First automatic weighing machine of its kind

Active Weighing Solutions with their particular expertise in weighing in-motion bulk materials is involved in the design, manufacture and servicing of weighing equipment and complete weighing systems.

Active Weighing Solutions pride themselves in meeting industry bagging, blending, process control and stock management needs. Building machinery for weighing bulk materials in a broad range of industries, Active Weighing Solutions weighing equipment can be found in mining, quarries, chemicals, plastics, recycling, food and grains industries. The latest development from this company comes in the form of their fully automatic bagging machine which is ready for market.

Already implemented in three states, the company has its sights on another 3 orders with a goal of having at least one running in each State by 2020. The machine is also particularly suited for export and the modular design and “plug and play” solution makes this a relatively easy and quick install.

The design was developed with transport in mind and the machine is designed in three parts which will suit most freight forward size restrictions. With the electronics and mechanics individually wired up in the bulk head of the machine, the footprint remains small and tidy and the automatic bagging machine is ready for play on the other side. The compact and robust GR900-15 automatic bagging machine will fill and close open mouth bags to a market ready finish.

Taking up less than 12 square metres floor space, the bagging machine can retrofit into existing plant floor space and integrate with automated bag palletising systems. Featuring an intuitive touch screen with clear graphics, bagging runs are easily programmed by operators who are then free to attend to other tasks.

Created by Active Weighing Solutions engineers to meet local bagging requirements, the GR900-15 automatic bagging machine is designed to fill and close a variety of bags at rates up to 15 bpm. According to managing director, Nigel Saul, this is the first machine of its kind in Australia. With its unique design the machine offers minimal operator involvement. Designed with the bag loading magazine separate, operators can safely load bags while the machine is in operation.

The bagging machine will pick, place and fill a wide range of bag types and sizes, and will implement self-recovery action when poor quality bags are encountered. Built in sensors and detectors allow the machine to self-correct. Avoiding downtime, the sensors allow for a bag to be picked-up, up to three times, before a “faulty bag” is dropped and the next bag in the magazine selected. Production bagging targets can be reliably met while plant personnel attend to other tasks.

Other unique features are the detection sensors which allow the machine to automatically adjust to the bag size and that various bagging materials such as laminated woven polypropylene, plastic and paper can be packed. The elegant construction of the machine also means that gussets are held neat and in place to ensure beautifully packaged shelf ready products.

“Our engineers have the knowledge and depth of experience to design bagging lines – from simple manual systems through to fully automated systems with robotic assistance. We will work with you to implement the bagging solution that meets your production need” said Saul.

The Australian designed and built machine makes available has local maintenance expertise and consumables and maintenance spares. SMC was the chosen pneumatics partner and a natural fit for Active Weighing. According to Kevin, the senior design engineer, they have found the vast product range and local availability of stock key in their partnership. “In this particular machine we wanted to mount manifolds close to the application to increase speed and save energy. This is of course due to a shorter airline,” adds Kevin.

The problem with this type of set up is that the manifolds often need to be mounted in different positions, in small spaces and in various configurations. The SMC SY manifold has side porting, mixed porting or bottom porting. In addition, SMC developed a special manifold which has valves facing both ways (into the machine and out) to accommodate the special installation requirements of Active Weighing.

The SY range of manifolds is IP67K which is the most flexible option with ability to install valves outside of the protective panel and closer to actuators for better control. The energy efficient ZL212 multi stage vacuum ejectors which are extremely air efficient but creates high vacuum flow. These intelligent ejectors have a suction flow rate which is increased by the 3-stage diffuser construction and functions such as a digital vacuum switch or vacuum pressure gauge can be selected.

Through the innovative design of Active Weighing Solution’s design engineers and the reliable and flexible products from SMC and other global component suppliers, the machine has a robust construction, runs without operator attendance, can handle a wide variety of bags and has a self-recovery system to ensure 24/7 operating. The easy bag and product change over and intuitive touch screen HMI means that high operator and skills set is not required. Furthermore, it is developed with the Australian temperatures and climate in mind.

“We anticipate a great future for the automatic bagging machine with export potential and the ability to pack dry goods of any kind. The intelligent sensing, small footprint, plug and play solution and modular design make it an excellent candidate for the export market” concludes Saul.

Nord Drivesystems’ products on show at AUSPACK 2019

Among the exhibitors at AUSPACK 2019 is drive technology specialist Nord Drivesystems. Servicing the market for more than half a century, Nord is a supplier to the manufacturing industry and will be promoting some its latest ground-breaking technologies.

