Reshoring Australia and New Zealand’s manufacturing sector

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Expertise key to a coldstorage and food build

At the Global Food Forum in Sydney last year, non-executive director of brewing giant Lion, Sir Rod Eddington, pointed out that in order for Australia to have a vibrant food and beverage export sector, it needed a good cold store supply chain.

The need for good cold store supply chain is one thing, but that isn’t possible if the facilities that store cold foodstuffs are not up to scratch. This is not lost on Paul Brady, director of Paul Brady Building Group (PBBG), specialists in coldstorage builds.
Having been in the building industry for the best part of 30 years, the last 25 building food and coldstorage facilities, Brady knows how important it is to get it right. And it was 20 years ago that he decided that these builds would be his specialty.

“We specialise in temperature-controlled hygienic environments, which means we understand refrigeration, scale, production, storage, energy outputs and efficiencies and logistics” he said. “We provide all the specialist and necessary expertise and services to build food and cold storage facilities.”

One such build the company recently completed was for Ash Bros Food Services, based in Sunshine West in Melbourne. A company that has been around for 50 years, Ash Bros felt the march of progress when the Victorian government gave the go-ahead for the West Gate Tunnel project, which meant the Ash Bros premises in Yarraville had to make way for the new piece of infrastructure.

It wasn’t a case of just finding an existing warehouse to fit out, there were other factors Ash Bros had to look into, such as servicing clients, as well as staffing considerations.

“It took a while to find the right property, but one was found that was going to work,” said Brady. “We started design in November, and we managed to get it completed in April with certificate of occupancy and Primesafe accreditation.”

But there were a few hiccups along the way. First, to get any type of fit out completed in such a short time takes a lot of effort and co-ordination. Add in progamming building works through the Christmas and holiday period, COVID-19 restrictions, and deadline constraints in terms of Ash Bros vacating their existing premises, the pressure was on.
“There was refrigeration equipment stuck on the docks in China, however, we managed to locate equivalent units within Australia and had the system tested and commissioned one week before the deadline. It is one of the builds I’m most proud of,” said Brady.

Ash Bros director Christos Christou couldn’t be happier with the outcome of the project.
“Going into a new premises was as bit daunting,” he said. “It was a big difference in operation, in sheer size and space. Everyone who has seen it is in awe of the design, quality and workmanship – it couldn’t be any better. Paul doesn’t cut any corners. It is a state-of-the-art premises that will keep us going for the next 20 years. It ticked all the boxes as far as being a great seafood processing premises.”

Australia is a vast continent and most of Australia’s food comes from the country areas of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, as well as the rural climates of South Australia and Western Australia. Distance is a huge problem in terms of getting from A to B with the Australian supply chain. However, these distances cause another problem that is becoming more on the radar of councils and both federal and state government – food waste. This was reinforced by The Expert Group’s study, Waste in the Cold Chain and Opportunities for Improvement, which stated that, “Conservative estimates put the cost of food waste within the cold food chain at $3.8 billion at farm gate values.”

Again, quality cold storage is essential for preserving the food supply chain. This is why it is important to get a company that specialises in such builds.

Brady admits that it is imperative to engage a building company with the right knowledge.
PBBG is also a one-stop shop. “Early design involvement is key” said Brady. They will oversee mandatory planning and building permit requirements, as well as meeting auditing authorities build standards. PBBG are then ready for the build from the beginning right until the keys are handed over to the new owner.

How quickly can they work? Brady gives a recent example.

“We came across a project that had already been designed with a full set of building drawings completed, we found the design did not address key compliance requirements and incorrectly detailed such areas as the cold storage build.

“The client came to us in frustration and we managed to turnaround correct design and permits with handover all within four months and in time to meet the deadline.

Unfortunately, the owner had spent the best part of $30,000-40,000 with the initial designer.”

Energy efficiency is also a big issue for any food/cold storage operation, and PBBG covers a range of smart design options and engage building products/systems that ensure ongoing costs savings for their clients.

“We look at such areas as constructing an ante-room as the first point of entry before entering a holding freezer, this separation can prevent direct warm air of any ambient warehouse temperatures entering into the freezer, therefore, decreasing the strain on the refrigeration units and the potential ice up of the fan coils.”

It is for these types of reasons it is important to have the builder onboard from early on, said Brady. With their experience, they can see pitfalls, specify through design building products and systems where they are best suited and make sure the materials being used will do the job properly. Paul Brady Building Group carry out in-house insulated panel construction and recommend the use of FM-approved insulated panels on their projects, which are preferred by insurance companies.

As well as new builds, PBBG can do refurbishments, provide advice on preventative maintenance solutions, and provide emergency repairs. It also custom manufactures insulated door systems to fit the bespoke needs of its many clients.

For more information on the Paul Brady Building Group, please click here.

Flexibility and redeployment needed in times of crisis

Whether they are disinfecting and sanitising, conducting COVID-19 tests, helping to manufacture Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) or ramping up respirator production, cobots can work alongside humans safely or on their own. They are the answer to accelerating repetitive tasks in the manufacturing environment while simultaneously addressing concerns around social distancing and the safety of employees.

Industry pioneers, Universal Robots have noted an uptake in the demand for its cobots in various industries across the globe. “Locally”, observes Darrell Adams, Head of Southeast Asia Oceania for Universal Robots, “the pandemic has seen many companies shifting towards robotic technology to help ramp up production.”

“As the fastest growing sector in the robotics industry, cobots are easy to program and deploy remotely. Viewed as a ‘niche’ product in the past, cobots are now the fastest growing segment in the industrial robotics sector. By 2025, cobots are expected to jump from niche status to thoroughly mainstream, accounting for approximately 34 percent of global robot spend” he explains.

Disinfecting with cobots
The pandemic has seen massive increase in demand for effective deep cleaning and disinfection technologies that do not involve direct human contact with potentially infected areas.

In mid-April, researchers at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore unveiled the eXtremeDisinfection roBOT (XDBOT), which comprises a UR5 cobot fitted with an electrostatic spray nozzle all mounted on a mobile platform.

Researchers programmed the cobot to mimic human hand movements so that it can get into hard-to-reach areas such as under beds and tables – a feature that has been missing from traditional disinfection robots that are not as dexterous.

