The making of Robmac nut harvesters

“We want to build the best machines that we can. Something that will last in the field for many years. To do that, we have to start off with the best components,” says David Eggins of Roberts Machinery, a family-owned company in Alstonville, New South Wales, best known as the manufacturer behind the Robmac macadamia nut harvester machines.

David’s father, Robert Eggins, built his first peanut harvester and bagging machine back in 1959 when he was just 19 years old. In 1962, he started the business of Roberts Machinery, which has been designing, building and repairing farm machinery for over 59 years. 

With the growth of the macadamia industry in Alstonville, Roberts Machinery became heavily involved in the macadamia industry and 23 years ago, introduced the Robmac harvester, a lightweight stand-alone harvester with the ability to operate efficiently in wet and dry conditions with very low soil compaction. 

Today, there are over 240 Robmac harvesters in the field, and service and support of these units has become an important part of the business for Roberts Machinery. The team also runs a production pipeline with three or six harvester units under production at any given time, building an average of 12 to 15 Robmac units each year. Read more

Keeping the Tim Tams coming

For a lot of Australians, Arnott’s biscuits are associated with sweet memories. From growing up with a vintage Arnott’s biscuit tin, to introducing the delights of a ‘Tim Tam Slam’, Arnott’s products have lodged themselves in the hearts and homes of Australians throughout the iconic brand’s 155-year history. In fact, an estimated 95% of Australian households stock Arnott’s biscuits.

Making tasty treats for the nation comes with responsibilities. The maintenance teams at Arnott’s factories work hard to ensure the plants run as efficiently as possible to keep up with the large orders Arnott’s receives.

For Paul Nitschke, who works as Maintenance Services Team Leader at Arnott’s Marleston plant in Adelaide, working with the iconic biscuit manufacturer is a source of pride. Read more

Pump it up! Seal Innovations gives sugar mill full water flow

When technicians at Seal Innovations’ Acacia Ridge facility in Brisbane stripped down a hot water pump they had brought back from a major Queensland sugar mill, the pump was not in a good shape. The impeller, the impeller case and the wear ring were severely worn, the shaft had deeply corroded, and the shaft sleeves were covered with rust. For the team, it was just another day at the office.

“Refurbishing rotating equipment and returning them to their original condition is one of the many services we provide to our customers,” says Lance Brett, National Sales Manager at Seal Innovations.

Read more

Milking the happy cow image

The image of a healthy, happy cow grazing on a lush pasture is probably the first that comes to mind when thinking about Australia and New Zealand’s dairy products.

And, for the most part, that image is in line with reality.

Both countries have long enjoyed a high reputation for the quality and safety of their dairy products. Moderate climate, abundant grazelands and access to water mean pasture is available for cows to graze outside, which adds to the reputation of Australian and New Zealand dairy products as high in nutritional value.

This positive industry image bodes well for the two countries’ export markets. A study in 2020 confirmed that the positive perception around Australia’s ‘pure and natural farmlands’ is quite strong in major dairy consumer markets in Southeast Asia.1 Dairy is also the largest export sector in New Zealand, accounting for one in every three dollars New Zealand earns from the goods export trade.2

With both countries’ economies so reliant on dairy exports, food testing laboratories such as AsureQuality’s Auckland laboratory process millions of dairy samples – from raw and treated milk to powdered milk, butter, and cheese – each year to support New Zealand exporters and help them meet Overseas Market Access Requirements (OMARs) in their destination countries.

Michael Hodgson, Group Service Manager – Food Testing at AsureQuality, which conducts approximately 1.4 million dairy sample tests per year, says access to quality chemicals and laboratory consumables is essential to our business of supporting dairy exporters through fast and accurate testing services.

To read the full article, go here.

Supporting Bundaberg’s booming macadamia industry

The macadamia industry in Bundaberg has been growing rapidly. After starting as a small industry in the early 2000s, Bundaberg overtook the Northern Rivers in 2016 to become the largest producing macadamia region in Australia.

