Dec 14, 2017 - Rubicon's proposal to sell a 45 percent stake in local Clearwood manufacturing business falls within the independent adviser's valuation range. The forestry biotech's shareholders will vote on the transaction at a special meeting in Christchurch on Jan. 12 on whether to approve the sale of its interest in Tenon Clearwood Ltd Partnership for US$14.2 million, which is the cost of its investment in the company in April, plus its share of the reduction in the company's net debt since then. That is estimated to be worth a combined US$15.3 million. The buyers include affiliates of Rubicon's two biggest shareholders, Knott Partners and Libra Fund LP.
Rubicon's independent directors have recommended investors take the deal, with Steve Kasnet saying the deal fell within Grant Samuel's independent valuation range of the stake, the exit would provide funds to make two looming payments on its ArborGen business, and simplify the company's structure providing the opportunity to cut costs.
"We believe that these three factors – the removal of any overhang in the stock price relating to uncertainty as to the funding source of the deferred ArborGen acquisition and subordinated debt payments, simplifying Rubicon to be a pure-play on the ArborGen business, and the achievement of cost savings, will all be beneficial to building positive momentum in the RBC share price," Kasnet said in a letter to shareholders. "The sale will then make Rubicon a ‘pure-play’ for investors on the ArborGen business upside, and with Rubicon’s financials moving forward then only being ArborGen-based, investors will have greater transparency of ArborGen’s financial results."
Grant Samuel valued Clearwood at between US$51.3 million and US$61.5 million, with Rubicon's stake worth between US$13.6 million and US$18.2 million.
"In Grant Samuel’s opinion, based on the analysis of the merits outlined above, the terms of the proposed transaction are fair and reasonable to the shareholders of Rubicon not associated with Knott and Libra," the report said.
If the deal doesn't go ahead, Grant Samuel anticipates Clearwood will need more capital to reduce its level of debt.
Grant Samuel has valued the business twice in the past 12 months in relation to the sale of former NZX-listed Tenon's business sales. The most recent of those was earlier this year, ending an 18-month process run by an investment bank.
Kasnet said because the offer was the same price as the earlier transaction, the independent directors chose not to run another sales process as there was no benefit to shareholders.
Rubicon shares were unchanged at 19.5 cents, and have dropped 11 percent so far this year.
Dec 11, 2017 _ The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment says there are no grounds to impose provisional measures to protect steel products makers while it investigates claims subsidised Chinese rivals are damaging the local industry. In August, MBIE launched an investigation into steel reinforcing bar and coil (rebar) from the China after Pacific Steel NZ claimed government-subsidised rebar imports from China are causing material injury to Pacific Steel through price undercutting, price depression and price suppression. Pacific Steel is the sole producer of rebar in New Zealand and is a wholly owned subsidiary of New Zealand Steel Holdings whose parent company is ASX-listed BlueScope Steel.
Dec 7, 2017 - Synlait Milk (NZX: SML; ASX: SM1) has today officially opened its new Wetmix kitchen, which will enable it to simultaneously run both large-scale infant formula spray dryers. This will double the amount of infant formula powder which can be produced at the Dunsandel site, from 40,000 metric tonnes (MT) to 80,000 MT per year.
“We were at the point where our current Wetmix facility was at capacity, and our consumer demand was continuing to grow. Building this new Wetmix kitchen will relieve that pressure,” says John Penno, Managing Director and CEO.
Synlait has invested $37 million in the new Wetmix kitchen, which is at the core of the production process.
It’s where the dry ingredients (such as dairy proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals) are mixed into the liquid milk. That mixture is then sent to the dryer, where it is dried into infant formula base powder.
Mixing the dry ingredients into the liquid milk before drying ensures a superior blend quality.
The project has been in planning since December 2015 and contractors began work on site in February 2017. At times there were up to 125 contractors on site per day, but the construction of the Wetmix kitchen did not disrupt the activities of other areas on site.
“We’re really happy with how the build went,” says Mr Penno “it was a smooth process which was completed on time and within budget, without the need to alter our day-to-day operations.”
