on Australian beef exports to Korea, a zero tariff on Australian beef exports to China and a much reduced tariff on Australian beef exports to Japan, which is our largest beef export market and all of this means that Australian cattle producers have got a magnificent opportunity to export our clean, great produce to the wider world.

“There is so much that we can do for the wider world and what we do for the wider world in beef is obviously immeasurably boosted by the opening of this fine facility here near Darwin today,” Abbott said.


GrainCorp Foods to upgrade processing facility in Victoria

GrainCorp Foods will upgrade its processing plant in West Footscray, Victoria, to deliver extra capability including retail spreads, bakery fats, and shortenings.

The project is part of a wider initiative by GrainCorp Oils to integrate its edible oils and spreads manufacturing operations, which will increase its overall competitiveness and reduce carbon emissions by around 25,000 tonnes per year.

The wider initiative will involve relocating GrainCorp Foods’ processing and packing operation in Murrarie, Queensland, to its existing operation in West Footscray, Victoria, as well as GrainCorp Oilseeds’ existing operation in Numurkah, Victoria. In turn, these operations will be expanded and upgraded to accommodate the additional capacity.

The move will ensure greater integration of processing and packing operations from Queensland, to Victoria and New South Wales, where oilseed is already largely grown and crushed.

It will also reduce the trucking distance of the final product by 550,000 kilometres per year to customers mostly based in Melbourne and Sydney.

Wiley business operations director Simon Spittle said: “Based on GrainCorp’s brief, we created a design for the West Footscray upgrade to align with the company’s wider integration objectives.

“A major outcome of the project will be improving environmental performance by reducing carbon emissions by around 25,000 tonnes per year, thanks to the disuse of coal-fired equipment currently used to generate steam at the Murrarie plant.

“GrainCorp’s investment in its West Footscray and Numurkah sites will eliminate the need for the coal-fired equipment, providing GrainCorp with the opportunity to invest in more efficient and environmentally-sustainable technology.

“We look forward to working with GrainCorp on the upgrade to the West Footscray operation and seeing its completion in September.”

GrainCorp Oils group general manager Sam Tainsh said: “The project delivers a logical and more efficient focal point for the sourcing, crushing, refining, and distribution of GrainCorp’s locally-produced edible oils and food ingredients.

“We’re pleased to welcome Wiley on board to assist us in the design and construction of the upgrade to our West Footscray facility.

“GrainCorp has successfully worked with Wiley on a previous project. Their expertise in complex food manufacturing facilities made them the right fit to undertake this project.

“The increase in efficiency will ensure we are able to continue producing Australian-grown canola and other oilseeds, and therefore continue supplying associated retail products, which are increasing in demand.”


OneHarvest and Wiley team up for fresh cut salad facility

OneHarvest and food manufacturing facility specialist Wiley, are teaming up to construct the largest fresh cut salad facility of its kind in New South Wales.

Based on OneHarvest’s brief, Wiley created an early concept design for the multi-million dollar project, located in Smeaton Grange, Camden, and managed the design and development application approvals.

The facility will supply supermarkets on the eastern seaboard with a wide variety of salad products made from leafy ingredients including spinach, lettuce, rocket, kale, and many other vegetables in stand-alone products, as well as mixes and salad kits. The majority of these products will be sold under the supermarkets’ own private labels.

OneHarvest managing director Sam Robson said “We are pleased to contract Wiley to design and construct our new facility, which will service the expanding fresh cut salad market.

“Wiley has a long and successful relationship with our family business and has continued to work in partnership with us through our growth and national expansion projects over the last 20 years.

“This project will enable OneHarvest to service the largest market for pre-packaged salads in the country with fresher product, owing to the facility being closer to the freeway network and our retail customers’ points of distribution.”

Wiley managing director Tom Wiley said “We have a strong history with OneHarvest and are excited to be involved in the design and construction of its first facility in New South Wales, especially one of this size and scale.

“We began our journey with OneHarvest over a decade ago, working together to help them create their world-class processing facility at Wacol. We helped them expand this plant in 2012 to improve capacity and cater for their ongoing growth, and are now pleased to add the new Sydney facility to the list of important projects on which we have collaborated.”

With early works including earthworks, civil works, and drainage now underway on site this project is planned for completion by October next year.


New exhibitors sign up for AUSPACK

Processing machinery will again be a focus for AUSPACK 2015 with new exhibitors including exhibitors Viking Food Solutions and Summit Machinery.

Luke Kasprzak, portfolio director – industrial division, exhibition and trade fairs, said “Companies such as TNA Australia, Heat & Control, Walls Machinery, Krones and JL Lennard are just some of the processing exhibitors returning in 2015.”

“In addition we have international processing companies such as Daxner Pacific, Lothar A.Wolf Speizialmaschinen; as well as first time exhibitors Viking Food Solutions and Summit Machinery also exhibiting next year.”

Viking Food Solutions offers food processing and packaging solutions ranging from vacuum packaging equipment and materials, dip tanks, shrink packaging, tray sealers, trays and film and food labels.

Stuart Mead, director of Viking Food Solutions, said “Viking Food Solutions will be showcasing a broad range of solutions on their stand including the A-MAPS Tray Sealer, the Viking XG 680 Automatic Tray Sealer, the Viking 1020, 250 and 423 Vacuum Packers, the Viking Dip Tank 66 and the Viking Planus Hamburger Machine.”

