GEA delivers the process technology for the plant expansion of a leading cosmetics company in Thailand. The Home and Personal Care experts will commission the entire process – from raw material to filling, including the required cleaning systems for pipelines and intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) in Bangkok by April 2019. GEA is also responsible for the automation – where the control requirements of the processes are implemented. GEA technology will significantly reduce overall product losses during production. The order value is in the high single-digit million Euro range.

Process design for sustainable production

From Thailand the customer already supplies more than 40 countries with cosmetics, mainly in the Asia-Pacific region. Due to the strong demand, the Bangkok plant is now in urgent need of expansion. Since March 2018, construction work for the new production facility has been underway on a building area of 10,000 square meters. GEA will install personal care process technology there by the end of the year, followed by commissioning. At the same time, the modernization of the existing building, which will also house a new cosmetics line from 2020, will begin. With its flexible technological capabilities, the new production center will become even more strategically important in the future.

Safety, quality and efficiency were as much in the foreground of the planning of the new production areas as the issue of sustainability. The GEA solutions for liquid processing substantially contribute to ensuring their success. Michael Armiger (UK) heads GEA’s project together with Javier Galdon (Singapore): “The crucial factors are our expertise in handling demanding raw materials and our hygienic process design – which integrates the various systems from raw material intake to filling. This makes the entire production extremely efficient and preserves resources.” 

Avoid product losses

For the refurbishment part, the cleaning process is of particular importance, because the finished products delivery via the pipe system to the respective target tank or fillers must be emptied with minimum loss. The customer will clean the pipelines with CIP media when changing the product, which in turn will have to be completely removed from the pipeline in order to exclude product dilutions with water. GEA uses pigging technology for this purpose. “Our VARICOVER® product recovery system will reduce previous product losses significantly,” explains Armiger. The cleaning-in-place processes are designed to use less water, heat energy and chemicals – and they run much faster overall. 

During deodorant production the cosmetics manufacturer mixes components that are difficult to process such as alcohol and zinc complexes which are often sensitive, adhesive and abrasive. That is the reason why GEA builds the raw material intake and dosing system from special elastomers, which master sterilization processes and handle aggressive media under ATEX guidelines for explosion protection. The complete piping, all VARIVENT® seat valves and tanks have a PTFE non-stick coating (polytetrafluoroethylene) in certain areas. 

Implementing GEA design

Since August 2016, GEA has gone through a three-stage bidding process, during which the engineers – specialized in the production of home and personal care products – first developed a master plan, then proceeded with the detailed design for the process technology, and finally have been commissioned with the execution.

Above all, GEA's strong international team and the professionalism and flexibility with which GEA implements customer ideas and presents its own ideas convinced the cosmetic group. In order to reduce total operating costs and increase the life cycle of the system, GEA used its service expertise on predictive maintenance in the detailed planning.

“We went through an intense bidding process during which we could have been eliminated at any stage”, recalls GEA Project Manager Javier Galdon. “But we made a strong impression with over 30 years of experience, among other things in the field of automation. The customer benefits from us implementing our own design. After one and a half years, we are very proud to be able to implement this project.” Following projects in Germany, Poland, Sweden and Spain, GEA is currently also building two filling process skids in Brazil for the cosmetics giant.

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