Glanbia is one the world's leading manufacturers of dairy nutritional ingredients, employing Six Sigma methodology to help improve process efficiency.
Their site in Ireland produces a broad range of dairy products, including powders such as whey, lactose,skimmed milk and casein.
Casein powder is very granular in nature, posing a challenge for reliable in-line moisture measurement.
Without robust real-time data, process efficiency will be degraded and product giveaway increased, which will have an impact on profitability of the plant.
A robust virtual sensor for moisture measurement, coupled with predictive control, allows production to be maintained much closer to specification, under all conditions. Read more...
The key operating objective in the production of Casein powder is to maximise moisture content while still remaining within final specification. Operating too close to upper quality limits may result in out-of-spec end product, along with the risk of lost production due to blockages in the dryer, cyclones or mill. Dryers are often run with a wide ‘comfort’ margin; final product moisture may be well below customer specification.
We constructed a robust model of dryer performance from process metrics, including raw material quality, dryer air temperatures, discreet data from laboratory analysis, dryer operating parameters. Then we developed an inferential sensor providing accurate, real-time estimation of casein moisture under all conditions. This integral part of the model predictive control system enabled the plant to maintain very tight control of product moisture.
The project required 12 weeks to implement. Real-time inference enabled powder moisture to be maintained closer to constraint, improving yield by 0.65%. Higher moisture was exploited as increased dryer capacity, enabling higher throughput. Improved start-up control delivered an average of 7 hours per week of extra on-spec production.
The benefits delivered a full return on investment within 4 months of commissioning, sustained via an ongoing support programme provided by our industry-experienced team.
Niall Herlihy, Process Technologist, Glanbia