Summit Machinery which has been firmly based in the processing equipment field for over 25 years, is also active in the vegetable, salad, cheese, meat and nut industries across Australia and New Zealand and has its own range of salad washers, spin dryers, trim tables, conveyors, elevators and ancillary equipment. It also represents FAM (Belgium) size reduction machinery, (dicers, slicers, shredders), Stumabo (Belgium) Industrial machine knife manufacturers, Dofra (Holland) processing machinery for the potato, onion and capsicum and Tenrit (Germany) processing machinery for Carrots.

AUSPACK 2015 will be held on 24 to 27 March at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre.


Does your production line make the grade?

Comply and produce. It is that tricky balance at the foundation of food manufacturing.

Comply with quality and safety regulations without sacrificing productivity. In the technologically-driven modern commerce landscape, product inspection equipment, such as metal detectors and x-ray inspection systems, can play a crucial role in helping food producers achieve that balance between compliance with stringent safety standards while actually maintaining or enhancing output.

But what happens when the regulations change? It is vital that food manufacturers have production lines capable of responding to future developments in food safety standards. Updated International Featured Standards (IFS) Version 6 quality regulations, recognised in major global markets, came into effect in July 2012 and require manufacturers to maintain tighter control over processing lines. 

Food manufacturers must adhere to these new regulations as well as other guidelines approved by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) to continue to supply their products to lucrative markets. Launched in 2000, following a number of food safety crises when consumer confidence was at an all-time low, GFSI is an initiative for the improvement of food safety management systems to ensure confidence in the delivery of safe food to consumers worldwide.

Guidelines approved by GFSI, including IFS Version 6, are based on the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) program, which requires manufacturers to audit their lines to identify potential risks to product quality and integrity. The introduction of foreign body contamination during processing could be one such risk. Once identified, the manufacturer must establish a Critical Control Point (CCP) to check product quality and remove any substandard packs to uphold quality and protect consumers. As well as demanding the adoption of the HACCP program, IFS Version 6 includes a number of other amendments to enhance consumer safety.

Key regulatory changes

The key changes in the latest IFS regulations affect global food manufacturers, most critically in the areas of senior management responsibility, production process, and measures, analysis and improvements.

The updated requirements for Senior Management Responsibility relate to ensuring that personnel are sufficiently trained, understand their individual responsibilities in food safety and know that their performance is monitored.

IFS Version 6 puts the onus for ensuring optimum food safety on every person involved in the production process, not just on the machine operatives. Product inspection systems that offer comprehensive monitoring and data collection software as well as options for remote access to contaminant detection records can enable manufacturers to demonstrate they have exercised due diligence in their processes and have adhered to food safety guidelines in the event of a contamination event. Inspection technology with enhanced security features, such as password-protected reject bin locks and touchscreen displays and recording of login attempts optimise manufacturers’ control over their production lines.

There are also new requirements designed to mitigate the risk of contamination of food products from foreign bodies, such as metal and broken glass. These include comprehensive training on any product inspection equipment, such as metal detectors and x-ray inspection systems, used on the processing line for all employees as well as regular changeover of machine operatives to prevent fatigue from affecting food quality. It is important, therefore, that product inspection systems are easy to use to simplify the training process and build operative confidence when using the machine. Product inspection technology with features such as touchscreen Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs), intuitive software and pre-set functions for product changeovers can reduce the amount of training necessary to ensure optimum detection sensitivity and minimise the risk of reputation-damaging product recalls.

IFS Version 6 stipulates that food manufacturers introduce and document procedures describing the steps to be taken in the event of breakage of glass and other brittle material near the production line . These measures should include isolation of affected product batches, which can be achieved with the use of an x-ray machine or metal detector featuring an automatic rejecter and lockable reject bin to quarantine non-conforming food packs. This technology allows manufacturers to re-inspect isolated products, enabling them to be reworked to reduce product waste.

Product labelling is another key focus of the new IFS Version 6. All information must be legible, indelible and meet customer-applicable product specifications . Importantly for food manufacturers, the updated standards stipulate that there should be a process in place to ensure that all product labelling complies with the current legislation of the destination country . This includes the display of ingredients, product weight and expiration date. All information should correspond to the product inside the packaging as well . Food manufacturers can fully automate this process using advanced vision inspection technology, minimising the risk of non-conforming packs reaching end consumers. These systems are capable of examining labelling information at high speeds and removing sub-standard packs from the line. It is important that any vision inspection equipment has easy-to-use HMIs to facilitate the setup of the machine with new information both for product changeovers and for the guarantee of compliance with new legislation in the future without the need to invest in new technology.

IFS Version 6 for the first time contains guidelines regarding traceability of food products to identify the relationship between product batches and their labels . Manufacturers must now store samples of each product batch appropriately until its expiration date and, if required by retailers, for a determined period beyond.

Advanced vision inspection and serialisation technology installed at key points on the production line can help manufacturers comply with these standards by enabling products to be tracked from the raw ingredient stage, through processing to packaging and palletisation until they are ready to be transported to the retailer, storing the information for later use. This ensures manufacturers can easily identify which sample belongs to which batch in the event of a product recall or request by the retailer. Such equipment is already in use in the pharmaceutical industry and optimises food manufacturers’ oversight of the entire production line, helping them demonstrate due diligence in the event of a product recall.

Additionally, the guidelines in IFS Version 6 relating to maintenance and repair of product inspection equipment have been amended, as have those regarding the use of third party service providers. Food manufacturers are now obliged to ensure that all product equipment processes are in good condition without any negative influence on food safety. Where manufacturers require maintenance from a third party, all the manufacturers’ specified material and equipment requirements should be respected by service providers. Food manufacturers can maintain the integrity of their food safety procedures by sourcing maintenance and other services from trusted suppliers. To ensure optimum performance of product inspection systems, they can take advantage of the dedicated service offering of their equipment providers. Service engineers can make necessary repairs, conduct audits or carry out product verification while the machine is in operation, enabling compliance with standards and boosting productivity as well.

