Dairy industry: what gets measured, gets managed

Compressed air energy is a significant cost to the dairy industry. In many areas of production, more than 20 per cent of compressed air energy can be attributed to waste.

As with many industries, a key strategy to reduce this waste should include an analysis of existing energy consumption and identifying strategies to reduce waste and often excess energy necessary to efficiently consume compressed air.

When asked what ‘inefficient compressed air’ demand looks like, Paul Grantham, key account manager for SMC Corporation Australia New Zealand (ANZ) – dairy industry said that there are many factors that could lead to wasted energy including higher than necessary flow rates, excessive pressure leading to higher pressure drops and high leakage rates

SMC has long been an advocate for energy saving technology and has spent years developing new energy saving technologies for its customers through its Energy Conservation Group.

According to Grantham, SMC utilises a four-step plan to help customers in the dairy industry realise energy saving opportunities:

  1. Visualise or identify – “Here, SMC works alongside the customer to identify energy saving opportunities and gain an understanding of their compressed air utilisation and the potential for energy savings. Initially, we would look at base line data and where this is not available, we work with the customer to collect this data.  It is here that SMC’s monitoring equipment including flow meters and pressure sensors come into play”.
  2. Analyse – “Once the data has been collected it can be analysed and related to the compressed air processes to identify areas where the most significant energy savings can be realised. By reviewing energy saving opportunities in an efficient and structured manner, the cost of improvements can often be significantly reduced. Often, small changes can make a big difference,” said Grantham.
  3. Implement – “Having identified and analysed the processes using real data, it is possible to incorporate energy saving techniques to compressed air processes. Through monitoring components such as flow meters and pressure sensors there is improved visability and feedback relating to energy consumption. This allows customers to make informed decisions and to efficiently manage their current and future consumption,” said Grantham.
  4. Improve – “Once the smart technology is implemented, we continuously review the processes and savings to identify the next opportunity for improvement and to ensure that any change is reviewed against the base line data to quantify the measured improvement . This can be an ongoing partnership and our commitment to you – our valued customer. We are here every step of the way on this energy saving journey”.

 The PF3A Series from SMC
Suitable for the dairy industry, the PF3A series now offers an IO-Link digital flow switch complete with 2-screen display. It is compact in size and offers improved display visibility, a built-in temperature sensor, enhanced energy savings and is IP65 compliant.

SMC Energy Conservation Group
“Recently, SMC established the SMC Energy Conservation Group which is works with customers globally to provide initiatives and solutions that are delivering efficiencies, process improvements and reduced costs,” said Grantham.

More than just identifying efficiencies SMC takes a long-term approach working with customer sites to also identify management and control solutions; to retain the value achieved.

Pouch unloader result of collaborative effort between SMC and HMPS

Machine builders, HMPS  partnered with SMC Corporation Australia New Zealand to design and custom fit a new HMPS pouch unloader cell for an export customer in Thailand.

Most recently, this innovation has been nominated as a Food & Beverage Industry Awards finalist for 2020 for an Innovative Technology Award.

Used to unload pouches of pet food from trays, this machine offers high speed on a small footprint. It is the first machine where a robot is retrofitted with a vacuum head for off-loading pouches of pet food from a retort.

Pouches have increased in popularity over the years as a flexible packaging option and using a vacuum system to handle this packaging option remains the most reliable and trusted solution.

The Brief
‘Better, faster and more efficient’.

“This customer has an old compressor in their factory and requested a solution that is more energy efficient in terms of compressed air,” explains project engineer for HMPS, Sergio Palacio.

“Compressors can be expensive to replace; our customer wanted to automate their line without causing unnecessary downtime, additional costs or drastic changes to the rest of the plant.”

Based on this brief, HMPS looked to the modern vacuum technology produced and supplied by SMC to help curb customer concerns.

Success is Built on Collaboration
HMPS turned to SMC to help meet the brief. These two prominent companies have worked together for years and Sergio says that this project required out-of-the-box thinking and close collaboration.

“We chose SMC’s vacuum products because of their reduced air consumption while offering continuous vacuum where required. We looked to deliver a more efficient and powerful solution with a specially designed and engineered vacuum head,” says Palacio.

Jason Sutton, SMC area sales engineer said that their design departments worked together to deliver an innovative solution. “From SMC’s side, the design was led by our engineering department in New Zealand, headed up by Sergey Vetrov while I oversaw the project on the ground together with the HMPS team. Our team was proactive, detail orientated and invested in the project”.

“This was one of many projects where SMC worked with OEM to develop special “fit to purpose” complete solution,” said SMC’s Vetrov. “This project delivered custom made solution as a result of preliminary tests with actual pet food products to prove concept with selected SMC standard vacuum components.”

The Solution
“During the final stage we designed and delivered a bespoke solution with direct interface to the robotic arm as per HMPS’ specification,” said Vetrov.

While the specially engineered vacuum head used in this application is made up of standard SMC vacuum products, this solution has been engineered into a unique multi-functional and energy efficient vacuum design.

“We needed to increase the speed of the application whilst factoring in energy savings to help reduce pressure on the compressor,” said Palacio.

Jason says that SMC selected the ZH vacuum ejectors and ZP vacuum cups from its comprehensive vacuum range for this specific application. “The pouches are wet with traces of chemicals and as such, we used the ZH series to help take away any water and chemicals whilst protecting the vacuum system.”

