Our R&D Programs

Our R&D Programs

Foodmach’s mission is to put managers behind the wheel of the fastest, most powerful production line possible.

Our mission drives our innovation, and everything we design is intended to fulfil that aim.

Through a continual process of R&D, we design and manufacture an award-winning in-house range of technology from our 5,500m2 factory in Echuca.

Here’s a snapshot of some notable projects:

Line MES

The culmination of decades of design, development and refinement, Foodmach's Line MES (Manufacturing Execution System) overcomes the difficulty of machine-to-machine interfacing and communication on bespoke production lines.

The ultimate integration tool

LMES is also the ultimate line control experience and is integral to Foodmach’s Industry 4.0 offer.

LMES extracts comprehensive data from across the entire packaging line and makes it accessible on a single screen, enabling one-touch product scheduling and changeovers.

It acts as a master controller of all the equipment on the line, adjusting speeds and settings automatically for each new product.

LMES takes OEE to a new level and is a complete game-changer for the packaging industry.

Essential for sustainable packaging lines

Using Line MES with FM Link, production managers can change the product on a line at the push of a button, which automatically adjusts the control settings and production data on everything from depalletising, conveying, filling, inspection, coding, labelling, case packing, traceability and palletising to stretch wrapping, robotics and AGVs.

Time savings on some changeovers can amount to hours per shift.

LMES provides a consistent, intuitive user interface for all equipment on a line and seamless interfacing between the machines themselves in a scalable, economical, reliable and maintainable way, across machines from different manufacturers and even on different PLC platforms

It is flexible enough to be implemented as a stand-alone factory floor controller or integrated with any ERP system and is completely customisable.

Used by the biggest names in the business

Notable LMES installations include Dulux Merrifield, Treasury Wine Estates in Barossa Valley and natural beauty business BWX Ltd in Melbourne. It is currently being installed at what will be the southern hemisphere’s most complex filling line to date: Pernod Ricard Winemakers’ new combination glass and canning line in SA.

Kevin Worrell, Project Director of DuluxGroup’s Industry 4.0 Merrifield factory: 'We looked overseas, but we couldn’t come up with the solution in the market for what Foodmach has given us.’

So good, it won an innovation award.

Read more

FM Link

Our latest release is this comprehensive, dynamic software system that monitors, tracks, documents, and controls the process of manufactured goods.

It acts as a digital bridge between the manufacturer’s admin and the factory floor, connecting the Enterprise Resource Planning systems (ERP) and our advanced manufacturing control system, Line MES.

FM Link creates a single source of truth, enables truly paperless manufacturing and gives decision-makers the data they need to make the plant floor more efficient and optimise production.

Through recipe management and a neural network of sensors, FM Link provides the information for Line MES to deliver the right product into the right package, with the right coding and labelling, 100% of the time. It enables fully digitised, paperless manufacturing, which eliminates human error.

Pernod Ricard Wines and BWX Ltd use FM Link for advanced line control, comprehensive OEE, and advanced recipe management for their highly flexible, highly efficient operations. Recipe management enables them to run hundreds of SKUs, sometimes concurrently, with minimal wastage of time, energy, material and human resources.

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Line as a Machine

LaaM is a completely new concept for Industry 4.0 packaging lines.

It's a system-based approach to the factory floor, with the entire production line treated as a single production cell.

In much the same way as a car is a collection of OEM parts, Foodmach delivers the entire line as one high-performance vehicle with guaranteed performance.

Central to Line as a Machine, is our ultimate line control system, Line MES.

When we deliver LaaM, you and your operators will enjoy ‘driving’ a fast line with a single controls dashboard, accurate and seamless information and very high reliability, only having to deal with a single supplier for everything from start to finish.

We, as the line integrator, take complete responsibility for the delivery and continuing function of an optimised line.

We believe that LaaM is the future of FMCG manufacturing. 

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Wraparound Case Packing

Reimagined for complete flexibility

Adjustments to case packers to accommodate new pack sizes can be a costly exercise, in both time and technical assistance.

Our team took its combined 100+ years of case packing experience and our customer’s case packing pain points and went back to the drawing board to redesign the wraparound case packer from the ground up.

The result is a Wraparound Packer that offers tool-free pack sizes changes in <10mins, by a single operator.

It runs a wide range of case sizes at up to 30 cases/min, is specifically designed for hygiene in quality stainless steel with nowhere for spilled product to accumulate, and is technically different from anything on the market. 

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Robomatrix® is an award-winning, high-speed palletising system incorporating the robotic pattern forming and proprietary software, Robowizard®.

Our revolutionary solution was developed in response to an industry-wide need for increased flexibility to handle the introduction of new and future complex packaging configurations. 

One of the biggest reasons for production downtime on a packaging line is changeovers. Pack sizes are diminishing, there are more SKU's (individual products) than ever before and an increased need for pallets of different sizes in complex configurations.

In addition, there is less in-house support than ever before, as cost pressures take their toll on businesses. The need for efficiency during product size changeovers is paramount.