The proof is in the pudding and Nord has seen success at prominent manufacturers around the country thanks to its comprehensive, trusted range. According to Martin Broglia, managing director for Nord Drivesystems, Nord prides itself on customising its comprehensive, quality range to match exact customer requirements. “We strive for 100 per cent customer focus and satisfaction. Our product offering is backed by superior expertise and as a global brand, we have access to the latest technologies and trends occurring across the globe.”

What’s on show?

The show-stopping NSD tupH geared motor
Nord will be showcasing its industry heroes at AUSPACK 2019 and will once again use this as a platform to help solve the automation problems for both potential and current customers. “No stranger to the industry is the NSD tupH range of products which has been making a name for itself since its launch,” said Martin.

“The NSD Tuphs anti corrosive poperties prevents flaking and chipping making it the optimum product for caustic washdowns as well as boasting a long service life in such harsh environments. This drive is  available in a smooth non pourous finish.”

Drive technology for Industry 4.0
Flexible and intelligent: The NORDAC Lins series was specially developed for applications in modern, networked intralogistics systems and provides a convenient drive solution for flexible, decentralised installation.

“The efficient field distributors can be configured for the specific application and ensures efficient and safe commissioningThe integrated PLC is capable of executing complete process controls as well as regulating processes autonomously” Martin explains.

The Premium Efficiency IE4 Range to Optimise Costs
Nord will also be showcasing its IE4 range of synchronous motors to help optimise energy costs and increase efficiencies in drive systems. When looking at the “life cycle costs” of drive solutions, it is important to take a holistic stance on this. Here we factor in every aspect startingfrom the point of purchase, commissioning, use and maintenance through to disposal.

To optimise the TCO, Nord supplies efficient drive solutions which considerably reduce operating costs. “Here, the focus is on an integrated approach. This principle revolves around the reduction of product variants with the aid of Nord’s modular design systems, reduction of energy consumption applying efficient IE4 synchronous motors that are robustly designed to provide long service life and low maintenance,” Martin explained.

SK series of two-stage helical bevel gear units
In addition, NORD recently launched a high performance, washdown-optimised aluminium drive for hygienic applications and this will also be on show at AUSPACK. Martin said that this successful series now offers smaller gear units for torques up to 50 Nm as an efficient alternative to worm gear units. “The new SK 9×0072.1 series has a power range from 0.12 to 1.1 kW and covers speed ratios from 3.03 to 47.67 : 1,” he said.

“The two-stage helical bevel gear units are characterised by high efficiencies, compact design, top reliability and long working life. The high-strength aluminium housing guarantees high rigidity and maximum durability with the added bonus of being light weight.”

Profisafe compatible dencentralised inverter
“Flexible to install, easy to service, Nord’s flexible inverters can be tailored to any customer application by means of scalable functions. Installing and servicing the Nordac Flex inverter range can be carried out quickly and reliably because of its extensive plug-in capability and easy parameter transfer via EEPROM memory,” Martin concluded.

Communication models include: PROFIBUS DP, EtherCAT, POWERLINK, InterBus, DeviceNet, CANopen, PROFINET IO.

SMC to showcase energy saving products at AUSPACK 2019

SMC Corporation will  use AUSPACK as a platform to solidify its promise of cost-effective customer centric solutions to the market.

Energy saving has long been a focus for SMC whose Japanese roots has ensured lean manufacturing and Kaizen philosophy at the core of its business. Through its Energy Saving Customer Journey, SMC has helped customers around the country to realise tangible savings which benefit your bottom line.

Tony Randall, Head of OEM & key accounts for SMC Corporation ANZ’s Global Account Group says that energy savings combines quick wins with a long-term vision. “Your approach to energy savings should be holistic. Real savings don’t come from replacing one component and based on this, you need a qualified team to walk this journey with you – from start to finish”.

The process starts at the very beginning with the customer objectives. The customer may have a key objective when it comes to energy saving – what will make a difference to their bottom line? There are also energy saving targets to work to, and these are increasingly becoming more and more important and top of mind for businesses which SMC are dealing with.

SMC guides the customer through the various points on their machines which could benefit from energy saving components. Sometimes it is as easy as retrofitting a new more efficient product and this could mean ultimate energy and cost saving for the client. SMC assists customers to calculate the potential savings at each point. An energy efficiency calculator is available online to make this an easy process and products and then recommended.

From food and beverage to pharmaceutical and cosmetics, SMC’s team of experienced sales engineers walk the Energy Saving Customer journey with you and thanks to advanced R&D, our range ensures a customised energy saving solution for every requirement.