Finally, and most importantly for food manufacturers, IFS Version 6 stipulates that all measuring devices be tested regularly for accuracy, adjusted, and calibrated as necessary under a comprehensive monitoring system. Furthermore, the results of these checks, adjustments and calibrations must be documented and any necessary corrective action on weighing technology or production processes carried out. To comply with these standards, it is important that the product inspection system used be easily recalibrated or re-set in the event of a failed test. Systems with easy-to-use displays and dedicated test procedures built into the software can facilitate this process for properly adjusted equipment. Remote monitoring services can test many product inspection system performance parameters and undertake corrective action in real time without the need to disrupt production. In this way, manufacturers can ensure optimum production line security without compromising downtime.

Being aware of the Standards
Food manufacturers must adhere to the changes to regulations to ensure growth and to retain access to important global markets. Complying with strict quality and safety standards, such as those featured in IFS Version 6, does not automatically mean manufacturers must sacrifice productivity. By selecting the right product inspection technology for your needs, such as metal detectors and x-ray inspection systems, manufacturers can meet regulations while maintaining or enhancing efficiency. To do this, it is vital that manufacturers develop a rapport with an equipment supplier that understands global food safety regulations who will be able to advise them on the most suitable solution for their production lines and to ensure their processes comply with standards well into the future.

Neil Giles is Marketing Communications Manager at the Mettler-Toledo Product Inspection Division of Mettler-Toledo, based in the UK. He currently specialises across all four main product inspection technologies, which are x-ray, metal detection, vision inspection and checkweighing.

About Mettler-Toledo Product Inspection
Mettler-Toledo Safeline is the world’s leading supplier of metal detection and x-ray inspection solutions for the food and pharmaceutical industries. Together with Garvens Checkweighing, CI-Vision and Pharmacontrol Electronic GmbH (PCE), Mettler-Toledo Safeline forms the Product Inspection division of Mettler-Toledo.

Serialisation: protecting brands and supply chains

Serialisation is not new. It’s the process of putting a unique number on a product. While the idea has been around for a while, its use has come back into the spotlight because of the benefits it offers in an increasingly complex global supply chain.

At the consumer level particularly, a serialised unique identification process enables traceability and authentication via systems such as chain of custody, chain of ownership, product identifier authentication or recall – and readily available technology can be used with all of these.

The pharmaceutical industry has quite well developed serialisation, but changing regulations in various countries around the world will most likely see mass serialisation become a reality across a host of industries.

So why is it necessary?
There is a lack of real-time transparency with products changing ownership a number of times. Serialisation gives complete traceability and enables authentication at every level in the supply chain — especially at the consumer level.

Along with the complexities of an increasingly world-spanning supply chain, counterfeiting is another major reason why serialisation is becoming necessary. Counterfeiting affects not only company bottom lines, but in the case of foods and pharmaceuticals, poses a public health risk.

Business benefits
While there’s consumer-level and supply chain justifications for serialisation, there are also several business benefits:

  1. Brand protection: it gives the ability to detect and manage counterfeit product threats
  2. Reverse logistics and recalls: it gives greater granularity of data to aid recalls, returns, withdrawals and rebates, and shrinks loss recovery.
  3. Inventory control and supply chain visibility: it improves visibility of the exact item and quantities delivered at each point in the supply chain, so provides a better insight into raw materials ordering as well as process scheduling. 
  4. Consumer connection: it gives the ability to build consumer trust through product verification or authentication, and, therefore, the opportunity for the brand to connect directly with the consumer.
  5. Returns: it gives the ability to detect returns that were not originally sold to the customer.

Implementing serialisation
To effectively implement serialisation and traceability, a business needs to understand the requirements from a compliance perspective, as well as their brand objectives. Typically, a traceability/serialisation system has these building blocks:

  • unique identification codes
  • data-capture mechanisms
  • managing links across the chain
  • data communication across the supply chain

Flexibility is key. A system that meets current regulations is great, but it should also be able to accommodate change if regulations alter in the future. (With the way regulations have changed so far, that’s really “when” regulations change.)

Serialisation can be implemented in three stages:

  1. At the consumer level, with a unique number on the unit using a data carrier (e.g. data bar, 2D code, numeric code).
  2. Using the existing Global Trade Item Number (GTIN); a serialised GTIN can be used for a more integrated approach.
  3. Across the supply chain, including cartons and pallets, for complete supply chain visibility and end-to-end track and trace.

Here are a few things to think about before implementing serialisation:

  • review data management from an enterprise level (ERP/MES), a plant level (MES), line level (SCADA) and machine level (PLCs and equipment)
  • consider the impact on your existing processes and line speeds
  • determine the code’s location and permanency
  • choose the right data carrier (i.e. QR, Datamatix, GS1 Datamatrix barcodes)
  • use GS1 standards
  • think of aggregation strategies when serialising beyond the consumer-unit level
  • choose a technology partner who understands serialisation and can provide serialisation-ready devices and solutions

From our experience with serialisation, here are a few more things to think about:

  • move 2D barcodes away from other barcodes on the packaging so your scanning is efficient
  • use a data reader for online verification
  • make sure any rework or removing samples for QA doesn’t cause serial number linking to go out of sync
  • test print on several substrates
  • use barcode grading
  • control pallet aggregation and avoid cartons being moved around before a pallet is completely wrapped up and labelled
  • control products being picked up from the line
  • make sure your existing network can handle the data flow
  • ensure your existing systems can inter-operate with serialisation-control software
  • have clear processes on how will any rework (if needed) will be handled
  • use validation processes in line (vision inspection, data readers)

Serialisation has many business and supply chain benefits. As with every new process, make sure it really is right for your business. If you’re unsure, start with a pilot program and evaluate from there.

