The power of family

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The owners of TINE, Norway’s biggest producer of dairy products, know each of their cows by name. And it’s no wonder: TINE is a cooperative, owned primarily by the farmers who supply the company with raw milk. For the construction of its new dairy in Bergen, TINE has opted to rely on the power of family – purchasing its process technology from the Krones family of companies.

TINE’s current structure goes back to the 19th century, when several farmers joined together to process their raw milk. Over time, the cooperative has grown its membership, which now includes around 10,000 farmers across Norway. “Our aim is to process and distribute our members’ milk – and thus ensure sustainable income for local farmers,” explains Mårten Haukjem, manager of the dairy plant in Bergen.

Every afternoon, some eight milk tankers roll up with the raw milk collected from local dairy farms. “Logistics are certainly a challenge for us. Norwegian farms tend to be far apart from each other and many are very remote,” explains Mårten Haukjem. Jörgen is one such dairy farmer. Although his farm is only about 20 kilometers from TINE’s new plant, it takes the milk tanker a solid 45 minutes to make the trip along curving roads that sometimes narrow to just one lane. Jörgen’s 25 dairy cows spend summers at pasture and winters in the barn. His farm represents a typical dairy farm in Norway. Because of the country’s topography – a mix of deep fjords and towering mountains – most Norwegian dairy farms are relatively small. The average dairy farmer has 22 hectares and 24 cows.

Market leader in Norway

While TINE’s company structure and atmosphere recall a large extended family, the company’s numbers are like those of a large corporation. With annual revenue of 2,250 million euros in 2019, TINE is the leading producer of dairy products in Norway. Besides a wide variety of cheeses, the company also produces liquid dairy products.

The new dairy plant in Bergen supplies the entire region with fresh milk, cream, and fruit juices. Although the plant’s daily production capacity of 300,000 liters is relatively small, this facility is the most modern of the company’s 32 plants. “Our old dairy plant was built in the 1950s and was no longer efficient. Its location within city limits and the existing equipment didn’t allow much room for flexibility. We’d long been considering the possibility of building a completely new plant to give us more flexibility in terms of infrastructure and to bring the technology up to the latest state of the art,” says Mårten Haukjem. In early 2017, TINE took the plunge and started looking for a partner to make the new dairy a reality.

Milkron, the Krones Group’s dairy expert, was among the companies that submitted a bid. Based near Hanover, Germany, Milkron was only a year old at the time, but its people had decades of experience in the dairy industry to draw from. “This expertise was a deciding factor for us. Milkron knew our industry and had exactly the right connections to build our new dairy,” concludes Mårten Haukjem.

Another major factor in Milkron’s favor was the bundled expertise available through the House of Krones. TINE broke the project into three large subprojects – and wanted a suitable partner to serve as general contractor for each one. “To keep the processes as simple and have as few points of contact as possible, we looked for a one-stop shop for each subproject. And because Krones (Milkron) was one of the few vendors capable of actually delivering the entire process technology, they got the contract,” says Mårten Haukjem.

Almost the entire House of Krones was on board

Milkron took care of all planning and execution for the process technology – from milk receiving to processing and storage of the finished products to their transfer to the filler. Milkron continually had experts from Hanover on site in Bergen coordinating the entire construction work – including the subcontractors – and making sure that delivery, assembly, installation, and startup of the equipment went like clockwork. “Since neither Milkron nor Krones has an office in Norway, the materials and the entire team had to be ‘imported’. Of course, that required an incredible amount of planning, coordination, and logistics. But they managed it extremely well,” says a satisfied Mårten Haukjem. The project required a considerable amount of material: Milkron installed more than 15 kilometers of stainless steel pipe to carry milk, finished product, water, and heat transfer media between the 54 tanks.

Milkron also brought other Krones subsidiaries on board for equipping the dairy with the necessary process technology.

  • HST delivered the homogenizer, which is used to partially homogenize 8,000 liters of fresh milk per hour at a pressure of 200 bar.
  • Evoguard supplied almost all of the valves – 1,107 in all. What made this delivery special is that the delivery included twelve valve manifolds of various sizes, which Evoguard designed and built precisely to TINE’s specifications. That also included AS interface bus communication between the valves and the higher-level controllers. Before delivering the valve manifolds, Evoguard subjected them to a Factory Acceptance Test at its Nittenau plant in collaboration with TINE specialists. Thus, they could ensure and document compliance with the customer’s specifications and proper functioning of the valves before they shipped to Norway.
  • For the process control system, TINE wanted an automation solution that was both state-of-the-art and energy-efficient – and they chose Botec F1 from Syskron. The system monitors and controls the entire production process. In addition, TINE’s existing IT environment was fully integrated and interfaces were established to almost all systems. Thus, data on energy and media consumption can be called up and displayed through Botec. In addition, order handling can either be done through the existing system or directly within Botec (read more on page 27).
  • Parent company Krones collaborated with TINE to design a complete energy concept for the new dairy plant, using a three-stage system comprising heat pumps and cooling units. The heart of the system is a hybrid high-temperature heat pump that can generate very high temperatures with a relatively low level of pressure.

Outstanding sustainability concept

“Sustainability is a top priority for TINE. To us, sustainability means efficient, prudent use of raw materials, energy, and water across all stages of production. Our target of no more than 0.5 raw materials waste is ambitious – but we will achieve it,” says Mårten Haukjem. “We also want to operate as energy-efficiently as possible.”

Together with Krones, TINE developed a sophisticated energy concept that addresses consumption across the production processes as well as building services. At the concept’s core lies a heat pump system with two temperature levels – 67 and 95 degrees Celsius – for hot water. The heat pumps use the process heat from the plant’s cooling and compressed air systems. “We have a relatively complex energy network. The heat pumps enable us to use process heat to generate hot water, heat the building, or melt ice and snow,” says Mårten Haukjem.

