Staff Writer

Dock levellers – bridging the gap for logistics operations

Food & Beverage Industry News talks to MHE-Demag Australia’s Paul Clarke about how dock levellers help businesses improve their bottom lines by ensuring their logistics operations are safe and efficient.

For manufacturers, the gap between the plant floor and the delivery truck is tricky. It not only poses a potential safety risk, but also can be a source of inefficiency. For food and beverage makers, there is an added concern. Because these businesses deal with perishable products, speed and temperature control are important considerations. They have to be able to ensure their goods arrive fresh to their destinations.

MHE-Demag Australia offers a range of solutions to help businesses deal with these concerns.

“The products and solutions we offer within the industrial product market, provide entrance controls that assist with the environmental integrity within food and beverage temperature-controlled storage and manufacturing facilities,” Paul Clarke, MHE-Demag Australia’s national sales manager told Food & Beverage Industry News.

“Our low-maintenance/high-strength docking products, along with our range of industrial doors, assist with improving productivity through longevity and durability and cost reduction through environmental controls.”

How to choose the right dock leveller

There are many dock levellers on the market that are sold with promises of heavy-duty capacity or high quality. However, according to Clarke, those making such claims often overlook some important considerations.

Choosing the right product for each individual application is one such concern. “The correct size and duty of the dock leveller will not only greatly affect the transition between the factory or warehouse floor and the floor, or bed of the trailer or truck being loaded, but also improve the life cycle of the products and maintain safe operational integrity,” he said.

He said that, where floor heights and load averages are known, MHE-Demag Australia can use a formula to identify the most suitable product for the application.

“Our products not only satisfy any concerns surrounding quality, strength and integrity but can also reduce the internal footprint normally taken up by dock leveller equipment,” he said. “This can increase the valuable floor space within manufacturing or storage facilities by taking the loading process outside the buildings with external dock design options.”

The company offers a variety of docking solutions, from the hydraulically operated “Gator” pit or frame mounted dock leveller range, through to “Edge of Dock” and “Scissor Lift” dock platforms in all sizes and configurations.

According to Clarke, the Gator dock leveller is worth highlighting. Research, conducted by the company showed that one of the most critical parts for loading docks is the capacity they can carry. As a result, MHE-Demag Australia designed the Gator from scratch to allow up to 20t being carried over the dock leveller, while having the same dimensions as most existing dock pits. This design enables fitting Gators into existing dock pits as well as consideration for current projects that work on standard pit dimensions.

On top of that, MHE-Demag Australia offers a range of industrial door products as well as number of after-market safety and environmental products such as “vehicle restraint systems”, traffic control/communication systems, lights and fans for safety and comfort as well as “dock seals and shelters” that are designed to provide an environmental enclosure in and around loading docks.

Pre and after-sales support

As national sales manager, Clarke is predominantly concerned with building new business and customer relationships by penetrating into a targeted market and territories.

“I also oversee the establishment or addition of vendor and sub-contract specialist resources to accompany our technical abilities to install and service all products within our holistic product portfolio,” he said.

He pointed out that the company is not just about supplying the highest quality products. Making sure customers choose the right solution for their application is the most important concern.

“That’s why we offer a free, no obligation dock survey and site inspection prior to any business engagement, to assist with identifying any potential issues or hazards that can often be overlooked,” he said. “We also focus on constant improvements to provide high standard after-sales service and planned maintenance options to protect our customers’ best investments and provide ‘peace of mind’.”

MHE-Demag Australia has established a strong presence in the Australian food and beverage manufacturing sector. For example, the company is currently in the final stage of completion within the expansion project at the Coca Cola Amatil site in Brisbane. For this project, it has provided a docking solution package incorporating dock levellers, restraint systems and loading lights through F K Gardener & Sons Constructions.

In addition, the company also has docks installed with RED Trucks Logistics & Storage and Style Ergonomics in Sydney. There have also been further successful projects undertaken at various sites through resellers in Victoria, along with the use of industrial door products within DTZ Auburn rail maintenance facility.

The future of logistics

According to Clarke, the importance of logistics has never been greater. “I believe that with the growing demands of an increasing population within Australia there will always be a need for greater logistical presence and efficiency,” he said.

“With the arrival and expansion of global retail giants like Amazon, Costco, Lidl and many more making their way into our growing market, the need for viable and reliable products that assist with the productivity of this sector will be in high demand. Quality is now the growing focus and presence within this modern market and MHE-Demag is renowned for being at the forefront of quality and safety with cranes and lifting equipment. This experience in delivering highest quality solutions now dwells into docking solutions to serve the food and beverage industry.”

The task of transferring goods from plant to truck can be tricky.
The task of transferring goods from plant to truck can be tricky.

Wine Insights renamed Cumulus Wines

The Orange region’s most awarded winery will return to the name it was founded under, Cumulus Wines.

The company, previously known as Wine Insights carries an extensive portfolio of premium wines from Orange & the Central Ranges alongside its brands from Clare Valley, Adelaide Hills and Margaret River.

Under the direction of Cameron Crowley appointed as CEO in 2017, the business has embarked on a review of its brand and business model seeking ways to better execute and communicate the things that make the business so special.

“The Cumulus brand is synonymous with Orange, Australia’s premier cool climate, high elevation wine region,” said Cameron. “The move to revert to Cumulus Wines builds on our history, regional leadership and the global presence of the Cumulus brand, which includes the well-known ranges ‘Rolling’ and ‘Climbing’.”

The rebranding to Cumulus Wines will also feature on new packaging scheduled for launch later in the year.



Grocery clearance store business NQR sold

Grocery clearance store business NQR has been sold as a going concern and will continue to operate.

Bruno Secatore and Luke Targett of turnaround, restructuring and insolvency advisory firm Cor Cordis were appointed as Administrators of the Australian-owned NQR Grocery Clearance Stores business on 24 January 2018.

NQR offers a simple and effective clearance solution for manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, offering big brand products at cheap prices across Victoria. The business has continued to trade throughout the Administration period from its remaining 14 stores, after four stores were closed shortly after the appointment.

“Following a process of making improvements to prepare the business as an attractive asset for sale, we are very pleased to be able to announce that an agreement to sell the business as a going concern has been successfully negotiated,” Cor Cordis Partner Luke Targett said.

“We consider this to be a very positive result given the tough retail environment. We appreciate the unwavering support of the NQR staff, suppliers and loyal customers. We are pleased that the long established business will continue to provide a niche offering to the community and that so many jobs have been saved,” he said.

Based in Melbourne, the company currently has almost 200 staff, both in retail and administration.

