Central Coast

Food manufacturing to run on hydrogen in the Central Coast

Star Scientific, an Australian hydrogen R&D company, and Central Coast Industry Connect Limited (CCIC), a not-for-profit supporting the region’s manufacturing sector, have signed a MoU to pioneer the use of the former’s HERO technology and provide a carbon-free heat source for food manufacturing.  Read more

workforce management

The future of workforce management in food manufacturing

Food and Beverage Industry News speaks to Gideon Joseph, practice director and Nick Crawford, practice manager at Ultimate Kronos Group (UKG) about how purpose-built workforce management solutions can help food manufacturers to engage their employees, reduce labour costs, boost productivity and minimise compliance risk.  Read more

Bulla Dairy utilises Smart Badge technology

Following a successful trial period, Bulla Dairy Foods (Bulla), is the first food manufacturer and installer to roll out wearable contact tracing technology, Smart Badge, across its sites allowing the business to increase contact tracing efforts.

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HRS helps AD plant tap into additional heat from existing CHP

Operators of anaerobic digestion (AD) plants know how important it is to optimise energy use across all stages of the process. That is why many recapture as much heat as possible for reuse elsewhere, including from the hot exhaust gases generated by the combined heat and power (CHP) engines which turn the biogas from the AD plant into useful heat and electricity.
Heat exchangers used for exhaust gas heat recovery need to be particularly robust in order to cope with the physical and chemical stresses imposed on them from the exhaust gases which are both hot and corrosive. HRS Heat Exchangers were recently asked to install just such a unit.
An AD site, belonging to one of the leading waste management companies in the UK, transforms some 45,000 tonnes of food waste from domestic and commercial sources into renewable electricity and high value digestate biofertiliser. From the beginning the plant had been designed to be as efficient as possible and included exhaust gas heat recovery. However, when the original heat exchanger fitted to the exhaust system failed after just a few years of operation, the client approached HRS to provide a more robust and reliable replacement.
The ideal solution was an HRS G Series gas cooling heat exchanger: a complete stainless steel multi-tube heat exchanger specifically designed for exhaust gas cooling and thermal recovery. The hot exhaust gases flows through the interior tubes of the heat exchanger while the service fluid, in this case water, flows though the surrounding shell. The use of stainless steel is a key factor in the longevity of the G Series and rapid corrosion of the original carbon steel unit was one of the reasons for the original’s failure.
Other design features of the G Series also increase its operational life as Matt Hale, International Sales & Marketing Director at HRS Heat Exchangers, explains: “All HRS tubular heat exchangers include bellows in their design to allow for thermal expansion. The original heat exchanger we replaced was exposed to significant thermal stresses which contributed to its early failure.
“You also need to consider the condensation which can occur when the hot gas meets the tube plate and cooling begins. The resulting condensate is acidic and can be extremely corrosive, so the HRS G Series includes drains in the header to allow this condensate to be removed, as well as a hatch to allow for manual cleaning and inspection.”
As an operational plant, it was important to keep downtime at the plant to a minimum during the installation of the new unit. HRS manufactured the new heat exchanger to the same eternal dimensions and used the same connections as the original. This enabled a straightforward installation in just a few hours without any pipework modifications, with the installation being carried out just eight weeks after design approval.
In operation the new G Series heat exchanger cools the exhaust gas from ~530oC to ~320oC and the heat recaptured from the process is used in the AD facility and to provide hot water around the site. Since installation the HRS G Series heat exchanger has performed so well that HRS has been asked to quote for the replacement of another unit which is used to treat the digested sludge from the plant, with an HRS DTI Series unit.