Ben Steinhardt’s business, B Fabricated, has been heavily involved in Bundaberg’s macadamia industry since 2009 when he built the first macadamia harvester for his family’s farm. His harvesting machines soon gained popularity and orders flew in from the neighbouring macadamia farms.

Today, B Fabricated manufactures not just nut harvesters but all types of agricultural processing equipment, including conveyors, bucket elevators and batch weighing machines and also offers ad-hoc fabrication and repair services to the local farming industry.

To read the rest of the article, click here. 

BSC helps food manufacturer out of a ‘sticky’ situation

A major food manufacturer in Melbourne had to frequently replace bearings in their filling machine which injects sticky breakfast product into jars. High exposure to moisture and detergents to clean the machine took its toll on the bearings, which necessitated bearing replacements every few months.

When BSC sales specialist Jamie Stonehouse learned about the problem, he recommended replacing the standard ball bearings with NSK’s Molded-Oil deep groove ball bearings to extend the machine’s service life.

Read more

Gates belt puts biscuits on a sweet ride

Frequent failure of a roller chain at a major biscuit manufacturing plant in South Australia was causing significant delays in production. The chain had broken eight times over a span of 15 months and every time the chain broke, the line had to be stopped completely to replace the chain.

BSC recommended changing the existing triplex chains with Gates Poly Chain GT Carbon timing belts, which helped resolve the issue.

Read more

Safety in the can

The CRC GREENLIGHT programme is designed to make compliance and auditing simple for food manufacturers – and  that is certainly the case with a cannery on the outskirts of Adelaide in South Australia.

BSC Wingfield Sales Representative Robert Harris says because auditors are familiar with the programme, the cannery has found it much easier and faster to manage its auditing process.

Read more

Keeping Costa mushrooms cool

Costa, a leading Australian mushroom grower and packer, were able to detect  reliability issues in some of the fans that help regulate ventilation for their facility in South Australia. Had the issue not been detected early through vibration analysis, it could have led to more bearing failures.

BSC Engineering Solutions Manager Mark Slaughter says the issue of electrical fluting is an increasing cause for bearing failures in VFD (Variable Frequency Drive) driven machines.

Read more

Why HPC v-belts are ideal for the F&B industry and how to install them

High Performance Composite (HPC) PowerTwist v-belts by Fenner Drives incorporate custome composite materials that provide them with better power ratings under harsh industrial conditions.

According to Steve Hittmann, CBC’s National Product Manager for Mechanical Drivesystems and Belt Drives, these belts can last up to 15 times longer than conventional rubber v-belts in extreme temperatures and heavy washdown applications.

Read more

Poultry producer gets a set-and-forget lubrication solution

When a food processing and packaging customer within the poultry industry sought the expertise of CBC Australia to set up a new lubrication store solution for their facility, the CBC team collaborated with Alemlube and CRC Industries to meet and exceed the customer’s requirements.

CBC Australia Sales Representative, Debra Fitzpatrick, says their customer was required to meet stringent government regulations for food safety standards and environment protection.

“Understanding these requirements, we worked with our trusted partners, Alemlube and CRC Industries, to offer a set-and-forget solution that made regulatory compliance much easier for our customer,” she says.

The new lubrication store was equipped with the help of oil containers, lids, pumps and hoses provided by Alemlube, as well as a whole range of food grade oils, sealants and greases from CRC Industries. Adding a CRC SmartWasher also provided additional safety to the plant.

“CRC Industries offers a wide range of NFS H1 approved lubrication products. All of CRC’s food grade lubricants comply with Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) requirements so the customer can be assured of the highest degree of safety,” says Fitzpatrick.

Cross contamination was another concern for the plant. The lubricants needed to be categorised and stored properly to avoid the risk of someone using a non-food-rated product in the food manufacturing process.

Fitzpatrick says using the Alemlube iCan range of products overcame this risk completely.

“The Alemlube products are designed to make the maintenance and upkeep of equipment easier. The lids are color coded to avoid any confusion and minimise the risk of cross contamination. The quick fill ports also help avoid foreign particle ingress during refilling,” she explains.

To further simplify the quality assurance audit processes, CBC also recommended that the customer gets on board with CRC’s Greenlight Food Safety Program.