“The multi bellow pads fitted in our vacuum cups (ZP series) are made for quick release and reduced consumption. Because there is no chamber, the vacuum response time was immediate, and no air is delivered to a vacuum cup unless it is in use,” said Sutton. “Here, as soon as the air shuts off, atmospheric pressure enters, and the multi bellow pads expand like a spring to assist with the easing of pressure and tension, releasing the product immediately.”

HMPS made use of SMC’s IP65 rated stainless steel products for this application to withstand the wet and humid conditions in the factory, and to meet the highest health & safety demands. Components for this application were specifically selected to withstand caustic acid washdowns.

The Results
The  machine performs far better than its predecessor and has achieved 28 per cent in energy savings.

It is no secret that every millisecond counts in packaging. “Through the unique combination of a new vision system and SMC’s vacuum head, the customer is enjoying less waste, faster speeds and a reduced cycle time of 15 percent,” Palacio said.

According to Palacio, this robotic cell can process 576 products per minute and is able to handle four different pouch sizes and four different gravy contents.

“It’s important to note that the gravy affects the shape of the product and the performance of the vacuum head. The vacuum cups used for this application adjust to ensure constant suction when required. This same technology can be applied across an array of products in pouches such as soups, rice, biscuits etc,” he said.

“This new vacuum head will be retrofitted on an additional three machines at this same plant and SMC’s special vacuum head will become HMPS’s new standard going forward.”

Vetrov said that his team loves projects where they can show the full capability of the SMC products and bring out the real innovation which it was designed for. His team in New Zealand designed and built the complete solutions and offer customised solutions for special applications.

Reshoring Australia and New Zealand’s manufacturing sector

One of the many learnings over the past few months is that of self-sufficiency. In the past, Australia and New Zealand, like many other countries, gradually outsourced a large part of its supply chain internationally to reduce costs.

Covid-19 saw the best and worst of supply chain management – some companies came to a grinding halt while others couldn’t keep up with manufacturing demand. SMC itself has managed to deliver consistently throughout the pandemic because of their local stocking policy and commitment to local manufacturing.

Manufacturing in Australia has fallen over the last two decades from 13 per cent of gross domestic product to 6 per cent with jobs within the sector falling a staggering 24 per cent between 2011 and 2016; the impact of which certainly came to light during the coronavirus crisis. William Lebihan, head of field sales for SMC Corporation Australia and New Zealand says the past few months have helped strengthen the belief in local manufacturing; to create more jobs, increase local revenues and to safeguard the economy.  “Businesses that relied on importing where caught in a supply chain drought and I sincerely hope that as we all emerge from C-19 that these examples are still front of mind in order to help drive a change in attitude towards Australian manufacturing. Unfortunately, it’s not a simple matter of just switching it all back on again and hoping for the best, government has massive role to play here to help support a ‘reshoring’ of Australian manufacturing; and time is of the essence – I think.”

Committed to local manufacturing
As an established player in the market, Lebihan notes that SMC Corporation has noticed a trend towards more flexible manufacturing and a big drive among local companies to look at how they can improve their local manufacturing facilities; the company remains ever committed to its local customers.

“SMC has resources, people, skills and products to support our customers across both Australia and New Zealand. Whether you’re investing in IOT technologies to enable more flexible manufacturing or whether you are ramping up your automation to cope with demand, or diversifying your current product lines, SMC is a partner in the automation process. We offer a practical approach and want to assist our customers by making the resources we have at our disposal available to customers in our effort to support local manufacturing.”

Founded in Japan in 1959, SMC Corporation opened its first subsidiary company in Australia 1967 with New Zealand opening in 1984. “While we have access to a wealth of global resources from our head office, we have invested heavily in the local market with offices and manufacturing facilities across Australia and New Zealand. I am pleased to say that, as it stands, we have $25 million worth of local stock on-hand; in fact, our logistics and production teams never missed a beat during the worst of C-19, working a split shift to accommodate for social distancing requirements and to help support our customers.”

Virtual support – every step of the way
In a new move, the company has moved towards offering hands-on remote support to customers. The company’s wide range of available products are backed by its virtual support strategy. “We are helping customers futureproof their businesses remotely. For the first time our customers have access directly to our applications engineering team and can set up and conduct remote meetings, consultations, assessment of current systems and technical advice with no strings!”

This translates into hands-on assistance should the customer need it at the conceptual, installation or programming phase. “The team, comprising of 88 sales people and 12 application engineers, is on standby to assist with product selections, quotes, placing orders, enabling remote access to set up components, delivering product training, technical advice and more,” said Lebihan.

In terms of lead times, Lebihan notes that popular products are available locally within a day or two while special products on request from its head office in Japan can be imported in as little as five days. The local engineering team is also able to design and engineer solutions which may not yet be a standard product. “Nothing has changed in terms of our delivery and customer offering – we still offer high quality products at low cost with rapid delivery. This is part of our commitment to reaccelerating and invigorating the local manufacturing sector. We want customers to feel safe knowing that no matter where they are in their journey, we are there every step of the way”.

Steps to Smart Flexibility
Lebihan notes that keeping costs down remains critical. “Rather than upgrading entire systems, there are smart and affordable decisions that can be made. We offer a practical approach for new and existing customers to sharpen up their digitalisation, without the hefty upfront investment costs – even if the project is a basic concept only – drop us a line, we have application engineers and specialists happy to assist

SMC’s virtual approach to futureproofing businesses

The COVID-19 pandemic taught us to become more resourceful and to maximise what we already have. We saw prominent FMCG manufacturers repurposing existing lines, companies adopting a ‘lights out’ approach and talks of shorter supply chains coming into play.

