How to make your assets earn money for you

What would you do if you were a food or beverage manufacturer or processor and you were told you could save your company thousands of dollars in energy bills every year? Most companies would sign up straight away. But what if part of the condition was that at some point in time throughout the year, certain pieces of plant or machinery were switched off. Pretty risky, right? Not so according to Andrew Sutherland from Enel X, a company that specialises in helping businesses – including those in the food and beverage sector – optimise their energy needs.

Sutherland, who is a consultant for Enel X, works with businesses to strategically reduce their energy demand, based on a signal of electricity grid need or shortage, and to monetise this activity. He said that persuading a company to switch off equipment is probably the hardest sell. But, what if there was no risk involved at all? That, said Sutherland, is the key.

“The trickiest part is going into a business and convincing them we can automate a process that will save them energy and money – even earn them money – by turning off a machine and that it will have no impact on their operations,” said Sutherland. “They have to get their head around the idea that we are going to turn off certain parts of their process at a certain point in time. It is only a handful of hours every year.

“I was explaining the concept recently to an abattoir owner and he said, ‘I have 800 staff. I can’t be turning off equipment’. I explained to him that it wasn’t about switching off all of the equipment. It’s about certain assets being turned off at the right point in time.”

Flexibility
Enel X is a subsidiary of Italy-based Enel Group, which is one of the 100 largest companies in the world with revenue in excess of $126bn in 2018. The company sees a gap in the market where companies can not only save money on their energy consumption, but can contribute to the national grid and even
earn money.

Sutherland said that the company comes to the market with a different point of view to a lot of others in the same space. Enel X helps organisations to reduce costs without the need for investment in new infrastructure, by making equipment more efficient. It has expertise and history working with businesses to identify elements of their existing infrastructure and assets or processes that can help deliver a cost reduction if they are used in a slightly different way.

“We work with businesses to identify what they have, what they could have, and then roll those assets and processes into flexibility or demand response programs that help them lower costs. Importantly, the equipment used fully serves its operational purposes, and further benefit is extracted based on what the equipment can provide to the grid,” he said.

For example, Sutherland talks of a business in Victoria that specialises in cold storage. It houses food and beverage products. What Enel X did was help the company manage its assets in a way that it could curtail the energy load of the refrigeration units at a strategic point in time. This not only saved power, but helped that customer earn revenue from the market to help support the grid and the broader community.

“We installed a meter, which is a technical solution that we set up onsite. It recorded when there were disturbances in the grid as a whole,” said Sutherland. “When that occurred, we sent a signal for only the assets they nominated to make a response that provided value to the grid and therefore earned the customer revenue. For this particular customer, he estimated that year-on-year over three years he saved about 10 per cent on his power bill.”

Companies are surprised how much money they can save, according to Sutherland. Demand response, or power flexibility, has been in Australia for many years, however to many it is a new concept. The market is constantly evolving and transforming, with new opportunities for businesses to take part in the market from a demand point of view.

“We are at the forefront of the changes in the rules. We are an advocate for many changes as well,” said Sutherland. “Our history as a global organisation means we know how valuable power flexibility is. As an organisation worldwide, we have enough power flexibility in our portfolio that can manage the state of Victoria on any normal day. Our expertise is with flexibility and demand response. We are the world’s largest operator in this space and we are also the largest aggregator of load to our market operator in  Australia.”

While it makes business sense to use the service – after all what business doesn’t want to save money – Sutherland also points out that not only is the solution practical, it might also soon prove to be a necessity in some parts of the country.

“In the past four months there has been a series of issues that have had an effect on the grid,” he said. “We’ve had outages with generators in Victoria where two generators were out of action for the majority of 2019, which caused a lot of concern about the reliability of the grid. There have been outages between Victoria and Tasmania with the Bass link. In the past couple of weeks there were a few events between Victoria and South Australia, which has needed assets like ours. Using our service, businesses that offered their flexibility are be paid for making a contribution to the support of our grid. That helps our whole community.”

Sutherland believes that, at the moment, the national power grid finds itself at a critical juncture where there is not enough wind and solar power available to cover any shortfalls in power supply, while battery storage is still too expensive. He also believes Australia hasn’t hit a critical mass to help the transition. The country has hit a point where the grid now needs flexible assets and flexibility that will help advance the transition.

“The drivers in the community are for decarbonisation and climate change,” he said. “People in that frame of mind support the use of flexibility because it advances the situation we want. When we don’t have enough wind or solar, we need flexibility at that point in time to keep the grid stable and to ensure that we are not stifling more investment.”

Sutherland can’t reiterate enough that it’s not about turning off the equipment all the time, it has got to be strategic and it has got to be low impact if at all.