The Purchaser will take day-to-day control of the business from 12 April 2018 by way of a License Agreement with completion of the sale expected to occur immediately prior to the second meeting of creditors around mid May 2018.

A spokesman for the entity that has purchased the NQR business – a private equity group run by like-minded deep discount professionals – said that they look forward to reviving the NQR business, a true Australian owned discount grocery business, with a key focus on delivering unparalleled savings to everyday customers.

“In the coming weeks there will be a formal announcement from the incoming CEO who will announce exciting news for all customers, suppliers & partners of the NQR business,” the spokesperson said.

The NQR business will continue to operate as normal and will be focused on offering great discounts on leading grocery items to all its customers.

Fight Food Waste CRC established

A new Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), supported by a $30 million grant from the Turnbull Government’s CRC Program, has been established.

The Fight Food Waste CRC will support industry-led collaborations between researchers, industry and the community to address the issue of food waste and help the Government to fulfil its National Food Waste Strategy commitment to halve food waste in Australia.

CRCs link industry expertise with our world-class research capability and generate new knowledge, solve problems and offer opportunities to commercialise new ideas.

Minister for Jobs and Innovation, Michaelia Cash welcomed the funding for the new CRC and said it had great potential to deliver economic and social benefits to Australians.

“As the Australian Government’s longest-running grant program, the CRC Program is at the heart of our efforts to bring researchers and industry together to focus on solving industry-related problems,” Minister Cash said.

Assistant Minister for Science, Job and Innovation, Zed Seselja said the CRC Program had a proven track record in delivering tangible benefits for industry and the community.

“The CRC Program continues to be central to the Coalition Government’s commitment to improving the competitiveness, productivity and sustainability of Australian industries.

“This funding will be used to identify opportunities and solutions to reduce food wastage from paddock to plate,” Assistant Minister Seselja said.

Applications for the next CRC grant selection round are expected to open in May 2018.

Wine most popular, but beer most drunk by Australians

The Roy Morgan Alcohol Currency Report has found that 69.3 per cent of Australians aged 18 and over drink alcohol in an average four-week period.

According to the report, of all Australians 18+ years old, 44.5 per cent consume wine, 39.1 per cent consume beer, 27.5 per cent consume spirits, and 13.6 per cent consume cider.

When looking at drinkers by gender, men are the predominant consumers of alcohol, with 74 per cent consuming alcohol in an average four- week period, compared to 65 per cent of women.

Women had the highest incidence of wine consumption, with nearly 50 per cent of all women drinking wine in an average 4 weeks compared to 39 per cent of men. Wine skews to older drinkers, with the highest incidence among 50+ and 35-49 year olds.

In contrast, beer is consumed by 59 per cent of men in an average 4 weeks, compared to only 20 per cent of women. Beer is fairly constant across age, increasing slightly from 18-49, but declines for the 50+ age group.

Cider is fairly evenly split between the genders with a slight skew towards women, but it is heavily skewed to younger Australians compared to old, with 27 per cent of 18-24 year olds consuming cider in an average four weeks compared to 7.8 per cent of 50+.

Alcohol Consumption Incidence – % and estimated number of Australians who have consumed each type of alcohol in an average 4 week period.

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Alcohol Consumption Incidence –  per cent and estimated number of Australians who have consumed each type of alcohol in an average 4 week period.

Beer maintains largest share of throat

In Australia, 128.8 million glasses of alcohol were consumed by 11.6 million drinkers in an average seven-day period in 2017.

Beer has the highest Share of Throat across Australia, accounting for 44 per cent of all alcohol volume consumed by drinkers, compared to wine at 32 per cent. And while cider has experienced an increase in popularity over the last decade, it still represents only 3.3 per cent of all alcoholic volume.

“While wine is the most popular choice of alcoholic drink among Australians, it’s interesting to note the largest volume of alcohol is beer, representing 44 per cent of all alcohol in a 12 month period. There has been a decline in alcohol consumption among men, who in the last five years have gone from 76.5 per cent consuming alcohol to 73.9 per cent in an average four week period,” said Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan.

“This is contrasted by the rise of women consuming alcohol, which has increased from 64.1 per cent to 64.8 per cent. Young people have also declined in alcohol consumption, with 18-24 year olds decreasing from 71.8 per cent alcohol consumption to 68.1 per cent in an average four weeks. This is compared to 50+, who have increased from 69.4 per cent to 70.2 per cent.”

Alcohol Share of Throat

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Growers need to act now to prepare for Vintage 2019

Post-vintage grapevine management, particularly in dry years, is crucial to a favourable start to the following season. It’s in this light that Wine Australia is encouraging grapegrowers to brush up on post-harvest care as Vintage 2018 wraps up across the country.

Resources on Wine Australia’s website provide growers with information on the role of carbohydrates and nutrient reserves in the grapevine growth cycle and how irrigation and fertiliser can be used most efficiently to assist vine recovery in dryer vintages – such as Vintage 2018.

Dr Liz Waters, General Manager for Research, Development and Extension at Wine Australia, said that depending on where they are based, Australian grapegrowers have between a few weeks to a few months to prepare their vines for the next vintage.

“Vine nutrition and the role of irrigation are important for growers to consider post-harvest, and this year in particular there has been lower rainfall across Australia to assist vine recovery,” Waters said.

“If vines are water-stressed during harvest, the canopy may not have the capacity to ripen fruit and restore carbohydrates at the same time. This means the vines are more reliant on post-harvest irrigation and nutrition.

“One of the main benefits of improving post-harvest care in drier vintages is that leaves are better maintained, encouraging photosynthesis that maximises carbohydrate production, which is then stored in reserves with nutrients for the vine to draw from in the next season.”

Photosynthesis and mineral nutrition are closely linked, and adequate nutritional status is needed to maintain photosynthetic rates, while the carbohydrates produced by photosynthesis are in turn needed as a source of energy for mineral uptake.

Irrigation also assists in the movement of water through the soil profile, which helps fertilisers move into the root zone and makes nutrients more accessible through the moist soil, while assisting active leaf transpiration that is necessary to carry the major mineral nutrients through the grapevine.

Post-harvest irrigation is important because of its impact on the restoration of carbohydrate and mineral nutrient reserves. However, where reduced water allocations or low rainfall limit irrigation options after harvest, it may not always be possible to maintain soil moisture levels. In this case, research suggests that vines can tolerate one to two seasons of conditions where they enter vine dormancy with a dry soil profile.

Food Waste CRC to help fight hunger in Australia

Australia’s largest hunger relief organisation, Foodbank, has welcomed today’s announcement of a $30m grant from the Australian Government towards the creation of a new Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) on Food Waste.

