London, Wednesday, 08 March, 2023
For people all over the globe, edible oils are an indispensable source of nutrition. The International Food Policy Research Institute estimates that 10% of the typical caloric food supply worldwide is made up of vegetable oil. It is therefore second in significance only to cereals.
Unfortunately, the edible oil industry encounters a number of difficulties, just like other manufacturing industries. Producers' margins are at danger due to rising energy costs, rising raw material costs, changes in seasonal demand, regulatory changes, and geopolitical events. In the meantime, interest in using edible oils as an energy is driving up demand for them.
Manufacturers of edible oils must find ways to increase the productivity and dependability of production processes if they hope to remain competitive in this difficult and cost-conscious climate.
They must pay special attention to improving automation, control, and effectiveness. Manufacturers can reduce energy use, minimise downtime, and make sure that facilities are secure and in compliance with regulations by integrating the appropriate technology into the manufacturing process.
Energy Control, Cost-Effective
Edible oil production is a difficult, multi-step procedure. To guarantee that the product meets strict standards and is suitable for human consumption, precise equipment is needed. Sterilizers, presses, centrifuges, and boilers are just a few examples of the numerous equipment types that the industry relies on. These devices also consume a lot of energy.
The biggest operating expense for producers of edible oils is usually electricity. Choosing energy-efficient equipment is essential to keeping profitability as energy costs rise. Due to the widespread use of outdated, inefficient electric motors in many facilities, there is a major opportunity to improve energy efficiency.
Motor efficiency is categorised using the European International Efficiency (IE) class in China, Europe, and several other nations. A motor is more efficient if it has a greater IE rating. Every IE number denotes a 20% reduction in losses from the prior one. In comparison to IE3 motors, IE4 motors, for instance, have 20% reduced losses. While the most efficient class currently available is IE5, many sites that produce edible oil still use IE2 or IE3 motors.
In some instances, replacing an old IE3 motor with a new model, like an IE5 synchronous reluctance (SynRM) motor-drive package, can reduce the energy consumption of a piece of equipment by 40%. Due to the high cost of energy, purchasing a more efficient motor can pay for itself in a matter of months. Most of the time, more modern, efficient motors can be used in lieu of more traditional ones.
Even without SynRM technology, combining existing motors with a variable speed drive can result in very substantial energy savings (VSD). Without a drive, motors run continuously at maximum speed, and users throttle them to regulate output. Like using the brakes to slow down a vehicle while keeping your foot on the accelerator, this is a waste of energy.
A VSD constantly controls the speed and torque of a motor. When the engine is not operating at full power, it consumes less energy. This is especially important because a motor's power consumption is inversely proportionate to the cube of its speed, meaning that slowing a motor by just 20% can cut its energy consumption in half. Historically, purchasing a VSD paid for itself in one to two years, but high energy costs, like with more efficient motors, have greatly shortened the payback period.
Operators can accurately control motors with VSDs as well. For instance, VSDs can be adjusted during pumping operations to guarantee that they correspond to the pump's best efficiency point (BEP). Additionally, modern drives offer operators real-time information on energy consumption and motor speed, allowing them to keep product quality.
Harmonic distortion, also known as "electrical pollution," is a factor in energy efficiency that makers of edible oils should take into account. The anticipated current and voltage can deviate significantly due to non-linear loads from electrical equipment on the network.
This indicates that instead of being used for productive work, energy is wasted on the network. Premature device failure can also be caused by an unstable power network.
Drives can introduce harmonics even though they greatly increase energy efficiency. Facilities frequently overspecify electrical equipment, such as cables and transformers, in an effort to reduce harmonics, but this is wasteful and costly. Selecting ultra-low harmonic (ULH) drives is a better way to handle the issues brought on by harmonics at the source.
Improved upkeep and control In addition to using less energy to perform the same task, modern motors and drives also offer benefits in terms of connectivity. For simple control and tracking, many motors and drives come with built-in sensors that can be linked to a facility's network. Equipment can be programmed to autonomously adjust itself in conjunction with programmable logic controllers (PLCs) to guarantee peak performance.
Operators can review energy usage data to determine which systems use the most power by using data from edible oil machinery for a variety of purposes. They can then take action to identify the underlying issue, such as oversized or inefficient components, and address it, ultimately saving the facility money. Operators can securely keep real-time visibility and control from any place thanks to cloud connectivity. This was crucial during the Covid-19 pandemic because lockdowns made it difficult for staff to perform their jobs on-site.
Rich data makes it possible to handle maintenance more intelligently. Condition monitoring has the ability to transmit an alert via the cloud platform when it determines that a parameter, such as bearing operating temperature, has exceeded the limits established by the operator.
This gives the operator the information necessary to decide whether a prompt intervention is necessary or whether the machinery can be operated at a reduced load until the next scheduled maintenance interval. Operators can find and fix potential problems during planned downtime, preventing unexpected downtime brought on by a sudden machine failure. In terms of downtime, labour costs, and potential waste from product contamination, predictive maintenance is less expensive.
Health and safety
Since edible oil is a consumer good, it must adhere to stringent safety regulations. Facilities may find it difficult to strike a balance between the need for cleanliness and the high rate of production. However, this is possible by selecting the proper drives (such as ABBs industrial, general purpose and machinery drives), motors (such as ABB SynRM motors), PLCs (such as ABBs AC500) , and services and adhering to best practises.
Equipment that is suitable for the working environment must be specified by facilities. Standard components, for instance, may present a safety danger in hot and high-pressure environments. Thankfully, manufacturers provide machinery built especially for these demanding working conditions.
Making sure that machinery operates as precisely and effectively as possible will also make a facility safer. Due to the high reliability of contemporary solutions like SynRM motors and increased automation, there is less need for needless human intervention, which lowers the risk of accidents.
Several difficulties presently confront the edible oil sector. Some problems are recent, while others have been around for a while; some are short-lived, while others are a part of a larger pattern. A focus on the big picture is necessary to address all of these problems and guarantee that the industry can continue to operate.
In order to make decisions that make sense over the long run, operators must take the total cost of ownership (TCO) and operating expenses into account. Those who do so will be able to overcome the difficulties of today and prosper in the future.
(Report by: The Decision Maker – Energy editors)