Mark Dingley is chairman of the Australian Packaging and Processing Machinery Association and heads operations at Matthews Australasia. Contact him at info@matthews.com.au

Image: www.outsourcing-pharma.com and www.businessnewsdaily.com


Robots: boosting efficiency and safety for small manufacturers

Next generation automated technology is providing an innovative solution to critical issues facing many small food manufacturers, while also streamlining the production cycle to boost safety and efficiency.

A new generation of lightweight robots means small food manufacturers in Australia can now enjoy the benefits of automation, previously only available to larger organisations. Many small businesses are turning to robotic technology to transform the entire lifecycle of the food manufacturing process. In fact, the recent interest by small food manufacturers has pushed Australian robotic purchases to record highs.

Through the implementation of new lightweight and compact robots, food manufacturers are now able to build a modern manufacturing workplace – automating industrial processes and upgrading the labour force to operate machines instead of having staff perform monotonous and repetitive manual tasks.

Man or machine
Industrial robots have long excelled at the kind of manually repetitive tasks that employees can find undesirable. Indeed, large food manufacturers in Australia have long used robotics in food processing throughout the production process.

More recently, small manufacturers have turned to more affordable robots to help free-up staff from unstimulating or labour-intensive roles. In small manufacturing facilities, even skilled workers can spend more than 32 hours per week on repetitive activities such as picking or packaging.

Lightweight industrial robots can take over these activities, while also significantly slashing the time taken to complete each action. For example, in a small bottling plant a single robot is able to complete the packaging process more than 35 percent faster than manual handling. The robot is used to pick-up two or three bottles simultaneously from the production line every 2.5 seconds, orienting them, and placing them in the packing machine.

Such a set-up can enable organisations to utilise staff more effectively – freeing them up to perform more skilled activities, such as operating machinery. 

A move to modularity
Today’s emerging manufacturing technologies are extremely adaptable – both in terms of function and the way they integrate into the overall production process. The highly configurable new technologies can significantly improve throughput time – particularly in the areas of preparation and set-up, as well as reducing inspection and put-away time.

For industrial robots, the push for lightweight machines means they can be mounted on the wall or shifted from one location to another, adding flexibility to the manufacturing process, thereby saving money on valuable real estate costs. This is a significant advantage for manufacturers when they choose to expand, move or grow their production line.

Also, small batch and seasonal productions are no longer stumbling blocks for businesses as the robots can be relocated with ease without the need to overhaul the floor layout and can be assigned to carry out different tasks in accordance with demand.

One of the most appealing aspects of the new generation of industrial robotics to small businesses is that they no longer require specialist knowledge to operate. Modern machines can now be completely reconfigured and deployed for any number of tasks in a matter of hours by almost any employee, instead of relying on engineers, therefore avoiding high fees. Lightweight robots now use a drag and drop interface more commonly found on consumer devices. Programming can be done via a teach pendant whereby the user-friendly interface allows the programmer to drag and drop the routines to do their programming. This functionality is very similar to an iPad, allowing manufacturers to take full advantage of all the production benefits of a dedicated production line.

Safety and cost
Of course there are many other considerations when investing in new technology – including the wellbeing of employees and ROI.

Manufacturing roles often consist of labour-intensive manual tasks. These are potentially highly dangerous activities, yet the reality is that for many employees this will constitute a large part of their working week.

Injuries related to both repetitive manual handling and workplace accidents cost the Australian economy millions of dollars every year. Packing and production lines in small operations are particularly risky. However, in contrast to traditional industrial robots in the market, small and lightweight robots can work collaboratively with staff.

Collaborative robots, or “co-bots” (in the majority of cases) don’t require safety shielding, enabling staff to work side-by-side with the robots.

Of course, the business benefit of industrial robotics goes well beyond just safety, with affordability also being one of the main business considerations. During the past few years industrial robots have become increasingly cost-effective. In most instances the investment in a lightweight industrial robot can be recouped in just over a year, and the total initial ownership cost is very low compared to many traditional robots. 

The ease of programming, integration and after sales maintenance means manufacturers save about 30 to 40 percent in integration costs compared to other traditional industrial robots in the market. 

Lightweight robot technology is helping small food manufacturers transform their production lines, while retaining skilled workers and creating a safe workplace environment where employees can work side-by-side with a robotic counterpart.

Shermine Gotfredsen is business development manager at Universal Robots Asia Pacific.

tna appoints a new regional sales manager for Australia

Global packaging solutions specialist, tna, has announced the appointment of Paul Irwin as regional sales manager for Australia.

Irwin is one of the longest serving members of the company’s technical team, having started with the company as an apprentice electrician 16 years ago, and has since worked in Australia, the United Kingdom and the Middle East.

Based in Melbourne, Australia, Irwin brings a broad and exciting spectrum of knowledge to his new role, including extensive expertise in installations, maintenance management and R&D support in many of tna’s global markets and across the entire product range.

Irwin will be responsible for regional sales of the company’s industry-leading processing and packaging systems, including the high performance tna robag® 3ci VFFS bagger, the new tna roflo® VM high throw vibratory conveyor and tna roflo® HM  horizontal motion distribution systems. He will also advise customers on its innovative seasoning solutions, for example the tna intelli-flav® OMS 5 and tna intelli-flav® MLS systems, the highly accurate tna intelli-flav® CLO  and tna intelli-flav® CLS  closed-loop slurry and oiler seasoning solutions, as well as the tna intelli-weigh® range and the tna hyper-detect® high performance metal detector.