“Food waste is costing the Australian economy $20 billion at a time when we have never experienced greater demand for food relief,” said Foodbank Australia CEO, Brianna Casey.

“We know that millions of kilograms of perfectly edible, nutritious food is currently going to waste because landfill is seen as a quicker and cheaper option than diverting it to Foodbank,” Casey said. “With 3.6 million Australians experiencing food insecurity last year, we simply cannot afford for this situation to continue.”

“The Food Waste CRC has the potential to revolutionise our approach to tackling surplus food in this country, helping us to get more of it to people who desperately need it,” she said.

Foodbank has been an active champion for the establishment of the Food Waste CRC, involved every step of the way including the final bid process. Foodbank sees the CRC as crucial to the delivery of the Australian Government’s National Food Waste Strategy, Australia’s contribution to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and to fighting hunger in Australia.

“We’re thrilled to be a CRC partner and to see so many of our food and grocery donors actively championing this significant, industry-led initiative,” Casey said. “Food rescue is pivotal to our operations at Foodbank. To know that we now have a concerted, long-term focus on identifying, reducing and re-directing food gives us hope that new in-roads can be made into tackling the hidden crisis of food insecurity in Australia.”

Foodbank works with farmers, food and grocery manufacturers and retailers to identify food waste and implement paddock to plate solutions to ensure ‘perfectly imperfect’ fresh produce and perfectly edible food are rescued and distributed through its network of more than 2,400 charities across the country.

“More than 5 million tonnes of food intended for human consumption is wasted in the food supply chain, including from domestic households, each year in Australia. Up to 25% of all vegetables produced by our wonderful farmers don’t even leave the farm,” Casey explained.  “The CRC will help us identify this critically important food and ensure it fulfils its purpose, ending up on the tables of everyday Australians who may have otherwise gone to bed hungry.”

Foodbank will be releasing a new report on Sunday, entitled Rumbling Tummies, looking at child hunger in Australia. “The shocking findings of this report should serve as a wake-up call to all Australians, reinforcing the need for urgent action not only on food waste, but also food insecurity,” said Casey.

PIDA award finalist uses smart technology to fight War on Waste

SAGE Automation and Container Deposit Systems Australia (CDSA) have have been announced as finalists in two categories of the 2018 Packaging & Processing Innovation & Design Awards (PIDA) for an innovative solution that promises to fight the War on Waste.

Their Vision Counting & Sorting System (CSS) solution was named finalist for the Design Innovation of the Year Award (Beverage Category) and the 2018 Sustainable Packaging Design Award for Machinery/Equipment.

The Vision CSS automatically sorts, identifies and counts container types for recycling depots – all to help increase the uptake of recycling under the Australian Container Deposit Legislation (CDL) scheme.

The system is a premier example of the Internet of Things (IoT) in practice. Container data is sent to the cloud for a faster processing and customer refund process, as well as historical reporting and greater probity of information across multiple sites.

It is one of four smart solutions developed by SAGE and sister company digital transformation consultancy Nukon to improve long held problems experienced by the recycling depot industry.

Under the CDL, recycling depots in South Australia, Northern Territory and New South Wales accept cans, bottles and cartons from the public in exchange for a small refund.

But the industry has faced many challenges including long wait times for customers, theft and poor count accuracy due to manual counting and sorting, that eats away at profit margins.

Until now, technology alternatives to the manual counting method have also been limited; the European-made reverse vending machines on the market only accept and scan containers with intact barcodes – and one at a time. Anything slightly damaged or with no label cannot be refunded.

CDSA Executive Chairman Brett Duncanson said years of experience in the industry had prompted CDSA to find an alternative solution.

“We knew manual sorting was a pain point in the customer process and other technological solutions weren’t quite hitting the mark,” he said.

“We wanted to explore how we could revolutionise the recycling depot returns process. To make it quicker and easier for people but also get more probity of information for the depots.”

Counting and sorting solutions

Together Nukon and SAGE Automation developed four automated sorting, counting, data collection and processing solutions: The award nominated ‘Vision Container Sorting System’ (CSS), the ‘Smart Wall’, the ‘Smart CAGE’ and the ‘Input Station’.  You can read more about them here.

All four systems can be used separately or in conjunction across multiple depots.

While SAGE delivered the CSS controls system, conveyor lines and vision system in partnership with UniSA, Nukon took care of the IT and customer-facing solutions.

The CSS has five skids with 26 conveyors and a central vision system camera which identifies each item and sorts them into the correct skid using a smart algorithm.

The solution also harnessed a range of vendor and open source technologies. The Nukon customer-facing solution used Single-Board Computers, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Encryption, while the SAGE control system solution used Beckhoff control and NORD drives.

IoT data and vision solution: applications for manufacturing

The technology has far reaching applications for industrial players; combinations of the vision technology, sorting system and/or IoT data network could bring facilities faster and more accurate quality processes and data probity at low costs.

The customer facing solution was developed and deployed as Platform as a Service (PaaS), which reduces IT infrastructure and data hosting costs – and gives depots unparalleled data probity.

“The vision CSS accurately sorts and counts containers by type as well as providing daily and historical reports, depot performance, material amounts and linking to CCTV to deal with customer issues,” Nukon Senior Consultant Damian Jolly said.

“What’s exciting here is how the technology were using, like single-board computers and cloud-based IT infrastructure, is cheap to implement and run,” Mr Jolly explained, “We can set up 5-6 devices for less than cost of a desktop computer.”

“We’d never be able to do this with traditional technologies so this shows how the IoT is changing our world – from manufacturing to recycling and beyond,” he said.

Novel partnerships: industry meets research

“What’s unique about this project,” SAGE Group CEO Adrian Fahey said, “is how we’ve brought the worlds of IoT, digitisation, control systems and research together to come up with something highly novel and fit-for-purpose”.

“As data becomes more pertinent across manufacturing, transport, operations and business, we see this collaborative approach as the gold standard. We’re bringing together industry and researches’ best minds to deliver the best thinking,” Mr Fahey said.

“But it’s also about encouraging our clients to collaborate more between their IT and operational departments as this is where the biggest gains will be found.”

The PIDA award finalists will be announced in May 2018.

Chilled mirror hygrometer

Michell’s engineers have developed a unique, hybrid mirror to provide a fast response to changes in temperature and humidity, while also improving the drift-free accuracy of the fundamental chilled mirror technique by 25% to ±0.15°C.

The mirror is highly resistant to corrosion from acids and other contaminants, and, during rigorous testing, outlasted other mirrors based on traditional designs. Customers will be offered three choices of sensor: single and dual stage cooling, plus a dual-stage sensor which is designed specifically for use in harsh, demanding applications such as control of metallurgical processes. This harsh environment sensor is capable of operating in temperatures up to 120°C.

