Stay up to date with Gold Peg

Catch up on the latest news

Gold Peg founder Robert Smith honoured with OAM

It is with great honour and immense pride that we share that our founder Robert Smith was awarded with an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in 2018.

Bob and Hon. Dessau

Robert Smith OAM, being congratulated by Governor, the Hon. Linda Dessau AC

What is the Order of Australia Medal?

The Order of Australia Medal was established in 1975 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

The Order of Australia Medal is the pre-eminent means by which Australia recognises the outstanding and meritorious service of its citizens.

Mr Smith’s Citation for the OAM honour was “For service to scientific research and development, and to the manufacturing sector”.

The OAM honour was awarded by the Governor-General of Australia under the authority of the Queen.

An Investiture ceremony took place on 5th September 2018 at the Victorian Government House by Governor, the Hon. Linda Dessau AC.

Mr Robert Smith OAM has since received acknowledgements and congratulations from near and far as this award has become known. Besides the Australian Governor General, the Australian Prime Minister’s office and the Victorian State Premier are just some of the dignitaries and colleagues and friends who have conveyed their acknowledgement and approval.

“I was quite surprised when I learnt of the OAM citation. Now it has sunk in, I am humbled that my work has been recognised and honoured in this way as it all came from natural passion to improve processes and technology that crossed my path,” said Mr Smith on his OAM citation.

Bob and family in grounds of Government House

Robert Smith OAM with his family at Government House, Melbourne, Victoria

Robert Smith’s success in the food technology and manufacturing sector

Over a lifetime of working in and with the food industry Mr Smith has made a significant impact that has reached around the world.

Significant sections of the global food manufacturing industry have been transformed through his invention and commercialisation of the RotaTherm® steam fusion technology.

This system is the world’s most technologically advanced continuous food cooking and processing system that in turn has provided daily safe and lower cost food to untold millions of people.

Mr Smith’s advanced systems are used around the world by leading companies in many countries including Japan, USA, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Morocco, Korea, Philippines, UK, Ireland, Indonesia, New Zealand, Jamaica, China, India, Denmark and Saudi Arabia.

Bob Smith’s childhood played a role in his future career!

Mr Smith was born in Newcastle NSW in 1939, the youngest of four children.

His creativity, ingenuity and drive were passed down to him from his own inventive father, an engineer who served in WWII and who was recognised for his assistance to the war effort by inventing portable airstrips used in island hopping operations and other special devices for use in operating and maintaining RAAF aircraft.  

Mr Smith commenced work with The Hunter Valley Co-op Dairy Company and subsequently completed tertiary studies as a Dairy Technologist.

His commercial industry career then saw him working with Nestle on the mid-north coast of NSW, as Factory Chemist and Laboratory Manager and later Production Management positions there and in Dennington, Victoria.

Mr Smith then moved to Melbourne as Factory Manager of ACMAL (which later became Bonlac).

Bob Smith and family 1970s

Robert Smith with his wife and 3 daughters in the 1970's

It was during his time as Manager here that he saw the significant drawbacks of batch cooking and introduced continuous cooking based on the old scraped surface heat exchanger technology, which in turn brought different problems in their use.

He then became General Manager of Operations and later General Manager of Technical Services for Murray Goulburn Co-op (MG), which was Australia’s largest dairy company.  

At both ACMAL and MG, Mr Smith observed the significant problems of both the batch and SSHE technology for cooking products. This prompted him to say that there had to be a better way to do this cooking process.

Eventually this led to the development of the RotaTherm® steam fusion technology system which was a huge leap forward and has since revolutionised this industry.

Besides Mr Smith’s own creativity and ingenuity, he operated to a large extent based on achieving results as much by perspiration as inspiration.

This combined with his strong science base, practical application and dedication brought about the world leading RotaTherm® and associated systems and the world-renowned Gold Peg International Company we see today.

The invention of the RotaTherm® continuous cooking system

After observing first-hand the significant drawbacks of existing cooking technology available to the food processing industry Mr Smith’s brain starting ticking.

He took up the challenge to solve the many issues he had encountered.

Just some of these issues included:

  • Large deposits of product burn-on to hot surfaces in these indirect heated systems
  • Short run times
  • Flavour and texture impairment
  • Inconsistent product
  • Poor utilisation of functional components of the formulae giving reduced yields
  • Excessive cleaning to remove the burn-on which in turn gave more adverse environmental discharges
  • Density changes affecting things like fill weight accuracy
  • Low productivity
  • High maintenance costs
  • High labour content particularly with batch systems
  • High operating costs

To resolve these various processing problems, Mr Smith set about conducting experiments in using direct steam heating energy fused and mixed with the product so that the issues of heat exchange and subsequent burn-on was solved.

