Overpopulation. Drought. Climate change. Overconsumption. Energy crisis … Faced with these existential challenges, people are increasingly looking for products that will ensure the survival of our planet – including everything related to the food and drinks they consume.
A recent survey by Nielsen, an international provider of insights into what people watch and buy, found that 73% of global consumers would “definitely or probably” change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment. Half said they were willing to pay higher prices for products associated with strong sustainability practices.
Grundfos wants to make a real difference in the world – including in the all-important food-processing industry.
With its pumps used for many different applications in food-production plants, breweries, dairy facilities, chocolate and confectionery factories, and more, the company meets the needs of its food-processing clients in terms of three major issues of our time: sustainability, health and well-being, and innovation.
Here’s a look at some of the ways Grundfos does this:
Ensuring sustainability and a greener footprint
Many processes in the food and beverage industry consume high amounts of energy. Contributing to this state of affairs is the use of fixed-speed pumps that run at maximum capacity all the time in auxiliary food-processing applications such as boilers and cooling towers.
To address this, Grundfos has developed an energy-saving “e version” of its popular, widely used fixed-speed CR pump. The new CRE pump is an exciting “intelligent solution”, or “iSolution”, incorporating an electronic motor with a built-in variable speed drive, giving it the ability to ramp up and down as it detects demand, explains Grundfos segment manager Dean Naidoo.
“In an energy crisis, we want to cut down on our energy consumption wherever possible, so why run at max all the time?” asks Naidoo. The intelligent CRE pump technology – delivering reliable, optimal performance and energy efficiency – is already widely used in developed countries in Europe and elsewhere, and is expected to take off in Africa in the next couple of years.
“We have customers talking about up to 70% energy saving just by using a CRE pump,” Naidoo notes, adding that this not only saves on costs for manufacturers, but also cuts down on fossil fuel use, helping companies achieve a greener footprint and creating a more sustainable society. And while the initial capital expenditure may be more, operating expenditure drops significantly.
Grundfos is already starting to build and assemble CRE pumps in South Africa, contributing to the economy and ensuring that it can support the product locally once it’s in use here – but existing CR pumps can also “easily” be retrofitted and upgraded to a CRE by changing out some of the equipment, says Naidoo, using the analogy of upgrading a smartphone to enhance its functionality.
The vertical multistage CR and CRE pumps are used for a range of food-processing plant pressure-boosting needs, as well as washing and cleaning.
Meeting strict food-production health and safety requirements
They may have developed a taste for flavoured craft beer, or enjoy a chocolate or the occasional lollipop, but consumers today are increasingly concerned about eating healthy, nutritious food produced with minimum harm to the environment.
The food industry has to keep up with vital health and wellness requirements, including precise chemical management and dosing in food-processing plants.
This can range from dosing in chemicals to prevent microbial growth or micro-contamination in processing facilities, accurately dosing particular ingredients into products to ensure the correct nutritional value, and preventing overdosing or underdosing when adding colouring or flavouring agents.
This is where Grundfos’s smart digital dosing pumps come into their own, according to Naidoo. By far “the most accurate” in the market, with a wide dosing range, the first generation of these pumps were already a “quantum leap forward” when they were first introduced to the market about 14 years ago, he says.
However, while those early pumps had a “turndown” ratio of up to 1:800, Grundfos’s market-leading new-generation smart digital dosing pumps today have a turndown ratio of up to 1:3 000, with impeccable accuracy. (“Turndown” is expressed as a ratio over which the output of a dosing pump can be adjusted.)
The pumps come in three tiers, to give customers flexibility and affordability: DDA (advanced), DDC (middle tier) and DDE (the economical version).
Not only do they help to reduce energy use in food processing, but accurate dosing also helps to save on costs, all while meeting strict food-production health and safety requirements.
Facilitating expansion for innovation
As food manufacturers aim to meet customers’ health and wellness desires, they continuously expand and innovate – getting rid of “legacy products” and rolling out new ones, such as the latest environmentally friendly, plant-based meat substitutes. To do this, they need to invest in new technology, processes and plants.
“It’s about introducing new innovations that meet sustainability and health requirements,” says Naidoo. “Yes, it’s much more expensive, but a certain customer demographic doesn’t mind, as it is helping the environment.”
Grundfos brings a wealth of global and local experience and knowledge to the table to help customers upgrade and innovate. One important focus is meeting the global challenge of water scarcity, including through water-reuse technologies.
Food manufacturers traditionally use a lot of water in their processes, whether it is during the production process or for cleaning and washing down facilities.
However, unless urgent action is taken, by 2030, the global demand for water could be 40% more than the available resources. Already, many parts of South Africa have experienced devastating droughts in recent years, including Cape Town.
Considering this, more and more breweries and dairy-processing companies are working towards water reuse and “zero discharge”, says Naidoo – and Grundfos has been able to step in with new smart technology to help manufacturers reduce or reuse the water they use, including through reverse osmosis and desalination.
The Grundfos intelligent reverse osmosis, or iRO, solution combines a CRE pump, a smart digital dosing pump and a number of other components to form a packaged solution for reverse osmosis in a water-reuse plant.
The results can be revolutionary, with one customer, for example – a large manufacturer in the north of South Africa – aiming to eventually treat and reuse all its wastewater, reaching a point of “zero discharge”, with Grundfos supplying and supporting many of the pumps used to achieve this. This is good for the planet – and it cuts costs, too.
Grundfos is also at the forefront of desalination technology. During the recent Western Cape drought, West Coast-based fishing company Sea Harvest needed a sustainable solution to take it off the grid. It chose a desalination plant provided by ImproChem, based on dissolved air flotation, ultra-filtration and seawater reverse osmosis systems, with a Grundfos BMSX pump as the main pump. Sea Harvest used the BMS technology to its fullest potential, saving on operating expenses by up to 30%, says Naidoo.
In a completely different food-processing application, high-pressure pumps are also commonly used in breweries, for example to clean grids that get blocked from fine barley and hops, he concludes.