It’s not just the sensor that Michell’s engineers have improved: the control unit has also been re-designed with a new case design and improved firmware. The new Optidew has two formats – the Optidew 501 wall mounted unit, and the Optidew 401 bench top instrument. Both are available with a full colour touch screen HMI for easy local operation and interrogation. The Optidew 501 is also available as a transmitter, without a screen, for integration into a DCS, or an environmental monitoring system such as the adaptive Rotronic Monitoring System (RMS). Michell also offers PC-based software for data capture and graphing. The transmitter version also includes a multi-colour LED indicator which clearly displays the instruments’ status for operators to view locally.

The Optidew 501 and 401 both have two 4-20mA outputs, and offer a choice of digital communications. The wall mounted Optidew 501 has Modbus RTU over RS485 as standard, with an optional Ethernet connection and SD card slot for data logging. As a bench top unit, the Optidew 401 has a wider range of communications as standard: RS485, USB and SD card data logging. Customers can also choose to have an Ethernet connection if required.

Typical applications for the Optidew include environmental control for engine testing, climatic control in clean rooms and environmental chambers and monitoring the coating process in pharmaceutical and confectionary manufacture. The Optidew 401 is also an excellent chilled mirror reference instrument to validate humidity probes when combined with a humidity generator and calibrated to ISO 17025 standards in one of our UKAS, NVLAP, JCSS, or SGS accredited labs.

Nestlé aiming at 100 per cent recyclable or reusable packaging by 2025

Nestlé has announced its ambition to make 100 per cent of its packaging recyclable or re-usable by 2025. Its vision is that none of its packaging, including plastics, ends up in landfill or as litter. Nestlé believes that there is an urgent need to minimise the impact of packaging on the environment.

Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider said, “Plastic waste is one of the biggest sustainability issues the world is facing today. Tackling it requires a collective approach. We are committed to finding improved solutions to reduce, re-use and recycle. Our ambition is to achieve 100% recyclable or reusable packaging by 2025.”

The company focuses on three core areas: eliminate non-recyclable plastics; encourage the use of plastics that allow better recycling rates; and eliminate or change complex combinations of packaging materials.

Recognizing the need for developing a circular economy, the company is committed to:

  • Playing an active role in the development of well-functioning collection, sorting and recycling schemes across the countries where we operate;
  • Working with value chain partners and industry associations to explore different packaging solutions to reduce plastic usage, facilitate recycling and develop new approaches to eliminate plastic waste;
  • Labeling our plastic product packaging with recycling information to help consumers dispose of it in the right way;
  • Promoting a market for recycled plastics by continuing to increase the proportion of recycled plastics in our packaging

Australia ‘piggy in the middle’ of trade war between US and China

According to business information analysts IBISWorld, Australia stands to be caught in the middle of a trade war between the United States and China, as the world’s two largest economies launch increasingly retaliatory tariffs at each other. While some local industries may become more exposed to risk as a result, IBISWorld believes Australia will also have the rare opportunity to seize export market share in both markets.

“Australia is one of the best-placed countries in the world to reap the gains of a trade war, due to our natural advantage of having ease of access to maritime trading with both major economies,” said Mr Jason Aravanis, Senior Analyst at IBISWorld. “In addition, Australia has beneficial bilateral free trade agreements with both China and the US, which provide more stability to international trade.

“While the trade war presents opportunities for some sectors, others will likely be at greater risk, as Australia is being caught between its largest trade partner and its largest investor; between the economy we rely on and the nation we look to for our security.”

Why USA and China matter to Australia

According to IBISWorld, the United States and China are both vital trading partners for Australia, but for different reasons. China is Australia’s largest two-way trading partner, accounting for 17.7% of all imports into Australia and 29.6% of Australian exports in 2016-17. As such, the Australian economy is intrinsically tied to the performance of the Chinese economy. Many industries rely on Chinese demand for exports, or Chinese supply of imported production inputs.

The United States is Australia’s third largest trading partner, after Japan. However, the United States is the largest foreign investor in Australia, with over $860 billion invested in 2016. In contrast, China is only the seventh largest investor in Australia.

Australian winners

As China and the United States increasingly lock each other out of their domestic markets, certain Australian industries have the ability to seize market share.

“The Australian agricultural sector is likely to be one of the largest winners, as China has enacted tariffs on popular US food products,” said Mr Aravanis.

In 2017-18, China is expected to account for 25.1% of export demand in the Australian Wine Production industry, and this is forecast to grow in response to a 15% tariff imposed on US wines this month. Similarly, a 25% Chinese tariff on US soybeans will create massive opportunities for the Australian Grain Growing industry, particularly as China consumes about two-thirds of global soybean production each year. Rising demand for premium meats in Chinese households has led to strong growth in Australia’s Meat Processing industry, and this industry’s performance is expected to further improve as a 25% tariff is imposed on US meats. Other Australian agricultural industries are also likely to benefit, including fruit and seed industries.

According to IBISWorld, some Australian industries also have the opportunity to gain market share in the United States, however Australian exports are likely to encounter greater competition from other countries in this market, such as Canada, Brazil, and the European Union.

“As the United States has imposed a 25% tariff on steel and 10% tariff on aluminium from China, the Australian Black Coal Mining and Aluminium Smelting industries may experience greater demand from US clients. In addition, US tariffs on Chinese chemicals, medicinal products, and electronic components are likely to create opportunities for Australian firms,” said Mr Aravanis.

Australian losers

Despite the positive gains for some Australian industries, others are likely to be negatively affected by a trade war.

“On a macro-economic scale, a downturn in either Chinese or US GDP growth is highly likely to undermine the growth of Australia’s GDP. This could lead to an increase in unemployment, as well as a sustained hit to business confidence as the stability of trade liberalisation in undermined,” said Mr Aravanis.

“Some industries are highly exposed to the risk of a trade war. Major mining industries such as the Iron Ore Mining industry could be affected by a slowdown in Chinese economic growth, which would lead to far lower export prices and total demand. Tourism in Australia would also likely be negatively affected, as a hit to consumer confidence in both China and the United States would encourage consumers to postpone luxury expenses such as international holidays.”

Despite these challenges, IBISWorld believes the overall Australian economy is well placed should a trade war eventuate, at least relative to the conditions of other global economies. However, a trade war would likely lead to an overall decline in economic prosperity for Australia.

Tariffs imposed by China and the United States against each other:

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​Govt to review live sheep trade

The Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud has ​announced a short, sharp review of the standards for the sheep trade during the Middle Eastern summer.