On Show at AUSPACK:

Some of the energy saving heroes on show at Auspack will include the following:

The Automatic Leak Detection System (ALDS) will ensure reduced maintenance and increased savings. The Automatic Leakage Detection System is installed on an OEM machine’s main airline, and integrated with the machine’s control software (PLC). When the machine is newly installed, the ALDS system will run the machine through a complete sequence, measuring the air consumption of each actuator, and confirming that there are no leaks or identifying any leaks present.

During an idle moment in the machine’s daily operation, the ALDS system can perform a “Leakage Detection Cycle”, operating each component in sequence again, recording the air consumption and using the data to identify each leak. Today, creating a competitive advantage by employing lean manufacturing principles is made simple by a supplier such as SMC. By partnering with a supplier who offers superior offerings and expertise, it is possible to realise significant benefits.

AR Regulator series:
Save up to 20 per cent in energy by reducing system pressure. The modular design of the AR series connects with other SMC air preparation equipment and it is suitable across a range of applications.

SY Valve Manifold series:
Known as one of SMC’s hero products, the new-generation SY series of valve manifolds offers a high flow rate with low power consumption in a compact design. With the food and beverage industry in mind and adhering to its stringent standards, the SY5000 series also includes a new IP69K manifold which is suitable for wet areas and can withstand wash down and cleaning.

AS-R Pressure Valve and A-SQ Valve Flow Valve:
Enjoy a cut in internal air consumption by up to 25 per cent when using the AS-R pressure valve and an AS-Q flow valve on their cylinders. Shorten the response time of the return stroke and harmonises stroke movements to prevent a harsh jerky start.

VMG Blow Gun series:
70 per cent of the compressed air generated goes into air blow applications. Improve your competitiveness and boost your bottom line with the VMG series to enjoy a 20% reduction in power consumption (when combined with an S coupler and Coil tube).

ZK2 Vacuum Ejector series:
Up to a 90 per cent reduction in energy with a dual-stage ejector for increased vacuum flow.

“We are excited to meet with visitors to the show and to discuss the potential that exists. Thanks to our comprehensive product range, we have no doubt that we can match any requirement,” Randall said.

Energy savings roadmap from SMC

SMC Corporation will be showcasing the latest in their range of energy saving solutions at Auspack 2019.

According to Tony Randall, SMC’s head of OEM and key accounts for the company’s ANZ Global Account Group,  they are finding more customers who are actually specify energy saving as part of their tender requirements. The increase in energy costs is of course a big driver for this.

“Customers know they need to look at the bigger picture and take a long term view at cost saving –  energy saving forms very much part of this picture. At SMC we have worked on making the process clearer and easier to understand for our customers. We have developed an energy saving roadmap to simplify the process” says Randall.

The process starts at the beginning with the customer objective. The customer may have a key objective when it comes to energy saving – what will make a difference to their bottom line? There are also energy saving targets to work to, and these are increasingly becoming more and more important and top of mind for businesses which SMC are dealing with.

The first point of to consider is quite logical but often overlooked – measurement. You can’t save what you can’t measure – you know what you are saving if you don’t know what you are using!

According to Randall, many customers still have machines without the digital flow switch to measure the use of air.

The digital flow switch provides improved benefits.

The PF3A7-H series features:

  • Wide range of flow measurement 300 – 3000 l/min in one switch
  • 3-Screen display digital flow monitor added
  • Applicable fluid: Air, N2.
  • Flow ratio 100:1
  • Pressure loss: 75 per cent reduction (20 kPa / 5 kPa)

SMC guides the customer through the various points on their machines which could benefit from energy saving components. Sometimes it is as easy as retrofitting a new more efficient product and this could mean ultimate energy and cost saving for the client. SMC assists customers to calculate the potential savings at each point. An energy efficiency calculator is available online to make this an easy process.

There are quick wins when it comes to air consumption. Any factory using more than 5 kPA could benefit from a booster. It is common that factories run at the pressure of the highest pressure application requirement which is a wasted on the rest of the applications in the factory which may require less than 5 kPA. A simple booster where higher pressure is needed means the rest of the factory can run at the required lower pressure and save money and energy in this way according to Randall. SMC offers a range of booster regulators designed to increase your factory’s air flow by up to 200 per cent/four times with no power supply required.

Customers can enjoy a maximum of double the pressure by connecting air to a factory line and space savings can be easily achieved as it connects directly to air tanks and booster regulators.

The VBA/ VBAT series also offers reduced heat generation with no electricity required for an improved service life of valves and cylinders.

While some boosters are known to make a noise, SMC’s sleek range has been reduced by 13 dB thanks to a silencer in the exhaust and bumpers on the impact part of the switch valve.

Selecting the correct vacuum products can offer savings too. The vacuum should not be using air when it is not in use. Clever energy saving vacuum units such as the ZK2 can help customers get around this. The ZK2 incorporates an energy saving switch which turns off the supply valve when the vacuum level is reached reducing air consumption.

