Stainless Steel Solutions

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-By Robert Hoshowsky

In the food and beverage industries, it is crucial that all stages of the manufacturing process maintain a high degree of cleanliness to protect products from contamination. While many consumers will never see the inside of a processing plant, the stainless steel machinery used to cool, store, dispense, and handle food must still be designed and manufactured to exacting standards for the safety of food companies and customers alike.

Since it was founded in Victoria back in 1998, INOX Fabrications Australia Pty Ltd has earned a nation-wide reputation for designing, engineering and manufacturing custom-built stainless steel equipment for a wide number of processing industries. Serving the needs of clients both across Australia and internationally, INOX provides a range of high quality stainless steel products for a range of industries, including food processing, dairy and allied industries, beverages, and the pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturing sectors.

“All Equipment that INOX manufactures is custom designed and custom manufactured,” says Robert Becher, Managing Director at INOX Fabrications. “Nothing is off the shelf – everything needs to be engineered and is custom designed to suit each unique client requirement.” With years of experience in the food industry as an engineer and draftsman, Mr Becher was with the company when it started, working alongside David Nield, one of the original owners and highly regarded engineer in the industry. Mr Becher acquired INOX Robert Ham, another well known engineer in the food industry, in 2008. The company’s range of products – which includes stainless steel tanks, vessels, mixing tanks, silos, steam jacketed cooking kettles, cooling tunnels, Lagarde retorts and autoclaves, pressure vessels, ribbon blenders and augers – require INOX to be meet high standards for food and chemical processing, including processing in a corrosive and hazardous environment. Working for blue-chip clients like Nestlé, Kraft, Heinz, Simplot, and Lion Nathan National Foods to name a few, INOX is well-known for its quality work in many sectors. Although there are others in the field, INOX stands apart, owing to the company’s innovative engineering, design, and manufacturing capabilities.

“We compete in the market against a select few respectable competitors for simple stainless steel fabrication projects, however, we often find ourselves depended upon by our clients for stainless steel projects which require a degree of engineering that few can match in the marketplace. This puts INOX in a league of its own and our customers have confidence in our engineering and products,” says Mr Becher. “Our customers are aware of our engineering and design profile in the industry, hence they are forthcoming with their requirements.”

Design and Engineering Expertise

Since all INOX food, beverage, dairy, chemical and pharmaceutical vessels, tanks and other equipment is custom designed, many companies will approach the firm with a basic scope of what they need. With decades of experience, members of the INOX staff visit clients onsite to see locations firsthand, suggest alternatives to improve upon the client’s original idea, and use their engineering and fabrication backgrounds to come up with the best solution. This is especially important, as the company is creating purpose-built equipment that must meet demanding health and safety standards.

“The importance in what we do is the design, for a start,” comments Mr Becher. “Best practice sanitary design and manufacture of equipment is critical to any food manufacturing facility; even in chemical industry, the requirement is much of the same engineering and manufacturing techniques found in the food industry for equipment design and quality. Poorly manufactured equipment brings risk of bacteria contamination in the food industry, and cross contamination in the chemical industry can be dangerous.” With such critical health and safety requirements, every aspect of production has to be precise, from design to manufacture and polishing.

Benefits of ASSDA Accreditation

INOX Fabrications Australia Pty Ltd is an accredited member of The Australian Stainless Steel Development Association (ASSDA), which sets the company apart from many of its competitors. Established in 1992, ASSDA – which represents over 200 member companies including overseas mills, stock lists and distributors, fabricators, engineering consultants, end users and service providers – is a non-for-profit industry group that aims to increase the consumption of stainless steel in Australia and provides a technical base for fabricators and users of stainless steel. Along with promoting the use of stainless steel, ASSDA maintains an industry-based Accreditation Scheme which sets a benchmark for stainless steel fabricators to become recognised providers (ASSDA Accredited Fabricators) of a standardised level of quality.

The increasing demand for stainless steel in fabrication has seen more manufacturers move into the industry – often with insufficient skills and experience when it comes to handling the material. As many know, stainless steel is corrosion-resistant, unlike other metals, and must be handled and manufactured properly to maintain its integrity. As an ASSDA Accredited Fabricator, INOX conforms to stringent standards of competence, training and education, and personal and professional conduct, whilst adhering to a Code of Ethics and a Code of Practice, and committing itself to continuing competency development.

INOX Fabrications Australia is a dedicated stainless steel fabrication business. This is particularly important for clients to be aware of when specifying equipment for use in food, dairy, beverage and chemical industry. “Fabricators who produce equipment in both stainless steel and mild steel in the same factory run very high risks of mild steel contaminating the stainless steel equipment being manufactured – grinding dust and tools used on mild steel will contaminate the stainless steel equipment being manufactured. This is often only realised when the stainless steel equipment is first cleaned – usually by the client in their plant, and rust spots appear. INOX is dedicated to stainless steel and our customers need to feel safe that the equipment we are manufacturing for them is of the highest standard. The ASSDA accreditation scheme and logo which appears on our marketing tells the client that we manufacture to a standard that can be relied upon for dedication to stainless steel fabrication only.” says Mr Becher.