The review is expected to take four weeks to allow any recommendations to be acted on before sheep are sent to the Middle Eastern summer from Australia’s winter.

“This will be a short, sharp review looking into the standards of the northern summer trade to give confidence in those boats and the standards in which those sheep go to the Middle East,” Littleproud said.

“I’ve asked Dr Michael McCarthy, a pre-eminent vet who has experience in the export industry, to undertake that review.

“I spoke to Dr McCarthy this morning and he believes he’ll be able to get that done well within the timeframe because of his experience in the industry and researching it.

“It’s important we take decisive action because it’s the livelihoods of farmers and their family at stake.

“It’d be great if the live export industry led on this issue and had already taken strong action by the time this review comes back. If I have to drag them kicking and screaming, I will, but I’d prefer they led and proved to the Australian people they are serious about cultural change.”​

Australian dairy – “let the big milk battle begin”

The storm clouds hanging over the global dairy market are expected to clear in late- 2018, while competition for milk is set to intensify in Australia as the “battle begins”, steering domestic producers towards a profitable 2018/19 season, according to a just- released report.

Australian Dairy – Let the big milk battle begin, by agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank, says the “battle between two global dairy giants looms large on the horizon”, as Saputo’s quest to win back milk supply begins and Fonterra maps out further capacity expansions. While smaller and newer dairy players are set to continue actively recruiting milk to secure their share of the milk pool.

Report author, Rabobank senior dairy analyst Michael Harvey (pictured below) says it will be these competitive pressures for milk supply, which are likely to intensify next season with Saputo’s acquisition of Murray Goulburn, that will translate into higher premiums being passed to farmers and help compensate for the lower commodity price.

“In the global market, while risks loom in the near-term and this is likely to see dairy companies take a conservative approach when opening their prices for the 2018/19 season, the prospects for a gradual tightening in global dairy markets is bright,” he says, “with the timing of the recovery expected to favour Australia by taking place through our seasonal peak in production.”

Mr Harvey says – based on Rabobank’s latest global commodity price forecast (outlined in its recently-released Global Dairy Quarterly) and assuming a spot currency rate of USD0.77 – the bank forecasts the global market to deliver a base farmgate milk price of AUD5.40/kgMS in 2018/19 – down slightly from AUD5.60/kgMS.

“However greater competition for milk is likely to bring higher value-add payments to Australian producers – and above those evident this season – with Rabobank forecasting an annual average farmgate range across southern Australia of AUD5.40kgMS to AUD5.90/kgMS in 2018/19,” he says.

“While the southern Australian export industry often beats the commodity market, it is not always the case. But looking to the past 10 years, the average premium between the base commodity milk price and average Victorian farmgate prices has been around AUD0.40kg/MS.”


Looking for momentum in milk growth

The Rabobank report says the Australian dairy sector made positive strides during the 2017/18 season, but a multi-stage recovery is required for a true resurgence.

“Looking to 2018/19, while the industry has a structurally lower dairy herd, there are enough of the key ingredients in place to support milk production growth for a second consecutive season,” Mr Harvey says.

Rabobank is forecasting domestic milk production to increase by 2.7 per cent in 2018/19 to deliver an additional 170 million litres of milk to the market. This follows the 3.2 per cent increase (or additional 390 million litres) in 2017/18.

“A well-timed autumn break will be vital to setting up the season,” he says, “with increased purchased feed costs and lower cull cow prices expected to place some pressure on margins.”

For Australian dairy farmers preparing for the new season, Mr Harvey says, there will be a need to budget for these higher feed costs, but also factor in the cash flow implications of a conservative opening price and lower non-milk income.

“The reality is that 2018/19 may be characterised as another season of consolidation due to looming market pressure, however margins are on track to remain above breakeven,” he says.

Big battle for milk looms

Given the increase in Australian milk supply and the gradual repositioning of the milk pool, the report says a “big battle for milk looms” between processors, to retain producers next season and to be in a position to grow their milk supply in the longer term.

“At the frontline of this battle are the two large international companies butting heads over milk supply,” Mr Harvey says, “as Saputo looks to win back milk supply and Fonterra maps out capacity expansions.

“The Saputo acquisition of Murray Goulburn, pending approval by the Foreign Investment Review Board, is set to fundamentally transform the ownership of the milk supply chain.”

With the Murray Goulburn asset footprint having an excess capacity of more than one billion litres, Mr Harvey says, Saputo will be looking to win back that lost milk supply.

“And then you have a number of dairy companies that have already taken up the lost milk from Murray Goulburn and they will be determined to retain their recently-acquired milk suppliers,” he says.

Mr Harvey says over the next two years, Australia’s dairy processing capacity is likely to increase further, with an estimated 900 million litres of capacity to be built over that time.

“This comes off the back of one billion litres of commercially-viable processing capacity coming on board in the past two seasons.”

In light of the increased processing capacity, Mr Harvey says, Australia’s dairy sector needs to ensure sustained milk supply growth continues.


“Without a growing milk pool, the industry risks carrying too much surplus processing capacity, fuelling manufacturing inefficiencies,” he says, “with the margin pressure just ‘pin balling’ from one processor to the next.

“And this is a looming risk for the sector because if it faces another sustained period of aggressive milk pricing, it could potentially transform into an unsustainable squeeze on processors margins and profitability.”

Mr Harvey says there is no doubt that trust between farmers and dairy processors has been damaged and a rebuild remains a ‘work in progress’. “Where there is a lack of trust, there will likely be a lack of loyalty and the threat of milk supply losses through supplier churn each season,” he says.

“So it is in everyone’s interests for the Australian supply chain to have a globally competitive cost base.

“It will be fascinating to see who emerges as the new price leader, but there is no doubt an improved mechanism for price discovery is needed to ensure sustainable returns throughout the sector. And this is likely to give processors renewed impetus to offer innovative tools, services and support to milk suppliers to facilitate future milk supply growth.”

Ishida and Heat and Control announce enhanced co-operation

Ishida and Heat and Control are establishing a stronger collaborative alliance to provide food industry customers with full “end to end” processing and packaging solutions.

Ishida is a world leader in the design and manufacture of multihead weighers, and also offers a wide range of bagging, sealing, inspection, grading and quality control equipment to deliver total packing line solutions.  Heat and Control is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of food processing, seasoning, conveying, packaging and inspection equipment systems.

The combination of both businesses’ complementary experience and expertise, which spans almost 200 years, represents a compelling offering to food manufacturers for whom a single supplier solution will help to deliver maximum efficiencies and throughput.