Iain Faber, National Channel Manager at CRC Industries, says the CRC Greenlight Program incorporates extensive training with the staff in maintenance and quality assurance departments to help them achieve a high level of regulatory compliance within their plant.

“As part of the Greenlight Program, CRC offers on-site training to maintenance for use and storage of food grade lubricants and cleaners to ensure NSF certification compliance. CRC also provides the customer with an audit compliance folder, which contains TDS, SDS, Allergen certification and global NSF certification,” he says.

“As well as this, the SDS certificate is printed on the underside of the label on CRC’s Food Grade aerosols. They also come complete with the CRC Permalock straw which is a locked in straw and spray actuator that reduces the risk of contamination.”

“Moreover, CRC helps customers with product swap outs based on their technical requirements and aligns the program with the customers’ current on-site audit and inspection programs. We also offer on-going support to technical staff, chemists and field support staff via online or on-site visits.”

Representatives from CRC Industries met with the technical team at the poultry plant to take them through the required trainings and demonstrations.

The CBC team also recommended adding a CRC SmartWasher to the lubrication store as an environmentally friendly parts washing solution.

“The CRC SmartWasher has a compact design and uses the Ozzy Juice cleaning/degreasing solution for washing parts as an environmentally-friendly alternative to solvent and aqueous-based parts washers.  The Ozzy Juice is also NSF compliant as well as certified AsureQuality” says Faber.

“The SmartWasher Bioremediating Parts Washing system is both self-cleaning and safe for the user. Through the process of bioremediating, the SmartWasher constantly maintains the cleanliness of the Ozzy Juice cleaning/degreasing solution without the need for hauling away of used fluid,” he adds.

CBC’s Food and Beverage Business Development Specialist, Matthew Byrnes, says the successful delivery of the required products, as well as the subsequent recommendations by CBC for additional services to the customer, came at the back of a long-standing relationship between CBC and their customer.

“Our customers trust us to meet their operational needs for quality parts and services and we deliver that by understanding their needs – sometimes even before they arise – and always being ready with the most suitable solution,” he says.

“We have built up this reputation over many years of service to the industry and working with reliable partners. When customers ask for certain products, we don’t just deliver that particular product to them. We look at their overall process and see what can be further added to help them achieve their objectives,” he concludes.


The importance of cyber hygiene

Manufacturers are being urged to regularly asses their network infrastructure, and to close all possible opportunities for hackers. Alan Johnson reports.

IN a room full of manufacturers, it would be hard to find anyone who would admit their companies’ computers are not adequately protected from computer hackers.

However, Dick Bussiere, Principal Architect with Tenable Network Security, believes they would all be disappointed to know the truth.

He admits most manufacturers’ networks are fairly well defended on the perimeter. “But like an Oreo cookie, they are hard on the outside but soft and mushy on the inside,” Bussiere told Manufacturers’ Monthly.

He said there are a couple of areas most organisations are not doing a good job with, “which to a large degree gets down to cyber hygiene”.

Number one issue, Bussiere believes, is that manufacturers and companies in general don’t proactively perform vulnerability assessments on their network infrastructure.

“The second issue is that network infrastructures are not being monitored to be able to detect whether or not those infrastructures have been compromised. If they were, they would significantly reduce threats and obviously reduce risks to their organisation,” he said.

Bussiere said performing vulnerability assessments on a frequent basis should be standard across the manufacturing industry.

“Yet with the possible exception of companies who are forced to do it, such as large financial organisations, most companies only do it on annual basis, when in fact vulnerabilities are presently disclosed at around 130 every week of the year,” he said.

“So if manufacturers are only doing an assessment once a year, they are open to thousands of vulnerabilities, with each one of them having the potential to be a breach waiting to happen.”

Bussiere recommended companies run their vulnerability assessments on a monthly basis as a bare minimum and tracking what they are able to fix.

“The other dimension to it is performing some kind of monitoring function to determine if a breach has been made, by observing unusual communication patterns for example.”