Jozef Ceh, digital transformation manager for SMC Corporation ANZ says that from its many learnings, one key takeout is that of ‘futureproofing’ your business

“Every business is looking for a competitive advantage to get their business back up to speed and Industry 4.0 is certainly the answer,” said Ceh.

Cah notes that SMC offers a practical approach for new and existing customers to smarten up their digitalization, without the hefty upfront investment costs.

Steps to Smart Flexibility
“Rather than upgrading entire systems, there are smart and affordable decisions that one can make. Customers can identify products in their factories that aren’t being used to their full capacity such as an EX600 fieldbus system which has the capability to enable remote access,” said Ceh.

Recognising a need for an enhanced virtual presence, SMC is there every step of the way.

Customers using a legacy fieldbus across the ageing EX250 or EX500 range or even D-Sub connected compatible valve series, could look to retrofit a new EX600 to enable smart capabilities. “SMC’s team of application engineers are able to offer remote access to help set these up as well as ongoing virtual technical and sales support,” said Ceh.

“We are helping customers to futureproof their businesses remotely, easily and cost-effectively.”

About the EX600 Series
EX600 series module valve and I/O system has the capability to interface to various industrial networks via the designated SI unit.

“This allows the customer to configure a customized arrangement of valves and IO required for the project,”

The EX600 connects to an industrial network as a network device allowing for local reduced wiring system configurations or distributed network system to interface pneumatic valves, digital and analog I/O along with specialized modules such as IO link master modules, wireless transmission, RTD sensor inputs, high current outputs and more.

“This system allows flexible configurations of IO, valves or both along with other benefits such as parametrization, diagnostics, remote configuration supporting the requirements for digital smart factories,” says Ceh.

Digitalisation is not as daunting as one might think. Implementing remote access, smart flexibility and gathering big data can be done slowly and incrementally. Many of these features are already within reach – with the right products you just need to unlock these features”

A little saving can go a long way

Traditionally, end users look at their operations holistically. They are not concerned with the day-to-day operations of just one machine but rather with how the factory operates – as a whole.

Compressed air is typically consumed in these factories in large amounts, across various applications and machinery. When looking to deploy efficient air management systems, just where do you start?

This is where SMC comes in said SMC’s energy conservation group manager, Bill Blyth.

SMC’s AirMaS Technology and the Air Management System (AMS) can be the right tool to provide you the compressed air efficiencies on existing plant machinery and processes, that you require.

“We take into consideration the two elements of compressed air energy. Namely, pressure and flow. This improved air management can be installed on existing lines to assist with controlling energy,” said Blyth.

SMC Corporation ANZ has a team of engineers who works with customers to establish firstly how much air is being used, the profile of energy consumption and what target they would like to achieve.

Bill and the team will then install monitoring and reapply more efficient compressed air energy using various standard SMC componentry and technology to get as close as possible to the desired target across each application.

An AMS Success Story
One such success story is that of a food producer in Victoria. They made use of a high-speed filling and case packing machine which required large volumes of air consumption. Upon analysis, an analysis of the current air flow and pressure energy was taken by installing pressure, flow and power monitoring.

It must be emphasised that these tests were conducted during actual production and as such, the results were in ‘real time’ without affecting site operation. Typically, the technology is initially introduced would alongside the existing air control to ensure that there is no interruption to production whilst SMC commissions the applications for optimum results.

“When you analyse the air consumption profile graphs it becomes very obvious where the inefficiencies lie and where you are using much more than you need,” says Bill. Typically, your readings will indicate:

  • Excessive flow rate
  • Artificial demand
  • Rapidly changing flows
  • High pressure drops
  • Non-productive consumption

This result identified to the customer an excessive consumption and demonstrated the ability to reduce the existing 700kPa (pressure) to a target of 500kPa and reduce the flowrate by around 30 per cent. “Using standard SMC componentry, correctly applied and configured to provide the AMS delivers value and a wealth of data to the customer. Data which helps them to achieve and (importantly) retain the saving and reduce bottom line when it comes to compressed air energy usage.”

A Recipe for Success
There are a few standard components which need to be in place says Bill. “These include strategically placed monitoring and compressed air pressure and volume control devices and technology. This forms the basic bones of the AMS system” he continues.”

“From here, we test the compressed air profiles and through adjustments we are able to accurately match the most efficient air profile using standard componentry to the existing system to deliver the desired outcome.”

Bill highlights the key factors that Energy Conservation Team considers during this process to establish a healthy system is:

  • Controlled flow and Pressure
  • Most Efficient Demand Profile
  • Eliminate Artificial Demand
  • Continual Waste (Leakage) Monitoring

By running the live trials with the customer, an Air Management System was configured (from standard components) to suit the factory and machine layout. SMC is encouraging customers to get in touch to assess their current air consumption and look at ways to improve their savings.

A smart flexible approach to automation

A revolution is like a wave. It builds over time and gains continuous energy before finally reaching the shore. Some might go as far as to liken Industry 4.0 to a tsunami rather than a wave; it started off slowly since its inception in 2011 but has since then gained massive momentum, disrupting the industry as we know it.