“These cobots are capable of running for four hours straight on a single charge and has been successfully tested in public areas on the NTU campus. The team is now preparing to trial this technology at local public hospitals”.

Adams notes that the UR5 cobot with its built-in safety features can work safely and collaboratively with humans too.

COVID-19 testing with cobots
COVID-19 has also resulted in unprecedented demand for medical testing. In response to this extraordinary demand, Universal Robots co-founder, Esben Østergaard turned his creative energies to the design and development of the world’s first autonomous throat swabbing robot launched by Lifeline Robotics, a company he co-founded with the Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Institute at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU).

This robot uses UR3 cobot arms fitted with a custom 3D-printed end-effector. The process is simplicity itself, beginning with the patient scanning their ID card. Right away, the robot prepares a sample kit, consisting of a container with a printed ID-label and it picks up the swab. Then, using its built-in vision system, the robot identifies the right points to swab in the patient’s throat. As soon as the swab process is complete, the bot places the sample in a jar and screws on the lid. The jar is then sent to a lab for analysis.

“The process takes around seven minutes and the swab takes just 25 seconds,” said Adams.

Meanwhile in Houston, Texas-based portable detection manufacturer, DetectaChem unveiled a unique smartphone-based COVID-19 testing solution in late May. The company’s at-home, low cost COVID-19 test provides results via smart phone in just 15-30 minutes.

Ventilator manufacturing with cobots
Cobots inherent flexibility helps to support the rapid development and deployment of automation, a feature that really comes to the fore in times of crisis. In March, for example, the Spanish car manufacturer SEAT decided to transform one of its assembly lines from its original automotive role to ventilator production. The auto giant installed a UR10e at the end of the line to perform a quality check of the locking mechanism on the unit’s control box.

PPE production with cobots
Based in Ontario, Canada, Hannafin Automation looked to a UR5 cobot to tend the entire 3D printing cycle of face shields. The cobot picked up a Cognex vision camera to inspect the completion of each print. When print is done, the cobot picks it up, places it in a bin, and presses the printer’s touch screen to start a new cycle.

Each printer makes 25 face shields per day and these are donated to local police fire stations, paramedics, and nursing homes.

How cobots can assist locally
Adams notes that as the local economy starts to ramp up again, there is an ongoing call by government for more local manufacturing to take place.  “More and more, the country is looking to local, sustainable and cost-effective manufacturing practices to help reaccelerate the sector.”

“Sometimes overlooked, cobots seek to add value in the business and allows employees to focus on strategic tasks rather than repetitive and mundane tasks. We have seen many companies putting flexi hours into place, here, cobots can assist during the downtime and can work continuously to ensure ongoing productivity.”

Why manufacturing transformation will change Australia’s economic trajectory

Manufacturing and automation is now more top-of-mind than ever before.  As Industry 4.0 takes root in businesses across the globe, the opportunity to embrace highly-advanced technology and new, forward-thinking ways of working has never been greater. From smart cities and cashless payments to autonomous vehicles, there is no shortage of buzzworthy, headline-grabbing advances in modern industry.

One innovation that has become particularly important is intelligent manufacturing or smart factories. A combination of cyber-physical systems, automation, and the Internet of Things (IoT), these facilities have the potential to rapidly transform business. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Australia has identified and embraced the benefits that this industrial wave holds. Automation adoption among Australian manufacturers has picked up substantially in recent years. According to the Australian Manufacturing Forum, there are around 83 robots per 10,000 employees in the country. This trumps the global average of 74 robots per 10,000 employees.

Global consulting company, Mckinsey, has also identified the economic potential that the rapid introduction of robots could hold for the country. In its 2019 Australia’s Automation Opportunity: Reigniting opportunity and inclusive income growth report, the agency noted that this opportunity could add $1.1 trillion to $4 trillion to the economy over the next 15 years, providing every Australian with $4,000 to $15,000 in additional income per year by 2030.

“As the country faces a modest 2 per cent GDP growth this year, and some economists speculate that the country could even face a recession in the wake of the recent bushfires and the coronavirus (COVID-19), is it perhaps time that Australian manufacturers grab hold of this automation potential and reshape the industry?” asks James McKew, regional director at Universal Robots.

Curbing Economic Concerns
As close economic allies, China’s halt on production has had significant impact on the local supply chain. Here, McKew notes that advancements in AI and specifically, cobotics, can be used in areas where it’s unsafe for humans to work or more simply Australian workers are unwilling to do the monotonous tasks to which cobots are so well suited.

“One of the latest and most exciting robotic breakthroughs, collaborative robots or cobots – robots that work alongside human operators safely - enable businesses to improve cost efficiency, productivity, and output quality. These intelligent tools foster a more inclusive workspace, too, by relieving workers from strenuous, repetitive and sometimes dangerous tasks so they can focus on higher-value assignments,” McKew said.

Cobots are user-friendly, flexible, compact, safe, and have a lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) compared to traditional industrial robots. TCO includes both direct and indirect costs, including maintenance, factory floor upgrades (including the ease a cobot can be re-deployed), employee training, and safety barriers, all of which are factors that typically apply to traditional industrial robots. Cobots are also less costly to set up, which further makes them a financially attractive option for manufacturers turning to automation for the first time.

What can we learn from the COVID-19?
Besides finding a vaccine or a cure, automation has now also been lauded as one of the safest ways to bridge the gap between the virus and service delivery.

In light of the global COVID-19 outbreak, the opportunity exists to further understand and implement automation across the country, placing Australia in a stronger manufacturing position and improving its global competitiveness rank.

“The World Economic Forum’s 2019 Global Competitiveness Index revealed that those economies that have invested in innovation capabilities are best placed to revive productivity and weather a global slowdown,” said McKew.

While Australian manufacturers are lagging slightly behind global and regional peers in Industry 4.0 adoption – compared to Korea’s 631 robots per 10,000 employees – the country is renowned for its high number of SME and micro-businesses in local manufacturing. “Many of these producers are hampered by costs, which could reduce as the uptake of automation on the factory floor increases. To better compete as a major player in global supply chains, they should embrace the digital transformation with haste,” said McKew.

McKinsey supports this notion, estimating that between 25 per cent and 46per cent of current work activities in Australia could be automated by 2030, helping to drive a renaissance in productivity, income and economic growth.

