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NZ: McCain plant improves energy efficiency

McCain’s processing plant near Timaru, in New Zealand, worked on a project to improve energy efficiency and reduce wasting water.

One of McCain Foods' food processing plants found more than 100 energy opportunities by inviting staff to an 'energy blitz', meant to improve efficiency.

McCain's French fry plant near Timaru operates 24/7, turning 146,000 tons of locally-grown potatoes into frozen chips every year.

Expectations for water and energy management are high. The plant has an Environmental Management System in place and is currently ISO14001:2015 certified. An environmental team had early wins in water and energy management but its focus was on compliance rather than opportunity, and employee involvement was dropping off.

"We'd picked all the low-hanging fruit through previous work but we needed ideas to generate more energy and water saving opportunities," says Sonny Quilliam, production manager, according to stuff.co.nz. "We knew they were there but we needed to shine a light on new possibilities."

On day one, the blitz team was split into four groups, each one with an energy management expert from McCain's or an external company such as DETA Consulting and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).

Armed with a checklist to prompt team members to look for common energy-saving opportunities, the groups combed every area of the plant including the production plant, boiler house, cold store, potato storage, dry store, refrigeration and administration. The morning effort concentrated on energy loss, with water losses being the main focus in the afternoon.

At the end of the day, the teams came back and every idea, big or small, was put on the table. The energy management experts then organized the opportunities in a spreadsheet - an impressive 113 in total.

On day two, the full blitz team went through a prioritization process, ranking ideas against criteria such as implementation time, approximate cost and likely benefit. 

At the top of the list is a big project to optimize refrigeration systems that will save both heat and water. 

Source: potatobusiness.com

Publication date: 8/9/2017


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