ABM Advisor: The ABM Blog.
Category - Manufacturers

  • Sep 6 2018

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    Managing stock: How Australian food waste is being developed into pharmaceuticals

    Stock levels, pricing, tracking and movement can be challenging to organise in any industry. Managing stock in order to limit waste is a key part of business strategy, and is a key purpose of our stock control solution, which comes as standard with our business management software.Food waste in particular has been a hot topic of discussion, with countries such as France passing laws to ensure supermarkets do not dispose of food unnecessarily and Australian brand Woolworths committing to reducing its landfill-destined food waste to zero by 2020.But it now looks like there could be a different approach to a solution. The newly formed Agricultural Product Development Research Consortium, hosted at the University of Adelaide, aims to revolutionise the way farmer waste is disposed of, by using it to create high-value pharmaceutical products.What is the new consortium intending to do?The broad aim of the consortium is to utilise the crop waste from Australian farmers to create useful products, rather than have it disposed of. The science behind it is that food products contain compounds and molecules that, when extracted, have the potential to become new and useful products.In order to implement the solution, the research is focusing on finding similar compounds and molecules across a range of food waste products so that they can be extracted on a mass scale, making the process cost-effective. It's possible that this new technology could not only reduce what is considered waste and the associated disposal costs in some instances, but could actually help keep grower businesses financially sustainable by reducing margins.  

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  • Aug 14 2018

    The business benefits of time management software

    When it comes to keeping a business on track, time management software cannot be overlooked. Time is money, and if you're not recording it properly you won't be able to pay employees their due nor will you be able to invoice your customers properly.On top of the regular timesheet features in the base accounting software, ABM has the option for an additional jobs and timesheeting module. What benefits can it add to your business?1. You can track jobs more efficientlyKeeping on top of costs requires you know exactly what's going into a product in terms of both materials and labour. If you're not tracking time carefully, it can be easy to misunderstand what a product actually cost you to make, and therefore what you need to charge for it in order to profit. Job tracking also helps you learn how long jobs take, and gives you the opportunity to look for points in the production that can be improved.

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  • Jul 22 2018

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    What do the new food labelling laws mean for manufacturers?

    As of July 1 when new regulations came in, all food sold in Australian retail stores must be labelled with its country of origin. For two years the labels were optional but they're now mandatory - and many Australian food manufacturers are pleased with the change.What does the new law specify and why is the change beneficial for Australian food manufacturers?What do the new food labelling laws specify?The law applies to most of the food sold retail in packages, as well as unpackaged seafood, certain meats, fruit and vegetables, herbs and spices, as well as fresh fruit and vegetables in transparent packaging. It does not apply to unpackaged food like sandwiches or baked goods, products that are only exported, and food sold in restaurants or canteens.

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  • Jun 29 2018

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    How to export food to China

    Food manufacturers in Australia have a huge market to exploit domestically, but the the international market provides near limitless opportunities for growth. A popular destination for Australian food these days is China - we're their sixth largest food supplier according the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade), shipping $5.3 billion worth of edible goods to their shores in 2016.Here's what you need to now to start exporting food to China.      What makes China a good option for food exporters?China is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. A burgeoning middle class means there are always new people who're ready to try interesting food products from around the world. The country is second in the world behind the United States for total food imports, Austrade reports, with the total value exceeding $160 billion in 2016.Already this year we've seen reports about Daigou, the Chinese practice of buying products on behalf of someone else, being incredibly popular. ABC News spoke to a Sydney mother that buys groceries to ship to customers in China, who told them, "Australia's organic food is very famous in China" - it seems there's far greater demand for Australian food products in China than there is supply.

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  • May 22 2018

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    Should you join Australia's growing organics market?

    The organic food market in Australia is currently in the midst of a boom. According to the recently released Australian Organic Market Report 2018, the total value of the market sits somewhere around $2.4 billion dollars. The same report states one in six Australian households has purchased organic products in the last year.With ABM's manufacturing module, making the shift into new market segments is manageable. But what are organics and is adding them to your product portfolio a good idea?What is 'organic' in Australia?While the common meaning of organic is to be produced without the benefits of artificial chemicals, there are specific criteria products must meet  to be certified organic.There are six separate organisations in Australia that can certify goods as organic - products need to meet at least one of these party's criteria before they can be sold as organic.For food products to be certified organic in Australia, they have to meet a number of criteria.A fast growing marketThe organics market is growing at a rapid pace. Compared with 2016, an additional 384,000 households purchased organic products in 2017 and the market grew by 13.6 per cent overall, according to the Australian Organic Market Report 2018Andrew Monk, the chair of Australia Organic said that the millennial generation was driving the majority of the demand."Millennials know more, they demand more and they expect more," he recently told the AAP.For them, the increased price is justified for the peace of mind eating organic products brings. Fortunately for organic food manufacturers, millennials are only growing as a proportion of the food buying market. Currently, cost is the greatest barrier to people buying organic, according to the Organic Market Report. As the purchasing power of millennials increases, those who want to buy organic but currently can't afford to will begin to enter this premium market.How can you expand into organics?There are some hoops to jump through but if you can find a niche that's profitable it may well be worth doing entering the organics sector. Organic products often retail for a far greater price than their non-organic counterparts. Providing you can find a manufacturing process and suppliers that keep your costs low enough, organic products command a premium that others can't. In an era of $1 supermarket milk, going organic is one of the few surefire ways to both command a higher price for your product and still have a customer base willing to make the purchases.For more information on how ABM's software can take your food manufacturing operation to the next level, request a no-obligation product demo today.