“Once we have gone through the process and identified all the possibilities, we recommend an ALDS (Automatic Leak Detection System) to ensure ongoing maintenance and savings. The Automatic Leakage Detection System is installed on an OEM machine’s main airline, and integrated with the machine’s control software (PLC). When the machine is newly installed, the ALDS system will run the machine through a complete sequence, measuring the air consumption of each actuator, and confirming that there are no leaks.

During an idle moment in the machine’s daily operation, the ALDS system will perform a “Leakage Detection Cycle”, operating each component in sequence again, recording the air consumption and manipulating the data to identify each leak. Today, creating a competitive advantage by employing lean manufacturing principles is made simple by a supplier such as SMC. By partnering with a supplier who offers superior offerings and expertise, it is possible to realise significant benefits.

According to SMC they have completed successful energy saving projects with a number of global accounts internationally as well as locally.


SMC launches its first smart actuation sensor

SMC has introduced its first smart actuation sensor that can detect the stroke position of air cylinders at all times – with continuous feedback. The D-MP is available in three types of outputs – analogue signal, IO-Link process data and flexible switching point.

As the latest addition to its comprehensive range, the D-MP highlights SMC’s commitment to seeking new ways to make customer’s lives easier and to optimising operating efficiencies.  The D-MP offers the reassurance of consistent and continuous accuracy and control. The analogue output of the actuator position has a voltage output range of 0 to 10 V and a current output of 4 to 20 mA. Here, all three outputs benefit from four measurement modes within a range of 0mm to 200mm.

The functionality of the D-MP means that multiple auto-switches can be replaced by one actuator position sensor, reducing the number of components needed. Being IO-Link compatible, D-MP gives operators access to detailed data and flags up any issues with an internal error warning. Its plug and play design delivers further cost and labour efficiencies with less hardware required and a reduced risk of programming errors.

The switching point offers normal and reversed outputs and four measurement modes – single point, auto switch, window and 2-point. It has an on/off position function, so that it is possible to define multiple switching points in the smallest of spaces. Offering this level of functionality and control, the D-MP is suitable for a wide range of applications such as measuring various parameters including length and width discrimination or screw-in depth of machined holes.

This component is IP67 certified and can withstand hazardous environments.
SMC operates in 83 countries, with a research and development engineering team of 1,450 and an 8,200-strong sales force. To deliver automation solutions for its diverse customer base, SMC offers more than 12,000 basic products with more than 700,000 variations.

AUSPACK shows how connectivity unlocks value

Industry 4.0 and the Industrial internet ofThings (IIoT) are changing the game – fast – not only for manufacturers but the entire supply chain. Connecting IT and OT systems across all operations in a business is enabling data accumulation at an unprecedented scale. At AUSPACK 2019 the industry can learn about how to make this data unlock value on the production line and beyond.

As plants and production processes modernise current and legacy systems, and plant networks converge with enterprise business systems, manufacturers are gaining access to a tremendous amount of data. However, most need assistance to maximise the benefits of their data and transform it into actionable information. Now, help is at hand in the form of a new collaborative initiative between SMC, Beckhoff Automation, NORD Drivesystems, Balluff, ZI-Argus dubbed Open IIoT (stand B237). AUSPACK 2019 will be the launch platform for this open-source knowledge group set up to provide the industry with valuable information about Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things, including the ‘how to’ of implementation.

Across the showfloor, numerous exhibitors will provide access to the latest ideas and technology on Industry 4.0, from information and automation solutions, to robotics and integrated coding and vision systems.  For example, HMPS (stand G140) will showcase its newly launched its new Industry 4.0 solution, HMPSConnect, which links HMPS equipment into the IIoT, providing a dashboard for users to easily access data across all of their machines.

Heat and Control (stand D150) will demonstrate how engaging with a single source supplier like the HCI Alliance (a partnership between Heat and Control and Ishida)  can add value through increased connectivity levels and digital data exchange, along all stages of the processing and packaging production line. Foodmach (stand E065) will spruik its expertise in Industry4.0 line integration and the implementation of programming standards into production systems.

The Industry 4.0 theme will also be explored beyond the showfloor, at the AUSPACK 2019 Business & Industry Conference taking place on 26 and 27 March at the Melbourne Exhibition and Conference Centre.

John Broadbent, founder of Realise Potential, will lead a panel discussion on taking the ‘leap of faith’ towards Industry 4.0. To pull off a successful Industry 4.0 transition, it’s important to understand what this technology is and how to implement it, says Broadbent. “If you go down the path of understanding what the Industrial Internet of Things can do for you, it will help you keep the doors open – make your business more sustainable and here for the long term, and keep people in employment,” he said.


