Sustainability is not a new consideration for the Neuenkirchen-based Naarmann private dairy in the Münsterland region of Germany. Since its foundation by Theodor Naarmann in 1903, conserving resources while ensuring the highest possible quality standards has been a priority for the company. The dairy’s track record is testament to the success of this approach.

However, the issue of sustainability has taken on a whole new dimension today, as Managing Director Andreas Naarmann can confirm. And there is both a desire and a requirement to provide facts and figures as evidence of progress in this arena. Food producers not only need to meet key sustainability and energy management standards such as DIN 5000.1. They must also be able to withstand the general price pressure in the industry and pay milk producers a fair price for their milk. A new add-on unit from GEA for the plant’s separator is now helping Naarmann dairy to conserve the important resource of water. The savings measured speak for themselves – delivering clear benefits for both the environment and the company’s finances.

More cost- and resource-efficient separator cooling

Naarmann is using a GEA MSI 400 separator with a processing capacity of 40,000 l/h; a GEA standomat handles milk and cream standardization. (Image: GEA)
Naarmann is using a GEA MSI 400 separator with a processing capacity of 40,000 l/h; a GEA standomat handles milk and cream standardization. (Image: GEA)

For Naarmann, reducing water consumption is the next crucial step in its consistent efforts toward becoming a climate-neutral dairy. Back in 2019, the Neuenkirchen site invested in a new energy center. Two combined heat and power plants generate the electricity needed for operations, while a new refrigeration system ensures efficient ice water production. “A short time later, GEA approached us with the idea of the water-saving unit for our separator. We were extremely interested in the pilot project from both an environmental and economic standpoint, since we do not have our own effluent treatment plant,” says Naarmann Project Manager Michael Frenking.

“We agreed without hesitation. Based on our excellent, longstanding partnership with GEA, we had every confidence in the project’s success.”

The close proximity to GEA’s largest site in Oelde, Westphalia – where the pilot plant was designed and built by the company’s centrifuge specialists – was another advantage for the project. “Naarmann is only about 80 kilometers away from us, meaning that the team could be on site quickly, respond flexibly and closely track the project,” explains Sven Irrgang, Smart Services Project Manager at GEA’s Separation Business Unit.

Maximum savings, minimum footprint

Enhancing water efficiency with the compact Water Saving Unit: Managing Director Andreas Naarmann (right), GEA’s Sven Irrgang and Project Manager Michael Frenking (left). The Naarmann dairy saves 300 liters of water per hour of separator operation. (Image: GEA)
Enhancing water efficiency with the compact Water Saving Unit: Managing Director Andreas Naarmann (right), GEA’s Sven Irrgang and Project Manager Michael Frenking (left). The Naarmann dairy saves 300 liters of water per hour of separator operation. (Image: GEA)

Naarmann has used a GEA MSI 400 separator with a processing capacity of 40,000 l/h for eight years, while a GEA standomat automatic standardization unit handles milk and cream standardization. The engine, hood and catcher had previously been cooled in a conventional manner with softened well water, which was discharged into the sewer system following heat transfer.

The pilot GEA Centrifuge Water Saving Unit promised great savings potential as early as during the concept phase. At first glance, no one would think that this small system, which is the size of a moving box, would be able to deliver. But deliver it has – and massively so.

Naarmann now saves 300 liters of water per operating hour; extrapolated over the year, this amounts to more than one million liters, depending on production time.

To achieve this, the Water Saving Unit, which is equipped with a circulation pump, supplies cooling water to the separator’s engine, hood and catcher. The customer provides iced water at the requisite flow of 11–13 l/min. to cool the circulating water in a plate heat exchanger.

Equipped with a circulation pump, the Water Saving Unit operates with two separate circuits for the engine and the hood/catcher, which optimizes the unit’s energy consumption. (Image: GEA)
Equipped with a circulation pump, the Water Saving Unit operates with two separate circuits for the engine and the hood/catcher, which optimizes the unit’s energy consumption. (Image: GEA)

The integrated energy management logic reduces the system’s energy consumption. While continuous engine cooling is required during separator operation, hood/catcher cooling switches on automatically only when required during processing. The system’s total energy consumption is significantly lower compared to the previous cooling process, which required energy for pumping, cleaning as well as preparing and disposing of the separator’s cooling water. With the installation of the Water Saving Unit, energy demand is reduced to just the electrical power necessary to cool the circulating iced water supplied by the customer and the unit’s power consumption of less than 40 W.

Measuring the size of just two water crates, the efficient Water Saving Unit can fit into the smallest of spaces. (Image: GEA)
Measuring the size of just two water crates, the efficient Water Saving Unit can fit into the smallest of spaces. (Image: GEA)

Further advantages include the short commissioning time and the unit’s compact size of just under 40 x 60 x 50 cm. “This means the Water Saving Unit will fit into any production space, however narrow, and can be easily retrofitted. Installation takes a maximum of half a day and the unit requires little maintenance in operation,” says Sven Irrgang.

Naarmann uses the ice water already available in the dairy for the Water Saving Unit, since its temperature is adequate for operating the unit. “Cooling using glycol is, of course, also possible and just as efficient, as we have successfully tested in a second pilot system at a large brewery,” explains Irrgang.

Short payback period

The longstanding partnership based on trust was one of the cornerstones for the joint Water Saving Unit pilot project between GEA and the private dairy. Seen here are Managing Director Andreas Naarmann (left), Sven Irrgang from GEA and Project Manager Michael Frenking (right). (Image: GEA)
The longstanding partnership based on trust was one of the cornerstones for the joint Water Saving Unit pilot project between GEA and the private dairy. Seen here are Managing Director Andreas Naarmann (left), Sven Irrgang from GEA and Project Manager Michael Frenking (right). (Image: GEA)

Its short payback period also makes the unit a cost-effective alternative to larger effluent treatment plants: “The Water Saving Unit quickly pays for itself – depending on the use of the machine, as well as whether municipal or well water is used and the amount of the wastewater charges and energy costs for treating the cooling water,” explains Sven Irrgang.

Following its official launch at the Anuga FoodTec 2022 trade show, GEA has put the Water Saving Unit into series production. The retrofittable Water Saving Unit for separators is thus poised to become one of the most attractive investments for food and beverage manufacturers aiming to make their production both more sustainable and more cost effective.

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