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  • May 9 2018

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    Innovation in the Australian food manufacturing industry

    The Australian food manufacturing industry is a place where innovation thrives. It's a sector that's often under pressure due to slim margins, high inputs and fierce competition.It's also an industry that faces many troubles, one of the most significant being the massive amount of food that's wasted both pre and post consumer. Here we take a look at the efforts of one company, Freeze Dry Industries, to minimise food waste and increase revenues for food manufacturers.Food waste in AustraliaAustralia has a food waste problem. That's not quite fair - the world has a food waste problem, in which Australia plays its part. Approximately a third of the food produced worldwide each year for human consumption is wasted, according to the United Nations. In absolute terms, that's some 1.3 billion tonnes being lost or destroyed every year.A great deal of food is wasted before it even hits supermarket shelves because it's too ugly. A series run by ABC called "War on Waste" revealed, for example, that banana farmers are sometimes forced to throw away 40 per cent of their crop yield because the bananas don't fit the standards that supermarkets and other retailers set. 

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  • May 1 2018

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    How to expand your food manufacturing business

    In times when business confidence is high, the natural inclination is to expand. But while expansion can be rewarding for those who succeed, it can wreak havoc on businesses should they fail.So, how can you expand your business without running the risk of ruin?Manufacturers in Australia have high business confidenceThe Sensis Business Index for March 2018 has revealed that manufacturers in the Australian economy are the most confident about their businesses they've ever been in the last ten yearsScores are calculated by subtracting the percentage of business that are worried about their business future from the percentage that are confident about it. The manufacturing industry got a score of +55, the highest Sensis has recorded since beginning in 2008. A further insight speaks volumes about the great position manufacturers feel themselves to be in - only once before in the last decade has manufacturing confidence been higher than business confidence overall.The reason for the confidence is multifaceted, but it's due in part to the profitability manufacturing experienced in the last quarter - the best performing sector by some margin.What is the result of all this confidence? For many food manufacturers, it will manifest itself in the desire to expand operations. When you're feeling optimistic about the future of your business, it makes perfect sense to try and grow.Food manufacturers are feeling confident about their business futures. What's next?The dangers of business expansionMany businesses, for example, can have issues with cash flow.It should be made clear at the outset - business expansion is a good thing. It's what's needed to continue making profits and reaching more customers with great products. But it's also something that shouldn't approached recklessly.Many businesses, for example, can have issues with cash flow. They take loans to finance their expansion and subsequently find their stocks of available cash for operating has been absorbed by debt servicing. Another example is staffing issues. A small business can be managed effectively by one person that knows everybody's name and works with them closely. But as you get bigger and bigger, this direct-contact approach becomes less and less tenable. Businesses that don't have systems in place to automate aspects of production or standardise management techniques can get into hot water when one person can no longer keep things under control.How can ABM help?Successful expansion requires a lot of things to work in concert, including the software you choose base your business operations on. For this, ABM is king. Our software works by starting at the core with a solid accounting system. To this, further modules can be added, including our manufacturing module. It manages and controls every step of the manufacturing chain, aiming to give you quality, efficient and productive results. When you can trust that the fundamentals are handled right, successful expansion becomes that much easier to manage.For more information on how ABM can help you expand your food manufacturing business, get in touch with a member of the team today.

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  • Apr 30 2018

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    3 tips for better food inventory management

    This too is a feature of ABM's manufacturing module. A visual presentation of your production schedules and capacity loads lets you plan efficient production runs. The integrated power of ABM means these schedules can be sent and linked to other aspects of the production chain.Getting your inventory under control is easy when you have the right software. For more information on what ABM can do for your business, get in touch today.

