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Forrester Chicken invests in new Wash-Saver plant

21 November 2014

Most large food processing and production sites have a centralised hygiene or sanitation cleaning system, many of which feature one or more high-pressure pumps feeding a distributed array of wash-down guns and lances.

Using high pressure water demonstrates advantages over chemical-based cleaning, not least of which are effective removal of deposits and simpler waste-water disposal. With many users moving to pressures below 60 bar, the objection against airborne aerosols has also been largely addressed. 

However, many such systems were installed at a time when excessive energy consumption was not even a consideration. The rotary pitot-tube type pump had its advocates but today is widely recognised as being very inefficient. Typically running at less than 40% mechanical efficiency even at its optimum operating point, this can drop even lower under part-loads. A further disadvantage is that these pumps have to be run at very high speeds (4,500 to 5,500 rpm) in order to achieve even 60 bar so cannot be slowed down by use of a VFD (Variable Frequency Drive) 'inverter', and also making them highly susceptible to lime scale build-up throwing the rotor out of balance. This in turn leads to early seal and bearing failure, requiring the pump to be removed from service and sent away to a specialist for what can be a lengthy and expensive repair.

Conversely, reciprocating positive-displacement pumps such as those manufactured and supplied by Cat Pumps have a long and respected reputation in food factory sanitation systems. Running at speeds of 1,000 rpm and slower, these pumps return consistent high pressure and typically 85% mechanical energy efficiency irrespective of operating speed. 

Forrester Chicken’s experience
One advocate of Cat Pumps is Forrester Chicken, based in Cheshire and described as 'one of the leading UK suppliers of raw, cooked and coated chicken products to both the retail and foodservice sectors.' Forresters have used Cat Pumps for many years, including a fixed-speed model 2530 plunger pump to power their factory hygiene wash-down lances.

Operations Director Angus Dilliway-Parry explains: "I've always been impressed with Cat Pumps reliability, ease of servicing and customer support. When we needed more cleaning capacity we had no hesitation in choosing their latest variable-speed technology with its promise of energy savings and improved reliability.”

He continues: "We installed a Cat Pumps Wash-Saver system based around the same pump model, which gives us the benefits of commonality of parts. The new pump came complete with the manufacturer's original-equipment valves and accessories already fitted, together with their automatic inverter control panel.The system has already been running over 1,000 hours and we haven't needed to touch anything since it was set up and commissioned by Cat Pumps."

Brian Hubbard, General Manager of Cat Pumps UK adds: "During the night shift the pump runs at variable speeds, continually matching its output to the number of guns Forresters' operators are using at any moment whilst maintaining the same high energy efficiency. During the day the pump mostly remains in its pre-programmed idle mode, consuming almost no power at all. However, it is pressurised and ready to re-start automatically as soon as the first wash-down gun is opened, then returns to idle when not required. It also has in-built protection against dry-running, minor and major leaks amongst other features.”

Angus continues: "I'm impressed how the Cat pump still generates the same high pressure even when running at the lowest speed. In the past we ran the old pump at full speed the whole time, just recirculating water and consuming power unnecessarily. As a result we also suffered short life of some associated components not supplied by Cat Pumps, such as the unloader valve. But the new pump only runs as and when required. Even ignoring the energy savings, the reduced wear and tear on the whole system is sure to result in longer service intervals. Then when the electricity bills come through the cost advantages are obvious."

"We still have the previous pump in place as a back-up but have never needed to use it. I'm sure we've made the right decision. VFD inverter drives make sense on many types of machinery and we are delighted with our new Cat Pumps system."


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