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Steaming hot: How Heinz cut energy use

11 July 2012

Cutting energy is so crucially important to most food producers it’s no surprise Heinz is pleased the first steam generators it has used are cutting its energy consumption

Heinz, which has its headquarters in Hayes, Middlesex, employs about 2,500 people in the UK and Ireland. The Kitt Green factory, in Wigan, produces more than 1 billion cans per year of beans, soups and pasta meals and is Heinz's largest food factory in the world. The other factories include Kitt Green, Telford, Worcester, Westwick, Kendal and Dundalk, Ireland.

Its Dundalk plant is situated on the Irish Sea coastline, halfway between the large centres of Dublin in Ireland and Belfast in Northern Ireland, and is located about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from each.

The Dundalk factory made headlines when it was announced in The Argus last June that it could be one of two production plants in Europe to be closed by Heinz. At the time, there were about 300 people working in the Dundalk plant, which accounts for about 10% of the company's workforce in Ireland and Britain.

However, the plant is now in the headlines for all the right reasons, thanks to an energy saving initiative. Frozen ready meals primarily for the UK are made there, and the plant uses a lot of steam in the cooking process and to heat water for washdown.

A large old firetube boiler was what the plant had originally been using but, as part of an ongoing plan to improve energy efficiency across all operations including the steam boiler system, Heinz decided to switch to two Babcock Wanson ESM7000 sequence controlled steam generators complete with high efficiency economisers. All this was installed into a new custom-built boiler house.

So what did the ESM do that was so noteworthy? This coil-type steam generator is said to provide operating efficiencies of about 96-97% overall and low emissions. ‘’It utilises modern controls to maintain a close ratio between the burner firing rate and water input with inverter drive of the combustion air and feed water pumps,’’ says the company. ‘’This ensures close control of both steam output and steam quality and lowest practicable consumption of electrical power.’’

According to the company, Heinz’s Dundalk plant has already recently achieved certification under the Energy Agreements Programme (EAP) to IS393:2005. It now expects further efficiency improvements with the ESM steam generators in place. In addition, the ESM7000s will also better match the steam load than the previous system was able to accommodate.

Improved safety, simplicity of control, a compact size and quieter, cleaner and cooler operation are said to be further benefits of ESM steam generators.


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