Common breaches

Bussiere said the most common attempt to breach networks at the moment is via phishing attacks, where someone clicks on an email that contains an infected Word or PDF document.

He said the problem arises when someone falls for this phishing attack and is working on a system that has not been adequately patched.

“This is a very common way companies are hacked,” he said.

Bussiere said manufacturers should also pay attention to their industrial control network, such as SCADA and ICS.

“They need to focus on the segregation between that critical operational real time network infrastructure and the company’s common office network infrastructure,” he said.

“All too frequently on my travels, I see little attention focused on ensuring that the control system is well segregated. If not, it has the potential for major problems if the control network became breached somehow.”

He said these phishing attacks can often be very targeted, often trying to find out all a company’s financial information.

“Hence the importance of good cyber hygiene as these phishing attacks generally rely on some kind of vulnerability being on the victim’s system and an exploitation of that vulnerability,” he said.

Need for visibility

Bussiere said having good visibility of a company’s network from a vulnerability perspective is critical.

“This allows companies to identify the vulnerabilities that an attacker can take advantage of, and get those areas patched,” he said.

And not just software vulnerability, Bussiere said there can be any number of items that exist on a network that companies don’t know about.

“It could be a legacy system or maybe a virtual machine someone fired up years ago,” he said.

He said it is also important for manufacturers to identify all the assets that are on their networks.

“Networks have been around for over 25 years now, and over that time most have been built out where things get inserted that no one knows about, and/or things get forgotten about,” he said.

“Any operator of a large industrial control system will tell you ‘we don’t know everything that is on this network’.”

He said having visibility, by being able to audit everything that is on the network and identify its purpose, is a very important part of good cyber hygiene.

“Companies should bring everything under management, under patch control, and ruthlessly rip things out that shouldn’t be there.”

Bussiere said it’s very important manufacturers design their network on the assumption that it is going to be compromised.

“If they do that they will start to practice good cyber hygiene. And having that attitude will force them to instrument their network so that they have the ability to detect compromises relatively early in their life cycle so they can mitigate or eliminate the compromise well before serious damage can occur,” he said.


Somewhat controversially, Bussiere believes computer passwords are obsolete today.

“In most cases they are a very soft spot, and can be easily compromised through a phishing attack through social engineering,” he said.

For sensitive operations, he advises manufacturers to use two-factor authentication, which adds a second level of authentication to an account log-in.

“Because even if an adversary manages to get a person’s password, with two-factor authentication it’s normally not enough for that outsider to get in,” he said.

In conclusion, Bussiere advised manufacturers not to just look at IT security as a necessary evil. “It is essential,” he said.

We are feeding our toddlers a risky diet – here’s what we should do about it


by , PhD candidate, UCL

The food and drink young children in the UK are consuming could be putting their health at risk. In a new study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, we report that toddlers are consuming too much protein and too many calories for their age, putting them at risk of obesity in later life. We also found that they’re consuming too much salt and not enough fibre, vitamin D or iron.

Our study analysed data from one of the largest dietary datasets for toddlers in the UK, collected in 2008-9 from 2,336 children from the Gemini twin birth cohort. The daily calorie intake of toddlers (21 months old) was 7% higher than recommended by public health nutrition guidelines. And protein intake was approximately three times higher than recommended, with almost all toddlers exceeding the recommendation set by the Department of Health.

Not a sure start

The first two years of life are important for developing healthy eating habits. Children begin to develop dietary preferences that shape their eating behaviour and have a lasting impact on health. Our research suggests that there is cause for concern.

The average daily energy intake for toddlers at 21 months was 1,035 calories; higher than the 968 recommended for children aged two years by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition. In all, 63% of children exceeded this recommendation. On average, 40g of protein was consumed per day, but just 15g is recommended by the Department of Health for children aged one to three years.

We know that eating too many calories – not matching the energy consumed with the energy expended – leads to weight gain. But finding out how children consume their calories is important. Increased protein in early life is a risk factor for obesity in early life, and obesity often continues into adulthood. Both the high caloric intakes and the higher than recommended protein intakes found in our study suggest that toddlers today may be at increased risk of obesity and associated health problems such as heart disease and diabetes.