“We have always enjoyed excellent co-operation with Heat & Control and have already worked together on various projects,” said Dave Tiso, Managing Director, Ishida Europe.   “The extension of this approach makes strong commercial sense in the many benefits it will offer to our customer base.”

“The further strengthening of our partnership allows our teams to provide the added-value of a ‘one-stop’ solution; giving our customers the best in technical and service resources around the Globe,” confirmed Tony Caridis, President, Heat and Control.  “Building on our foundation of innovation and support, we’re confident we can deliver enhanced value and a competitive edge to our customer partners at every step of their projects.”

Joint Booth_BoothOverall

Dry, wet or deep-frozen – flexible barcode scanners for use in all areas

Barcode scanners are used for a variety of different purposes in the food processing industry. The track-and-trace requirements are constantly growing, and every individual item of food that is bought by discerning end-consumers must be fully traceable. The more the food is processed, the greater the level of safety required, particularly in the case of high-risk frozen products. At the same time, the technical systems must be highly resilient and meet hygiene standards. The best practice is that all the barcode scanners be provided by one supplier for the entire production process.

Barcode scanners are in use throughout the food industry from the delivery of the raw materials and the production process in the wet area, through to the dry area and the intralogistics system. In the food production sector, the scanners have to be extremely tough. It is essential that their screens do not break, they can withstand cleaning processes using aggressive substances and they can continue operating in freezers at temperatures as low as minus 35 degrees Celsius. Since the 1970s barcodes are widely used in the industry and retail sector, particularly in the food industry, the EAN-13 barcode brings benefits for manufacturers, retailers and consumers. This type of barcode is valid all over the world and encodes the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN), which is a standardised global part number. Barcodes provide a unique form of identification for every food item and make it possible to achieve high levels of accuracy. This means every step in the complex production processes can be reliably monitored and controlled. Food production processes have to comply with highly stringent legislation, including the HACCP concept and a wide range of national and international hygiene and safety standards.

Protecting consumers and businesses

Traceability is the number one priority, and it enables safe products to be manufactured for consumers. It also protects the production process and in the long term, the business. Companies in the food industry must be able to identify when, where and by whom products were received, processed, stored, transported, consumed and disposed of, and must provide fully documented proof. It would not be possible to meet these requirements without automated identification systems such as barcodes. Labelled products must have their labels read and verified on the production line and then the data must be stored. SICK supplies intelligent sensor solutions for this purpose, ranging from compact devices and standalone systems that are easy to integrate and configure, through to programmable high-speed cameras.

Compatible, standardised, flexible systems

SICK’s permanently installed mobile readers use a variety of technologies to detect barcodes, 2D codes and RFID tags. Its wide-ranging portfolio of products includes a solution for every challenge. Its 4Dpro concept allows the different products to be combined and exchanged with one another because they have a standardised connectivity system, user interface and accessories. This protects users’ investments, and reduces the amount of integration work needed during commissioning and maintenance. It also keeps stock levels and storage costs to a minimum.

Tough products made from stainless steel with an IP69K rating

The laser barcode scanners of the CLV6 series are ideal for use in food production processes where hygiene is crucial. Their tough stainless steel housings have an IP69K rating and can easily withstand harsh conditions. The design and functionality of the scanners have convinced system integrators, machinery manufacturers and production users of their suitability for use in the wet areas of food production. The stainless steel housings are resistant to chemicals and corrosion as well as fully leak-proof.

These are key considerations for one of the leading companies in the European dairy industry, for example. A CLV scanner solution from SICK has been integrated into the company’s production system to identify barcodes on aluminium yoghurt pot lids. Before the pots are filled with yoghurt, and the lids are fitted, both pots and lids must be cleaned in PSDI mode. Once the lids have been fixed in place, the barcodes are read while the machine is stationary. When items of this kind in the wet process are cleaned using a high-pressure cleaner and cleaning agents, the barcode scanners are fully protected by their stainless steel housing. They are also protected by their design, as it includes a low level of surface roughness, smooth, rounded edges and special housing and fastener shapes. As a result, no residues can form on the outside of the scanners. To, guarantee that no broken glass can contaminate the food production process, the optical interfaces of the scanners are made from polycarbonate, which is very strong and hard and also resistant to water, chlorine-based alkaline disinfectants, solvents, oils and greases. When designing the scanners, SICK focused in particular, on avoiding the creation of “escape routes” for moisture and also ensured that the products were resistant to variations in temperature. An additional double sheath protects the cable entry points and plugs and the cables themselves are certified by Ecolab for these applications. Even sudden reductions in temperature do not affect the scanners.

A clear view at low temperatures

Frozen food production processes present barcode scanners with particular challenges, and this area of the food industry is growing rapidly. A look at the sales figures for 2016 shows how much the demand for frozen food has increased in Germany alone. A 2.5 percent growth in volume and a 3.6 percent increase in revenues speak for themselves. The average annual consumption per head of 45.4 kilograms of frozen food is the highest figure ever recorded.

SICK has equipped its barcode scanners, which are already highly reliable and tough, for growth in this area of production. The CLV61x, CLV63x and CLV65x product families are fitted with heaters. The CLV69x models even have a heated front screen. These devices can operate without problems at average temperatures of minus 25 degrees Celsius. In some cases, the temperatures can even fall as low as minus 35 degrees, because of the use of low-cost off-peak electricity. When a scanner is exposed to constantly changing temperatures, for example, when it travels on a forklift from the freezer warehouse to the loading area, the front screen heater prevents the reading window from misting up.

Their excellent reading performance makes the SICK barcode scanners with integrated heaters ideal for use in frozen food production processes. They have a good depth of field, which is further increased in the CLV65x and CLV69x model ranges by a real-time autofocus function. In the CLV64x product family, the depth of field can be easily modified using a dynamic focus adjustment function. Because of the scanners’ wide aperture angle, one device can cover the majority of conveyor belt width. Excellent reading properties and a fast, reliable reading rate help to ensure that the data is safely captured, even when the print quality of the barcodes is poor, the codes are damaged, or films or other reflective surfaces have been applied over the top. Large reading distances and low-contrast codes, for example when identifying pallets, do not pose any problems for the SICK barcode scanners. Also, their high scanning frequencies of up to 1200 Hz allow for fast processor speeds, for example, in container identification. SICK has responded to the growing demand in the field of package conveyors with its CLV61x Dual Port model, which has a PROFINET connection with an integrated switch to allow line and ring topologies to be installed and implemented easily, making the wiring process simple and cost-effective. Also, the CLV63x and CLV64x product families are also available with oscillating mirrors, enabling them to meet all types of reading requirements.