This was the primary objective to start with, but over the years of research and development and practical usage all the other issues were also resolved as well.

In 1982, Mr Smith headed to the family garage / engineering workshop and started creating the first prototype. It took about three years of design and development before it was ready to be tested!

The subsequent RotaTherm® technology relies heavily on physics and product technology principles and he ended up with a continuous processing cell with every variable of the process being able to be independently controlled and adjusted.

A significant achievement in resolving all the problems noted with the older batch and previous continuous technologies.

Bob Smith in factory with early RotaTherm

Robert “Bob“ Smith onsite with one of the early RotaTherm® cookers

First tests and subsequent commercialisation

One of the earliest commercial tests of Mr Smith’s invention occurred at a Murray Goulburn process cheese factory in Cobram, a small country town in Australia that sits on the border of Victoria and New South Wales.

The prototype’s product testing was a success so much so that Murray-Goulburn then purchased the first purpose built commercial RotaTherm® system; 33 years later, they still use the RotaTherm® technology to this day!

The RotaTherm® success soon had others like Bonlac and Fonterra New Zealand acquiring systems followed by other manufacturers in many countries all around the world.

The home-built prototype used in this test now sits proudly in the foyer of Gold Peg International to remind us of the development work and humble beginnings of what has turned out to be an outstanding, exciting adventure and success.

Forms and scope of the RotaTherm® system

The RotaTherm® system is used to continuously heat many pumpable products.

It has found usage in heating, pasteurising, UHT and aseptic formats.

A rather unique feature is that the continuous cooking process can be speed modulated and often even paused without loss of product which allows production to keep pace with a subsequent filling system.  

A further development is the GPiCS system that uses many of the steam fusion technology principles to cook and stretch Mozzarella/Pasta Filata.

This is achieved without the old hot water bath cooker stretchers and the large losses, and huge costs and environmental issues that they generate with handling the subsequent waste stream.

The Gold Peg system solves most of these issues. Gold Peg has been awarded a USA Patent on this process conceived and developed by Mr Smith and the Gold Peg team.

This new technology is now finding commercial usage in numerous countries besides Australia.

Bob Smith and RotaTherm on show in 90s

Bob showing the RotaTherm® at an American trade show in the 1990's

The impact of RotaTherm® on the global food manufacturing industry

Gold Peg’s RotaTherm® system, combined with its supplementary ancillary equipment helps food manufacturers all over the world to:

  • Increase productivity by up to 30%
  • Reduce direct material costs by up to 10%
  • Decrease labour and maintenance costs by up to 30%

The RotaTherm® and Gold Peg have been recognised in the industry through various awards including:

  • 2003 Governor of Victoria Export Awards, presented by then Governor John Landy, recognised Gold Peg’s export achievements
  • Business of the Year award in 2008, presented by the Melbourne Business Awards, commended Gold Peg’s contribution to market expansion, innovation, commitment to quality, and export success
  • Gold Peg and the RotaTherm® was included in a list of 50 of Australia’s leading innovations in the food and agribusiness industry as judged by a panel of experts from industry, academia and research and development. This was in a recent 2016 publication entitled Celebrating Innovation in Australian Food and Agribusiness.

Robert “Bob” Smith’s retirement

Even at retirement, Mr Smith remains humble about his achievements.

A respected man within both the local and global community, he is lauded for his unique technology that helps many manufacturers around the world create better quality product while improving productivity, efficiency, and consistency.

Many millions of people worldwide benefit from high quality, safe and low-cost food provided via this unique system.

This is a noble, significant and worthwhile achievement that has benefited both business and society. Gold Peg International has been the vehicle to successfully take this new technology to the world.

Bob Smith and family at Government House

Robert Smith OAM with his wife Ann after the investiture ceremony

The entire Gold Peg team are immensely proud to carry on the work Mr Smith invented, and importantly, to be a part of a team committed to helping clients all over the world improve their manufacturing processes.

It is a great honour that Mr Robert Murray Smith OAM was recognised by his country for his life’s work and achievements.

And the story continues

Gold Peg currently has around 50 employees, of 18 different nationalities, and they all say “Thanks, Bob!”

Award and Gold Peg team

The happy Gold Peg team showing appreciation for Bob!

If you’d like to learn more about Robert Smith’s RotaTherm®, follow the links below:

June 4th, 2019|