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Operational Efficiency Month

Valio factory rises to whey demand

By Rachel Arthur+

06-Feb-2014
Last updated on 06-Feb-2014 at 16:41 GMT

Whey powder
Whey powder

Valio’s whey powder production plant in Finland has increased its production by more than 10% with its Napcon Suite from Neste Jacobs.

The suite controls the moisture content of its product automatically, and the factory has increased production and reduced downtime. Downtime had been caused by wet sticky whey clogging parts.

Whey is a by-product from making cheese, and its nutritional value means its use in food is increasing. The liquid whey is dried to make whey powder.

Sticky whey

Too much water causes stickiness of the whey powder that can disrupt or even stop the production,” said Antero Ylitalo, production manager, Valio. “But if the powder is too dry it generates dust and uses excess energy.

The Napcon Suite is made from the Napcon Indicator, which measures the level of whey moisture and heat in the drier, while the Napcon Controller chooses how much whey concentrate is sprayed in.

It is critical to control the spray dryer’s load and the hot air,” said Ylitalo. “We needed to keep the moisture content of the final whey powder product very close to its target, regardless of the conditions.

APC technology

Valio is owned by 18 Finnish milk production cooperatives, and refines and sells milk based products. It received 85% of milk produced in Finland.

"We are planning to implement advanced process control (APC) technology in other production plants and hope we will be able to continue the good cooperation with Neste Jacobs in this area," said Ylitalo.

Keijo Yli-Opas, chief application engineer, Neste Jacobs, said there was no break in production when the suite was installed. It is applicable for most fields in the food industry, but best for continuous processes like the whey powder factory, he added.  

Based in Finland, Nestle Jacobs provides technology and engineering services for oil and gas, petrochemicals, chemicals and biotechnology fields.