Enel X has proprietary software that helps the customer maximise the outcomes to the market. There is software around the trading and dispatch notices but ultimately it is an automated process that combines hardware at the site and software on Enel X’s end.

“We use a combination of hardware and software,” he said. “We need to install certain meters that will sense all the disturbances in the grid and then give a signal to the site.”

He also points out that there is an underutilised power supply available that a lot of big multinationals in the food and beverage industry have and, again, they could earn money from them – standby generators.

“There are a lot of businesses out there who have realised that the reliability of the grid is not as good as it once was so they have made investments in standby generators,” he said. “These investments are substantial for an asset that sits there largely dormant waiting for the power to go out. What we do is we turn those assets into an active market participant. That asset helps to support the grid in terms of need and in price.

“A back-up generator has an invaluable role. For example, in South Australia when they had the outages in 2016, a lot of the businesses did have generators but they were not adequately maintained and many were not available at the time that the customer actually needed it. By taking part in the power flexibility programmes, they are actively used. It is not a dormant asset.”

Sutherland cites an example of a bakery he has been working with. If it loses power they have a huge amount of waste that will happen; the company will have idle staff, and can only get a certain amount of product out the door if they run on their generator.

“It is an asset that is there, but it is underutilised and it is not properly configured for the site,” said Sutherland. “We are working with that business via a grant and funding with the SA government, to help them get to a situation where the sustainability of their operations is maximised. If there is an outage, they will be able to get all the product through the process and out the door. They therefore minimise waste, which is great for the environment – all the conversion of the resources, all the labour is not idle. Generators play a critical role because the grid, in its simplest form, is no longer reliable as it once was.”

Sutherland expects that their offering might take a little bit of time for some companies to comprehend. However, once they get the details sorted out, it is win-win situation.

“We do not expose the customer to any form of market risk,” said Sutherland. “We incentivise them, and the government incentivises them, and we need their flexibility. We are going to do it in a controlled way so that all of your operations are not affected in any way.”

Variable speed drives deliver safety for food and beverage machinery

Traditional techniques of controlling machinery have been replaced by Variable Speed Drives (VSDs) in the food and beverage automation industry due to precise process control and improved energy productivity. The drives assist with helping machinery manufacturers meet the safety standards by reducing system complexities.

Delta Energy Systems, a Delta Group company which is long recognized for providing products with comprehensive features and reliability, has joined with iOpen Pty Ltd in a new long-term partnership. Under this partnership, iOpen will distribute Delta’s industrial automation products and solutions to the Australian market, solely in the New South Wales region and into the specialised skilled area of food & beverage markets within Victoria.

iOpen realise that Delta’s VSD’s will ensure that their total solutions can achieve optimum speed and torque while maintaining the required accuracy. It is a reliable product that will vary the power required which means there will be less damage to the equipment and motor as well as energy savings from using such technology.

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Delta has a new range of Safe Torque Off (STO) SIL2 rated VSDs that are essential in bringing high machine safety to food & beverage applications. This concept allows the VSD into a ‘no-torque state’, preventing the VSD and for example a conveyor, from starting automatically on the food production floor.

Improving both productivity and efficiency enables energy saving and reduces stress on moving equipment, ultimately reduce operational costs and extend the lifecycle of critical components. Dependence on safe production which is consistent across large volumes and batches with repeatable quality, and VSD technology has a significant influence in achieving these high standards and expectations.

iOpen has made a strategic decision to distribute Delta’s highly reliable and environmentally safe power electronics, to expand further into the food & beverage market. The company prides themselves on supplying their customers with the best variety of products and solutions by obtaining their trusted reputation of delivering on platforms to protect their customers’ investments into the future.

“This customer relationship with Delta Energy Systems is well suited to our organisation, given our long history in providing Automation, Drive Motor Control and Power Quality solutions to industry. We are excited about our relationship with Delta and their commitment to the Australian Market, the extensive range of products from Delta will allow iOpen to deliver the most appropriate solution for almost any application.” said Paul Massarella, Director of iOpen. 

Cask Unveils New ACS X2 Canning Line

Cask Brewing Systems -the company that invented micro-canning equipment for craft brewers -is offering a new canning line that doubles the speed of its fastest machine. 

Cask’s ACS X2 (Automatic Canning System X2) has ten CO2 pre-purge heads, ten fill heads, and two can seamers. That is twice the pre-purge, filling and seaming features of Cask’s ACS machine, which has been a hit with micro-canners since its debut in 2005.

The new machine fills and seams 75+ cans/minute and 190+ cases/hour and requires just two operators.

“Our customers around the world,” says Cask founder Peter Love, “are experiencing huge demand for their canned craft beer and it’s creating production pressures for them. Many of them are faced with outgrowing our machines and having to make a four- or five-fold leap in price — and a giant leap in size — to buy the next level of canning gear.”