While the pros far outweigh the cons, the concept has given way to terms like the Internet of Things (IoT), smart sensors, cloud analytics and more, thereby striking uncertainty into the hearts of manufacturing leaders.

For SMC Corporation, certainty comes by embodying a restrained approach to Industry 4.0. The Japanese head quartered company follows the management culture of investing in proven technologies rather than jumping into the unknown.

Today, SMC offers a full suite of industrial automation solutions ranging from pneumatic and electric actuators to fluid control products and airline equipment, as well as sensors and switches.

Where it All Began
Dr Henning Kagermann, Dr Wolfgang Wahlster and Dr Wolf-Dieter Lucas delivered a speech at Hannover Fair in Germany in April 2011 which would have great impact on the industry in years to come. For these three scientists there was little doubt that the future was here, and that it was digital. They were quoted saying: ‘The digital finishing of production plants and industrial products through to everyday products with integrated memory and communication capabilities, radio sensors, embedded actuators and intelligence software systems, creates a bridge between virtual ‘cyber space’ and the real world. This will be achieved through the synchronisation of digital models and the physical reality.’

The Challenges Faced
Jozef Ceh, digital transformation and Industry 4.0 manager at SMC Corporation ANZ said that factories now have more sensors, more data and more connected devices than ever before yet so many people still battle to understand Industry 4.0’s true value.

SMC has identified four common challenges faced by our customers. These are pertinent across the globe and are split into four categories, namely: physical challenges, time and value challenges, executive challenges and human challenges.”

Physical challenges: These typically revolve around the need to reduce the size of products, its weight and the consumption of energy in the production process. These improvements have the added benefit of reducing the demand on compressed air systems.

Time and value challenges: These include the need to increase productivity and throughput. Having more workers carry out low-skilled repetitive tasks instead of value-added tasks should be of concern to all companies. Here, customers express the need for more intelligence in their plants.

Executive challenges: This refers to managers and leaders’ ability to make decisions based on the information available to them. Being able to refer to real-time data instead of quarterly management reports proves to more valuable in ensuring effective decision making.

Human challenges: This relates to technology skills shortages – something that has created a discrepancy between the skills that industry needs and the skills that new graduates possess. Additional factors to consider is the usability of equipment and software.

Introducing Smart Flexibility
SMC’s answer to the hype around Industry 4.0 is to take a practical approach by helping its customers to derive real value from their digitisation journey. “This approach is known as Smart Flexibility.  It encompasses flexibility in industrial networking, flexibility in e-maintenance, flexibility in machine adjustments and smart energy efficiency,” said Ceh.

SMC’s technological innovations span everything from air leak-detection systems and speed controllers to wireless fieldbus systems and actuator position sensors. 

Digital Journeys around the World
Tapping into trends from around the world, SMC has highlighted several key regions where they have been active in helping customers embrace change. They share their digital journeys with the world:

Eastern Europe: The automotive industry is a key focus area for Central and Eastern Europe. Here, we’re seeing demand for increased accuracy and throughput. Welding cell applications and Hall Installation Plate (HIP) systems are used to distribute various media, including cooling water at low and high pressures. It’s important to monitor these variables – if the cooling water is too hot, or the flow is insufficient, the quality of the welding spot won’t meet the required standard.

A key solution to this is SMC’s wireless fieldbus which eliminates the need for cabling. In cramped and tight spaces, especially on robotic arms, it can be difficult to run cabling to electric actuators or sensors located on the grippers at the end of the robot arm. Doing so not only limits movement but it causes wear and eventual failure of the cabling. By using a wireless system, the customer can collect sensor data wirelessly while reducing complexity.

Italy: Most of the SMC customers in this region are industrial original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) – they’re generally small to medium businesses operating in the automotive, packaging, plastics, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and machine tool sectors. Because customers export over 75 per cent of their goods outside Italy, one of the biggest challenges they face is competing in a global market.

SMC has overcome this issue by offering pneumatic and electrical actuation systems that can overcome variability in many complex applications. What’s more, they’ve developed sensors that allow this functionality to be applied to existing pneumatic systems, giving us even greater control of this previous analogue technology.

Germany: Climate control is a big focus in the German market and places demand on product categories such as climate control solutions, chillers and pneumatic as well as electric actuation components.

SMC has setup demonstration labs to showcase the latest technologies. These cover everything from predictive maintenance and IO-Link connectivity to condition monitoring and intelligent software. While it is true that many of these technologies have been around in one form or another for the past 20 years, it’s important that  people are educated on the digital benefits it offers.

To conclude, Jozef says: “We strongly urge customers not to change for the sake of changing but rather to adopt a philosophy of flexibility and map out a transformation journey. Smart Flexibility is designed to make the most of technological innovation in a way that delivers practical results to our customers. We take a flexible approach to our customers’ digital journey.”

EtherCAT is for everyone: SMC Partners with the EtherCAT seminar series

SMC Corporation ANZ is a partner to this year’s EtherCAT Seminar Series which takes place on 11, 13 and 14 February in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.

The EtherCAT Technology Group (ETG) is an association in which key user companies from various industries and leading automation suppliers join forces to support, promote and advance the EtherCAT technology. With over 5,650 members from 66 countries, the EtherCAT Technology Group has become the largest fieldbus organization in the world. Founded in November 2003, it is also the fastest growing association of its kind.