Utilising robotics and Industry 4.0 technologies, the pivot to intelligent manufacturing may just be the solution that helps countries in beating coronavirus now and future viruses that might arise.

 

 

 

 

Industry 4.0 delivers opportunities to manufacturing in 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rockwell Automation acquires Mestech

Rockwell Automation today announced that it has acquired Mestech Services, a global provider of Manufacturing Execution Systems / Manufacturing Operations Management, digital solutions consulting, and systems integration services.

Mestech is a Rockwell Automation Recognised Systems Integrator with  experience applying Rockwell’s software-based solutions within the manufacturing technology space. The company offers technology consulting services, solutions design and deployment, support, plant asset management, and staffing solutions for discrete, hybrid, and process applications across multiple industries. Mestech, founded in 2008, is headquartered in Pune, India with operations in Germany and the United States.

READ MORE: Rockwell Automation’s TechED offers collaborative environment

“The acquisition of Mestech expands our capabilities to profitably grow Information Solutions and Connected Services globally and accelerate Rockwell’s ability to help our customers execute digital transformation initiatives,” said Matthew Fordenwalt, vice president and general manager, Systems & Solutions Business, for Rockwell Automation.

“India is one of Rockwell’s fastest growing markets and Mestech’s footprint and expertise will enable us to implement solutions faster, helping our customers increase their connectivity, efficiency, and productivity. At the same time, by joining the Rockwell family, Mestech will be able to leverage Rockwell’s products and solutions in the areas of control, process, power information solutions and industrial IoT, including FactoryTalk Innovation Suite, powered by PTC, in order to help customers develop the best possible solutions while minimizing risk.”

“We are excited about our future with Rockwell Automation, which will enable us to help more customers simplify their industrial transformations and accelerate their production timelines,” said Yatin Sankholkar, managing director, at Mestech. “Over the past decade, we have grown Mestech into one of the world’s leading manufacturing execution service providers, with a focus on technology consulting and software implementation for managing manufacturing operations. By joining forces with Rockwell, we will be able to expand our market access and offer more customers the benefit of our strong industry expertise.

Future of manufacturing relies on support from younger generation

Australia’s increasingly vibrant manufacturing sector needs the support of the country’s younger, globalised generation, if it is to continue its growth trajectory according to new research.

A St.George survey of over 1000 consumers revealed ‘Australian made’ is not as important to 18-24 year olds (23 per cent) when purchasing a product, compared to 69 per cent of 55-74 year olds, even sustainable businesses.

The youth age group are also not willing to pay more for Australian products (45 per cent), and 36 per cent don’t believe they are better quality than overseas counterparts. Matthew Kelly, head of manufacturing and wholesale, St.George, said even though the manufacturing sector in Australia has seen 23 consecutive months of growth, the challenge businesses face is competing with low-cost imports, particularly when it comes to younger generation.

“The sector is far from fading; automation, artificial intelligence and pure inventiveness are enabling new business models and processes that are transforming an industry which already contributes $100 billion to Australia’s GDP.

READ MORE: Snack food manufacturing develops a taste for the future

“However, it’s clear from the research that the industry needs to do more to create a compelling value proposition for the next generation aligned to what matters most to them when purchasing products. This could be through the reduction of carbon emissions, investing in innovative manufacturing techniques to reduce costs and future sustainable materials,” Kelly said.

St.George’s Future of Manufacturing Report has identified greater collaboration and partnerships are needed to drive the sector forward and support a new wave of advanced manufacturers who are future-proofing the industry.

According to the report, to succeed in the face of disruption, advanced manufacturers need connections to research and development, skilled workers and access to financial support.

“St.George is collaborating with scientist and engineer UNSW Professor Veena Sahajwalla and the Australian Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC), to help businesses unlock their potential through access to research and grants to build capabilities towards a tech-powered advanced manufacturing future.

“We are also forming partnerships to help address industry pain points, such as rising energy prices, through working with energy efficiency consultancy Verdia which  customers a financial solution for solar and energy programs.

“Advanced manufacturing has the ability to be more competitive and offer better value to consumers, importantly those who are less loyal to Australian made products. These businesses aren’t necessarily new tech companies, they are well-established organisations reinventing themselves and willing to invest in new ways of doing things,” he said.

One example is NSW manufacturer Genneral Staircase who spectacularly boosted productivity using data analysis and robots to streamline processes, which resulted in the 48-year-old business increasing production from two staircases a day to between 30 and 40 a day.

“New technologies are also bringing a new generation into the manufacturing sector, such as drone manufacturer JAR Aerospace. Founded by four graduates in 2017, the business uses innovative technology to ensure it can compete on a global scale and is now working with its first Defence Force contract,” Kelly said.

The report concluded there is significant room for Australian manufacturers to increase adoption of advanced characteristics through greater collaboration on research and development, generating different revenue streams with new product and service offerings and increased technology investment.

Professor Sahajwalla, director of the Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) at UNSW Sydney and Director of NSW Circular, an organisation that brings manufacturers, industry, governments and researchers together to help develop the circular economy, says her work is benefiting from closer collaboration with manufacturers.

“We know consumers do value sustainability so there are longer terms benefits to manufacturers who embrace ‘circular solutions’ to their materials and waste challenges. A game changing opportunity is to produce niche products and supply high value materials.

One example is what we do at the SMaRT Centre MicrofactoryTM, producing filaments for 3D printing from waste plastic which is almost always imported from overseas. Demand for filaments is expected to grow and this type of technology is ideally suited for manufacturers looking for innovative solutions.”

Kelly added: “We understand one of the significant barriers to manufacturers investing is cash flow shortfalls. St.George has a unique understanding of the sector and specialised expertise and products to help businesses grow and succeed, including an invoice discounting solution that helps manufacturers access capital tied up with aged debtors, and equipment finance to support business growth.

“Transformation can be confronting, but as an industry I believe we all have a role to play in nurturing businesses that will fuel the sector and St.George is committed to helping manufactures create new models for growth.”

Govt. fund designed to modernise manufacturing

The  Government has launched a $160 million fund designed to create jobs in the manufacturing sector.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said the Manufacturing Modernisation Fund would help manufacturers become more competitive by co‑funding investments in new technologies.