Safe processes in ice cream production

Companies in the dairy industry, where the logistics processes have to meet strict technical standards relating to temperature-controlled foods, use SICK barcode scanners at the very beginning of the supply chain. The tankers that collect milk from farms are fitted with a CLV6 series barcode scanner with a stainless steel housing that has an IP69K rating. This makes it possible to reliably identify the samples that have to be taken by law from the milk provided by every individual supplier, even when the devices are exposed to low temperatures and high moisture levels in the winter months. If the milk is being made into ice cream, CLV6 series scanners with plastic screens are used during the primary packaging phase because the food must not be contaminated with broken glass when the type of ice cream, container and appropriate lid are being identified. In the warehouse logistics process for ice cream production, scanners from the CLV69x series with front screen heating reliably identify the barcodes in the pallet warehouse, despite the freezing temperatures. In high-bay warehouses, all types of scanners from the CLV6 product family can be used.

The CLV6 series of laser barcode scanners from SICK ensures the safety of the process from beginning to end, regardless of the many challenges presented by food production. These include high availability and fast turnover rates, growing order numbers combined with falling batch sizes and demands for more environment-friendly logistics systems.

Written by Cornel Rombach, Product Manager for Barcode Scanners, SICK AG, Reute


The cost of absenteeism

The old adage that time equals money certainly rings true when you consider the costs involved when an employee is absent from work. The Oxford Dictionary defines absenteeism as the practice of regularly staying away from work or school without good reason. In other words, it excludes valid causes for missing work that are beyond one’s control, such as accidents or sickness.

On average, Australian employees take 8.8 unscheduled days off per year1. This costs employers approximately $578 per employee per absent day, with the annual cost of absenteeism to the Australian economy an estimated $44 billion per year2.

Despite these glaring figures, a lot of absenteeism goes unreported and is therefore unaddressed. The Australian HR Institute (AHRI) conducted a survey in 2016 which found that while 80% of respondents believe absence levels in their workplace could be reduced, 79% said their workplace did not record the cost of absence. The survey also revealed that besides the obvious financial expense, there are other costs to absenteeism, which include its effect on staff morale and workplace productivity3.

In order to address absenteeism in the workplace and its related costs, employers first need accurate attendance reports. Such information gives employers an insight into patterns of absenteeism and enables them to see which employees have been absent and how often this occurs over certain time periods. Using this information, they can then start getting answers as to the reasons why employees were regularly absent and begin adopting measures that will prevent future absenteeism.

In a modern context, the traditional methods of measuring workplace time and attendance – namely the manual time card or clock punch – are neither effective nor accurate. Often employees work remotely or outside of conventional business hours which make such manual methods redundant. This has led to the emergence of biometric scanners and time and attendance software.

Biometric scanners measure distinctive biological features of a person in order to give them access to a workplace or to log them in. The benefits of these include systems is that they reduce both time theft and the possibility of an employee clocking in on behalf of another. They also prevent employees from accessing controlled areas.

While biometric scanners provide a means for employees to clock on and off, time and attendance software provides employers the documentation they would require to monitor absenteeism. Such software-based attendance systems can be integrated with biometric technology or can operate without it.

A software-based attendance system allows employees to clock in and out using a mobile device, the Internet or a desktop PC. Managers can keep track of who is available and where employees are at any given time. Not only is this digital reporting more accurate, but the automated data it generates saves time and costs involved with HR and payroll administration.

Mitrefinch is a global leader in terms of its time and attendance software solutions. With over 30 years experience and 4,000 time and attendance workforce management projects worldwide, Mitrefinch understands how impactful the move to an automated time and attendance can be for a company. Importantly, its project team takes the time to understand each business individually and customize a solution that is specific to their needs.

One of the key advantages with Mitrefinch time and attendance solutions is that they offer a cloud-based option. Regardless of a company’s size or in-house IT capabilities, the software solution will seamlessly integrate with existing managerial processes and preferences.

1Australian HR Institute (AHRI) HR Pulse survey on Absence Management Report, March 2016

2AIG Absenteeism & Presenteeism Survey Report 2015

3Australian HR Institute (AHRI) HR Pulse survey on Absence Management Report, March 2016




Digital transformation demand peaks in Aus

Rapid growth in the digitisation sector has seen Nukon double its revenue for the last financial year – evidence of increasing demand for smarter process solutions.

Digital technology consultancy Nukon is making waves – and not the kind that you see at the beach.

Its unique offering is whetting the apatite of some big brands: Murray Goulburn, Fonterra, Coles, Coca-Cola Amatil, TasWater, and Melbourne Airport to name a few.

And, thanks to current and forecasted market demand the six year-old company is gearing up for a new phase of growth, including investing heavily in talented people to join the nationally located team.

Nukon’s growth has snowballed from a million dollars in revenue in its first year in 2015 to $5 million in 2017 – which can only be seen as an indicator for clients’ shifting expectations.

Managing Director and co-founder Alec Konynenburg said this year would be a big one for Nukon and its clients.

“This time next year we’re expecting to reach 40-50 percent growth and a revenue of $8-9 million,” Mr Konynenburg said.

“We’re speaking at the Industrial Internet 4.0 Summit in Sydney, we’re launching a new app, we’re expanding our workforce and geographical reach, and we’re working on some cutting edge solutions for clients.”

Solutions like the IoT cloud-based container counting system for container recycling depots (CDSA), and the machine learning-leveraged sewer blockage detection system helping TasWater detect blockages before they occur.

“It’s exciting the see the team delivering such innovative solutions using a mix of best-of-breed technologies,” Mr Konynenburg said.

“In an emerging industry experiencing rapid growth, we’re offering new solutions to customers all the time – our engineers, programmers and project managers are consistently challenged.

From ‘two man band’ to multimillion dollar company

‘Nukon’ began as two employees from opposite sides of the tracks: Alec from an international technology vendor and Geoff Nunan from food and beverage manufacturing.

Both were frustrated with traditional approach to digital project implementation. Both decided that it could be done differently – with far better outcomes for the customer.

Thus Nukon was born.

“We attracted like-minded people, and many of our first clients were those who had tried it the traditional way and realised it wasn’t working,” Mr Konynenburg said.

In a strategic merger in 2016, Nukon joined forces with Australia’s largest control system and automation integrator SAGE Automation. It’s a move which allows Nukon to meet growing demands for digitisation while allowing SAGE to serve clients in control system solutions.

In 2017 Nukon was awarded the Business Innovation Excellence Award by global data integration leader TIBCO for its ground-breaking IT-OT integration solution for Melbourne Airport.