Keeping cool at Godden Foods in Australia

The Godden Food Group is a family-owned and operated wholesale food distribution business located at Ormeau just north of Queensland’s Gold Coast. Godden Foods supplies a range of frozen, chilled, fresh and dry goods to restaurants, caterers and private homes throughout south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales.
In 2019, the lease on the company’s premises came to an end and Jeff Godden, the company’s owner, had to find new premises. Having secured a new home for the business, and also having built a 27,000m3 insulated store, he needed to fit it out with advanced refrigeration equipment, to provide separate rooms for -23°C frozen storage and a chilled area at 2°C-4°C.
The challenge
For Godden foods, the key requirements were to have a safe, cost-effective refrigeration system that would provide sustainable service well into the future. However, Jeff Godden also had another target in mind – he needed the whole project completed to allow him to be fully operational before his initial rent-free period expired.
The GEA solution
Scantec Refrigeration in Murarrie, Queensland is a refrigeration company with 25 years’ experience in supplying advanced industrial and commercial plants throughout the region. Stefan Jensen, one of the founders of the company, recommended Godden use a centralised low-charge ammonia refrigeration system with four GEA Grasso V300 reciprocating compressors. Although Jensen knew that this would not be the option with the lowest capital expenditure, he was certain that it was the best long-term system for his customer.
Read More: Confusion of soft plastic recycling
“I knew that this customer would be able to make huge savings on energy costs,” said Jensen. “But when you tell customers that they can reduce their energy usage by two-thirds, sometimes they don’t believe you. But I was able to present evidence from other projects, so the customer went for the idea.”
Jensen explained that the big benefit of a centralised low-charge ammonia refrigeration system is that it contains very little ammonia, around four to five times lower than a conventional liquid overfeed system.
The presence of high-density liquid refrigerant within the wet suction lines and risers is eliminated. Because pressure drops in wet suction lines are up to 60 times higher than in pure vapour lines, the system runs at lower refrigerant pipeline pressure drops, making it very energy efficient.
“This is where most of the energy saving comes from,” he said.
The GEA Grasso V300 compressors at the heart of the system were suitable for the job. Scantec chose the GEA machines, partly because they were available quickly, but mainly because of their inherent energy efficiency.
“The V300 is an excellent machine and, in my opinion, more efficient than anything else on the market,” said Jensen. “But it’s also one of the very few that does not require water cooling,” he said. “Water cooling typically adds at least $15,000 to the installation cost and is a drain on energy as the water has to be pumped around the system.”
Not requiring water cooling further reduces energy consumption and makes the installation “plug-and-play”, reducing the time involved and giving the company the flexibility to take the plant with them should they need to move again in the future.
The outcome
The new plant at Godden Foods was commissioned in May 2020, coinciding with the start of trading from the new premises. According to Jensen, its Specific Energy Consumption (SEC) is better than anything he’s seen on the market.
“With energy savings of around two-thirds compared with an industry-standard, air-cooled HFC-based system, Godden will get the whole cost of the new plant back in eight years well before the expiry of the 15 year lease period,” he explained. “But if you just consider the marginal additional cost, compared with a freon plant, the payback will be three to four years.”
Maintenance costs for the system will be in the region of two per cent of the initial capital cost annually, lower than equivalent freon systems.
It is also safe. The operating inventory within the freezer is only 1.5kg of ammonia so, even if there was a catastrophic leak, the concentration of ammonia within the refrigerated space would be only around 100 ppm. The IDLH (Immediate Danger to Life and Health) threshold is 300ppm as a comparison.
The result is a new refrigeration plant for Godden foods that is more energy efficient than an equivalent freon system, environmentally sustainable, safe, portable if necessary and, if correctly maintained, will provide 30-40 years of faithful service.
For more information on GEA products, click here.
 

