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Reduced product loss and treatment costs with online TOC monitoring

Innovative, “dairydesigned” TOC analyzer technology can play a critical role in helping plants optimize process control and minimize product loss.

Millions of dollars of opportunity exists in most dairy processing plants to reduce lost product levels. Continuous Total Organic Carbon (TOC) monitoring can unlock some of this opportunity. Dairy‐designed online TOC monitoring can act as an independent watchdog of the plant, or process line, that can change the daily behavior of people, processes or equipment. Through reliable and accurate real‐time monitoring of milk being discharged from the plant as wastewater, product loss can be immediately quantified, areas for improvement initiated and loss levels reduced, often significantly.

The early driver to reducing wastewater loadings at dairies was in reaction to rising treatment and surcharge costs. Today, however, it is the value of the actual product going down the drain that hits dairy plants the hardest, economically. More than 90 percent of a plant’s total organic waste load comes from valuable major milk components that are lost and flow into floor drains during processing, including lactose, proteins and butterfat.

Although dairy management has come to realize that product losses into wastewater are significant in both economic and environmental terms, the actual value of these product losses remains greatly underestimated.

The International Dairy Industry estimates a “standard” loss product figure for dairy plants at 2‐3% annually. This might not seem like much at initial glance, but the financial implications of this loss level are quite significant. For example, experiencing an average 2.5% product loss level costs a “typical dairy plant” more than $5 million per year in lost product value (and nearly $900,000 in extra wastewater treatment costs).

Although some of this loss is simply a part of running a dairy processing facility, the incentive for reducing product loss is quite high. For example, just a 15% reduction in a typical plant’s product loss amount can lead to more than $750,000 in annual product savings, more than $125,000 savings annually in wastewater treatment costs, plus reductions in local surcharges and fines from the local municipality providing wastewater treatment.

Conventional Loss Measurement: A HitOrMiss Endeavor

Water use and the volume and strength of a dairy’s waste stream can be used as indicators of product loss. BOD (Biological Oxygen Demand) is a measure of the amount of oxygen needed to degrade the organic matter carried by the water. One pound of BOD in a dairy’s waste stream equals 1.11 gallons of milk lost. COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand) is a related measurement method that is also often used, due to its correlation to BOD.

Because of the lengthy lag times between sample gathering and lab data availability (5 days for BOD and 2 hours for COD), periodic or scheduled testing of the raw waste and final effluent can only provide plants a brief, tiny glimpse of potential excessive waste loads that result in lost income. A plant’s reliance on intermittent and time‐consuming laboratory analysis is typically a hit‐or‐miss endeavor when it comes to reducing product loss. The source of a plant’s high loading incident simply cannot be easily identified due to the long delays in laboratory analysis.

Measuring TOC

A critical element to the effectiveness of a product loss reduction program today is a dairy plant’s ability to best utilize online instrumentation. The continuous measurement of Total Organic Carbon (TOC) through field proven online instrumentation can greatly help dairies identify when and where losses are occurring.

 TOC is a measure of the carbon content of dissolved and undissolved organic matter in a sample. TOC is the sum of organically bound carbon present in water, bonded to dissolved or suspended matter. TOC measurement is widely considered the most cost‐effective, continuous, accurate and timely test to identify the quantity of milk products in wastewater streams, because there is a direct relationship between gallons of milk lost by a dairy plant and the quantity of TOC in dairy wastewater at that point in time.

The Hach BioTector B7000 Dairy TOC analyzer was specifically developed for the Dairy Industry and provides robust, real‐time surveillance of the volume of milk in wastewater. Used as a management tool, BioTector allows dairies to instantaneously view and quantify lost product in their wastewater. This provides operations and management with critical information to allow for more informed process control and incident response.

Image: HACH

Information Turned Into Intelligence

The Hach BioTector B7000 Dairy has a Lost Product Index, LPI™, built into the analyzer that provides management and operators with a direct and precise link between the quantity of TOC in the wastewater and the gallons of milk being lost by the plant at that point in time. Operators and management can use the LPI™ numbers and factor in their wastewater flow rates to calculate lost product levels by hour, shift, and day of week. Operators, supervisors, and management throughout an organization can use the LPI™ module and the corresponding ‘numbers’ to see how various activities, processes, equipment, or incidents can affect their lost product levels.

Industry studies have shown that lost product can be reduced by more than 15% in dairy processing plants as a result of using accurate, reliable and continuous TOC measurement.

As raw material costs increase, margins get tighter, and competition becomes more intense. Cost management is more important than ever, and process wastewater carries valuable product away from the plant. Continuous TOC measurement and monitoring though Hach BioTector Analyzers allow plants to reduce levels of lost product in wastewater. They also allow for reduced energy and water consumption, make savings in wastewater treatment costs, protect the plant from overloading, reduce potential discharge fines from municipalities and, most importantly, reclaim valuable product that would otherwise be lost.

For more information visit https://au.hach.com/industries/food

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