The protein source

A previous study in Gemini found that children who ate higher amounts of protein at 21 months of age, gained more weight up to five years of age. It’s important to identify the sources of protein that may be linked to this risk of weight gain.

In Gemini, almost a quarter of children’s calorie intake was consumed in milk and many of the children (13%) were still drinking formula milk at 21 months of age. This suggests that one of the main dietary sources through which children might be obtaining excess protein, is milk. In fact, within Gemini it was protein consumed from dairy (rather than other animal-based protein or plant-based protein) that was driving increases in weight gain up to age five.

At 21 months of age, the transition from a primarily milk-based diet to family food should have occurred, but it appears that a number of children continue to drink large quantities of milk, high in calories and protein. It’s important that, as children begin to consume family food, milk intake is decreased and replaced with water rather than high-calorie, sugary drinks.

As well as getting too much protein, toddlers were also consuming too much salt. Sodium intake was on average 1,148mg a day, almost three times higher than the 500mg recommended. This is a concern because it may set taste preferences for the future, increasing the risk of raised blood pressure in later life. Most salt in the diet comes from processed foods making it more difficult for people to reduce their salt intake. Parents need to be made aware that many processed foods contain high levels of salt and they may need more guidance on checking food labels, choosing lower salt options and limiting the intake of high-salt foods such as ham and cheese.

Fibre intake among many young children was also low, at just half the recommended amount (8g versus 15g per day). Given that high fibre diets have been associated with reduced risks of cancers, coronary heart disease and obesity, it is important for children to consume sufficient amounts.

Iron and vitamin D intakes were also low. Almost 70% of children did not meet the recommended 6.9 micrograms of iron. And average vitamin D intake was 2.3 micrograms a day, falling far short of the 7 micrograms set by the Department of Health. Less than 7% of children met the recommended vitamin D level, and insufficient intake of vitamin D has been associated with poor health, including rickets.

Many toddler foods are now fortified with vitamin D and iron, but children are still not getting enough. Supplements were taken by a small proportion (7%) of children and, although intakes of vitamin D and iron were increased through supplements, most children were still not meeting the recommendations for vitamin D. This underlines the importance of the government recommendations that all children aged six months to five years should take a daily supplement of vitamin D.

Parents need more guidance on the appropriate type, amount and variety of foods and drinks, together with appropriate supplements, in order to reduce obesity and other health problems that may affect their children in later life.


This article first appeared on the Conversation. You can read the original here.



Label applicator increases throughput for Tasmanian meat processor

In 2015, Greenham & Sons came to Result Group with a fairly common manufacturing challenge. Their processing speed far outweighed their ability to label products. As a multi-million dollar meat processing business, Greenham were ready to upgrade their labelling system but just needed direction on the best equipment to do so.

Result Group recommended the HERMA multi-purpose Meat Tray Label and Sleeve Applicator.

Greenham production manager Michael White is extremely happy with the result of the applicator installation.

“The move from hand to automatic label application has effectively quadrupled our through put of beef products. Previously our production limitation was the label application step, but now because of the automatic HERMA label applicator we are more than keeping up with the speed of product processing,” he said.

A key benefit of the HERMA Applicator is its versatility. A number of different product sizes and meat shapes can be put through this single labelling machine.

This sophisticated piece of equipment also weighs every item so the labels not only include the exact weight of each individual pack, they can include the retail price based on the pre-set price per kilo. For Greenham, this results in shelf ready products before they’ve even left the plant. Details are automatically extracted from the Greenham’s ERP system to make it a problem free change over and rock solid data transfers for the production team.

The electronic weight functionality also results in the automatic rejection of packs outside of spec. If a pack is under or over weight it is not put through. This removes the need for the meat to be weighed by hand while processing and therefore creates efficiencies and speeds up the entire processing stage.

The HERMA multi-purpose Meat Tray Label and Sleeve Applicator prints both barcodes and QR codes on the labels for Greenham. And it is also able to top and bottom label products in one pass with excellent accuracy. This is ideal for traceability and multi-lingual labelling for export markets.