Global ingredients and solutions provider Tate & Lyle uses ABB equipment to grow the capacity of its Swedish oat factory
Tate & Lyle PLC acquired Biovelop, a Swedish manufacturer of oat based ingredients, in May 2013. To meet the growing demand for healthier foods globally, Tate & Lyle needed to boost the performance of the plant and turned to ABB for the latest automation solutions. The pioneering technology leader ABB delivered equipment including variable speed drives (VSDs), low voltage motors, motor control cabinets (MCCs) and valve positioners. The subsequent opening of the capacity expansion has been a success, in part, due to the components delivered by ABB, experiencing a more than tenfold growth in capacity in the last four years.
The global market for specialty food ingredients, including health and wellness products, is high and growing, with annual sales of $51 billion1 and annual growth of 4-5%.2 Oat ingredients have been actively involved with this trend as they offer some key nutritional and functional benefits. In particular, oat contains beta glucan, a soluble fiber that has been proven to lower cholesterol and reduce post prandial glycaemic response — claims that have been approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). It was these properties of the grain that made the sector an attractive one to Tate & Lyle when it made a decision to diversify its portfolio.
In 2013 Tate & Lyle acquired Biovelop, a manufacturer of oat beta glucan based in Kimstad, Sweden. The factory underwent a complete redevelopment and the capacity expansion was officially opened in 2016. Today, it produces and supplies health and wellness, oat-based ingredients that are used in a variety of food, beverage and cosmetic products worldwide.
The location of the factory was strategically crucial. Based 175km south of Stockholm, the factory is situated in the heart of Sweden's oat region. The cold climate, combined with long summer days, made the Nordic region the perfect choice for an ongoing supply of high quality oats.
Tate & Lyle needed to get the factory expansion up and running efficiently while ensuring it delivered sufficient return on investment (ROI) in the long term. The company identified that automation would form a crucial part of this. The reliability of its technology partner was important to Tate & Lyle. ABB was chosen because of its successful relationship with Tate & Lyle in many of its other factories around the world.
"We didn't want any surprises," explains Annika Werneman, plant manager for Tate & Lyle’s factory in Kimstad. "To undertake such a big expansion as we have done in the last few years, we chose ABB because we know the company has the capacity to deliver the products successfully."
ABB delivered 44 digital electro-pneumatic positioner with hart protocol for the control valves, 85 variable speed drives with different power ratings, ranging from 0.37kW to 55kW, as well as MNS 3.0 motor control cabinets and low voltage motors. The automation products drive critical food processing equipment including pumps and decanters, as well as the material handling machinery used to transport the dry food products.
"Luckily, our office is located just a ten-minute drive away," explains Petter Hollertz, area sales manager at ABB. "We were on hand throughout the project to ensure that it was delivered on time and that it was capable of achieving a high level of sustainable automation for years to come."
"We needed a process that was highly automated and possible to run 24 hours, seven days a week and all year long," continues Werneman. "During this time, we want the equipment to work optimally."
To achieve this, ABB included remote monitoring and fieldbus flexibility into the drives. For Tate & Lyle, it was essential that engineers could digitally interact with the system, commission devices and diagnose their faults from anywhere in the world. This not only speeds up the process but also reduces the total cost of ownership as engineers can manage the process without being physically present at each site.
"I like that ABB designed the equipment so that the fieldbus responsible for device control is split from the fieldbus used for asset management," explains Leo Dijkstra, power & controls team leader Europe at Tate & Lyle. "This ensures that I can make any changes to the configuration of the devices without the risk of the whole network going down.
"This means that, should a VSD fail in the Kimstad factory, I can connect to the internal network from my personal computer wherever I am. I can download the commissioning file from the server, make my corrections and remotely upload the file onto that particular frequency drive and start it up again. I can do all of this without having to call out emergency maintenance engineers, something that can be extremely difficult and time-consuming if the drive fails at night or at the weekend."
"Since we implemented these changes to the factory, we have seen a ten times increase in capacity with the same number of shift operators compared to four years ago," says Annika Werneman. "Our operators can now produce ten times more output than before. It's a huge change in such a short time and means that we've gone from a low-level facility to one that can deliver a high level of product to our supply chain globally."
First and foremost, Tate & Lyle wanted to ensure that all new equipment would be safe to use. The company also wanted it to be easy to operate and more energy efficient.
"In our pump applications alone, we can use up to 50 per cent less energy thanks to the variable speed drives, which have been running non-stop for the last two years without a single failure," says Dijkstra. "What's more, ABB was so quick to deliver products compared to other suppliers we've worked with before, that we even had the first VSD delivered in just a few days."
At Tate & Lyle, they place great importance not just on what they do, but how they do it. “We are working continuously wherever we can to reduce the environmental footprint of our operations,” said Dijkstra.
The business has also experienced improvements in the buildings and infrastructure of the Kimstad factory. Despite the fact that 60 VSDs are mounted in one electrical room at any given time, the system runs so quietly that there is no need for staff to wear hearing protection.
"I must say that, typically, one VSD would be loud enough to require hearing protection, let alone 60. Safety is our top priority, and it’s pleasing that the new equipment and resulting low sound levels mean that ear guards aren’t required in an electrical room," continues Dijkstra.
A healthy future
Although the nearest ABB support center is only a ten-minute drive away from the Kimstad factory, there have been no emergencies so far. ABB has delivered easy-to-use products so that Tate & Lyle can continue to deliver a healthy future from its highly automated factory, for its health-conscious customers around the world.
1 IHS 2014; Speciality Chemicals update Program: Food Additives; Leatherhead 2014: The Global Food Additives Market; and other sources.
2 Leatherhead; LMC International; Company analysis; data as at 2013, five year CAGR 2009-2013.
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