Another highlight at the conference will be the presentation by Foodmach CCO Earle Roberts about the $165m Dulux paint production and packaging plant, recognised as one of the top 5 Industry 4.0 plants in the world.

Fibre King combats energy wastage to provide savings for customers

Fibre King has helped customers build and upgrade their production facilities by providing off the shelf and bespoke packaging solutions within the meat, dairy, beverage, food, FMCG, personal care, pharmaceutical and fresh produce industries.

Offering a comprehensive turnkey service, Fibre King prides itself in assisting customers with everything from upgrades and services to tailored repairs and off the shelf packaging machinery such as case packers, palletisers, case and tray handling and crate equipment.

Each Fibre King machine is backed by a full-service warranty, operator training and ongoing support.

Fibre King managing director James Windsor said the company had invested in research and development to improve on existing machines.

READ: SMC helps companies save and improve their green footprint

“New innovations can be integrated into our machines and our engineers are continuously looking for ways to drive productivity for our end users,” he said.

One of the latest trends which is becoming increasingly necessary is energy saving, said Windsor.

“In addition, the initial cost of energy saving components is becoming less of an issue when customers start weighing up the real savings that they can achieve.

“While energy saving is great for the environment and does play its part, for our customers the bottom line is – how much will I save now and in the long run. Essentially, it’s about profitability, return on investment and ultimately, long-term gain,” he said.

By managing and monitoring energy usage on a machine, the customer can realise real dollar savings.

“Relooking and refining your strategy when it comes to compressed air use and pneumatics in general can save you up to 80 per cent.

This can be easily done by simply monitoring and controlling the amount of air used and lost due to costly leakages,” said Windsor.

Customers tend to overlook the air wasted in a factory and it therefore needs to be monitored, he said.

Collaborating with SMC, which specialises in pneumatics, Fibre King drew on the company’s expertise and research and development to ensure improved pneumatic energy saving solutions which could be offered to Fibre King’s customers to further drive value.

For Windsor, this means each machine should be fitted with digital flow switches which measure the amount of air expelled.

“PFM flow switches from SMC are used on our machines to monitor air flow and energy changes.

“Changes will be flagged as readings change, and it will also show you the differences in air usage with pressure changes. This saving translates directly into cost savings for our customers,” he said.

Another SMC product which now comes standard in proposals and recommendations to customers is the ALDS (Automatic Leak Detection System).

“The ALDS can detect leaks immediately and anywhere on the system to help you save instantly,” he said.

The ALDS can be easily integrated into the machine software and no external supervision is required.

The partnership between Fibre King and SMC has helped to strengthen the brand’s offering to its customers, said Windsor.

“We want to offer our customers speed, precision, reliability and peace-of-mind with intelligent packaging machinery to ‘future proof’ your business and increase profits. Realising energy savings forms part of our ongoing commitment to our customers, the industry and the environment.”

SMC helps companies save and improve their green footprint

About 70 per cent of the compressed air generated goes into air blow applications and this affects a company’s bottom line, SMC says.

The pneumatics provider explains that companies can save by increasing their energy efficiency and subsequently boosting their business’ competitiveness.

Over the years, SMC has been fully committed to energy saving activities addressed at reducing energy bills whilst improving companies’ green footprint.

SMC has accomplished various levels of energy saving actions in its customers’ factories by conducting energy saving audits and working towards green procurement.

READ: SMC Pneumatics explains benefits of getting on board with Industry 4.0

SMC keeps the productive process top-of-mind for our customers, always.

It focuses on efficiency in terms of the amount of materials needed to execute the process, effectiveness in terms of the ratio of projected raw materials versus the actual amount of raw materials used and productivity – the relationship between efficiency and effectiveness.

SMC’s blow gun with energy saving nozzle offers up to 20 per cent reduction in power consumption (when combined with an S coupler and Coil tube).

It can achieve equivalent performance at lower pressures, resulting in less air consumption.

When pairing the blow gun with SMC’s high efficiency nozzle, the KNH series, customers can enjoy maximum efficiency thanks to a more focused blowing impact.

There is a wide range to choose from and the air blow thrust can be improved by 10 per cent. Available nozzles include male thread, high efficiency, low noise with male thread, and extension nozzles.

Energy saving tips from SMC:

• Generate just what is needed – Analyse energy bills with a critical view

• Recover what is generated – Make use of different technologies to reuse the energy

• Monitor consumption

• Use only the essentials

• Think efficiently – The concept that closes the loop is the most important one to ensure energy efficiency

SMC Pneumatics explains benefits of getting on board with Industry 4.0

Japanese-based SMC Pneumatics knew that in order to future-proof its business it needed to get on-board with Industry 4.0 especially with the push towards automation.