The plant’s closed-loop systems for water and dry cooling system mean that no fresh water is needed for heating and cooling operations. Four exterior water tanks – each with a capacity of 130,000 liters – serve as a water storage system. Krones coordinated all of the points of contact and supplied the prefabricated utilities on skids. Milkron took care of pipe installation and hook-ups.

The concept has paid off. With it, TINE has reduced energy consumption by 40 percent overall – earning the company recognition by the European Heat Pump Association. Besides the heat pumps, the dairy also has 6,000 square meters of solar panels installed on its roof to generate and store backup power.

Ahead of schedule

This was the first time TINE had entrusted the Krones Group with the entire range of process technology – and Mårten Haukjem is more than satisfied with the results. “One of the reasons we chose Krones is that they are a large group with a lot of experience. Even the bid they submitted was almost exactly what we had imagined from a technical perspective, and we had many good, valuable conversations during the clarification phase. We always felt good about it and consistently felt that we had made the right choice.”

Besides the technical aspects, the timetable also played an important role. And although Milkron served as the general contractor, coordinating all of the subcontractors, and handling the entire execution of the project, there were still plenty of points of contact. “Timing is always a crucial element on a big project like this. Everyone involved in this project worked together extremely well, during the planning stages and during the critical stages of construction. In the end, we were able to go into production a week earlier than planned,” says Mårten Haukjem. Milkron took care of some final adjustments and then even relocated a juice system from the old dairy to the new one.

TINE now has a highly energy-efficient dairy plant in Bergen with state-of-the-art equipment – but the company isn’t resting on its laurels. “We’re faced with a challenge: statistics show that consumption of fresh milk is declining. For us, that means that we have to make our production even more efficient, all the while maintaining our high standards of quality,” says Mårten Haukjem. “We never stop striving to become even better.”

“One of the reasons we chose Krones is that they are a large group with a lot of experience.”

Mårten Haukjem

“Because Krones (Milkron) was one of the few vendors capable of actually delivering the entire process technology, they got the contract.”

Mårten Haukjem

From raw milk receiving to transfer to the filler

At TINE’s new dairy plant in Bergen, raw milk receiving happens behind gates 49 and 50. The milk tankers begin arriving in the early afternoon. Milk collected from local dairy farms is offloaded on two receiving lanes, pumped from the tractor and trailer ends simultaneously. The milk first flows down into the receiving silo, where it is de-aerated and cooled to two degrees Celsius. It is then pumped upward, into one of the three 100,000-liter raw milk tanks located above the receiving silo.

The milk then enters the hygienic section of the plant. After being heated to 55 degrees Celsius, it travels through a separator, which separates the cream from the milk. The fat content desired for the final product is set, this part of the milk is homogenized, and then mixed back in with the rest of the milk collected. The milk pasteurizer can process up to 25,000 liters per hour. The partial homogenizer handles 6,000 to 8,000 liters per hour. The excess fat is transferred to one of five cream tanks to later be used for producing whipping cream.

The milk itself is heated to 74 degrees Celsius in a heat exchanger, and then immediately chilled again in a regenerative heat exchange process. It is chilled down to two degrees Celsius using ice-water cooling and then transferred to one of five tanks. Besides the 10 tanks for dairy products, the warehouse also holds four tanks for fruit juice production.

An Evoguard valve manifold controls the transfer of the milk, cream, and juice to the correct one of five fillers – for cartons, large containers, or bag-in-box containers. Milkron also installed two CIP systems for cleaning the lines – one for the raw milk and one for pasteurized products. TINE’s specifications required hot-water sterilization at 80 degrees Celsius.

In order to keep waste to a minimum, the milk that is used for flushing the system at the start of the CIP process is heated and made available to farmers to use as animal feed. The mixed phases that arise during startup, flushing, and product changeovers are also collected, concentrated in a reverse osmosis process, and then dosed into the pasteurizer’s buffer tank.

TINE puts its trust in Botec F1

When planning its new dairy, TINE opted to fully integrate Botec F1 into its existing IT environment. The custom solution by Syskron is based on three main factors:

  1. Automation scope
  • Botec F1 to control the entire production process, including
    • milk reception
    • CIP processes
    • all valves fully connected via ASi Bus
    • complete integration of all supply units:
      water treatment, including ultra-filtration, compressed air supply, cooling system, and heat pumps
  • PLC frame with the latest generation of Siemens S7-1500 controls
  • Batch handling, including visualization and connection to TINE’s MES components
  1. Botec features
  • Bidirectional tracking and tracing
  • Remote maintenance via VPN
  • Compatible with Siemens SPS S7-1500 controls and Profinet
  • Alarms from Botec F1 are transferred to TINE’s SMS system
  • Order handling module: production orders can be generated either directly in Botec or in TINE’s ERP system and then transferred to Botec
  • Language can be switched between Norwegian and English
  1. Data interface for TINE’s IT systems
  • Process status and alarms for “raw materials” are integrated into Botec
  • Botec’s IFace interface delivers information to TINE’s integration platform (Laboratory Information Management System, Business Intelligence System, and Asset Management)
  • A data interface connects to TINE’s production data acquisition system

The results are impressive: TINE received a state-of-the-art software solution that made day-to-day production operations significantly easier for everyone involved. Highly complex processes can be mapped, controlled, and tracked. Entries are made via an intuitive graphical user interface.

The system also completely integrates all energy supply units, making it even easier for TINE to fulfill its promise of sustainable, energy-efficient production.