Finnish dairy producer Valio has increased production of its Lapinlahti whey powder by more than 10% by implementing the Napcon controller solution from technology and engineering company Neste Jacobs.
The results were so convincing that Valio has now begun optimising a milk powder plant in Seinäjoki – 95 miles north west of Tampere – consisting of both an evaporator and a spray dryer. The Napcon solution in Valio’s two production plants consists of two tools: a Napcon indicator that calculates the material and energy balance information, and a Napcon controller that controls the process using multivariable model-predictive control.
Napcon balances the need of energy within the desired product specification so that the energy consumption is minimised. The system can also predict the moisture content and adjust the water balance in real time, while the optimisation adapts to changes in outdoor humidity.
Antero Ylitalo, production manager of Valio Production Powder, said: “Valio ships over 60m kilos of milk and whey powders annually. That means we are talking big money when the productivity boosts with more than 10% without higher energy consumption or costly hardware investments.
“The results from the first optimisation project made us so convinced of Neste Jacobs’ expertise and superiority to carry out high-end production optimisation projects that it was easy to partner up again. Now we are looking into developing our cooperation even further.”
Seinäjoke plant production manager Vesa Strand said: “Too large water content makes the powder sticky and disturbs the process. On the other hand, if the powder is too dry it generates dust and uses excess energy. With Napcon we can allow an increase in the average moisture content in the process and still keep the moisture content of the final powder product very close to its target value under all circumstances.”
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