“Five years ago, the managing director of SMC brought me in to reposition the business post the mining industry moving from greenfield to brownfield,” said SMC Pneumatics’ Australian and New Zealand director of sales and marketing James McKew.

“We needed to move from a capital investment phase to a maintenance repair and overhaul phase. We saw the mining boom come off quite considerably until about late last year. What I don’t think SMC contemplated was the car industry going away so quickly in Australia,” he said.

Luckily for McKew and SMC Australia and New Zealand, the route a Japanese-based company takes differs from that of a traditional western industrial enterprise. It is this support and direction that McKew sees as the starting point for the growth the company has seen.

READ: SMC to showcase its new Industry 4.0 technologies at Foodtech Packtech New Zealand

“In hindsight, it was quite exciting because the leadership in Japan, fundamentally our founder, said ‘go back to Australia, get your team together and tell me what you need to reposition the company so it stays on a growth trajectory’, as opposed to the alternative,” said McKew. “The western philosophy would have been, ‘well your major market is going down, make sure you resize your business and make it profitable’. The Japanese philosophy was, ‘you tell us the investments you require to target and access new markets and based on your representations we’ll look at making those investments’. So we did.”

And has there been a pay off? Absolutely, said McKew. While the mining industry was off the boil, SMC aggressively targeted those businesses from the OEM and end user side with the multi-site operators. Its market share over the past three years has gone from the low 40s, percentage-wise, to 51 per cent. And it is in growth in every single market in Australian and NZ. The last two-year financial results for SMC have been the best in a decade, according to McKew. The company is now on a trajectory to be the biggest it has ever been in the industry.

Which brings us back to Industry 4.0, smart factories and making sure that a company is future-proofed when building new plant, machinery and the automation aspects.

“I think educating people is what makes automation an easy sell,” said McKew. “I think everybody in manufacturing – ourselves included – is tasked with asking themselves ‘how will our future look and what technology do we need to drive it?’. You are future proofing. We also need to talk about the benefit of big data and being able to intimately understand our businesses at a granular level. So the question is asked – how can we chart our future based on those two things with massive improvements in efficiencies and substantial improvements in understanding things at a granular level? We look at the different pieces in our business and how they align with the best possible operation result.”

This brings us to the next aspect of Industry 4.0 that has been mentioned and really gets McKew animated. Big data.

“When going down the big data path it is being able to understand intimately – from a data capture perspective –  what your employees in the field are doing,” he said. “How does that correlate to a fantastic result? By capturing the data and analysing its correlation to results, you can get extraordinary performances from your people in field service or field selling.

“I think big data support in manufacturing is going to lead to a rejuvenation of the sector. When you look at the investments being made in the advanced manufacturing sector, I think there is finally a light that has gone on in government that says manufacturing creates more value through supply chain than just about any other industry including financial services.

“The growth in manufacturing is economically sound. If you look at the investment that the federal government has put behind the advanced manufacturing growth sector initiative, and the fact they are rolling their sleeves up and actively wanting to promote manufacturing, it is showing everyone where it creates value.”

McKew is also optimistic about the traditional manufacturing and primary industries within Australia, some of which have struggled over the past few years. He believes that Australia has to play to its natural resources. The sector has to acknowledge that food is just as much a part of this as minerals are.

“I even think that the current conversation around the ban of live exports is a positive for Australia,” he said. “The ban is good for Australian manufacturers in that, in my opinion, it will result in jobs for Australians in Australia.”

Speaking of jobs, doesn’t all this talk of Industry 4.0, robotics, automation and a slew of modern manufacturing processes mean less jobs for the traditional Australian working man and woman?

“A protein processing plant can’t run with lights out,” said McKew. “You still need people, so everything is not fully automated. It’s around how you employ people and those people – particularly in automated plants – are being paid better rates because they are in a more sophisticated role.    What I’m talking about is initially opening and expanding plant.”

McKew is also optimistic about the next few years for the Australian manufacturing sector. He believes Australian industry needs to be more aggressive, and not towards the low-cost labour markets in South-East Asia, but against more traditional industry rivals.

“I am very positive for the next two to three-year outlook. You’ve got to formulate your strategies properly,” he said. “They’re not Disneyland, but they’re not Luna Park either.  You have to be realistic about how far out you can look. We are expecting positive momentum in the manufacturing sector, especially the food, robotics, mineral processing, building products and aggregate. What we are also seeing a lot of is automation in large warehouses. I think for Australia there is an opportunity there because at the moment, a lot of that technology is coming straight in from Germany. There is no reason that Australian automation companies cannot deliver those solutions. Designed, built and delivered in Australia and New Zealand. Germany is a high-cost country.

