Food and beverage companies are not the only ones under pressure to innovate. Service providers are also reinventing their offerings for the manufacturing industry to gain an edge in a competitive market. Here are three examples.

Solar as a service

Origin Energy has launched a new service that allows companies to enjoy the benefits of low-cost solar energy without having to make the capital investment in a solar system.

Called Solar as a Service, it is designed for businesses that want the benefits of a solar system without having to pay for or maintain it.

According to Origin, Townsville Engineering, which recently installed an 80kW solar system using the service, has found it will save up to an estimated $150,000 on its electricity over its 10-year agreement.

Origin Energy said its own research shows that businesses in the manufacturing industry highlight energy costs as the second highest burden that their businesses face, second to raw material costs.

And while solar has long been an option for manufacturing business to help reduce their energy costs, until now the costs of installing a large enough system to meet their energy needs has been too high for most.

“Origin’s Solar as a Service provides business with a simple way to save money on their energy bills by providing them with access to low cost solar energy at a lower price than they are presently paying for their grid energy,” the company's general manager of solar and emerging business Phil Mackey said.

“Plus the business does not have to pay for the system or worry about ongoing maintenance as Origin owns the system and looks after all this. This option is ideal for companies with unshaded roof space, who plan to be in their premises for the long term and operate during the day.”

“We know from customers that being more environmentally friendly is of concern, especially those who use a lot of energy or operate on 24/7 basis. So offering Solar as a Service is enabling companies to cross two things off their list: saving energy bill costs and doing their bit for the environment,” he says.

"The service is something that adds great benefit to not only a company's cash flow but also to their green credentials too. And, at the end of the day, it gives companies a solution for some of their biggest and ongoing considerations."

Under Solar as a Service, businesses can keep the same solar electricity rate for up to 15 years, protecting them against any possible future electricity price hikes, or they can choose a CPI indexed rate.

Online ordering

Ordmentum, a B2B ordering platform for food and beverage in Australia, has clocked up 3,000 users – including Lion, Toby’s Estate, Nudie, Brewtown Newton and Luxe cafes – according to its co-founders, Andrew Low and Adam Theobald.

Low has a background coffee, and Theobald came from the app development world, and together they created Ordmentum to help simplify the supplier and retailer relationship, saving both parties a considerable amount of time.

The pair are also behind the successful Hey You (formerly Beat the Q) ordering app.

The Ordmentum web-based platform allows retailers, cafes and bars to place their orders in the one place at the one time, and enables suppliers to receive recurring orders and automated payment, saving business owner of hours of invoice work.

Retailers can also set up reminders to manage their ordering times.

It also helps to eliminate order and payment chasing for suppliers, allowing them to spend more time on account management and business growth, according to its creators, and the automatic payment system also ensures quicker cashflow.

ERP on tap

ERP software company Syspro recently headed to FoodTech to spruik, among other things, its mobile application Espresso.

The company, which was one of the first ERP software companies to create an ERP mobile solution, recently upgraded the app to supports multiple mobile devices as well as the desktop.

The architecture now enables full customisation by the user to adjust how the user interface behaves, and also by the developer through the use of components to add functionality in the back-end on the server.

“Our new mobile solution, Syspro Espresso, will give customers access to all their business information as easily as if it were at their desk, and will work on any popular mobile device, including the desktop,” the company says.

“With the increasing trend towards mobility, ERP customers should be able to implement the software without having to consider a preferred phone or tablet device.”

Packaging News

Health and the environment are converging as top concerns for consumers, with almost 60 per cent of consumers believing their health and well-being are strongly affected by environmental problems, according to a new study from Tetra Pak.

The Australian Institute of Packaging has had another successful year of its annual Foodbank Hamper Packing Day, packing 10,000 hampers for those in need and raising a million dollars in donations and funds.

Marian O'Leary of Melbourne-based packaging company RollsPack has been named Young Achiever 2019 at the Mebourne Business Awards – South East Region.