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Fast-growing ingredient manufacturer focuses on automation upgrade

Over the last decade, individual sectors of the food industry, such as yogurt and craft beer, have been dramatically increasing revenue year over year. While some more traditional food and beverage companies experience flat revenues, the industry, on the whole, is moving quickly to add new automation technology and processing power.

One industry in growth mode is the specialty food ingredients sector. A recent report on this market from Grand View Research, Inc. predicts that the global market will reach $116.5 billion by 2025, up from $27.75 billion in 2015. The industry sector has experienced growth of 5 percent to 6 percent per year over the last five years.

Tate & Lyle, a manufacturer of specialty food ingredients, is riding this upward trend and recently upgraded its Kimstad, Sweden plant. With a diversification of its product offerings over the last four years, Tate & Lyle upgraded its automation hardware with ABB technology that includes variable speed drives (VSD), motors, motor control cabinets and valve positioners.

β€œWe have seen a more than tenfold increase in capacity with the same number of shift operators compared to four years ago,” says Annika Werneman, plant manager at Tate & Lyle. β€œIt’s a huge change in such a short time, and it means that we’ve gone from a low-level facility to one that can deliver a high-quality product to our customers globally.”

The automation focus has been on pumps, large decanters and material-handling machinery transporting dry food. Tate & Lyle installed 85 VSDs with power ratings ranging from 0.37 to 55 kW, along with motor control cabinets and low-voltage motors. The installation also included 44 digital electro-pneumatic positioners with the HART industrial protocol for the control valves.

β€œWe needed a process that was highly automated and could run 24 hours, seven days a week, all year long,” adds Werneman.

This upgrade in digital automation technology also steered Tate & Lyle toward new approaches in asset management. The company wanted more interaction with the overall system, such as the motor start devices and production deviations via remote monitoring.

β€œI like that ABB designed the equipment so that the fieldbus β€” Foundation Fieldbus protocol β€” responsible for device control is split from the fieldbus used for asset management,” says Leo Dijkstra, power and controls team leader for Europe at Tate & Lyle. β€œThis ensures that I can make any changes to the configuration of the devices without the risk of the whole network going down.”

Increased operational efficiency also arrived due to better pumps management in the processing area with the VSDs, which allow for a gradual start-up of equipment.

β€œWe are working continuously wherever we can to reduce the environmental footprint of our operations,” say Dijkstra. β€œIn our pump applications alone, we are using up to 50 percent less energy thanks to the variable speed drives, and have been running nonstop for the last two years without a single failure.”