Security and plant upgrades will drive the future of processing

Steven Sischy likes a challenge. The automation and drives business manager for APS Industrial joined the company three months ago with the brief to work together with one of its manufacturing partners – Siemens – to make them the leading automation brand in the country. Siemens already has a great reputation in Europe and Australia, but Sischy is keen to take them one step further.
“My aim is to increase Siemens market share in Australia. Currently, they don’t hold the position of number one. They are definitely a mainstream player in a lot of the sectors where they are active, but they don’t have the dominance they have in Europe.
“My challenge is to see how quickly we can get them up there with Europe and help local industry experience these world-class products and technology. In the short amount of time I’ve been with APS we’ve started to see some returns with having a big focus in particular areas.”
This includes the food and beverage market where over the past two years, the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Industry 4.0 have started to take hold in the processing and manufacturing of goods.
“We also see the packaging industry as a very big market within the Australian and New Zealand markets,” he said. “What we have seen, with COVID, is a lot of people are more interested in knowing where their food is coming from.”
And this is one core principles of how Siemens does business – helping make sure that the food supply is secure, especially when it comes to traceability.
“What is important is cyber security,” he said. “If you look at the food and beverage sector, you will see that Siemens has a cyber security policy within its entire range. When they talk about traceability – especially when you start looking into food and beverage, as well as pharmaceutical – you want to know who has actually put what ingredients where, but they want to now go down to even the operator who packed the product.
“This is part of Siemens core DNA. This technology is already in place and gives manufacturers the capability to say ‘I can show whatever is going into a product has been made with a particular recipe and we will track the entire process from start to finish. We will also note when an operator has changed anything, down to the time and date when it occurred.’”
But there is also a component of the security protocols that is sometimes not taken into consideration, especially when it comes to bespoke manufacturing processes.
“The other side, with the technology – is the intellectual property, which is a massive component,” said Sischy. “Cyber security – because the products are already in place – protects the companies that are investing in these technologies to make sure their knowhow does not fall into foreign hands or any of their competitors’ hands.
“Siemens cyber security is very robust. A lot of the exposure that Siemens has to essential services – whether it be water, wastewater, electricity generation, transport – needs to have robust communication protocols secured end-to-end, so nobody can get in there and potentially harm those processes in any way.”
Sischy said it is also critical to note that Siemens has got a cyber security team that constantly looks at any of these issues that may arise. In the event of a breach, or a potential attack, they can get in contact with the security division who will act on their behalf to ensure that the processes are still intact. Sischy said it is important to protect your assets and if a company already has the necessary security steps in place at a high level, it is easy to integrate these types of measures down to individual processes.
“When it comes to starting your digital journey, we have already got it down to the Siemens LOGO!, which is a very small micro-based controller for home automation, as well as small pump stations,” he said. “It has already got cloud connectivity, so you can put it to the local cloud, or you can send it something like mindsphere if you choose to do that. But the point is you do have that capability.
“Like AI, as well as vison-based systems, we’ll start seeing the evolution of what we call edge-based processors where you are going to have a fair amount of processing sitting very close to the action and then sending that information, or digitalised image, back to some central-based cloud solution, which will then give you the ability to interrogate the information even further.”
Digital twins are also part of the Siemens’ portfolio. Digital twins have come to the fore over the past 12 months, whereby it is possible to create a virtual twin of a physical item. This gives companies the ability to start developing a process, have a look at what they want to do with the process, how they want to improve it, and put in the diagnostics before they connect any physical device to the network.
“Also, through a process that we call Team Centre, you’ve got the ability to also then work out from a manufacturing side, ‘How do I increase the movability? Do I have the right product for the solution? How do I reduce costs and how do I improve the quality of the system?’” said Sischy.
The end game to all these processes is giving processors and manufacturers the ability to achieve the productivity outputs they want, and streamline global processes.
“If you look at it – it doesn’t matter where you look – where any food and beverage company have global location, how do we see whether or not a certain geographical area is more deficient or even profitable versus other areas?” said Sischy.
“What we find, if you have a progressive company, is that they are always looking to be at the forefront of their competitors, or always be ahead of their competitors, which means the uptake of technology is relatively easy. It is where you have companies that may not have the capacities internally, that it becomes more challenging. Sometimes in those instances it can sometimes be harder.”
He said that APS’s philosophy, and therefore something that they are also trying to bring with the Siemens’ suite of products – and Team Centre in particular – is trying to improve the overall quality but also try and lower costs.
“A big part of this going forward, in the Australian market, is to try and reduce your energy consumption and CO2 emissions,” said Sischy. “It is going to be a massive focus going forward, so we need to look at the end goal and determine the true cost of its implementation. With Team Centre, because of the development and also looking at efficiencies, you can also look at the process flows, and that improves it – the actual physical prototyping reduces the development costs and improves the quality.”
He said that Siemens and APS can provide a complete solution including all the Siemens componentry – the PLCs, the drives, the switchgear, the power supplies, the networking devices, as well as panels and cabling.
“Through the company’s system integration program, end users will have the ability to get an end-solution product for the customer,” said Sischy. “It is not only providing product with the inclusion of the APS system program, but it also gives the customer the ability to understand and deliver their needs.
“To make manufacturers locally more cost effective, they need to adopt these technologies. If they are going to try and do this with their standard ways – ‘this is how we have done it over the years etcetera’ – they might not succeed. They need to adapt to the latest technologies.”
Overall, Sischy is excited about the future of the APS/Siemens relationship. It has been a mutually beneficial relationship for both companies – and of course, Australian industry who is better placed than ever to access these products.

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