Michael Green, managing director at tna, said “Paul’s a valuable member of the tna family and we’re excited that he is heading up our sales team in Australia. His wealth of experience, product and market knowledge and enthusiasm will be a great asset to our team enabling us to take the business forward and help us stay ahead of our customers’ needs.” 


What’s the best production line for your food business?

There are a few key factors to consider when upgrading or investing in a new production line. Heat and Control has some pointers to help you get started.

Choosing the right kit is only half the story. It is not simply a question of buying the most suitable weighing equipment, or distribution system. Yes, speed, accuracy and reliability are vital, but you also need to choose a supplier with a service and support team that understands your wants and needs, and provides the right solution if ever a problem occurs.

Every food and beverage retailer is looking for something a little bit different in their product range, be it a different type of snack, flavour or pack presentation, so manufacturers need to be able to customise their products and deliver exact requirements to their customers.

These days, weighing and packaging systems have become compact with a smaller footprint compared to previous single multihead weighers and bagmakers. As an example, they are able to deliver around 130 bags per minute for chips and as much as 220 bags per minute for extruded snacks, on small target weights. This is compared to the 80 or 90 bags delivered by equipment of the past, with modern day technologies helping to achieve accuracy within one percent of the target weight.

Factors that you should consider when looking to upgrade, or looking at investing in a new distribution line, include:

  • Consideration for system layouts with a view to future requirements
  • Provision for accumulation and feed modulation
  • Methods to divert product, sanitation, operator safety, cross-contamination, sustainability and product quality control.

While price, delivery and other commercial considerations are important, technical performance should certainly be the primary factor when evaluating which production line is best for your business. 

Conveying (product delivery) has become an integral part of controlling the feed to the weighing and packing stations of any food product, and has become more sophisticated than simply moving product from point A to point B.

When selecting a distribution system a processor needs to ask‘do I need a vibratory conveyor or a horizontal motion conveyor for my line? 

Vibratory conveyors come in two drive types, electromagnetic drives, which produce variable speed movements with short amplitude (lift) and high frequency (speed). Electromagnetic drives are best suited for lightweight, easy flowing products, and for conveying limited bed depths, spreading product, and fines removal. The other is a more aggressive, mechanical vibratory drive.

While vibratory conveying systems are very useful for breaking up product and keeping it separate, the constant bounce and impact of product on the pan is aggressive and can often reduce the quality of the finished product. Vibration can cause micro-cracks in some products, making them more susceptible to breakage later in the packaging or delivery process.

Additionally, there is often coating build-up on a vibratory conveyor pan but not on horizontal motion conveyor systems.

Rather than bouncing the product, horizontal motion conveyors slide the product along the pan. This has become the preferred means of conveying fragile and coated foods such as snacks, fresh produce and frozen prepared foods. The horizontal motion virtually eliminates product breakage and cracking and does not shake off coatings, breading or seasoning. At the same time as being gentle on the product, an added advantage is that seasoning, oil and other coatings do not build up in the pan, which in turn increases downtime for cleaning. 

Horizontal motion conveyors are available with direct and inertia drives. The horizontal motion allows gentle short term product accumulation, whilst uphill horizontal motion conveying reduces product damage in return loops.

While sliding product prevents breakage, coating loss and noise, it also has some limitations that become evident in horizontal motion conveyors:

  • Product spreading can only be achieved with specially shaped pans
  • Product travel rates are slower than aggressive mechanical drive vibratory conveyors, but may be faster than high frequency electromagnetic drive designs
  • Uphill conveying is usually limited to about 1.5 degrees, although in some special cases, it is possible to convey product up to eight degrees
  • Does not level piles of product without pan modifications
  • Difficulty conveying limp or sticky products

Direct drives use long strokes, producing travel rates up to (12.5 m/min). In addition to greater throughput/pan size, direct drives can also stop and start instantly, offer modular expandability, provide fast travel rates to reduce stale product complaints and improve the efficiency of seasoning applicators, weighers, bagmakers, and overall packaging room performance.

(Inertia drives generally deliver slower product travel rates, have delayed stop and start operation, and do not work well in modular and packaging feed applications).

Selecting the proper type of direct drive will greatly reduce maintenance and energy usage, as well as improving safety and packaging feed efficiency.

Weighing and packing
Tasks usually performed by manual labour, involving sorting, counting, weighing, bagging and case packing can be replaced with consistent, accurate and high-speed systems, drastically reducing operational costs while increasing output and productivity.

Modern weighing technology brings with it higher speed and more accurate weighments, increasing product yield, which in turn relates to less “giveaway” per bag. Computer combination weighers deliver the performance processors needed to meet high production requirements for their products.

Modern stainless steel weighers provide more sanitary weighing systems, while new surface profiles and coatings virtually eliminate product sticking. High-amplitude feeder drives provide powerful control of product flow, while Pulse Width Modulation systems automatically tune dispersion and radial feeder drives for maximum operating efficiency.

Technological advances have resulted in further increases for packer profit with higher production rates, reduced product giveaway, and lower cleaning and maintenance costs. We can summarise the developments in weighing technology as follows:

  • Speeds up to 15 percent faster than earlier models
  • Control unit with Windows XP operating system and e-mail capabilities
  • Capability for full integration and monitoring of other equipment on the line through single panel operator interface
  • USB camera for real-time monitoring of product conditions on the dispersion and radial feeders
  • Automatic timing settings that optimise productivity and reduce operator inputs
  • Reduced energy consumption
  • Quick and easy set-ups and product changeovers

Finally, when designing/engineering your plant layout, packaging platforms also need to be taken into consideration. Modular packaging room platforms reduce installation and cleaning costs in meat and poultry, plants and sanitary production environments. 