Designed with staff in mind, some manual steps (e.g. lifting and tipping large bags of ingredients) have been reduced with the help of automation. This creates a safer environment and provides operational efficiencies.
“It was really important for us to make this new facility as user-friendly as possible. We want our employees to be safe at work, and to work under the best possible conditions,” he says.
Nov 30, 2017 - It’s encouraging to see an increasing level of automation application and acceptance among manufacturers of all sizes, from small subcontract shops to large OEMs. Competitive pressures, demands from customers, the skills gap, Industry 4.0 and more are among the drivers of this phenomena. Like all evolutions in manufacturing protocols and best practices, there are pauses and plateaus along the path towards optimal efficiency. Sometimes it’s waiting for one aspect of the overall system to catch up with another.
For example a cutting tool advancement can spur a subsequent new capability in CNC programming software. At times two technology advancements may be developed concurrently. Then a period of increased productivity might be followed by several years of the new status quo until the inspiration for the next innovation sparks and becomes a viable solution.
I’m sensing that we in manufacturing are in the midst of rising off of a plateau. For about 25 years now, we’ve embraced and configured our shops and factories into the cellular approach to part production. Pallet changers and work handling robots are fairly common at this point. Still, many of the secondary operations such as deburring and part washing are conducted outside of the cell, sometimes in another part of the shop altogether. Companies markedly ahead of the trend or with significant resources may have incorporated these kinds of functions into their cells within the last five to 10 years. But now, even many smaller shops are adding them, or at the very least inquiring about how to integrate all the secondary operations into a single cell and fully complete a process within it. That’s a positive turn. Yet there’s still more that can be done.
With the advent of shop-floor CMMs, probing and other metrology tools, the automation loop is closing even further for automation adopters. Particularly with the CMM in the configuration, dimensional workpiece data can be fed back to the machine tool control while the part is being cut. Should the data ping that the part is trending towards an out-of-tolerance condition, the signal is sent to the machine tool control, which makes the correct toolpath offset on the fly. Likewise, cutting tool life can be monitored and cutting parameters can be modified automatically in a similar fashion, accommodating the change in the edge or insert condition. When part deburring and washing are integrated into the cell, and fully automated, the part may, on occaston, go back into the machine tool if it makes sense in the process or part design to perform certain operations after a round of deburring.
Many shop owners and operators are concerned about the level of difficulty to bring more automation into their workspace. Is it hard to figure all this out? It can be a challenge, however that’s where your automation provider partner can help break down the goal into manageable tasks and possibly accomplish it in phases with a modular, scalable system. The software that ties it all together is open and scalable, too, and I’ve written about the software aspects in previous columns in Manufacturing Engineering.
Flexibility is the way to go, so that the investment evolves as needs change and unfold. Automating a manufacturing process is similar to other job functions at a company—matching pieces of information, gathering the tools required to do the job, and connecting all the dots. It’s more tedious than difficult, but once the system is fully functioning and the company is enjoying the benefits of improved part accuracy, optimal spindle uptime, and smart labor allocation it’s worth the initial effort. Evolving from there, with a smart initial plan, gets easier.
The time is now to go beyond the pallet changer-based cell. Keep adding functionality to it along with feedback data and automatic offset capability. Close that loop and, as the kids would say, drop the mic, because while you may not be finished with your factory automation goals, you will enjoy many advantages at this stage.
| An AdvancedManufactuirng release || November 30, 2017 |||
Nov 30, 2017 - (BusinessDesk) - BioNona, which markets skin treatment creams developed by biochemist and chief executive Iona Weir, says it has gained US Food and Drug Administration approval for its Atopis eczema cream treatment, giving it access to a market worth as much as US$6 billion.
It marks the first such FDA approval for a New Zealand-developed over-the-counter (OTC) pharmaceutical skincare cream and is a culmination of more than 30 years of research and pharmaceutical development by Auckland scientist Weir, whose other projects have included the kiwifruit-based Phloe laxative product produced by Vital Foods Processors, where Weir was chief scientific officer until 2014.