“Strengthening our core and emerging manufacturing industries is a key part of the Government’s economic plan to create 1.25 million new jobs over the next five years,”  Andrews said. “This delivers on the Morrison Government’s commitment to help manufacturing businesses innovate and develop competitive advantage so they can thrive globally.

“Investing in technology can transform businesses, enabling them to become more productive, manufacture new products and create new jobs.

“The fund will provide grants to small and medium manufacturing businesses so they can invest in capital equipment and new technologies to modernise and employ more Australians. It will also support businesses to upskill workers to maximise the benefits of technology.”

The Manufacturing Modernisation Fund will include $50 million from the Government and will be matched by at least $110 million from industry.

The fund will have two types of grants;

  • $20 million will be for matched grants of between $50,000 and $100,000 for smaller scale technology investments.
  • $30 million for larger-scale grants of up to $1 million, on a three to one funding basis with industry, to support transformative investments in technologies and processes.

The fund builds on other Government investments in manufacturing growth and competitiveness, including the $100 million Advanced Manufacturing Fund, the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre, the Entrepreneurs’ Programme, and the $40 million Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre.

FII and ANSTO collaborate for broadacre crop fertiliser

Researchers from the Future Industries Institute (FII) at the University of South Australia are collaborating with a group of scientists at ANSTO to investigate a new class of micro and nano-scale zinc fertilisers for broadacre crops, such as wheat.
Zinc is an essential micronutrient required for the growth of wheat with crucial roles throughout the plant. Australian agricultural soils are known to be deficient in zinc and other micronutrients.

Dr Casey Doolette  and PhD candidate Thea Lund Read from Prof Enzo Lombi’s lab are assessing if nano and micro zinc particles applied to leaves (known as foliar fertilisers) provide a more sustained supply of zinc to crops than dissolved forms of the metal.

They are also evaluating two commonly used agricultural formulations, soluble zinc and chelated zinc (Zn-EDTA).

In order to make this evaluation, they needed to use a combination of tools to understand zinc transport and bioaccumulation.

One technique, based on the use of radiotracers to track the distribution of elements, was of particular interest and available at ANSTO.

ANSTO Environmental Research scientist Dr Tom Cresswell  has expertise in the use of radioactive isotopes as tracers in marine organisms to study the bioaccumulation of specific elements.

“It is slightly different working with plants but the concept is essentially the same. By using zinc-65 as a radiotracer, it is possible to detect exactly where the zinc goes after it has been absorbed by the plant,” said Cresswell.

ANSTO Biologist Nicholas Howell has captured a series of autoradiographic images of the plants that show the change in distribution of radioactive zinc, in live leaves, over time.

“Conventional analysis and imaging of zinc is limited because the naturally-occurring zinc in the leaves makes it difficult to identify newly-accumulated zinc,” Said Doolette.

The purpose of the study is to determine what form of zinc is the most efficient for supplying the nutrient to broadacre crops following its application to the leaves.

Doolette explained that although zinc can also be delivered directly to the soil, there are some limitations due to soil conditions that affect its ability to address zinc deficiency in plants. “When you deliver zinc to Australian agricultural soils, the zinc tends to get locked up, particularly in alkaline soils, and is not readily available to the plants,” said Doolette.

This occurs because zinc is largely immobile in soil and only moves short distances from the point of placement.

Leaf applications of zinc are used by crop farmers to supplement soil applications.

Doolette explained that applying zinc in a soluble formulation has a tendency to damage the leaves.

“However, if the zinc can be released slowly into the leaf, such as the case when it is applied in nano form, there is likely to be less leaf scorch” said Doolette.

The investigators are not focused on how the zinc, in the form of soluble zinc, is taken up but rather how much zinc is bioaccumulated.

They are measuring zinc concentrations, as well as identifying where the zinc is transported in the plant, whether it be the new shoots, stems or grains.

“Ideally we would hope to have the applied zinc accumulate in the grains of the plant, where it has the most nutritional benefit as food, which is known as biofortification,” said Doolette.

“We hope to find out if using zinc nanoparticles is a viable way of administering it as a nutrient.”

Doolette and Read transported 140 wheat plants by air to ANSTO, where they were housed in a greenhouse on-site fully licenced for conducting radiotracing studies.

Plants were harvested, or imaged, after one day, 14 days and at maturity (i.e. the production of grains) to evaluate the translocation and biodistribution of zinc.

The imaging technique developed by the team has allowed for single plants to be measured at multiple time points without the need to harvest, producing a true, and unique, longitudinal data set.

The concentration of zinc is quantified using gamma spectroscopy.

The zinc particles for the experiments were made industry partner Sonic Essentials and were made radioactive using the OPAL research reactor.

“By determining the most efficient form of zinc for direct foliar application, crop management strategies can be optimised to increase crop yield and quality,” said Doolette.

Zinc is used by the plant for protein metabolism, synthesis of hormones and in the production of essential enzymes.

“We would also be interested in knowing how much zinc is not taken up by the plant, as this zinc would be released into the environment with rainfall,” said Cresswell.

“From the perspective of an ecotoxicologist, it is important to know if the zinc is affecting freshwater runoff.”

Titanium filters strengthen winery production

South Australian company, Advanced Material Solutions (AMS) began commissioning their first commercial units last month and plans to ramp up its workforce from 26 to more than 200 to cater for increasing global demand.

AMS Filtration managing director Gilbert Erskine said the robust titanium membranes were so strong that they could run 24-hours a day for a week while polymeric (plastic) or ceramic filters could spend 30 per cent of their time in cleaning modes, which often included chemicals.

He said his Viti-flow system could be easily cleaned in minutes with hot water and could extract solids up to 80 per cent, compared with about 10 per cent for many traditional membranes.

“The difference between 10 per cent solids and 80 per cent solids would be at least a 7 per cent increase in the product you can put in a bottle – that’s seven litres in every 100,” Erskine said.

“From when a tonne of grapes came in to when it’s ready for the bottle it’s been through the filtration process several times and each time we can capture that extra 7 per cent that would normally go down the drain so that’s payback right away.”

The system is scalable to suit all sizes of wineries, with the bigger units installed at major Australian wineries so far featuring four sets of membranes capable of filtering 35,000-40,000 litres an hour. They produce clean filtrate at less than 1NTU and solids of up to 80 per cent.