The Solution

At its inception in 2007, Robomatrix was one of the first (if not the first) palletisers to use an industrial robot for pattern forming.

Robomatrix has evolved over the years for increasingly faster speeds and incredible accuracy. Its ability to gently handle packs in excess of ten layers per minute—with absolute precision and reliability of layer patterns—eliminates unwanted pack turning or layer pattern problems common with conventional palletising systems.

Its built-in world-first pallet-forming software, Robowizard®, is so intuitive a child could use it to set new pallet patterns—no programmer required.

Instead of spending 3-4 days developing software to change a pallet pattern or add a different SKU with uploading, testing and commissioning, operators can do it themselves in minutes through a simple drag and drop interface.

Using Robowizard® can be compared to playing Tetris, a tile-matching puzzle game, with cartons and pallets on an HMI screen. It's easy and intuitive for operators, with no outside help required.

It took our European competitors a decade to catch up, but Robomatrix is, to this day, the gold standard in palletising.

See Robomatrix

Robomatrix® Dual Infeed is the latest generation of our high-speed palletising system.

Already nominated for an industry award, it enables FMCG manufacturers to palletise smaller formats at high speed, something previously only offered by larger European suppliers. 

Local beverage manufacturers have traditionally palletised their product in large formats: 24 and 30 packs, which may only require ten cases to be manipulated per layer on a pallet. However, they increasingly need to palletise more cases of smaller pack sizes on each pallet layer.

Cases are fed in two parallel lanes to two industrial robots (which work across both lanes) to optimise bringing the groups of cases onto the pattern-forming area much closer together (almost simultaneously), which in turn allows us to form the pattern at a faster rate.

See Robomatrix Dual Infeed

Project Med-Con

When COVID-19 reached our shores in March 2020, Australia found itself without masks to protect frontline workers.

Med-Con, a small PPE business near Shepparton, was Australia's only surgical mask manufacturer.

Tasked by Government to immediately increase production from two to 50 million masks per annum, they urgently needed more mask machines.

The challenge

Under a federal government initiative, several advanced engineering-to-order firms were assessed for competency. Foodmach was appointed to re-engineer Australia's only mask machine IP from an existing 40-year-old machine into three modern versions—in just 60 days, without any plans or drawings.

The Australian Defence Force assisted by pulling apart and 3D-modelling one of Med-Con's old moth-balled machines. However, the models still needed to be design-detailed on a part-by-part basis, materials identified, and checks made that they’d assemble correctly. There were significant knowledge gaps around material specifications and tolerances that needed resolving. In addition, the old design had to be updated to current safety, controls and interfacing standards.

Project Med-Con took a whole-of-company effort to beat the 60-day deadline and the order was revised to seven machines. It took 15,000 staff hours with 8,800 hours of overtime from a team that poured its collective heart and soul into making the impossible possible.

The result

The resulting mask machine is a 21st Century Supercar to its 80’s Holden Kingswood predecessor—though just as iconic and reliable—and streaks ahead of the overseas competition, despite their claims on speed and quality.

Using genuine brand name components, it is fully automatic and requires minimal maintenance or adjustments. The original design has been updated to the highest international electrical, mechanical, controls and safety standards. Requiring only one operator, it makes 4-layer, Level 3 (highest-grade) tie-style surgical masks at adjustable speeds of up to 44 masks per minute, controllable by remote.

The process was documented daily and shared on a blog, which went global and created a following.

Within 120 days, Project Med-Con was complete. It has since won awards.

See the project

Ongoing R&D

Research and Development is built into our business model.

Each project we undertake requires a level of customisation and problem-solving that effectively embeds our mechanical, electrical and software engineers in a continuous process of R&D.

Our teams are trained to see potential problems, collect data, design or substantially re-design products, validate their designs, continually revise and test them and debrief on the conclusion of each project to incorporate learnings into future projects. We collaborate with external experts as required.

We also collaborate with science partners.

For example, we’re currently engaged with LaTrobe University on a project to develop and manufacture a 3D printed part to integrate into our conveying system.

The aim is to replace an assembly normally crafted from stainless steel, allowing for a quicker, cheaper and more repeatable solution for our customers.

We value design thinking and creativity in our business because that's where innovation germinates.

And we always begin with the user. 

Foodmach offers the perfect blend of machinery design, manufacturing, controls, service and safety expertise combined with a comprehensive range of smart systems, agencies and partners to provide as much or as little as is required.

The aim is to make it simple for our customers to undergo their digital transformation through one, accountable supplier.

Foodmach is so committed to this end, we’ve introduced a new concept in packaging: Line as a Machine (LaaM), where we deliver a turnkey packaging line as a single, Industry 4.0-enabled machine with ongoing performance warranty.

It’s both our promise and our guarantee that Foodmach is the fastest way to take control of your packaging line.

Just ask us

'Foodmach faced the challenge to design a palletising system based on Robomatrix technology to handle up to eight product lines. The final solution gives us greater capacity in the same floor plan, reduces maintenance and operational complexity and provides the flexibility of programming new pallet patterns very easily.'

Project Engineer, Cadbury