Packaging platforms need to provide a safe, stable support for product distribution and inspection conveyors, weighers, control panels and other equipment. Lightweight structural members could cause vibrations that are not easily detectable but can translate into errors on the load cells of computer weighers.

The end result will be weight fluctuations that can cause weighing errors, reducing productivity and efficiency. Structural members need to be located correctly to eliminate flat surfaces where debris can accumulate.

Conveyors can also be elevated above the non-slip decking to facilitate cleaning. Another feature to consider is open frameworks that take minimal floorspace, and allow complete access to bagmakers, cartoners and other ground-level equipment.

Platforms are normally custom-configured for each installation and can include wash racks for weigher hoppers, plumbing and pre-wiring for single point connection to utilities, lighting, hose storage, catwalks, stairways, safety railing, floor drains and other features.  

Before you buy, consider testing your products. Some suppliers have equipment set up and ready for customer testing to help prove capabilities such as gentle handling, conveying uphill, or moving large quantities of product, as well as weighing and packaging demo centres. If this service is available, making use of it can be of value in the decision making process. During a product test or demo, you can also get firsthand experience with other features such as operator interface, ease of use, and possibly sanitation.

When choosing a supplier, as with any equipment purchase, the buyer is not just purchasing a piece of equipment but also entering into a long term relationship with the vendor. Choose a reliable supplier that understands your industry and offers up-front assistance with such things as system layout, sanitation procedures and avoidance of cross-contamination. Be sure that you are comfortable with the vendor's ongoing assistance such as warranty, training, spare parts and technical support capabilities. Price should not be the only consideration; choosing the wrong partner can cost you much more than you’d save by investing in a sub-standard supplier.

Robert Marguccio is business manager – packaging and inspection systems at Heat and Control, which manufactures food processing and packaging equipment systems. Contact them at info@heatandcontrol.com or visit www.heatandcontrol.com

Schneider helps take the guesswork out of cheesemaking [video]

Schneider Electric is offering cheese manufacturers the ability to improve their process control and product quality with its PlantStruxure technology.

The technology makes cheesemaking, traditionally a hands-on, artisan process, more automated, allowing manufacturers to generate a more consistent product.

Schneider Electric operations manager at its South Caernarfon Creameries, Mark Beavon, explains that PlantStruxure, the company’s collaborative and integrated automation architecture for industrial and infrastructure applications, takes the guesswork out of cheesemaking.

“Cheesemaking itself is a technical craft and you need not only the technical expertise but also the craft element – so you rely on the cheesemaker himself. So if you give him equipment that’s different to use and you can use it in different ways then the cheesemakers do use them in different ways, so you get some inconsistency,” he said.

The company has built new stainless steel control panels for six vats, as well as a master control panel. “The idea was that on the front of each of these panels we put in a screen view which was then linked to the PlantStruxture architecture behind there which we could then pre-program. So as a cheesemaker i could be in front of vats 1,2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 working on the vat or I could move away to the master control panel and get an overview of all six vats.”

“By simply starting the process on the screen view, the PlantStruxture architecture kicks in and starts to take in the process through the recipe,” Beavon said.

“As you get bigger, you do need bigger equipment and also more process control, because you can't necessarily get your hands in and do some of the things we used to do.”



New food friendly ducting released from Eximo

Eximo have released Liquiflex, a food friendly ducting manufactured from food grade PVC.

The ducting features high resistance to both internal and external pressures and is used for a number of applications including the transfer of liquids in the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries. Liquiflex is designed to withstand both hot and cold temperatures with a range between 0 and +60 degrees celsius.

The product is also crush-resistant, and can be used for the delivery and suction of liquids including beer, milk, fruit juices, wine, and spirits amongst other liquid products.

Karen Browne, General Manager of Eximo said that Liquiflex has been purposefully engineered to maximise efficiency in liquid transfer applications.

“Liquiflex is specifically engineered to handle all of your liquid transfer needs, everything from water to wine at a 50% volume,” said Browne.

“It is resistant to microbes and bacteria with a smooth bore. With a minimum wall thickness of 4mm, it’s manufactured to withstand high pressures.”


New facility puts food on the menu for Multipack

Contract packager, Multipack, is celebrating the opening of its new accredited food facility, allowing the company to expand its offering to include primary and secondary packaging for FMCG food brands.

Extending its footprint at Sydney's Moorebank, Multipack now has a fully commissioned, fully functioning food facility to complement its non-food packaging lines.

The facility comprises a washroom and three clean rooms, each independently air-conditioned with positive air pressure to ensure contaminants are kept out. The three separate areas mean Multipack can also run different food products with different packaging requirements at the same time.

Brad Devine, sales and marketing manager at Multipack, told Food magazine, "This new facility represents the future for our business. It’s the culmination of several years of investigation and testing of our strategy in the FMCG food area."

It means Multipack is now accredited for secondary and primary food packaging, and further down the track the brand also plans to expand into liquid filling and wet fill products.

Multipack's key clients in the food space include multinational brands such as Unilever, Nestle, Wrigleys (the Mars Group) and Lion Dairy and Drinks.

The new facility is expected to inject new life into Sydney's contract packaging industry, which historically has been overshadowed by Melbourne.

"It's been a long time since we've seen any significant investment in food contract packaging in the Sydney market," Devine said.

