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Chilled out energy saving pumps

14 May 2023

Arla Foods has embarked on a journey towards its 2050 target for carbon net zero emissions. The first step is to lowering carbon emissions by 63% at 60 dairies worldwide by 2030 to meet its efficiency targets.

Arla’s 2050 carbon neutral ambition is not itemised in detailed plans, as this is not possible while much of the enabling technology is still evolving. 

“Therefore, our immediate focus is on efficiency targets based on quantifiable data and known costs. That is why we can set precise 2030 efficiency targets of a 63 % reduction in emissions at 60 facilities worldwide and the goal of 100 % electricity from renewable sources by 2025. We have concrete plans for how to achieve these targets,” said Mia Bredal, Director Supply chain sustainability PMO at Arla Foods.

“Our Westbury facility has proven to be a great place to start with the drive towards our 2030 efficiency targets, which is part of implementing our global sustainability agenda,” ‘explained Mia. 

The Westbury site manufactures a range of butter products. It was built in 2002 as a balancing plant for the UK, run by a group of farmer cooperatives before Arla Foods took over in 2016. A balancing plant turns surplus milk and cream into long shelf-life products.

The site has pumps installed for chilled and iced water applications, process water feed and steam boiler feed. Towards the end of 2020, Westbury contacted Grundfos to help optimise its chilled and ice water applications.

The first contact with Grundfos was about some drives and a water loop on some air handlers. Then after that it started looking at where it could save Arla energy. And the focus was first on the chilled water pumps.

Savings achieved
Based on proven and validated energy measurements, Grundfos has helped the site to achieve savings of 481,800 kWh energy and 194 tons CO2 per year for its ice and chilled water systems, with a return on investment (ROI) of less than two years, for the supply and installation of intelligent pumps.

For chilled and ice water, the two banks of pumps in the refrigeration plant are critical for many applications around the factory – for example, for processes such as post pasteurisation and product handling. 

The original pumps used in the installation had effectively been working for 20 years since the factory was built, were direct online and weren't mechanically sealed. This provided challenges, both in terms of frequent service and ease of maintenance.

“When we get a maintenance project where we're upgrading or installing a new piece of equipment, one of the things that we always check is what's the best practice for that in terms of energy consumption. So, we find out we can make energy savings, and this is where Grundfos comes in,” explained George Nicholls, Project Manager at Arla Foods with primary responsibility to look after CAPEX processes and help facilitate and manage some of those projects through to completion.

When Grundfos first visited, its engineers toured the site and discussed possibilities for improvements with Arla. The chilled water pumps were chosen as the first to be monitored. Grundfos performed energy assessments (Energy Check Advanced) to find the actual energy consumption in the system, which involved the placing of sensors in the system to get real data from the existing setup.

“Grundfos brought all its own equipment. It was all clamp meters that just plugged into a power supply with a modem and a SIM card. And it required no effort on our part at all,” said Andy.

The measurements quickly showed that the design parameters for existing pumps were far out of their design curves, and inefficient. The result was a detailed report that showed how optimisation and downsizing of the existing system would generate energy savings and process improvements through better control and operational modes.

The decision to act was straightforward for Arla Foods. Capital costs and future running costs against the existing running costs were presented in a form where the Westbury team could quickly see that the payback time for any investment was within the limits set by Arla Foods.

“From the point of view of picking up a report, reading it and understanding the benefits, it was quite easy to take a decision with those payback periods on different fronts. It was a pretty easy decision for us!” concluded George.

The Grundfos team advised on the selection of intelligent pumps and controls and delivered a turnkey end-to-end system for chilled and ice water, including installation, piping and commissioning, and validation of savings. Three old 55kW pumps were replaced with three new 37kW pumps including frequency converters. In the ice water system, the three old 22kW pumps were replaced by three new 7.5kW pumps with built-in frequency converters.

Critical timelines
Because of the critical production timelines at the dairy, a lot of preparation was required for the installation process. A requirement was that all three pumps in each bank were online, even though one of the pumps was standby. The Westbury site does not experience many shutdown days, and, for the dairy, a shutdown day is 12 hours rather than a full day. Staggering the installation was not a possibility, as they couldn’t be without one pump of the three, for reasons of reliability.

The new pumps with frequency converters – external and built-in respectively – were up and running within the 12-hour window.

“The new pumps are a much better design,” said Andy. “Even though they still use the modulating valve, we now have pressure control behind it. Now, the pumps sequence themselves and control to set points that we can alter. We also have more monitoring capability now and we can see the power consumption of the pumps locally.

“Another benefit is that the plant room is easier to maintain. The floor is generally completely dry. We don't have water spillages, and there's a lot less manual handling. 

Arla Westbury also now requires fewer stock items onsite, reducing costs further. For example, just two different mechanical seals need to be stocked for the pumps, if required.

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