Jozef Ceh, digital transformation leader for SMC Corporation ANZ says that supporting events such as this is vital to the industry. “SMC has developed various EtherCAT compatible fieldbus systems over the years and this remains a prominent communication protocol in the industry. These EtherCAT specific events allow users to connect, tackle common automation issues and address the future of this Ethernet-based fieldbus systems”.

Ceh recognises the importance of education to further drive productivity and efficiencies. “Understanding EtherCAT’s full capabilities and limitations allows users to get the most out of their applications

Industry 4.0 delivers opportunities to manufacturing in 2020

2019 was another interesting year for the manufacturing sector. Competition and cost cutting forced manufacturers to operate more efficiently and as a result, the industry turned to Industry 4.0 for its long-term benefits.

More than a fad or buzzword, Tim Keech, Sales and marketing director for SMC Corporation says that Industry 4.0 is here to stay, and it’s set to have a major impact on the industry in 2020.

“Manufacturing has become increasingly competitive. We’re competing both locally and on an international front where many manufacturers are already advanced in the implementation of IoT (the Internet of Things) solutions,” said Keech. “Australia should leverage the benefits of implementing Industry 4.0 solutions to remain competitive.”

Keech notes that challenges around cost reduction, energy savings, compliance with environmental initiatives, effective supply chain management and stringent health and safety standards can be alleviated through the implementation of Industry 4.0 technologies.

READ MORE: SMC’s smart thermo-chillers for peace-of-mind

“Some of the most recent challenges addressed by Industry 4.0 solutions is meeting the evolving expectations of consumers, such as immediate access to products and services and access to more detailed information about the products. Smart manufacturing helps to meet this demand and we see this trend continuing to grow and influence production in 2020.

“With changing technology comes a change in job skill requirements. Both production and people need to evolve at a rapid pace. “We need people who can interpret and utilise the data which Industry 4.0 will bring. This is one of the major challenges facing the industry,” said Keech. “This skill can only come through on the job experience, making it critical for STEM undergraduates to be closely aligned and integrated with industry.”

Developing talent
SMC has been evolving not only as a business also as an employer. The company has a keen focus on upskilling and developing their workforce to meet the needs of the changing economy.

SMC has developed a Cadet Program to attract and retain talent. “Through much-needed skills transfer, we are training technical people in sales, operations, logistics and administration to ensure they have a comprehensive overview of the business. These cadets are earmarked for future roles in the business and will be highly adaptable to changing economies,” said Keech.

In addition, SMC is placing more engineers in the field of energy savings and has been setting up digital transformation departments. “Our clients look to us to provide them with insight into automation trends. As a multinational with over 60 years’ experience, we draw on global expertise and skills to ensure that our local teams are trained up and ready to add value.”

Security and IOT
Keech believes that no one company is immune to cyber security threats and that these continue to have major implications on business. “Fear of such risks may initially hamper the appetite for investing in Industry 4.0 technology. It is however a matter of educating customers with industry proven solutions and processes that are available to limit exposure and protect their business.”

The challenge of our environment
Keech notes that shrinking resources, climate change and power hikes continue to affect business. “We cannot ignore this factor. It puts pressure on the supply chain and impacts our ability to compete – both locally and globally. Drought conditions continue to affect our farmers and we are now finding that reduced access to reliable water is having similar impacts on the mining and manufacturing industries.”

Supporting Australia’s 2030 climate change targets, SMC’s energy saving efforts remain active and continuous. “Many manufacturers are starting to realise the hidden costs of compressors running inefficiently throughout their plants. The recent success of SMC with several multinational manufacturers demonstrated real savings at the compressor.”

According to Keech, SMC’s team of engineers work closely with customers to meet their energy saving mandate. “We have the ability to identify areas of savings, from something as simple as identifying excessive leakage through to optimising the pressure and flow through the use of regulators, boosters and more.”

“2020 promises to be an interesting year but manufacturing is gearing up for the changes that are required to remain competitive,” said Keech.

SMC’s smart thermo-chillers for peace-of-mind this summer

SMC’s smart range of thermo-chillers come in an array of sizes and deliver on precise and accurate temperature ranges for peace-of-mind.

According to Guiomar Fernandez, product marketing manager for SMC ANZ, the company’s range of chillers offer proactive control, improved performance and are backed by world-class service.

“With things heating up in Australia and New Zealand, now is the perfect time to order a thermo-chiller for your plant. Industries making use of heat generating devices such as machine tooling, printing and packaging are at risk of high rejection rates, poor product quality and a lack of overall process reliability,” Guiomar said.

In terms of how it works, the recirculating fluid of the chiller removes the heat from the customer’s device. The heat is then removed from the fluid by an air-cooled (or water-cooled) refrigeration circuit. The coolant temperature stability is ±0.1°C within a set temperature range.

“Correct temperature control is vital for productivity,” said Guiomar. When properly sized and selected, a thermo-chiller improves the quality of the final product, protects valuable process equipment, and reduces costs.

SMC offers a variety of solutions ranging from our standard type to our basic types and our high-level type triple inverter type chillers that adapt to the variable heat and flow requirements, achieving substantial power savings of up to 53 per cent.

Answering to the call for Industry 4.0 solutions, SMC’s range of thermo-chillers put the power in its customers hands. “Thanks to proactive controls via a remote control, these units offer self-diagnosis readings so that customers can anticipate and easily manage any incidents.