He believes that Industry 4.0 is about keeping high-cost labour countries in play and believes that what people forget about Australia being high cost is that the country also produces high-quality goods.

“It’s all well and good to malign the manufacturing sector – the costs are what they are – but we are high quality,” said McKew. “There is nothing that comes in from Germany or Japan that Australia can’t do as well. I think in the presence of an automated warehouse, that knowhow and expertise is a combination of Australian and New Zealand engineering and manufacturing, and componentry from Japan and Germany. World-class solutions can be deployed in Australia and New Zealand.  We’re having bigger conversations in Australia about manufacturing and quality. The reason we are having these conversations is because manufacturing is important to so many Australian families who can rely on it for employment. We are committed to the sector and are committed to manufacturing across the five locations we manufacture in Australia and New Zealand.”

SMC to showcase its new Industry 4.0 technologies at Foodtech Packtech New Zealand

As the global innovation race continues, the continent looks to it manufacturers to advance innovation, unlock new opportunities and to ultimately accelerate the economy.

This is evident in the food and packaging industries, where SMC has been working on its new Industry 4.0 technology.

SMC has a clear strategy and the technology to help implement Industry 4.0 solutions for all its customers.

Today it’s all about faster and more flexible processes and plants to ensure sustainable, increased production and reduced costs.

READ: Potato company partners with SMC to bring field to fork while saving energy

The company will be showcasing its latest Internet of Things (IoT) solutions for the food and packaging industries at this year’s FoodTech PackTech event in New Zealand.

SMC has also developed a state-of-the-art training system to further enhance the skills of maintenance teams for optimised productivity and maintenance scheduling.

The SIF-400 is SMC’s latest training system which looks to simulate a production line using IoT technologies.

Training can be conducted at the company’s training facilities or on-site and it allows maintenance team to get hands-on with the latest technologies in a safe and controlled environment.

SMC Digital transformation leader and electronic platforms manager Jozef Ceh will be featured as a guest speaker at FoodTech PackTech and will be talking about Industry 4.0.

Industry 4.0 brings with it a host of jargon and uncertainties.

The feedback from customers in the past when attending Industry 4.0 talks is that at the end of these, they still aren’t too sure of how to approach Industry 4.0 practically and how to incorporate it into their environment.

The team at SMC will be at FoodTech PackTech to discuss industry 4.0 with ease.

The event is at the ASB Showgrounds in Auckland from the 18th to 20th of September.

SMC delivers automation solutions worldwide.

It offers more than 12,000 basic products with over 700,000 variations.

Potato company partners with SMC to bring field to fork while saving energy

Glorious spuds, the perfect accompaniment to any meal. As a staple food item the world over, potatoes play a key role in the world’s food supply. This humble starch is the world’s fourth-largest food crop and was first introduced in the second half of the 16th Century by the Spanish.

Fast-forward to 2018 and The South Australian Potato Company, founded by the Raschella family has been supplying perfect potatoes for every recipe, every occasion and every season for more than 20 years. “Despite the bad wrap that potatoes sometimes get, they are virtually fat free and have 40% less carbohydrates than cooked pasta or rice. Potatoes are also gluten and cholesterol free and contain more fiber than five bananas,” says Jay Dawson, maintenance manager for the company.

The South Australian Potato Company is an independently-run business situated in Mount Barker, South Australia. The team comprises of more than 100 passionate employees who help to grow, pack and market over 60, 000 tons of fresh potatoes for consumption each year. “Exclusive to the South Australian Potato Company, and what’s made us famous, is the Kestrel Potato which is instantly recognizable by its smooth white skin and unique purple spots. The purple skin markings are formed naturally by antioxidants called anthocyanin, the flavonoid also found in other superfoods such as blueberries” comments Jay.

Of course, dealing with more than 60, 000 tons of potatoes annually requires quality automation by reliable suppliers to ensure always-on productivity and extreme care with this wholesome produce. When looking to kit out its factory which does everything from washing and sorting to weighing and packaging potatoes, The South Australian Potato Company looked to SMC as its preferred supplier.

Jay says: “In selecting the perfect automation partner we look to deciding factors such as an excellent, broad product range, superior technical expertise, a factory maintenance plan, a reputable brand that aligns with ours and a company that is innovative and keeps up with the trends,”

“Cost is also a big driver for us. In both the good and bad times, we enjoy steady, competitive pricing and great value. We want to build relationships with our suppliers and as such, SMC fitted the bill to the tee!”