It is fast becoming the expert in product traceability and authentication, performance monitoring for Automated Guided Vehicles and live traffic, time-series database management and analysis, machine learning and predictive analytics, and whole-of-business systems integration to name a few.

“Our employees get to use a blend of technologies from traditional MES systems through to the latest cloud services like AWS Rekognition, powerful business process orchestration tools, disruptive technologies like Influx and Mongo, and low-cost but versatile devices like Raspberry Pi,” Mr Konynenburg said.

The Nukon way

There’s no denying the kind of future-proofed, flexible and scalable solutions clients want today need a different method of working.

“We’ve responded by doing agile process delivery, using modern tools and software packages that are available more widely in the market, and using modern protocols and programing,” Mr Konynenburg said.

But he says, the most important part is in building strong, long-term relationships.

“That way we can produce the best results over the long term versus more traditional methods that see contractors vanish as soon as a system goes live.”

“We don’t ask for the upfront investment – we deliver through agile, which means we break up the work into ‘iterations’ where clients can review, modify, budget and control the outcome as the project is delivered,” he said.

As for the future Mr Konynenburg is just happy that, “the way we do things ‘the Nukon way’ has scaled and stuck with the company”.

“It’s about the relationships and how we approach problems, it’s about being innovative and changing if something isn’t working, and it’s about well-thought out and different approaches that are properly executed.” he said.

For more best thinking and


Report into impact of China recycling ban released

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) has released the Market Impact Assessment Report, a new study defining the impact of China’s National Sword policy.

Findings from the report reveal that the volume of Australian export of scrap paper and plastics has remained largely stable over the past 12 months, however their value has dropped significantly due to global oversupply.

Mixed paper scrap once valued at $124 per tonne (EXW) has dropped approximately 100% and is now close to worthless. Scrap mixed plastic has fallen 76%, from $325 per tonne to $75 per tonne and cardboard is now valued at $125 per tonne, falling 40% from $210 per tonne.

Brooke Donnelly, Chief Executive Officer of APCO commented: “What essentially lies at the heart of this issue is China’s decision to revise the contamination threshold for scrap paper and plastics. We need to develop the right domestic infrastructure to lower the contamination levels in our waste and start building viable end market solutions here in Australia to ensure a smaller, cleaner packaging waste stream”.

APCO is already developing a range of solutions to improve sustainable packaging design, reduce contamination and improve recycling rates.


Most recently, APCO launched the first nation-wide labelling program to help Australians better understand how to recycle packaging correctly and assist organisations in designing for recycling and working towards lowering contamination levels. Launched in conjunction with Planet Ark and PREP Design, the program has already been adopted by Australia Post, Blackmores, Nestlé, Officeworks, Unilever and Woolworths among others.

APCO has accelerated the delivery of the PREP design tool, an online evaluation portal that determines if a packaging format is recyclable or not in the current kerbside collection service. For the first time in Australia, organisations can develop their packaging to be recyclable where possible, driving waste avoidance outcomes at the design stage.

APCO is also currently reviewing its Sustainable Packaging Guidelines (SPGs) to help businesses reduce the environmental impact of their packaging and develop a standardised approach to key issues such as the use of recycled content in packaging.

“Transitioning to a circular economy is essential if we are to reduce the environmental impacts of packaging and this requires collaboration from brands, governments, the recycling and packaging industry and consumers alike. APCO is in a unique position to facilitate this collaboration and we look forward to working with all stakeholders to help Australia realise a circular economy,” said Donnely.

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation is a co-regulatory, not-for-profit organisation that partners with government and industry to reduce the harmful impact of packaging on the environment.



Energy-efficient pump drive solutions

Running permanently at full speed may work for you but not so much for your pump drives. Speed control balanced to actual requirements greatly enhances the energy efficiency of pump systems. NORD Drivesytems supplies complete pre-assembled distributed drive units for a wide performance range up to 22 kW. In addition to energy savings of up to 60 per cent, users benefit from reduced noise emissions, low wear, and increased plant service life as well as the ecological advantages.

NORD Drivesytems integrated pump drives can store up to four operation modes which can be displayed and changed directly at the control unit. The SK 200E series comprises of reliable and economical frequency inverters, especially tailored to pump applications that require precise adjustments of power output; these are compatible with mains voltages worldwide.

For improved customer ease, NORD configures complete drive systems for various application areas (IP55/IP66, ATEX zone22/3D), and its integrated process and PI controller functions enables the fully-automated control of process variables as well as compensation of disturbances. This is applicable both in stand-alone and mobile applications as well as in complex setups with several drives.

Martin Broglia, Managing Director of NORD Drivesytems Australia says that thanks to two analogue inputs, the inverters can directly process sensor data such as pressure or flow rate. “Optional signal and power plug connectors facilitate handling and ensure compatibility. A programmable energy-saving function automatically reacts to partial load operation – increasing efficiency and significantly reducing running costs,” he said.

Operation is straightforward and flexible via control terminals, bus, or via an optional potentiometer that enables adjustments directly at the inverter. “In an effort to reduce labour hours whilst being cognisant of productivity levels, up to four operation modes can be stored to save on setup time,” Broglia said.

In addition, the customized parameters can be quickly exported to other units via a pluggable storage module, the system bus, or Ethernet interfaces. Once again keeping productivity in mind, with control cabinets no longer required, the decentralized option minimizes cabling effort for users, and since the inverter is supplied pre-assembled the electro-technical effort doing installation is nominal.

Adaptable blue silicone rubber vacuum pad

The latest vacuum pad from SMC is the ZP3P, which is designed to offer optimum absorbing performance and efficient handling.

It features a blue coloured, silicone rubber pad that prevents wrinkles and is compliant with the FDA regulations. What’s more, the bright blue colour makes it easy to spot during contamination inspections, making it ideal for the food and medical sectors.

SMC has extended its range of vacuum pads with the ZP3P that stands out from the crowd due to its enhanced design for stable adsorption and handling.

The ZP3P features a thin and soft pad skirt, with reduced leakage and a strong grip, so that it’s ideal for working with thin workpieces that deform during adsorption.

Furthermore, the flat shape of the vacuum pad with a central stopper creates a surface that does not damage or deface the product and prevents wrinkles on thin materials such as vinyl and film.

SMC has extended its silicone rubber vacuum pad range with the ZP3P, which has been designed with precision in mind. Highly adaptable, it can work with the trickiest of workpieces that are uneven, soft, variable or ultra-thin, such as film-wrapped products, without leaving traces of any wrinkles.

The pad design of the ZP3P is suitable for a wide range of applications such as film packaging, palletizing, printing and labelling. There are seven different types of adapters for customers to choose from and the option of a buffer.