Environmentally resistant type: The HRS-R series 

  • resistant to dusty environments or environments with water splashing;
  • cooling capacity of up to 5000 W (60 Hz);
  • IP54 rated;
  • large capacity tank of 12L;
  • features a metal panel and a stainless-steel panel can be selected on request; and
  • ambient temperature of 5 to 45°

Series HRR (rack mount)

The temperature control device is mountable in a 19-inch rack, which is great for space savings:

  • temperature stability: ±1℃;
  • temperature range of 10 to 35°C;
  • cooling capacity: 1.2/1.8/2.4/3.0 kW (60 Hz);
  • easy front access; and
  • easy to operate without removing the unit from the rack.

Add-ons such as flow switches, pressure switches, filters, fittings and tubing are also available to order.

SMC provides 4.0 solution for New Zealand-based manufacturer

Residing in Hawkes Bay, Hawk is a proudly New Zealand-owned and operated company. Sustainability is at the heart of the organisation and as a moulded fibre packaging suppliers, all of its products are made from 100 per cent recycled paper.  Its packaging solutions are used for, among other things, apple trays in the horticulture industry.

“Our paper is deliberately sourced from kerbside collected recycling paper. We don’t use any nasty bleaches, pigments, biocides or toxic chemicals in our manufacturing. Our products are recyclable and compostable after end use,” said David Styles, engineering manager of Hawk Packaging.

“Our facilities are located in the centre of the largest apple growing region to ensure minimised transport requirements and a lower carbon footprint,” Styles said.

Innovation for an innovative company
With this unique approach to business, energy savings remains a fundamental focus and partnering with like-minded suppliers is key. As a preferred supplier and in collaboration with East Coast Automation, SMC offered an innovative solution to a problem that was hindering Hawk’s production processes.

READ MORE: One cable solution for automation in processing factories

Area sales manager for SMC in New Zealand, Dirk Siekmann explained that a fault in a stacker robot designed to stack bundles of finished products on top of pallets was causing downtime. “An intermittent fault in the control of this particular robot was instigated by a communication cable failure. The robot had seen its fair amount of wear and tear after years of rotation and bending”.

Out with the old, in with the new
Working together with East Coast Automation, SMC recommended their recently launched Wireless Fieldbus System, EX600-W. The EX600-W met the brief to deliver on time, on spec and on budget. “The installation was simple, and the solution was the perfect match for this particular application” said Chris Robertson, director of East Coast Automation.

Answering to the call for more robotic applications the EX600-W is currently being used extensively in the packaging industry, and the response from the market has been overwhelmingly positive.

According to Siekmann, this decentralised solution is EtherNet/IP and PROFINET compatible, can withstand electric noise and is suitable for harsh, industrial environments. “This wireless fieldbus system can manage both digital and analogue signals, as well as pneumatic products – making it a flexible solution for all applications”.

The EX600-W was designed to make robotic applications easier. The EX600-W is small and light weight, fits onto the robot head, has minimal wiring, offers remote control and fault finding, among other features.

“The EX600-W uses the 2.4 GHz ISM frequency band and every 5 msec frequency hopping. The noise resistance design makes it even suitable in welding environments,” says Siekmann. “We are pleased to say that we have a happy customer.”

Highly adaptable vacuum solution for processing plants

Vacuum technology remains a key requirement for plants around the globe. Whether a business operates in the packaging, pharmaceutical, food or printing industries, the need for efficient, highly adaptable vacuum solutions is still on the priority list.

SMC’s latest vacuum pads are designed for optimum absorbing performance and efficient handling. The ZP3P series features a blue-coloured, silicone rubber pad to prevent wrinkles and is compliant with FDA requirements.

According to Rodney Ryan, SMC state manager Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, the ZP3P series is good for product handing.

“It is equipped with a thin, soft pad skirt for a strong grip and reduced leakage,” he said. “This makes it ideal for thin workpieces that generally deform during adsorption.”

The product is designed for delicate operations such as the handling of vinyl and film. “Thanks to the flat shape of the vacuum pad (with a central stopper), it prevents wrinkles and damage to the product and provides the customer with better quality packaging,” said Ryan.

The vacuum pad is made from FDA-complaint silicone rubber and is suited to stringent applications in the food and pharmaceutical industries. “The blue colour can also be spotted easily during contamination inspections and this is a big selling point for customers operating in these environments,” said Ryan.

As a welcome addition to the family, SMC recently released a new fluoro blue bellow option, the ZP3P-JT series.

“The flat-style vacuum pad is suitable for the handling of soft film, paper or foil packages and sheets, while the new bellow style allows for absorption of a bigger range of bags shapes and pouches filled with food stuff. In both cases, the unique ribs design provides a fast and secure grip,”
said Ryan.

Go on an energy saving journey

Green manufacturing means cost savings. Don’t believe us? The reality is that air compressors can drain a company’s bottom line.

Statistics show that relooking and refining your compressed air strategy saves up to 80%; and while there is still some resistance in making the move, SMC’s Energy Saving Customer Journey can easily facilitate this worthy process.

The Energy Saving Customer Journey from SMC delivers benefits while educating customers on the correct use of compressed air for their pneumatic automation processes.

Bill Blyth, a key accounts manager for SMC Corporation ANZ, said that while these types of savings are not at the top of every companies’ priority lists, their interest is piqued when realising the potential savings. “Just like in any journey, the question is where do you want to go and what do we need to achieve?”