Based at Lonsdale in Adelaide’s southern suburbs, AMS Filtration has been in business since 1985 and has had a long affiliation with the wine industry.

It started out making stainless steel fittings, heat exchangers and refrigeration plants for wineries before experimenting with polymeric, ceramic and stainless steel filter membranes.

The stainless steel filters were the most effective but also the most expensive and they were eventually set up in Indonesia to service the palm oil industry, where they proved more profitable.

After many years of experimentation and collaboration with Australian universities, the company developed the titanium membranes and has been secretly trialling the technology with industry partners for the past few years.

“It’s been a 30-year journey but it is very difficult to do, titanium itself is very difficult to work with and it’s taken us a long time and many mistakes,” Erskine said.

“Titanium is very expensive – it’s much more expensive than stainless steel but due to its properties we’ve been able to make it much, much thinner and make the capillary size much smaller than traditional stainless steel so we’ve reduced the weight of the membrane and just by reducing that weight it compensates for the high cost raw material.

“We had a good name in the wine industry so it seemed that the wine industry was where we should launch our filter.”

AMS Filtration exhibited at the 2018 Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in California in January and took orders from American wineries without them even seeing the filters in action. Erskine will return to the US next month to follow up with major wineries that made inquiries at the symposium – the largest wine show of its kind in the Americas.

Erskine said he was confident his titanium membrane filters would eventually be sold almost everywhere wine was made.

“We are talking with Portugal at the moment, we’ve already got orders from New Zealand,” he said.

“We’ve put a salesman in New Zealand and we intend on having a sales force globally so we’ll open offices in South America, North America, Europe and we will definitely have these filters right around the world.

“Right now there’s 26 of us – I’ve already advised three more people to start and we envisage there’ll be over 200 people here within three years.

“We are a tiny little company so we are trying to hammer along as fast as we can go but as we get a little bit stronger we will increase our capacity and we’ll just keep doing that to whatever size we need to be.”

South Australia is consistently responsible for about 50 per cent of Australia’s annual wine production and is home to the world-renowned regions of Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale and global brands Penfolds, Jacob’s Creek, Hardys Wines and Wolf Blass.

Erskine said the AMS Filtration system also improved quality by reducing wine “bruising” and the risk of taint because of its rigorous cleaning system at water temperatures of up to 90 degrees.

He said the micron rating of the titanium membrane could also be adjusted to 0.1 microns to filter out e coli or bacteria, 0.2 for standard white wine, 0.4 – 0.45 for red wine or larger for fortifieds.

“We have the ability to change that micron and again that comes down to the strength of the titanium because as you go up in pore size you are traditionally weakening the support structure but titanium can withstand it.

“There are people claiming to make titanium membranes but there is no one else in the world that we know of producing small pore titanium membranes in commercial quantities.”

AMS Filtration is also exploring systems for a range of other industries including beer, meat processing and water management.

“We wanted to focus on wineries first because we have a history in the wine industry but as other opportunities have come up we’ve taken them,” Erskine said.

“The sky is the limit, the filtration market is absolutely enormous and even if we ended up with a very small percentage of that you’d be talking hundreds of employees.”

Nestlé expands in South Africa

Nestlé South Africa has invested R1.2 billion into the expansion of its instant coffee manufacturing plant in Estcourt.

The expansion included the construction of a waste water treatment plant, new coffee processing plant, upgrading existing coffee processing and a the state of the art coffee drying plant. At least 20 direct and more than 470 indirect jobs have been created since construction commenced.

“We believe that for a company to be successful in the long-term it has to create value for shareholders and communities where it operates,” said Ravi Pillay, Corporate Affairs Director for Nestlé South Africa.

“Investments of this magnitude demonstrate the Nestlé Group’s commitment to long-term business sustainability and economic development in Africa.

“Through this investment we will increase capacity for our coffee factory and meet the growing consumer demand for coffee in the region. This is also aligned with our ambition of being the world’s leading nutrition, health and wellness company while offering our consumers quality, nutritious and affordable products.”

2016 marks Nestlé’s 100 years of operations in South Africa. The company has eight manufacturing facilities, four distribution centres and 3,500 full time permanent employees across the country.

Parisians can now buy steak from machines 24 hrs a day

The first automatic raw meat vending machine has been installed in Paris this week, as customers can purchase steaks or sausages at any time of day or night.

According to L’Ami Txulette Basque butcher owner Florence Pouzol, the machine was installed outside a shop in the fashionable 11th arrondissement.

“We wanted to give our customers an additional service when the shop is closed,” Pouzol said.

“At first you think it’s strange, but then you realise it might be a good way to buy meat if you work late and feel like a steak when you get home.”

The refrigerated meat machine is the fifth to open in France, but the first in the capital. Laetitia Lafaye, the first French butcher to install a meat vending machine, in the south-western town of Sainte-Catherine, said the idea came from Germany, where there are hundreds of such machines.

Last year a cheesemonger in the eastern town of Pontarlier installed a automatic cheese distributor.

Paris got its first 24-hour baguette vending machine in 2011. Since then, hundreds more have been installed across the country.

But the spread of the machines is proving controversial. Traditionalists say they will lead to the demise of craft butchers, bakers and cheese shops.

Emmanuel Gripon, from the French Bakers' Federation, said: "It's contributing to the desertification of the countryside and it harms the social life of communities."

However, many people welcome the convenience they offer.

Domestic manufacturing sales increase but downturn in dairy prices could begin to bite

The latest New Zealand Manufacturers  and Exporters Association (NZME) survey of business conditions in December showed a 9.02 per cent  increase in domestic sales almost made up for a 10.76 per cent drop in export sales.  

Chief executive Dieter Adam said despite net confidence falling to 18, down from 24 in November, manufacturing had been a "relatively good space" for the last 12 months.

The current performance, change and forecast indexes were all over 100 in December, indicating expansion.

"The forecast index, which indicates investment, sales, profit and staffing expectations, stayed high at 107.33, coming off the back of the most positive result recorded since 2004 in November, so there remains a fair chunk of optimism for the future."

"We find manufacturers are saying they have a bit of breathing room to employ more staff, but also to be able to invest. That's the critical thing because to survive in the medium to long term, manufacturers need to automate more, and to update their machinery."

Adam noted that last week's Overseas Merchandise Trade release by Statistics New Zealand showed even brighter results for exporters. 

