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Hot water on demand for more efficient CIP

20 October 2018

Updating its hot water supply to enable more efficient cleaning for wash-down processes has resulted in Strathmore Foods gaining more benefits that it originally bargained for. Food Processing reports. 

In a world where efficiency is king, plant managers and operators are constantly looking to improve the energy efficiency of heat transfer and maximise savings – and Douglas Nisbet, operations director at Strathmore Foods, is no different. 

Strathmore Foods produces a wide range of chilled and frozen ready-meals and is renowned, in particular for its Macaroni Pie. The company predominantly uses hot water for wash-down and clean-in-place (CIP) processes. Nisbet explains: “Our site has expanded over the years but our existing hot water heating solution had remained the same. It came to our attention that we were struggling to deliver a suitable flow-rate and temperature, which was causing inefficiencies in the amount of time spent to clean everything effectively.

“We knew we had a problem but we didn’t know how to solve it, so we decided to conduct a plant audit to better understand the efficiency of our equipment,” said Nisbet.

Working with Spirax Sarco, Strathmore Foods set out to identify opportunities for improving process efficiency and energy savings. “We completed a ‘walk the plant’ to check the health of the steam and hot water system, including the associated equipment. This helped to identify areas that would improve our plant’s performance in terms of health and safety, process productivity and sustainability. The ultimate goal was to find ways to achieve savings in water, fuel, chemicals and CO2,” said Nisbet. 

Following the audit, the decision to upgrade the plant’s current steam/water mixing unit with a more suitable alternative – one that would not only improve efficiency, but reliability too. The original seven mixing units were replaced with a single, more compact packaged plate heat exchanger. “Following the survey, we were advised to upgrade our existing heating solution with an EasiHeat heat transfer solution that has the ability to deliver hot water instantaneously, enabling CIP and wash-down to be completed in a much more productive way,” said Nisbet.

Quality over quantity 
“Since installation of the new system maintenance time and costs have been cut dramatically, as has downtime. While the packaged plate heat exchanger certainly doesn’t eliminate the need for annual servicing, its requirements are much simpler to manage.

“Our new system is part of an existing service agreement we have with Spirax Sarco, which has made our annual servicing procedure a fairly effortless one. All of this helps us to keep the system running at optimum efficiency all year round, which is our main objective,” said Nisbet. 

Since updating its steam/water mixing units, Strathmore Foods has greater control of the amount of water it is using. “We’re already seeing improvements over our previous solution. What’s more, the new packaged plate heat exchanger unit generates increased volumes of hot water and provides the business with an opportunity for expansion when the time is right,” continued Nisbet. “We now have the ability to cope with high and low capacity and we can tailor the output we require on demand. Early in the planning stages we were simply looking at ways to improve our wash-down process, but we have gained more than we bargained for. Our primary aim was to improve process efficiency, and not only have we achieved that, but we’ve also secured a sustainable future for the business as this device will allow us room to grow.” 

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