Blyth explains that the journey usually starts with a discussion around current compressed air use and the company’s requirements. “Compressors are expensive to operate, and this is where the educational journey begins.”

Usually, a compressed air operator will regulate the pressure commensurate with the amount of force that is needed (or the amount of speed needed to perform the particular process). In a lot of cases, factories have a standardised pressure. “The problem is that some of these processes require different levels of pressure depending on the function being carried out.”

Reducing your carbon footprint
As responsible corporate citizens, a reduced carbon footprint is welcomed. “In addition to cost savings, customers need to look at the bigger environmental picture. How can we operate in this country and not care for the environment?”

SMC’s mandate is to design products that use less air, are compact and lightweight and still pack a mean punch when it comes to output. “Customers should choose these smart products to assist them in saving… all the way down the production line,” said Blyth.

“It is about looking at the process and the products used and understanding their limitations. Then it we adjust the pressure of the air being used to experience significant costs savings.”

According to Blyth, some customers don’t have the most basic of air monitoring equipment – a flow meter. “Flow meters are used to measure the amount of air used. If you don’t know how much you are using, how will you know when you are saving? You won’t drive a car without a fuel gauge so why would you operate machinery without a flow meter?”

The eight-step Energy Saving Journey process
SMC has developed an eight-step process that assists customers in identifying the processes and products required to ensure a more energy efficient and less air exhausting production plant.

“People start to listen because we start to consider their electricity bills,” said Blyth. “And I think when some of these bills are $200,000-$300,000 a month in compressor energy, and you can save someone 20 or 30 percent, or even 10-15 percent, it is a pretty significant contribution.”

To conclude, Blyth urges customers to look at this as a short-term investment and a long-term gain. “The initial cost of energy saving components is less of an issue when customers start weighing up the real savings that they can achieve. By managing and monitoring energy usage on a machine, the customer will realise real dollar savings.”

SMC rids the industry of dust issues

No matter what environment you operate in, dust remains an issue. Whether you’re in a harsh environment such as mining, or are looking to pass the ‘white glove’ test in the food and beverage, agricultural or pharmaceutical industries, SMC’s new JSXFA series is designed to help reduce dust in the workplace.

Dust capture is important part of maintaining a clean production environment to ensure 100 per cent operational efficiency in your plant. While many make use elaborate filtration systems to trap dust, SMC recently released a cost-effective and simple solution to this pesky problem; and while in the past SMC has offered a dust collector valve, the introduction of this pulse valve is one of its greatest, new innovations to date.

Vince Marcucci, OEM and key accounts manager from SMC said that the dust removal process can still involve significant energy costs – particularly when a bag house could have six or more valves, with hundreds of valves at any one facility.

“In response to this inefficiency, SMC Corporation has developed a valve technology – the JSXFA – that includes a fast closure and response that can pump large volumes of air at a higher pressure for a short period of time. This is sufficient to create a shock wave that cleans the bag – while reducing costs.”

Exciting to note, Marcucci says that our local market (ANZ) is one of the first to receive this new valve thanks to high demand. “In a market that puts health and safety at the top of its priority list, our region is in dire need of an easy-to-implement solution. Where most valves are rated to stand up to around one million cycles, SMC’s JSXFA valves are rated to at least 10 million cycles,” he continued.

SMC will be showcasing at Foodtech Queensland and Marcucci says that this is the prime opportunity for visitors to exhibition to come and discuss their issues relating to dust in the food and packaging environments. “In factories producing milk powder for instance, dust remains a key concern and can cause unnecessary costs and downtime. We urge any customers experiencing this to contact us.”

Marcucci estimates that with a six-valve system and an operation sequence of every eight seconds, working 16 hours a day, six days a week, 50 weeks a year, this could translate to over 20 years of working life before replacement is required.

Since the valves are typically mounted high on a tower, SMC designed them with reliability in mind from the outset to maintain service life in between intervals. “The traditional diaphragm is a thin rubber sheet material that requires a spring to sit behind it to ensure the diaphragm is closed on initial start-up,” Marcucci said.

The JSXFA valve also comes with two different types of fitting suitable for different installations. One is direct mount with threaded connections and the other a compression fitting also known as a dresser nut.

Overall, SMC has designed the JSXFA valve to be adaptable to a host of different situations.

Key improvements to highlight:

  • 15 per cent increase in peak pressure
  • 35 per cent reduction in air consumption
  • 45 per cent reduction in OFF response time
  • 40 per cent increase in flow rates

“We welcome collaboration and discussions around this prevalent topic and look forward to hosting visitors at the upcoming Foodtech show,” said Marcucci.

SMC brings the best to Brisbane for FoodTech Qld 2019

Following on from their success at AUSPACK 2019 and the launch of Open IIoT, SMC will be showcasing at FoodTech Qld in July 2019.

Bringing only the best to Brisbane, SMC will use this as an opportunity to engage with visitors and demonstrate their solutions for the food and beverage industries.

No stranger to the industry, SMC has been promoting its customer energy saving journey which has seen great success around the country and internationally. Here, their qualified team walks the entire journey with its customers and urges any businesses who have not moved towards reducing their footprint to make small in-roads that will in-turn lead to big savings.