Weir said the US market for OTC eczema creams amounts to about US$2 billion, or one-third of the total market. BioNona plans to sell online via Amazon on its eczema treatments page which only allows FDA-approved products. She said in the US about 50 percent of OTC sales now occur online through approved USFDA outlets such as Amazon.
"I suspect it will be our biggest product, though consumers use the eczema cream and then buy the other products," she said. "So it is more of a lead product that draws consumers in."
The Atopis eczema cream is already for sale but to date has been marketed as Dry Itchy Skin Relief Cream. The FDA approval means they can be re-branded as an eczema treatment. BioNona plans to seek FDA approval for its acne-prone skin care next, Weir said.
According to BioNona's website, Atopis contains myriphytase, a patented novel compound "developed for use in the treatment of eczema, psoriasis and acne." Myriphytaseis is created through a patented process called Peptilization, which "fuses together plant, bacterial and insect components."
The work grew out of Weir's Ph.D. in 1997 on programmed cell death in plants known as apoptosis. Her research showed apoptosis in plants was reversible, unlike in animals, and she was able to extract "critical reactions" in plants that could be put in a cream as a topical application for skin conditions in humans, such as eczema and acne. The extract encourages the body's immune response to attack affected areas and repair damaged cells, she told the International Conference on Clinical and Experimental Dermatology in Chicago last year.
The acne cream also contains the myriphytase extract "but it has gone through a different enzymatic fermentation reaction so that it has the bioactive properties required to treat acne," she said today.
Weir has a holding of about 33 percent in Decima Health, which owns the patents and did the research. Decima, in turn, owns 75 percent of BioNona, which was set up to handle manufacturing and distribution.
The company's chair is Paul Dallimore, who also owns about a third of Decima and was the original angel investor in the business, having been given a sample of the cream by Weir which he tried on a grandchild. Dallimore was the founder of National Property Trust and is chair of the Highgate Group.
Weir said the company hopes to have the eczema cream on sale to US consumers from the start of February next year.
Weir won an international award for her original Ph.D. and was able to continue her research with a grant from the Marsden Fund. A grant from Callaghan Innovation helped fund the double blind placebo controlled clinical trial completed by Southern Clinical Trials Group at the end of 2015.
(BusinessDesk receives funding to help cover the commercialisation of innovation from Callaghan Innovation.)
Nov 30, 2017 - In a manufacturing plant at Dongguan, a nondescript town about an hour outside the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, a robot arrives to collect the latest box of Huawei smartphones rolling off a production line writes Mark Jennings for Newsroom.
Stand in the robot’s path and it politely tells you (in Mandarin) to move aside. The robots are busy here – this plant produces 1.3 million smartphones a month; some will likely end up in New Zealand.
Huawei sold 139 million phones last year and ranks third behind Samsung and Apple.
Robots are steadily replacing people in Huawei’s Chinese plants.
“They are more efficient and the quality is better," New Zealand journalists being shown through the plant were told.
According to Huawei, only three phones out of every million fail the rigorous quality control tests.
Humans still have a role - there are 28 of them on each Huawei production line, mainly putting cameras into the phones and testing functionality - but their days are numbered.
Word is that the nearby Foxconn plants (which make smartphones for Apple and Samsung) have 250 people on each production line.
“That’s because people are still cheaper (than the sophisticated robots) for now.”
But, it is clear from the smile on our guide’s face that Huawei doesn’t think the cost difference will last much longer.
Nov 28, 2017 -TBWA Group division Eleven PR has been appointed to launch the iconic Krispy Kreme doughnut brand in New Zealand. The expected opening of Krispy Kreme’s retail and manufacturing plant in Manukau is due in early 2018 and construction of its retail store and manufacturing facility is already underway.
Sydney-based Krispy Kreme chief executive Andrew McGuigan says he is excited by the venture and the company’s entry into New Zealand. “It’s a fantastic brand and one that has been around for 80 years.
“Krispy Kreme will be one of the many Transtasman brands we manage with Eleven PR Australia.”