"For example, export values for electrical machinery and equipment manufacturing  improved 9 per cent on the previous month and 11.5 per cent year on year, while logs, wood, and wood article manufacturing increased 25.1per cent on last month and 13.8per cent year on year."

The really big influences on manufacturing were the uncertain global economy and the value of the dollar, he said, and uncertainty in world markets tended to push down the New Zealand dollar which benefited exporters.

"Having said that, the underlying causes of the global uncertainty is not good news for exporters because people tend to hold back on purchasing our goods overseas."

Adam said exporters would love the US dollar to be closer to 60 cents but the really big problem was the relatively high value of the Australian dollar. 

"Forty per cent of our manufactured exports go to Australia and anything over 90 (cents) is really eating into our competitiveness. When it was 85 (cents) people were a lot happier. "

However, the strength of the domestic economy was helping make up for the loss of export sales. It was a little surprising that the drop in dairy prices, and the consequent  effect on the rural economy, had not had a bigger impact on manufacturing. 

In some instances sales of  products, such as hoses used to wash down dairy sheds, dropped quite quickly when farmers "shut their pockets."

If farming losses continued into the next milking season, Adam said, the consequences could be much more serious because farmers didn't have any cash reserves left. 

Wine Solutions from Spray Nozzle Engineering

Spray Nozzle Engineering, a leading Australian spraying solutions company, has a long history of providing solutions to the wine and beer processing industries in Australia and New Zealand.

From stainless steel washdown and tank cleaning systems, to wine racking equipment, Spray Nozzle Engineering’s support of local industry expands more than 30 years.

Strahman washdown guns are certified with the Smart Approved WaterMark. Their washdown solutions are powerful and water-saving. Add their stainless steel hose reels, and food grade hose for a complete washdown solution.

Spray Nozzle Engineering’s CIP solutions for the wine industry combine exclusive Gamajet Alfa Laval tank cleaners, and their own innovative, engineered products.

Gamajet tank cleaning machines, such as the GentleJet™, are powerful, yet gentle on toast, making them ideal for larger vessel and tank sizes. For smaller sizes, Spray Nozzle Engineering has designed and patented their M Series tank cleaning heads. Originally designed as a replacement for spray balls, they are fast, efficient and effective.

The Rack-it-Teer™ is a precision stainless steel spear wine racking solution, with patented locating finger and ‘positive-seal’ system that allows filling, decanting and oxygen purging without wasting gas. Rack-It-Teer™ adapts to all barrel sizes, making it extremely versatile.

In addition to supplying equipment to the wine industry, Spray Nozzle Engineering also repairs and services tank cleaning equipment in their Centre of Excellence service centres in Melbourne and Hamilton. This allows for fast local service that minimises downtime and costs, with loan heads available to approved customers.

Jungheinrich Unveils Totally New Combi Stacker

Jungheinrich is market-launching a new narrow-aisle forklift – its EKX 514-516 electric order picker and trilateral forklift – in short, a “combi” (combination) stacker.

With a payload capacity of 1,600 kilograms and a lift height of 17.5 metres, the new model will be officially unveiled before a global trade audience at the LogiMAT 2016 exhibition in Stuttgart (hall 9, stand 9B02 and 9B04).

Efficient and Economical, with Just One Battery for Two Shifts

The truck is equipped with state-of-the-art control technology, completely new motor technology and an efficient energy management system. Its intelligent lightweight design makes use of high-strength steels, resulting in a weight reduction of 150 kilograms. “This means we can guarantee the efficient and economical operation of the stacker over two shifts with a single battery charge,” states Dr Klaus-Dieter Rosenbach, Jungheinrich Board of Management member in charge of Logistics Systems Business.

For two-shift operations this eliminates not only the need for extra batteries, but also for charging stations and other expensive equipment, while at the same time reducing manpower requirements. Rosenbach continues: “This is not a mere promise of two-shift operation without changing the battery – we also back up this claim vis-à-vis the customer.” In other words, if a battery fails to hold a charge for two full shifts, Jungheinrich will replace it free of charge.

Economical Motors: 93 Percent of Energy Converted into Output

Completely new motor technology developed by Jungheinrich is at the core of the EKX 514-516. This consists of a synchronous reluctance motor which has been used for the first time in this vehicle – a motor which combines the high performance and energy efficiency of synchronous motors with the cost advantages and low maintenance requirements of three-phase AC asynchronous motors.

According to Rosenbach the motor’s efficiency factor of IE31 is the highest achievable in forklift operations.

The new motor technology converts around 93 percent of the energy consumed into actual output, cutting energy losses by half. “This means that energy consumption has been reduced by a further 15 percent compared to the previous model,” remarks Rosenbach. “And this, despite the vehicle’s much higher performance,” he adds.

Reaching Great Heights Smoothly and Safely, Thanks to Vibration Damping

For the first time Jungheinrich is also equipping this model series with a patented vibration damping system.

The optional Floor Pro module reduces lateral oscillations of the mast and driver’s cab which are caused by uneven floors or other floor types not designed for narrow-aisle forklifts. “This system provides the user with the opportunity to travel more smoothly and up to 30 percent faster on substandard surfaces,” explains Rosenbach. In addition the system is easy on loads and vehicle and helps reduce the level of maintenance.

The goal is to allow narrow-aisle trucks to work safely and efficiently even on floors that were originally designed solely for reach trucks – even at lift heights of 10 metres.

The new EKX 514-516 is fitted with a number of different modules for process integration, including RFID technology, redundant height and distance measurement and the Jungheinrich Logistics Interface.

If the optional Jungheinrich warehouse navigation system with semi-automatic target approach is added, throughput can be enhanced by up to 25 percent. Dr Rosenbach concludes: “By combining intelligent assistance systems with high-performance synchronous reluctance motors, Jungheinrich has made great strides in further optimising energy efficiency – putting us in great shape to meet the future challenges of Intralogistics 4.0.”

TNA assists snack manufacturer stay ahead

As a producer and co-packer of a variety of corn-based snacks, from tortilla chips to snacks mixes, popcorns and extruded snacks, Keystone Food Products depends on flexible, high-performance packaging solutions that can be easily integrated into its existing production line in the US. 

With a growing market requirement for smaller bag sizes, Keystone needed to expand its plant’s manufacturing capabilities while still maintaining profitability.