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  • Apr 23 2018

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    How to build a resilient manufacturing company

    The manufacturing industry in Australia is particularly volatile, according to "Building Resilience in Australian Manufacturing", a report released by the non-profit industry body, the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC). When our economy is booming, the average output of the industry grows by 20 per cent but shrinks by the same proportion during downturns.Such volatility can be stressful for firms looking to keep a steady ship and not go under when times get tough. So with that in mind, what can you do to make your manufacturing business more resilient?Volatility and Australian manufacturingAs stated above, the volatility in the manufacturing industry is quite aggressive. The report explains that it fluctuates with an amplitude greater than many other countries round the world - the figure for the UK is 14 per cent and is 10 per cent in the US. It's argued that this is due in part to two factors:Terms of trade volatility - Australia is a relatively small economy, whose currency is heavily traded and whose exports are influenced strongly by commodity price fluctuations.Geographic isolation - being far away from other markets means changes in shipping costs are magnified.Such dramatic changes in output can have devastating effects on manufacturing businesses. Many are vulnerable to changes in customer numbers that at first glance would seem fairly insignificant. But for 30 per cent of firms, losing one customer would result in moderate to significant negative effects on their business, and 10 per cent would be forced to shut down entirely. Needless to say, operating on such a knife edge is about as far from resilient as a business could be.Manufacturing output in Australia is subject to dramatic volatility.How do you become a more resilient manufacturer?Becoming more resilient is key for businesses if they wish to stay afloat during economic downturns. But what exactly is meant by the word resilient? The report defines a firm as resilient if their earnings growth is higher than the average of their industry in a downturn. In other words, resilient firms are the ones that are able to continue trading and prosper in all economic conditions.Manufacturers that exemplify this characteristic have three traits in common:1. SuperiorityFirms with superior products are resilient because the value they create isn't affected by the economic conditions. Often this can come down to a product or service having few or no substitutes, which means demand is unaffected by downturns. Having a superior product gives manufacturers a strong competitive advantage.Key to developing superior products is investing in research and development (R & D). The report states that 60 per cent of resilient firms invested heavily in R & D in the boom times before downturns, so when the tides turned, they were able to innovate and keep ahead of the competition.Another is to compete on value - superior products are often more expensive. If you can sell a product that provides better value, you're less likely to be affected by things like exchange rate fluctuations.2. DiversityFirms with diversity in their product mix and geographic export markets are resilient because they've spread their risk. While economy-wide downturns are always possible, having your business spread across multiple sectors means a greater chance one or more of the sectors you serve will be financially healthy.Diversity doesn't necessarily require a number of different final products. Manufacturers should, alongside selling their own assembled products, take opportunities to be part of supply chains for other firms if they have the capacity. Should your product's industry begin to wane, you can continue to remain buoyant by selling intermediary pieces to other firms. Often this can be to firms in other countries - if you aren't exporting...

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  • Apr 2 2018

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    How is machine learning changing manufacturing?

    Machine learning techniques have the capability to revolutionise manufacturing in the years to come. As the techniques become more advanced, their capacities will improve and their price of implementation will drop.Any effective manufacturing management solution in the 21st century needs to take advantage of the latest technology. So, how is manufacturing being changed by machine learning and other AI technologies?The state of the market todayMachine learning is still in its infancy, having burst onto the scene in 2012 and grown steadily since. Trendforce predicts the market for 'smart manufacturing solutions' will grow to nearly AUD $420 billion by 2020.How is machine learning changing manufacturing?Machine learning, however difficult to develop, is fairly easy to explain. Instead of programming computers in a linear fashion with a set of rules that guide its operation, machine learning algorithms learn from data that they're fed, without being told exactly what to do.A commonly application of machine learning, for example, is in computer vision or perception. As Michael Mendelson of the NVIDIA Deep Learning Institute told Redshift, "without flexible algorithms, computers can only do what we tell them. Many tasks, especially those involving perception, can't be translated into rule-based instructions. In a manufacturing context, some of the more immediately interesting applications will involve perception." Elements such as quality control, where a product needs to be checked for defects, may well become the common providence of machine learning algorithms in the future.Although the future is where we'll likely see machine learning applied more often, some companies are already employing it extensively. Siemens is a conglomerate that's been using machine learning techniques to monitor their factories for several years now. GE is another company that heavily utilises machine learning. Their system "Predix" takes the data generated from its factories and uses its deep learning capacities to spot potential issues and provide solutions.What's stopping more companies adopting machine learning techniques?A study by Infosys asked manufacturers what the hurdles were in their drive towards digital transformation. They cited a lack of:Data-led insights on demand (67 per cent),Collaboration among teams (51 per cent),Time (40 per cent).When asked specifically what stood in the way of adopting more AI-supported elements as part of their digital transformation strategies, they said they lacked:In-house knowledge and skills around the technology (58 per cent),Clarity around the AI value proposition (57 per cent),Financial resources (54 per cent).While it's clear machine learning has a lot of potential in the manufacturing space, there are still many hurdles standing in the way of companies adopting it. For more information on how Advanced Business Manager's software solutions can take your manufacturing operation to the next level, contact us today.

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