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'Secret recipe for efficient process'

02 March 2011

Unilever UK's search for a recipe for success to modernise its Marmite production plant in Burton found the right ingredient for an optimised, efficient process: an automation solution with the Siemens process control system - SIMATIC PCS 7

A benchmarking exercise demonstrated that the production process was in need of an upgrade to increase throughput and flexibility.

As well as improving the manufacturing process and tackling inefficiencies, Unilever UK also hoped that upgrading the production line would improve the sustainability of the manufacturing operations.

The manufacturing process of Marmite is a unique process. The raw material used is brewer’s yeast slurry. The yeast cell content is first separated and then concentrated in an evaporator before being transported into storage vessels. The mixture then undergoes further filtration and evaporation stages until the final product is ready for packaging.

Throughout the manufacturing process, one tank is being filled, whilst another is being emptied and a third is being cleaned, which has a ‘start-stop’ effect on production. This is further aggravated by the fact that the copper vessels, which are used to separate and evaporate the yeast mixture, have to be operated manually.

Marmite production is also affected by the seasonality of the raw material. As the raw material cannot be stored for long periods and has to be processed immediately, this results in peak and off-peak times in production throughout the year. This means that the production line has to be as flexible as possible to cope with the influx of yeast when it is available.

SIMATIC PCS 7 was the ideal choice for Unilever. With its open, modular architecture, it meets the high demands of the production process in terms of scalability and flexibility and enables a cost efficient plant operation.

PCS 7 system has revolutionised the production process and the company is now able to cope much better with the seasonality of product and the effect that has on manufacturing. The benefits in terms of plant efficiency were obvious early on and the system’s improved flexibility has greatly expanded the manufacturing capability.

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