Flexible solutions for expanded capabilities

Keystone chose the tna robag FX 3ci for its facility, as its turnkey packaging system could be easily integrated with existing equipment. With performance improvements of up to 30% in both output and the reduction of rejects, the new packaging system has significantly increased the speed and precision of the entire production, helping Keystone to optimise performance while catering to the demand for smaller bags.

Allowing for any jaw configuration (single, flat, double or triple) or size, the tna robag FX 3ci offered Keystone the flexibility it needed for its range of packaging services, including its quattropack operations. Plus, the tna system does not require any mechanical adjustments when changing product or film — an important benefit for Keystone, which required a simple, yet efficient machine to facilitate the switch between different bag formats and products. Future performance increases can be realised by upgrading the jaw set-up, leaving Keystone prepared for the future.

Ensuring accuracy

Keystone is responsible for the packaging of both its own and other brands’ premium snacks. As such, the company needs a highly accurate weighing system to ensure that only the exact amount of product would be included in the bag. This avoids raw material waste and allows Keystone to produce an increased number of units from the same quantity of material.

The tna intelli-weigh omega 314 has proved to be an effective solution to Keystone’s challenges. By combining strain gauge load cells with digital filtering to virtually eliminate the influence of external vibration, the system allows for precision, high-speed weighing. As a result, discrepancies between bags are negligible. The modular design enables quick and easy troubleshooting and maintenance, and enhances product flow.

Improved product verification

Keystone also required a more automated verification system to enable it to maintain its quality standards.

Installation of the tna intelli-read 3 barcode scanner has enabled Keystone to maintain rapid packaging speeds while ensuring that its products are checked to the highest standards. The solution automatically scans the barcode on the film and crosschecks it to verify that the correct product is being processed. Mounted directly onto the film system of the tna robag, the tna intelli-read 3 scans the entire product’s width, making it virtually impossible to bypass as every barcode — regardless of where on the film it is printed — will be read. With the barcode scanning system in place, Keystone was able to speed up the bagging process, while being assured that only products at the right weight and with the correct packaging would leave the plant.

Maximising plant footprint

Keystone wanted a system that would increase its production capacity within the limited space that was available. Because the previous production set-up was fragmented, an important part of the installation process was to analyse the arrangement and provide more continuity in the way equipment was laid out.

Previously, each of Keystone’s machines had its own platform, occupying valuable floor space. By designing a single platform that would incorporate the three new packaging machines, tna was able to optimise the plant’s surface area, saving both time and space.

Another challenge was to adapt the layout to the plant’s low ceiling height. New machines were specifically tailored to meet space requirements and facilitate product transfer between different packaging stages. Before they could be packaged downstairs, light corn products were washed in the upstairs station. The lack of space, however, meant that conveyors could not be installed. The tna intelli air distribution system has a small footprint and gently transports bags and other lightweight packed products along a bed of air. It automatically discharges empty packets for optimal output and has flexible configuration plus several layout options.

The tna hyper-detect metal detector enabled Keystone to maximise the available floor space. Its design allows the metal detector to be positioned closer to the multihead weigher, reducing machine height and increasing the speed at which the bagger can produce finished bags. The system offers improved metal detection capabilities, while eliminating degradation in product transfer to ultimately deliver safe product throughout and minimise rejects. This provided Keystone with a stable operation for optimum sensitivity and consistent performance when inspecting products.

Spaghetti with benefits

A 'super spaghetti' has been developed by Spanish and Italian researchers containing more fibre and proteins that can help to reduce the risk of suffering from cardiovascular diseases.

According to results published in the Food Research International journal, new green technologies allow processors to obtain functional flours using the whole cereal grain, thus avoiding waste by products to be produced during the milling process.

Lead project Ana Maria Gomez Caravaca explains that the air classification process allows the division of milling by-products in two different fractions by means of a physical process that doesn't modify the properties of the obtained fractions.

"Comparing the obtained final product with the ones available at the market, we observed that our spaghetti was especially rich in betaglucans. The amount of betaglucans present in our functional spaghetti fulfilled the requirements of the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in order to be able to label it as a 'good source of fibre' and 'might lessen the risk of suffering cardiovascular diseases," Gomez Caravaca said.

The study results have demonstrated that the fraction used in the elaboration of spaghetti allows the enrichment of the final product in soluble fibre (betaglucans) as well as in catechin-derived antioxidant compounds.

 

Food Park set to open doors to Asia

A major food producing state in Australia is on the hunt for large-scale tenants to anchor a premium food hub and take its products to the world.

The South Australian Government will spend $7 million to attract anchor tenants to the Northern Adelaide Food Park, and to promote the use of renewable energy and energy storage solutions at the hub.

The 40ha food park will be built in the Parafield Airport precinct and will provide food manufacturers, food packaging specialists, cold-chain suppliers and transport companies with the opportunity to co-locate on the one site, with access to common infrastructure and services.

South Australia is renowned for world-class wine, seafood, fresh fruit and vegetables, meat products and grains. Its food and wine industries generated a record $18.2 billion in revenue in 2014-2015. Finished food and wine exports increased by 17 per cent in the past financial year.

The food hub site is located next to an airport and major road and rail freight routes.

Professor John Spoehr is director of Flinders University’s Australian Industrial Transformation Institute in Adelaide. He said there was exponential growth in demand for clean, green food, particularly in China.

“We’re wanting as much as possible to export not just the raw produce but also food that has a significant value-add associated with it, that’s where we can build a sustainable food industry and a manufacturing industry around a horticulture industry,” Prof Spoehr said.

“South Australia is respected as a place that is producing clean green food but the challenge is to scale up and improve quality and readiness for export in a way that also transforms the clean green food into manufactured food goods.”

Prof Spoehr said the government would be looking to secure an anchor company with “deep market connections into Asia and one that is also capable of working to the international food standards that are necessary to do that successfully”.

“The food industry is one of the brightest spots we’ve got for growth over the next two decades so we just have to get better organised and cluster together some of the companies that can really do it well to international standards,” he said.

Food SA Chief Executive Officer Catherine Sayer said the hub would encourage world’s best practice, collaboration and the opportunity to reduce manufacturing costs through new, efficient facilities and shared services.

