In an effort to reduce water and natural gas consumption, a food producer contracted with Burns & McDonnell to revamp a cooking operation by retaining hot water for subsequent cooking cycles and reusing cold wash water. Burns & McDonnell studied the existing process, identified improvements, selected instrumentation, modified controls, evaluated the water and gas savings against the project capital costs, and implemented the new technology on multiple production lines in 25 plants. This design-build project included all work required to achieve a fully operational system, including equipment design and procurement, installation, controls programming and implementation, and startup and training services. Burns & McDonnell’s comprehensive construction and startup schedule minimized impact to operations at each site, and execution by multiple field teams allowed all 25 plants to realize savings within the established project schedule.
- Process study and optimization
- Economic analysis
- Detailed design
- Equipment procurement
- Shutdown coordination
- Startup services
- Training program
The original procedure added fresh water and product to the process, heated the mixture, then added more fresh water to quench the product before discharging it to the next processing step. After all the product had discharged, a significant amount of water remained and was drained to the sewer. The project added instrumentation and modified existing controls to retain this surplus water, a conversion that saved 36 percent fresh water, discharged 36 percent less water, consumed 19 percent fewer minor ingredients and conserved natural gas.
One challenge in perfecting the recycled water system was to identify a suitable control system to retain the water at the appropriate water level. After several instrument failures, the client asked Burns & McDonnell to assist with the testing and selection process. The result was a robust system that withstood the wet and caustic conditions and provided reliable accuracy.
While not able to completely standardize controls code at every plant, Burns & McDonnell improved programs throughout the multiple plant systems to bring them much closer to a common version.
Burns & McDonnell also designed, procured and installed a skidded system that recycled cold wash water from another process step and used it in the cooking cycle.
Once Burns & McDonnell tested the new system at a pilot plant, the team calculated the rate of return for each plant and prioritized the project schedule by the sites that would realize the most significant savings. Although the cooking process was standard throughout the client’s plants, each site presented a unique set of conditions such as number of cooking lines, equipment type and age, and control system software version.
Executed at 25 sites, this complex project demanded a carefully orchestrated team of project managers, design engineers, procurement staff, construction personnel and startup engineers. Project managers employed a variety of scheduling and cost control programs to track project status at multiple sites. Project engineers deployed “ambassador teams” to each plant before construction to evaluate site-specific conditions and to answer any questions from the plant’s staff.
To maintain the aggressive schedule, Burns & McDonnell’s procurement staff received equipment and instrumentation at its Kansas City office and redistributed that inventory to each site as needed. Construction teams worked at up to five sites simultaneously to keep the project on pace. Startup engineers developed and implemented training programs and coordinated all startup activities with each plant.
Burns & McDonnell delivered on-time savings and reduced environmental impact, which led to a subsequent series of rollout projects with this client.
- Identified, prototyped, validated and engineered a resource conservation solution in six months
- Led the "design of experiments" effort to determine the best rate of return, optimized capital and minimized disruption to the normal process flow
- Provided cost-benefit ratio analysis for each plant
- Shortened the overall process time for each cooking cycle, increasing throughput and saving utility costs
- Improved the consistency of the cooking process
- Developed and rolled out the process to 25 sites within 24 months
- Modified three versions of Allen-Bradley PLC code and four versions of Wonderware
- Provided operator and maintenance training at each facility