Kerry Group lays claim to being a world leader in food ingredients and flavours as well as a major supplier of own-brand foods to the Irish and UK markets.
Since opening its first dairy and ingredients plant in Ireland in 1972, it has grown to the point where its annual sales top £5 billion and employs more than 24,000 people worldwide.
The company’s meat processing plant at Hyde in Cheshire has undertaken a programme of ongoing improvement.
The upgrades, implemented by RSR Total Solutions over a number of years, have used open protocol control and monitoring systems from Resource Data Management to give the company control over all the main power-consuming plant and processes at the site.
As a result, Kerry has increased production while making substantial reductions in energy costs and related carbon emissions.
Phil Goodfellow, who led the project for RSR, says: “The initial programme at Kerry was driven by the requirements of due diligence and quality control. The company was keen to ensure full regulatory compliance and that products were prepared to the highest standards. Once this issue had been addressed, energy efficiency and plant performance optimisation became the next priorities.”
The initial solution to the due diligence issue was based on RDM’s Data Manager system. This enables temperature data to be collected, stored and analysed, with access for Kerry personnel across the site via a virtual private network (VPN).
Kerry approved the project and the RDM solution was used to replace an aging Woodley system. The company appreciated the ease of use of the new RDM platform, which allows access from any PC across the facility.
Mr Goodfellow says: “At this stage, data collected was based solely on air temperatures – in line with the rest of the food industry at this time. However, the company wanted to develop the system further so it could monitor the actual temperature of products stored at the plant.”
Therefore, in phase two, a second tier of data collection was added, based on the use of an additional 40 temperature probes linked to the original Data Manager product probes within meat and food products, giving a detailed and accurate history.
Having proved the effectiveness and ease of use of the RDM system, Kerry was keen to introduce the approach more widely across the plant – to encompass not just stored produce but to monitor products as they passed through the various stages of processing.
An additional 180 temperature probes – including both air and in-product types – were installed and linked into the Data Manager. This made it possible to track and record the complete journey of products through the plant, from delivery to despatch, with collected data being archived for future reference to prove product quality and due diligence.
“At this point, the RDM roll-out had been primarily designed to support the needs of regulatory compliance and quality assurance,” says Mr Goodfellow. “However, with the rise in energy costs and growth in concern about carbon emissions, we felt there was huge potential to extend the monitoring and control system to address these needs.”
It was discovered that some energy-intensive areas of the plant continued to operate even when the plant was not in production. The contractor proposed harnessing Data Manager to improve monitoring and control of energy.
A design for a whole-plant energy monitoring system was developed, to provide an overview of all main plant and processes at the facility. This required installation of a second RDM Data Manager in the main electrical plant room, linked to sub-meters across the site.
The concept was enthusiastically received by Lee Selwood, Kerry’s site maintenance facilitator at Hyde, with responsibility for energy efficiency. For the first time, this provided Mr Selwood and his colleagues with real-time data on energy use across the plant, and also enabled power use to be plotted against ambient temperatures.
“It showed where energy was being wasted, and enabled us to actively manage plant to minimise power use while optimising productivity,” says Mr Selwood. “The RDM system gave us complete transparency, so we could make changes and immediately monitor the effects on the ground.”
Building on the principle of active energy management, the company installed several variable speed drives to improve control of water flow to air handling units and water cooler towers, again linked into the Data Manager.
To bring everything together, all monitoring functions were finally routed through the second Data Manager, enabling full integration of temperature and energy consumption data streams. These measures resulted in significant savings in energy, amounting to several hundred pounds saved each week in power costs. Payback on the investment was less than two years.
The programme continues to evolve. The next phase involves the installation of Plant TDB [Data Builder] units in new control panels to handle the site’s canteen facilities, dry product store, office air conditioning and car parks. The company is also installing RDM’s Intuitive control units, replacing existing controls by another manufacturer that have come to the end of their working life.
The anticipated overall result of the programme will be a 10 per cent saving in energy costs for the plant, despite the fact that during this time productivity at the plant has been significantly increased. The net effect will be a six-figure saving each year in the plant’s energy costs.
In addition to achieving its initial objective relating to due diligence and regulatory compliance, the company now has the tools to actively manage and optimise all main plant and processes, RDM says. The system has given the company full control of the plant, and total transparency about how it is performing. Now Kerry Group is planning to introduce similar RDM-based systems at other plants in the group.