“The South Australian food industry is very well networked and a hub, such as the Food Park, will continue to bring the industry together and will benefit those inside the precinct and other industry players who will want to use the facilities,” she said.

The $7 million government funding is part of a broader $24 million investment in new initiatives for northern Adelaide to drive economic and social transformation in the region ahead of the closure of General Motors Holden’s car manufacturing plant in 2017.

Other initiatives in the Northern Economic Plan include:

$10 million for a Small Business Development Fund for northern Adelaide, to help small businesses to grow and create sustainable jobs;

$4 million for a new Disability Employment Hub to train former automotive workers, upskill existing workers, and encourage university students to work in the disability sector; and,

$2 million to support an alliance of northern businesses to trial electric/diesel bus prototypes, manufactured in northern Adelaide.

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said Adelaide’s northern suburbs were dynamic and diverse and the investment would generate opportunities for the people who lived, worked, studied, and invested in the region.

“The plan identifies key industry sectors that could help to deliver a viable future for northern Adelaide and new careers for auto workers – agriculture, food and beverages; health, ageing and disability; construction and urban renewal; defence; tourism, recreation and culture; and mining equipment and technology services,” Weatherill said.

Printed with permission of https://www.theleadsouthaustralia.com.au/ 

Safe biscuit bulk handling

When an iconic Australian food company needed a new method of reliable, continuous supply of snack biscuits to its high-speed weighers and feeders for packaging, it sought the assistance of two Australian manufacturing companies, who are both leaders in their fields.

Victoria-based Kiel Industries collaborated with Pro Ali Design in Sydney on the project to design and build a new production line for the snack biscuit manufacturer. A project that illustrates the expertise and skill of the two companies.

From a modest beginning as a small, family-owned and operated company, Kiel Industries has grown into a prominent leader in the rotational moulding industry. 

Founded in 1989 by the Kiel family, the company now supplies the largest range of plastic pallets in the southern hemisphere and continues to dominate materials handling with innovative designs for pallets, bins, and ancillary products. 

Kiel utilises some of the most technically advanced moulding equipment in the world and over time, its custom moulding division has grown to be a prominent participant in the industry. Their equipment was specifically selected so that the company can offer economical short production runs, together with competitive pricing on high volume production. 

Pro Ali Design's dedication to quality, design and service, coupled with a commitment to continuous improvement and technological innovation, has made the company one of the most reputable and respected providers of conveying solutions for many of Australasia's leading food manufacturers.

A major requirement of the biscuit packaging line was to replace the existing bins and handling system with a line that used a cleaner, more versatile bin. Colin Kiel, Managing Director of Kiel Industries, said “For the production line, 'cleaner' meant that the bins had to empty completely with no residual biscuits being trapped by corners or edges.”

The biscuit production process involves several basic steps. Pastry is made and spread before the topping is added and then cut to shape and baked. Once through the ovens, the snack biscuits are   placed into the Kiel designed plastic storage and transport bins in large plastic bags. When the biscuits are ready for packing, the bins are moved and the biscuits decanted to portion pack sizes of 25g and 70g. Portion packs are retained in the Kiel bins until bin emptying is required to create multipacks on the packaging line. The portion packs are then boxed, ready to be sent out to supermarkets across the country.

The customer requirements were for 650 litre, food-grade polyethylene bins that were standard pallet-sized with smooth walls and easy to clean. The bins also needed the capability to be safely stacked up to eight high.

The biscuit manufacturer ensures the freshness of its product by insisting on a 14-day turnaround between baking and packaging. During this two-week period, approximately 1000 bins of snack biscuits are produced. To meet this demand and ensure there were always sufficient bins, Kiel Industries manufactured 1500 bins in total.

Kiel Industries tendered for the project but were only given four months to produce the minimum number of 800 bins. “This was a little tight because during our normal operational shifts, one mould can only produce 100 bins per month,” Kiel stated. “We had to maximise the efficiency and utilisation of the production line to make best use of the machines.”

Once the design of the bin had been confirmed, prototypes were sent to Pro Ali Design in Sydney for development of the automated tipping machinery that was to be part of the new production line. “It was interesting for a change for us to develop a bin and have the handling equipment built for it,” said Kiel. “Usually, a company designs and builds a processing plant and then asks us to give them a bin that fits their system.”

Pro Ali was selected because it specialises in the design and construction of state-of-the-art stainless steel conveying systems for the food industry, including customised package and box handling conveyor lines. In addition, all the company's equipment is manufactured to meet the appropriate Australian Standards, as well as AQIS, MAF or FDA 'clean design' specifications.

According to Jon Ball, Pro Ali's Business Development Manager, his company received a very specific brief from the biscuit manufacturer for the development of its new production line. The main requirement was to improve efficiencies and remove the need to manually load biscuits from different shaped bins.

The cubic-metre bins developed by Kiel Industries had to be robust to withstand being picked up and moved around in areas where there were multiple forklifts operating, so the Pro Ali design incorporated a heavy duty bin tipper. 

HD cameras improve safety and quality for processors of frozen fruits and vegetables

Frozen fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries, green peas, sweet corn or baby carrots, are a fast growing market segment in the food industry.

Not only do they meet the demand for food that is quick and easy to prepare, in or out of season, but they can even be nutritionally superior to retailed fresh produce, as they are harvested at their peak ripeness – when most nutritious – and frozen soon after, preserving their vitamins and antioxidants. 
 

Among the biggest safety concerns are foreign materials, such as small stones, pieces of wood and glass, or slivers of plastic. If contained within packaged frozen food products, they will pose health risks – including lacerations, choking or broken teeth. For food processors, they may result in expensive product recalls and damage to reputation.
 

Optical sorters with InGaAs cameras are highly effective in detecting and removing these objects. 

InGaAsHD high definition cameras are able to detect foreign materials down to half the size previously possible, resulting in substantially better detection and removal. 

InGaAsHD will be available in the SORTEX E product range and will enable processors of frozen fruits and vegetables to meet the highest safety requirements, while ensuring maximum quality of their product.

The new InGaAsHD cameras are now available for Bühler’s SORTEX E product line. Processors that are already operating SORTEX E optical sorters with enhanced InGaAs cameras will be offered an upgrade option, enabling them to benefit from the improved detection performance of the new HD cameras with their current solution.

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