Products and Capabilities

INOX manufactures an outstanding range of products which are diverse, innovative and clever. The company product range can be simplified to: Tanks and silos, mixers, pressure vessels, ribbon blenders & augers, tumble drums, cooling tunnels, steam jacketed cooking kettles and its own highly regarded high shear mixing equipment known throughout Australia as the ‘Instantiser.’

“Our Instantiser – powder and liquid mixing equipment, for more than a decade now, has been proven and is installed in most of Australia’s high profile food and dairy sector. Our trial unit is always working somewhere in the country,” Mr Becher adds. “We have developed special Instantiser impellors with our customers during trials to achieve perfect mixing results which increase the customers yield, and quality of the yield.”

“We do not only make equipment for the food industry, we supply products to the client which helps them increase profits and increase their quality of the products they manufacture. Our Instantiser mixing system has achieved this in many cases,” says Mr Becher.

Walk into the factory at INOX and you could find any of these pieces of equipment being manufactured for the ‘who’s who’ of the Australian food industry. There is an air of passion and dedication with the company’s staff. The high quality tradesmen, most of whom have been with the company since its beginning are truly craftsmen in their field and there is a level of pride that each person contributes to the manufacture of the equipment.

With experience that few others can match, INOX is able to provide businesses with custom designed solutions for a wide range of processing equipment, with products expertly engineered using 304 s/s, 316 s/s, and SAF 2205 grade materials. All products are proudly made in Australia, and sourced from local stainless steel distributors. INOX products are made to meet the hygienic, sanitation and safety standards of their particular industry. Designs are optimised for ease of cleaning, maintenance, inspection, and maximised efficiency.

In some sectors, like Australia’s massive dairy industry, stainless steel equipment is used for hygiene and sanitation care of fresh dairy products, and all INOX products – including pneumatic cheese presses, cheese drain whey tables, stainless steel tanks, pressure vessels, cooking vessels, instantisers, and ribbon blenders – are precisely engineered to operate efficiently and effectively. Relevant products made for the food and beverage industries have cleaning in place (CIP) systems, and stainless steel cooking vessels and cooking kettles are designed for heating efficiently with even distribution, giving accurate temperature throughout the product. In other sectors, such as the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, products are engineered and tested for contaminant issues and are able to meet the demands placed upon them by hazardous and corrosive materials.

From food and beverage to chemical industries, all INOX products are designed by capable and experienced engineers using the latest 2D and 3D CAD drafting techniques for designing and manufacturing to exact client specifications. Products are made with quality finishes and have the smoothest internal surfaces possible for optimum performance. The company’s cooling tunnels use water spray or refrigerated air, and are available for cooling of plastic or glass containers or pouches. Over the years, the company has forged many successful relationships with customers both in Australia and internationally, and regularly provides stainless steel equipment to large food and beverage processing operations in Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines, and other countries.

INOX is the Australian and New Zealand agent for Lagarde Autoclaves and retorts, from France. This equipment is used for sterilising cans, bottles – glass or plastic, pouches, and trays. “We have retort installations across Australia at Simplot, MARS, Heinz, Campbells Soups, Golden Circle, SPC-Ardmona, just to name a few. Our partnership with Lagarde is a valuable addition to our product range. It fits very neatly into our scope of supply of equipment to the food industry,” says Mr Becher.

Lagarde retorts are energy efficient and highly effective with the use of a patented ‘steam-air’ system that is at the forefront of sterilisation technology around the world. With energy consumption being an important topic, the ‘steam-air’ system is proven to provide a lower carbon footprint per cycle and energy costs savings. “This is the Lagarde advantage that customers around the world realise as energy usage becomes more important than ever before. We are proud of our association with this equipment,” says Mr Becher.

“We have had recent success with a number of water spray and refrigerated air cooling tunnels, in fact five in the last two to three years. We take these projects from early development, trials, thermal analysis, through to mechanical and electrical design and manufacture of the final cooling tunnel project. These projects have now been installed in plants in Australia and Malaysia.”

Since INOX is well-known for the quality of its work, the company has received considerable word of mouth business, and has sold such diverse items as specialised rotary steam cookers for cooking rice in Phillipines, along with specialised milk-mixing equipment for Kraft in The Philippines, vessels for a company that produces patchouli oil in Indonesia, and a cooling tunnel to a company in Malaysia. “These companies have approached us directly. Since we’re strong in the engineering field, a lot of companies gravitate toward us. We are not just a fabrication company who relies on everybody else’s drawings to manufacture equipment, we are quite strong in the engineering field to begin with, so this enables these companies to come to INOX where we can provide a solution, the engineering, and the manufactured item successfully.”

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January 18, 2019, 3:26 AM AEDT