APC techniques boost production, profits for Irish food processor

When the only constraint standing between you and increased profits is plant capacity, it's time to look for ways to make all your production assets work harder. Sometimes taking on that challenge begins with a critical look at your plant control systems. Glanbia, which means “clean food” in Gaelic, is an international dairy, consumer foods, and nutritional products company.


When the only constraint standing between you and increased profits is plant capacity, it's time to look for ways to make all your production assets work harder. Sometimes taking on that challenge begins with a critical look at your plant control systems.

Glanbia, which means “clean food” in Gaelic, is an international dairy, consumer foods, and nutritional products company. The company operates in Ireland, Europe, and the U.S. with joint ventures in the U.K. and Nigeria. It is the biggest dairy in Ireland and one of the top five dairy producers in Europe. The company employs over 4,000 people worldwide and has annual turnover of 1.8 billion euros.

The Glanbia Ingredients facility in Virginia, County Cavan, Ireland, operates 364 days of the year, producing powders and cream products with the plant operating at maximum capacity.

Operations staff faced the challenge of maximizing efficiency and throughput without having to install new and costly equipment. Glanbia was looking for a solution that would result in improved performance while continuing to ensure superior product quality.

“Working within a mature dairy market with soaring competition and steadily dropping margins is a big challenge,” says Alan Magovern, engineering manager, Glanbia Ingredients. “Our facility was already working at 100% capacity, but we needed to find some way to improve performance.”

Begin with the processes

With a relationship that goes back more than 25 years, Glanbia asked Honeywell to develop a strategy to push out the constraints of plant capability.

Honeywell began the Glanbia project with a detailed process control study that uncovered various opportunities for production improvements. This was helped along by its prior site experience and knowledge of the specific dairy processes involved. After the study, Honeywell was able to develop and propose a Profit Controller advanced process control software that would operate in conjunction with the already installed Experion control system. Honeywell's confidence in the program was so strong that a 12-month payback on investment was guaranteed as part of the proposal. That kind of confidence is hard for a customer to ignore.

“I was extremely comfortable working with Honeywell because of its expertise in our production,” says Magovern. “Honeywell helped us explore what control changes we could make to optimize our evaporation and drying process.”

Glanbia's energy-intensive evaporation and drying process produces a final powder product with specific customer-required characteristics. There are many variables to the process that have a major impact on the characteristics and quality of the final product. Maintaining optimal evaporation ensures predictable solid particle size, bulk density, and moisture content. With the application of Profit Controller, Glanbia was able to optimize drier control to enable the process to run closer to limits than is possible using manual control. Profit Controller also provides the ability to update information for real-time controller maintenance, making running production reporting easier.

The implementation of a Honeywell data visualization application enables information to be made available throughout the plant, improving operational efficiency and decision making.

“We now have fast access to real-time production data,” states Donal Reilly, production manager. “We know how well we are doing on an hourly and daily basis in terms of production.”

Once the improvements were installed, the process soon stabilized showing significant improvement in production throughput, with lower energy costs and without any additional new equipment. Return on investment was realized in just six months, half the time in the Honeywell performance guarantee.

“With the support of Honeywell, we came up with a unique solution to optimize moisture content of our final product, increasing production throughput by 5% and lowering overall production costs,” says Reilly. “And we now have a much better view into production data.”

Author Information

Mark Albano is life sciences marketing leader at Honeywell Process Solutions. Reach him at mark.albano@honeywell.com .

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