In today’s climate, 24.7 operations, stringent hygiene standards and zero defects must be met. William Lebihan, Head of Sales and QLD State Manager from SMC says that this is where their specialist team comes in. “We deliver customised solutions to the industry and ensure that our customers experience the highest levels of OEE (Operational Equipment Efficiency)”.

“Whether you’re farming cattle or vegetables, we have what it takes to support your automation requirements from paddock to plate” he continues.

The company is firmly focused on developing products for the future, delivering the ultimate competitive advantage for their customers. “Our mandate is centered around flexible, efficient components that are designed alongside our customers with factories of the future in mind”.

SMC has a clear strategy and the technology to help implement Industry 4.0 solutions for all its customers. Today its all about faster and more flexible processes and plants to ensure sustainable, increased production and reduced costs.

“SMC is also playing an active role in upskilling industry via ongoing training and using state-of-the-art training systems and aids, to further enhance the skills of maintenance teams for optimised productivity maintenance scheduling and fault finding analysis.” says William.

In addition, SMC will use FoodTech Qld as a platform to showcase one of its latest innovations for robotic applications, the EX600 wireless manifold (EX600-W). This decentralised solution is EtherNet/IP™ and PROFINET compatible, can withstand electric noise and is suitable for harsh, industrial environments.

“This wireless and decentralised fieldbus system can manage both digital and analogue signals, as well as pneumatic products. As a highly reliable unit, it makes use of frequency hopping techniques to prevent interference from other wireless equipment. Data also encryption stops unauthorised access.


Visit SMC at Stand D16 from 28 to 30 July 2019 at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre

SMC introduces innovative wireless fieldbus system

SMC wireless fieldbus unit, the EX600-W is a decentralised solution is EtherNet/IP and PROFINET compatible, can withstand electric noise and is suitable for harsh, industrial environments.

This wireless and decentralised fieldbus system can manage both digital and analogue signals, as well as pneumatic products.

In addition, the EX600-W is unaffected by other factory noises and is suitable for environments such as automotive and welding workshops. As a reliable unit, it makes use of frequency-hopping techniques to prevent interference from other wireless equipment. Data also encryption stops unauthorised access.

As a wireless unit, the number of cables and connectors are also cut to minimise installation, modifications and maintenance time. The risk of disconnection and circuit breakage is also reduced to both performance and productivity.

The EX600-W offers operational flexibility as it can be positioned pretty much anywhere and this is suitable for those working with moving parts, such as rotary and indexing tables and robotic arms.

SMC makes automation solutions available at AUSPACK 2019

SMC prides itself on providing complete solutions. The company’s range extends beyond pneumatics to include chillers, dryers, ionizers, pressure boosters, regulators and more.

Recognising the importance of dry air in a factory environment and the havoc that moisture can cause, our range of refrigerated air dryers are a cost-effective means of providing air with pressure dew points of 3 to 10°C.

This meets the requirements of ISO 8573-1 moisture classes 4 to 6 and all of SMC’s refrigerated air dryers feature compact and quiet construction, stainless steel heat exchangers, Montreal Protocol-compliant refrigerants and low pressure drops. The IDFA series meets various regional requirements in standard inlet temperature designs as well as high inlet temperature models. Accessories and servicing of dryers is available too.

Refrigerated air dryer – available in a range of sizes (IDFA series)

  • Ambient temperature: Max. 25℃
  • Inlet air temperature: Max. 35℃
  • New IDFA models are suitable for high-temperature environments (Max. ambient temperature 45℃) available soon

Refrigerated air dryers are of particular use in the food and beverage industry. It is often found in food production and packaging machines to ensure high-quality food products which have zero tolerance for impurity.

Open IIoT’s panel joins forces to bring a demo system to life for AUSPACK 2019

With collaboration being one of the leading drivers for Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), the purpose of Open IIoT’s live demo system at AUSPACK 2019 is to emulate exactly this.

Beyond human interaction, collaboration now reaches across all automation components – at the very edge of the production system. Through the physical layer, it is now possible to collect data, monitor the condition of components and systems, diagnose and pre-empt faults before they occur, and most importantly, enable the system to respond with dynamic changes.

The Open IIoT panel, comprising of SMC, ZI-Argus, Beckhoff Automation, Balluff and Nord Drivesystems, has now built a live demo system to showcase how their joint forces can work together to build a complete IIoT integrated system for an end-user. By combining their expertise and components, this system will circulate various sized boxes based on their size, colour, texture, RFID and external labelling.

Key areas such as predictive maintenance, energy savings, horizontal and vertical networking, dynamic changes and data analytics will be brought to light through this unique creation.

Open IIoT will also be giving away a free Industry 4.0 factory readiness audit to one lucky customer.

Keep calm under pressure with SMC’s booster regulators

While the company is synonymous with pneumatics, SMC has worked hard to differentiate itself by listening to customers’ needs and developing products based around exactly these.

As the world leaders in automation, SMC offers a complete range of automation solutions so that customers can enjoy the ease of working with just one supplier. It also offers peace-of-mind knowing that you are covered by a trusted global brand.

In addition to its chillers, dryers, ionizers and regulators, SMC also offers a VBA booster regulator series. It is designed to be used across all industries and for applications where high-pressure air is required. By using a booster, customers save on both energy and money.

Customers can now enjoy an increase in factory air of up to 200% without any required power supply, and when connecting the booster regulator to the factory line, it is possible to achieve double the existing pressure.

In addition, the VBA series offers space saving as it connects directly to air tanks and booster regulators