"We'd like to think that this now gives those guys – the FMCG brand owners – an opportunity to package their product in Sydney without having to do it in Melbourne, which is what they seem to have done for a long time."

It's also a good news story for Australia's manufacturing industry in general, which hasn't been short of struggles in recent times. Devine hopes Multipack will now be able to capitalise on Australia's food-producing potential.

"We've been in business for more than two decades and we've seen in that time vast amounts of business go offshore, particularly to China. We recognise that Australia is still a large food producer, and we figured that food that's grown and processed in Australia is very, very likely to be packaged in Australia, and very unlikely to be lost offshore to China.

"That's not to say that Australia isn't under pressure from imports, it certainly is, but Australia produces some of the best food in the world and it gets processed and packaged right here in Australia, so we figured that one of the least at-risk categories for us to invest in would be Australian grown and processed foods," he said.

Promoting Australia's top quality food products and partnering with leading food manufacturers is a top priority for the brand moving forward, Devine added.

"We're in it for the long haul. We wouldn't have gone and invested like we have if we thought it [food manufacturing] was a fleeting opportunity or a fad. We've seen a long term trend and we want to provide a long term, viable, low cost solution to FMCG food companies."

Food magazine visited Multipack's new facility in Moorebank. Click here to see the pics on our Facebook page.


Fonterra chooses Tetra Pak for new NZ UHT plant

Global dairy giant Fonterra has chosen to employ Tetra Pak processing and packaging equipment for its new NZ $100m UHT Greenfield plant in Waitoa, New Zealand.

The new plant, which will double Fonterra’s UHT production capacity, is reported to contain five new UHT lines which will produce a range of products including UHT white milk and UHT cream for the foodservice sector.

Fonterra’s managing director for New Zealand milk products, Gary Romano said that the decision to use Tetra Pak was driven by the companies stringent food safety standards.

“In choosing Tetra Pak we know we can count on the highest standard of food safety and quality. A long-standing partner of Fonterra, Tetra Pak offers both equipment and service that ensures we get our products to consumers safely and efficiently,” said Romano.

“Rising incomes across Asia mean that more and more families want milk in their daily diets. And high quality, nutritious milk from New Zealand is much sought after in countries across the region,” added Nils Björkman, Executive Vice President Commercial Operations for Tetra Pak.

“We have worked with Fonterra on long life milk for more than 30 years at Takanini. We are excited to continue to identify new opportunities and to deliver world-class integrated processing and packaging solutions to meet the growing need for safe, quality food products by consumers in this vibrant region,” said Björkman.

Fonterra plans to commence milk production by mid 2014.


Six reasons to adopt automated label applicators

You see them every day – food labels at the supermarket; barcodes on electronic devices; shipping labels on products prepared for shipping to a foreign land. Just how does a business ensure the accuracy of the placement of labels? How does one ensure that labels stay secure for the journey they are to undertake?

Automated label applicators, though not new to the market place, have become increasingly important for businesses striving for speed, precision and efficiency. As businesses expand, and products number in the thousands, menial tasks of labelling, previously undertaken by hand, must give way to robotics and equipment that do not just replicate the action of labelling, but do so with precision, time after time after time.

Automation then, is the way to go. For businesses on the verge of expansion, it is time to consider an automated label applicator for the many advantages it offers. Let us consider these:

1. Increased productivity
As with any repetitive task performed by hand, labelling by hand takes a longer time to complete with each repetition. Automation ensures consistency (same amount of time required for every repetition), and that consistency equals time savings and increased productivity. Increased productivity, coupled with decreased labour costs simply means increased profits.

The benefits of automated labelling are not just reserved for the big companies. Today, with various systems capable of producing a range of labels for multiple products, more and more companies are beginning to leverage the efficiencies that automatic labelling offers.

2. Minimised defects and waste
Let’s face it. It is frustrating when labels do not pass the necessary QC. Time is needed to return them back to the source and to re-label them. And defective labelling does not make for happy customers and vendors on the receiving end, resulting in decreased customer satisfaction.

Automatic labelling offers better readability and reliability of the applied label. In addition, labels can be printed on-demand, which ensures that the most updated information is on the label at the right time on the right product.

3. Minimal wear-and-tear to hardware, and minimised human uncertainty
A good automated label applicator will be able to withstand rugged environments for years. It also does not throw a tantrum and quit on you when it has a bad day! One must always take into account human factors when the task of labelling is undertaken by hand, and repetitive actions carried out by hand will always result in diminished performance, not to mention the accompanied potential for defects in the labelling process.

Where upgrades and servicing are necessary, a good label applicator can often be easily serviced with minimal downtime, and often without the need to be transported for off-site repairs. The benefits of time savings to the entire production chain cannot be underestimated.   

4. Decreased labour costs
Staff will always need to be trained – period. Even the simplest of repetitive action requires training, plus the necessary supervision thereafter – resulting in a high investment in time and trainers. Yes, there is still training involved in operating the label applicator, but it takes far less time, and arguably less monitoring time thereafter – reducing not just overheads and time taken for training, but also overall labour costs.

5. Compliance with statutory requirements, plus flexibility to change when requirements change
Automation ensures quality, and compliance to a standard that has been set – a standard sometimes set in accordance to statutory requirements. When such requirements change, a good automated label applicator is flexible enough (and far quicker than humans) to tolerate those changes. This also negates the necessity of excessive supervision and monitoring when such changes take effect. In comparison, humans effecting those changes will require training, observing, demonstrating and then trying till standards are met. All these take up excessive time, and labels often get wasted in the process.

6. Audits are easier
Try asking a fellow worker how many labels he has applied in a day – enough said. Automated label applicators make auditing an easier process, and analysing of the production process is easier when machines do the “talking” instead.