Saul Weste, an SMC Area Sales Manager in South Australia says that this project’s objectives were so much more than just ‘kitting out The South Australian Potato Company’s machinery’ with the team looking to help drive down costs and improve efficiencies. “Priding ourselves on building great relationships with our customers, we were on-hand to help The South Australian Potato Company and we wanted to go above and beyond to deliver. The state-of-the-art machinery contains an automated air processor with electronic solenoid valves controlled by a PLC; here, digital flow switches were included.”

According to Jay Dawson, “this project saw a big focus on energy saving and a mandate to minimize air leaks to help save on money and energy. “In conducting an air leak audit, the maintenance team at The South Australian Potato Company tested the cubic feet of air used and wasted.”

“When using a sonic tester to find and measure the leaks, we realized that leaks were costing the company about $95 of energy per normal operating day (cubic feet study)” says Jay.

Based on the findings, SMC supplied a range of products for everyday use such as air cylinders and solenoid valves as well as our more advanced energy saving products such as digital pressure switches which forms part of the process control systems. “Thanks to the upgrades and replacement of components, The South Australian Potato Company saw a major improvement on leaks! This translates to a saving of approximately $ 24 000 per annum.”

Saul explains that SMC’s mandate is to provide savings for its customers and that the team is working closely to ensure that the right products are selected for the application to minimize energy use. SMC provides advice to customers on best practice when replacing old parts or starting out on new projects. “We strive to work closely with our customers to help them realize savings and achieve a competitive advantage. The South Australian Potato Company is a valued customer and we have worked hard to ensure that they truly experience the benefits of partnering with SMC”.

Jay concludes, saying: “We have a reputable, reliable partner in SMC.  We always feel supported and valued, and we look forward to a long-lasting relationship with SMC.”

SMC supports a practical approach to Industry 4.0

With advances in technology, industrial manufacturing is moving ahead at breakneck speed.  Machines are becoming more efficient due to cutting edge developments in automation that bring both improved performance and versatility. This combined with the development of intelligent robots means that smart machines are no longer a distant vision in the future.

According to Jozef Ceh, Electronic Platform Manager for SMC Australia | New Zealand the Industry 4.0 buzz is often confusing for customers. “We all know we have to get on the Industry 4.0 trend but how to do it practically is often the question. After some seminars and workshops I have encountered customers who are just more frustrated with all the jargon and talk when a practical approach is required” comments Jozef.

“That is where SMC comes in. We are simplifying it and helping our customers in practical ways to navigate through this sea of Industry 4.0 information – we offer products that are Industry 4.0 ready” adds Jozef.

Using advanced sensors and cloud computing, the internet of things can connect every phase of the production process to keep equipment operating at capacity, tracking any issues through the product life cycle including just-in-time maintenance and logistics. Today, these advances have been grouped together and are commonly referred to as Industry 4.0 – the next industrial revolution.

Along with the name, Industry 4.0 has generated a host of new terminology which Jozef says their experts are happy explain in more detail – these include:

  • Digital Production
  • Smart Service World
  • Automation
  • Real-time feedback
  • Big data
  • Individualization of products
  • Shopfloor Management
  • Batch size 1
  • Internet of things
  • Man/machine interface

To accelerated innovation through tailored services, SMC offers integrated product and system solutions. We help our customers create innovative solutions that add value to their business.

SMC can assist customers with the following:

  • support during the initial concept/planning stage
  • provide individual product and system concepts incorporating the latest technology
  • help optimise and modernise your plants

The outcome for the customer will be:

  • reduced lifecycle costs
  • lower operating costs
  • competitive advantages

Evolution through innovation

SMC is firmly committed to meeting the needs of our customers and we regard Industry 4.0 as the continuous and innovative development of both new and, in some cases, already existing SMC solutions and technologies.

With just a few small steps, it is already possible to successfully produce positive changes and take your first steps towards Industry 4.0.

Despite continuous developments in the manufacturing sector, manually operated valves still have their place in production. While many plants look to significant upgrades and welcome more flexible solutions, manually operated valves still provide significant benefits and are still relevant for certain applications. These hard working, robust valves offer control, durability and cost savings. “This is part of the practical advice customers can expect from SMC. We understand that it is an integration of what you currently have with where you want to be, and we can assist customers with selecting the best path for this implementation” concludes Ceh.

Reliability important in choosing an automation supplier

When selecting an automation supplier, it is important for manufacturers and original equipment manufacturers to find a reliable and flexible partner with whom they can have a long relationship, said Jason Sutton, Area Sales Manager at SMC Australia/New Zealand.   Read more