“It’s an icon that’s already strong globally and we believe there’s huge opportunity for Krispy Kreme to become a Kiwi favourite.”
Eleven MD Angelina Farry said, ‘We are excited to be working with the Krispy Kreme team to bring this iconic brand to New Zealand. It’s a unique brand built on both community and fun.
“Krispy Kreme will be one of the many Transtasman brands we manage with Eleven PR Australia.
“More and more we are finding marketing teams with brands based in both Australia and NZ benefit from the streamlined, Disruption Live approach our model provides.”
Nov 27, 2017 - When China's Haier bought Fisher and Paykel Appliances in 2012, Rod Oram worried the New Zealand company would shrivel and die. Five years on, Rod reports the New Zealand operation is actually thriving under Haier's ownership. A space half the size of a rugby pitch in East Tamaki tells you a lot about the history and future of Fisher & Paykel Appliances.
Built 20 years ago, the cavernous building on its Auckland site first housed electronics manufacturing for its healthcare division. Back then, that was the height of product and technology sophistication for the company.
In 2001, healthcare was spun off as a separate, and highly successful company. Meanwhile Appliances took a big strategic gamble of its own. Seeking to turn itself into a global maker and seller of kitchen appliances, it bought or built plants in Mexico, the US, Thailand and Italy.
But the strategy was still far from paying off when the Global Financial Crisis hit, saddling F&P Appliances with half a billion dollars of bank debt it couldn’t refinance. Teetering on the edge of collapse, it was rescued by Haier, the Chinese appliance maker, taking a minority stake in 2009. Three years later, Haier bought full control.
Today, the cavernous space is F&P’s sleek global design centre for refrigerators, laundry appliances and kitchen exhaust hoods. Adjacent areas in the same building house its testing facilities for prototypes and production models made overseas, and its global customer service and support centre, staffed 24 hours a day.
Down in Dunedin in the Wall Street Mall on Castle Street, a space almost as large houses F&P’s global design centre for cookers and dishwashers.
Nov 24, 2017 - Fanuc America has demonstrated a new automotive spot welding robot at the recent Fabtech event. The new seven-axis R-1000iA/120F-7B’s design is based on the R-1000iA robot series. It has a payload of 120 kg and a maximum reach of 2,230 mm. The additional axis allows the robot’s J2 arm to fold into itself, making it shorter and able to operate in very tight workspaces, says Fanuc.
At the FabTech event, the R-1000iA/120F-7B was equipped with integrated Fanuc Servo Gun Control, the Fanuc primary wrist and Solution Arm for spot welding dress out, and a servo weld gun, which performs a spot welding operation on an automotive body side.
The robot highlights Fanuc’s 4D graphics, and uses Dual Check Safety Speed and Position Check software to limit the robot’s envelope within the compact workspace.
Also featured were Fanuc’s latest R-30iB Plus controller with an intuitive iPendant for easy setup and operation.
Tim Holcomb, product manager, Fanuc America, says: “The articulation in the J2 arm now enables the robot to be placed closer to the operating point in a welding application without losing any reach.
“Since the robot can also work overhead and from behind its back, it has an amazingly large work area despite its compact design.”
In addition to spot welding, R-1000iA/120F-7B is designed for other applications including compact palletizing, machine load/unload and other operations with space constraints.
Some of the features of R-1000iA/120F-7B include:
Seven-axis articulation for maximum flexibility to reach multiple areas within a work cell, even very tight spaces.
Best-in-class motion performance provides maximum productivity.
High-speed operation minimizes robot cycle times.
Simple serial-link configuration with large operating envelope (including rear and downward side).
Upright or invert mounting accommodates a wide range of work areas.
Substantial wrist load ratings support the latest compact servo weld guns. IP67 rated wrist allows operation in wet conditions.
Handles 120kg applications.
Optional Solution Arm dressout package with internal cable routing for spot welding processes.
The latest R-30iB Plus controller features an intuitive iPendant with enhanced screen resolution and more processing capability compared to previous versions.
Fanuc says this offers a variety of intelligent functions including iRVision, Force Sensing, RoboGuide, ZDT and DCS.