“We created this faster, more-advanced machine,” Love says, “to help our customers keep up with their growth in a fashion that saves them significant money and space. Our focus has always been smaller breweries, the ACS X2 allows us to greatly expand that focus.”

The machine continues Cask’s legendary track record of big performance in a small space, thanks to its 2’ by 11’ footprint of just 22 square feet. The machine also fills cans with an extremely low level of dissolved oxygen (15-20 parts per billion) that protects beer flavor and extends shelf life.

The ACS X2 features a revamped seamer system and an improved operator interface, and can be adapted to various can sizes in just minutes. Other high-performance options for the ACS X2 include an improved automatic pallet dispenser and a can pre-rinse feature.

Today Cask’s affordable and small-footprint manual, semi-automated and automated canning systems are used by over 600 small breweries, wineries, cider makers and drinks manufacturers in over 34 nations around the globe.

TNA assists snack manufacturer stay ahead

As a producer and co-packer of a variety of corn-based snacks, from tortilla chips to snacks mixes, popcorns and extruded snacks, Keystone Food Products depends on flexible, high-performance packaging solutions that can be easily integrated into its existing production line in the US. 

With a growing market requirement for smaller bag sizes, Keystone needed to expand its plant’s manufacturing capabilities while still maintaining profitability.

Flexible solutions for expanded capabilities

Keystone chose the tna robag FX 3ci for its facility, as its turnkey packaging system could be easily integrated with existing equipment. With performance improvements of up to 30% in both output and the reduction of rejects, the new packaging system has significantly increased the speed and precision of the entire production, helping Keystone to optimise performance while catering to the demand for smaller bags.

Allowing for any jaw configuration (single, flat, double or triple) or size, the tna robag FX 3ci offered Keystone the flexibility it needed for its range of packaging services, including its quattropack operations. Plus, the tna system does not require any mechanical adjustments when changing product or film — an important benefit for Keystone, which required a simple, yet efficient machine to facilitate the switch between different bag formats and products. Future performance increases can be realised by upgrading the jaw set-up, leaving Keystone prepared for the future.

Ensuring accuracy

Keystone is responsible for the packaging of both its own and other brands’ premium snacks. As such, the company needs a highly accurate weighing system to ensure that only the exact amount of product would be included in the bag. This avoids raw material waste and allows Keystone to produce an increased number of units from the same quantity of material.

The tna intelli-weigh omega 314 has proved to be an effective solution to Keystone’s challenges. By combining strain gauge load cells with digital filtering to virtually eliminate the influence of external vibration, the system allows for precision, high-speed weighing. As a result, discrepancies between bags are negligible. The modular design enables quick and easy troubleshooting and maintenance, and enhances product flow.

Improved product verification

Keystone also required a more automated verification system to enable it to maintain its quality standards.

Installation of the tna intelli-read 3 barcode scanner has enabled Keystone to maintain rapid packaging speeds while ensuring that its products are checked to the highest standards. The solution automatically scans the barcode on the film and crosschecks it to verify that the correct product is being processed. Mounted directly onto the film system of the tna robag, the tna intelli-read 3 scans the entire product’s width, making it virtually impossible to bypass as every barcode — regardless of where on the film it is printed — will be read. With the barcode scanning system in place, Keystone was able to speed up the bagging process, while being assured that only products at the right weight and with the correct packaging would leave the plant.

Maximising plant footprint

Keystone wanted a system that would increase its production capacity within the limited space that was available. Because the previous production set-up was fragmented, an important part of the installation process was to analyse the arrangement and provide more continuity in the way equipment was laid out.

Previously, each of Keystone’s machines had its own platform, occupying valuable floor space. By designing a single platform that would incorporate the three new packaging machines, tna was able to optimise the plant’s surface area, saving both time and space.

Another challenge was to adapt the layout to the plant’s low ceiling height. New machines were specifically tailored to meet space requirements and facilitate product transfer between different packaging stages. Before they could be packaged downstairs, light corn products were washed in the upstairs station. The lack of space, however, meant that conveyors could not be installed. The tna intelli air distribution system has a small footprint and gently transports bags and other lightweight packed products along a bed of air. It automatically discharges empty packets for optimal output and has flexible configuration plus several layout options.

The tna hyper-detect metal detector enabled Keystone to maximise the available floor space. Its design allows the metal detector to be positioned closer to the multihead weigher, reducing machine height and increasing the speed at which the bagger can produce finished bags. The system offers improved metal detection capabilities, while eliminating degradation in product transfer to ultimately deliver safe product throughout and minimise rejects. This provided Keystone with a stable operation for optimum sensitivity and consistent performance when inspecting products.