Sensors monitoring flow velocity and temperature of mediums at critical locations in a major dairy processing plant provided vital energy consumption data and cost savings.
Arla Foods produces 20,000 tonnes of cottage cheese every year, equivalent to 76.9 tons per day satisfying most of the demand for the Swedish market, as well as exporting to Finland, Denmark and Greece. Hygiene standards are critical, developing, implementing and sustaining the most resource efficient processes, is essential.
Production system manager at Arla’s Falkenberg plant Mattias Abrahamsson said, “In recent years we have placed an increasingly strong focus on monitoring the energy consumption of our plants. However, in certain areas we simply didn’t know where exactly the energy was being used.”
“FlexFlow®, the calorimetric flow sensor supplied by Baumer helped us achieve the breakthrough. We installed these sensors at the neuralgic points in our cooling and heating system and used the measurement results to obtain for the first time a clear picture of the energy consumption.”
Cooling and heating were the tricky points in energy consumption. Arla uses the low external temperatures of the Swedish climate to achieve a cooling temperature of 0.5ºC for the cooling circuit, which cools the produced cheese from 60ºC down to 30ºC. However, energy losses that Arla had been unable to locate occurred too.
Martin Leuplod, Product Manager for Process Sensors at Baumer said,
Baumer has been collaborating with Arla Foods since the 1990’s. The two developed called ‘Baumer Hygienic Connection’ a new process connection for milk production that optimised the cleaning times at the Arla Falkenberg plant.
The temperature sensors from Baumer’s CombiSeries product range were also developed as a result of the close collaboration between Arla and Baumer’s Development Centre in Aarhus, Denmark.
Says Baumer product manager for process sensors, Martin Leupold: “This close collaboration is allowing us to get to know our customers critical technical issues and we can use that knowledge to develop or suggest solutions that can optimise their process in a sustainable way.”
To solve the problem of monitoring energy consumption Arla then Baumer’s FlexFlow® sensor, which could easily be integrated into the existing plant and is able to measure both flow and temperature.
Its symmetrical and centred design with one sensor element ahead of the sensor tip allowed it to be optimally installed in the process, regardless of the installation position and orientation. The flow sensor has a robust stainless steel housing that accommodates all the electronics, so there is no need for complex wiring or control cabinet installation.
The FlexFlow also meets the requirements for protection to IP68 making the sensor, together with the materials used, ideal for hygienic applications. Another exceptional feature is its maximum temperature range to 150ºC, which also qualifies it for sterilisation-in-process (SIP) tasks.
The sensors are suitable for flow rates of 10 to 400 cm/s and temperatures of between -25 and +150°C so are ideal for cooling systems that operate at high temperatures. They are available either as analog versions (4-20 mA) or with user-adjustable outputs using IO-Link. For applications with frequently changing batches or different process steps, the IO interface is the best option as it allows for simultaneous parameterisation of several sensors, simplifying switching point adjustment and saving time.
Arla has already installed around 15 of the sensors in the cooling circuit and heating system and the plan is now to also integrate these sensors into the CIP return line to monitor and optimise the energy consumption at these points as well.
Adds Abrahamsson: “This has proven to be a cost-efficient solution and because the sensors installed so far are reliably returning the results we need means we will install more of them.”