The impact on businesses when one chooses an automated label applicator is tremendous. 

  • Where labelling by hand might result in erratic delivery times, automation gets the job done on time every time, which always bodes well for a company’s reputation, branding, and sales.
  • When workers are not inundated with the stress of overcoming diminishing returns for what is a menial and highly repetitive (not to mention occasionally boring) task, they are happier, and more productive as a result. Injury-related costs are minimised simply because of automation which can only mean costs savings at the very least for workplace injury insurance.


Datamax-O’Neil is a trusted global provider of stationary and portable label and receipt printing solution products that enable manufacturing and supply markets to capture the benefits of automated product identification and automated legal and financial transactions


Conveyor cooking systems rolling towards profit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image credit: photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/ab4dd0n/3439851609/">Flickr</a>

For more information contact (Australia or New Zealand) Barry Hansel at Reactive Engineering. Phone 61 (0)2 9675 5100; email barry@reactive-eng.com.au; website: www.reactive-eng.com.au



The future of packaging and processing revealed at AUSPACK PLUS [video]

AUSPACK PLUS, the largest biennial packaging and processing machinery and materials exhibition in Australia featured a myriad of new and innovative ideas and processes from around the globe.

The event took place from May 7 through 10 at Sydney Showgrounds and showcased everything from the latest in product coding and labelling, to automation technologies and biodegradable film.

This year saw a keen emphasis on eco friendly solutions with an entire section dedicated to innovations which aim to minimise the industry’s carbon footprint.

Innovia Films

One company in particular, Innovia Films has developed a range of speciality films known as NatureFlex™ which is made from renewable wood pulp and sourced from managed plantations.

NatureFlex™ is currently being used in everything from coffee packaging to FMCGs including crisps and confectionery throughout the country.

John Nickless, national account manager of Innovia Films said that companies with the Fair Trade certification in particular are showing more of an interest in sustainable packaging in order to provide consistency with their products.

“The interesting thing about coffee companies is for Fair Trade, they are conforming to the Fair Trade on the beans but they are now trying to further improve their image with the packaging,” he said.

Coffee packs have been traditionally made with polypropylene, foil and then polyethylene. Innovia’s Natureflex™ offers a biodegradable home compostable packaging solution which completely decomposes in 42 days.

“Natureflex™ provides the same amount of properties as you would from a polymer film but you get the environment credentials with it,” said Innovia’s sales manager Robin Dearnley.

Bio Earth Products

BioEarth Products are another company offering an eco-friendly solution to commercial food packaging.

BioEarth Products specialise in customised compostable packaging which is made from renewable resources. The products are becoming widely adopted by the fast food industry, and major supermarkets are using the eco-friendly trays for meat packaging.

KHS Filling and Packaging Worldwide

KHS Filling and Packaging are the Australian distributors for ALPMA, a German based packaging machine specialist who have recently come up with the ALPMA MultiSAN Fold Wrapping Machine which is revolutionising hygiene within the soft cheese packaging arena.

MultiSAN boasts an easier change over from one format to the next and features a swivelling system that allows for better access to the machine for maintenance and cleaning, providing a complete wash-down execution without wetting the packaging film.

Lion is the first company to purchase the machine in Australia with installation commencing in June.

Some other companies profiling new technologies at this year's AUSPACK PLUS can be seen in this video



AUSPACK PLUS hosted the 2013 AAPMA Awards of Excellence which recognised innovative and outstanding packaging and processing solutions throughout the industry with categories including Export Achievement, Design Achievement, Customer Partnership, Imported Equipment and Best New Product.

2013 Worldstar Packaging Awards were also presented at AUSPACK PLUS, celebrating the best in packaging with categories including Beverages, Electronics, Food, Health and Beauty, Pharmaceutical and Medical and Other.

AUSPACK PLUS will return again in Melbourne 2015.


Packaging change: how far we’ve come

Ralph Moyle, national president at the AIP, says happy birthday to the APPMA and reflects on 30 years of change in Australia's packaging industry.

Congratulations to the APPMA from the AIP on reaching 30 years. The value the APPMA has brought to the Australian packaging industry over these years is immense and nothing displays this better than the quality of AUSPACK PLUS. 

Thirty years ago, Australia was a very different place. In 1983, Malcolm Fraser was PM until replaced by Bob Hawke in a landslide; Ash Wednesday bush fires claimed 71 people, Australia II won the America's cup and the Australian dollar was floated; and Hawthorn defeated Essendon for the VFL premiership. Yes, it was a while ago.

Packaging in Australia 1983 was predominantly cans, glass and corrugated cardboard. Cartons did not yet have to have barcodes and plastics were in their infancy. Materials were simple mono-based and environmental/sustainable factors were not prominent. Today, the range of packaging formats is vast. The materials are composite and are designed to suit a purpose.

A packaging technologist today has to ensure packaging is not only 'fit for purpose', but is also lighter, sustainable, environmentally friendly and accessible to all ages, while meeting the rigors of a fast and extensive supply chain. Packing lines run faster than ever and inventory movements are smaller and express.

APPMA and the AIP have shared many links over this period. The Foundation Treasurer of the APPMA was also a Fellow of the AIP – Robert Brook. We continue this fine tradition of sharing today.

Knowledge is the core to working successfully in this fast changing world and "Packaging Education" is the mantra of the AIP. We believe in training our members in the latest trends and technical developments from around the world.

Through improved packaging education, Australian packaging technologists can continue to make significant commercial and social impacts.

The AIP applauds the APPMA's 30th year milestone and we look forward to working together for another 30 years.