Food and Beverage

How Technology Giant GEA Helped Nutrition Business Mataura Valley Milk Create Its State-of-the-Art Plant

Next-Level Nutrition Plants

Innovation happens when an organization has proven and perfected its approach to the conventional. Once the bar has been raised, the marketplace can look beyond what is currently achievable and push the boundaries of capability.

This was true for the dairy industry in August 2016 when Auckland based company GEA was selected to build the Mataura Valley Milk (MVM) Plant near Gore at the bottom of New Zealand’s South Island.

GEA’s pedigree in the dairy industry cannot be understated, with the company delivering several large-scale dairy projects since 1985 including Fonterra’s Darfield and Edendale sites as well as the Yashilli Plant in Pokeno south of Auckland.

It was clear from the outset that Mataura Valley Milk was going to be a different proposition, not just in its production approach but in terms of the facilities’ construction. From the moment we dug under the Mataura River to run power cable to the site, every piece of equipment was best-in-class and every decision was based on achieving the highest performance and hygiene standards,” says GEA project manager, Gary Reynolds.

Mataura Valley Milk (MVM) set out to build “the world’s best nutritional business” with industry leading equipment and technology and the ability to swiftly adapt production to customer and market needs.

GEA was responsible for the project from end to end. This included everything, from the construction of the facility to the specification, installation and commissioning of the sophisticated plant and equipment.

“Beyond the industry-leading product quality that MVM wanted to achieve, delivering the near-pharmaceutical hygiene standards required as well as total visibility of every ingredient from the farm through the facility was a challenge we welcomed. What we delivered within two years is a truly state-of-the art dairy plant that continues to set new industry benchmarks,” says Reynolds.

Choosing the best

Large, multi-faceted projects such as the building of a dairy plant require meticulous planning and extensive expertise. With over 300 staff in New Zealand, GEA’s project-management approach has been proven across many different projects. Gary Reynolds cites clear communication along with careful contractor and supplier selection as the vital ingredients for successful project delivery.

“From the electricians, building contractors and welders we had on site to our own automation engineers and MVM project managers, everyone was on the same page. Health & Safety was a massive consideration due to the tight timeframe, we had so many people working on various parts of the plant simultaneously – this is where choosing the very best people, materials and products for the job paid off,” he says.

At the heart of the Mataura Valley Milk plant is the sophisticated technology and equipment that manages production, hygiene and safety. For this critical infrastructure, GEA specified Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure platform due to its proven reputation, connectivity capabilities and the expertise of Schneider’s locally based engineers.

“We’ve worked with Schneider Electric for over two decades, across many projects. The willingness of their team to collaborate and the capability of their products make them our preference wherever possible. The Schneider product range is very well constructed and with connectivity integrated in devices across the range, our engineers have significant scope to achieve the best outcome for customers,” says Reynolds.

An End-to-End Solution

GEA specified Schneider Electric products throughout the plant, from the switchgear in offices to the variable speed drives, programmable logic controllers, active harmonic filters and power monitoring.

The equipment list included over 200 Altivar Process variable speed drives, 14 Accusine harmonic filters to ensure power quality and minimise power factor , Air Circuit Breakers to reliably protect staff and equipment and Tesys U motor controls to optimise machine efficiency.

The real-time data visibility and connectivity is delivered by Modicon M580 ethernet programmable automation controllers, part of EcoStruxure’s Edge Control layer.

Ultimately, Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure solution delivered Mataura Valley Milk an open and connected system architecture that enhances the efficiency, reliability, safety, sustainability and connectivity of its infrastructure.

GEA’s electrical & automation engineer, Mark Taylor says that the capability of the Schneider range combined with both companies’ engineering expertise made the unique challenges of building Mataura Valley Milk plant interesting and innovative.

“Engineers love to push the envelope and introduce new efficiencies and performance characteristics. We have significant familiarity with the Schneider equipment and working with their team, we’re able to deliver significant value on every project. MVM required advanced batch platform & review along with recipe management and track & trace for all ingredients and products. To deliver all of this and remain within the boundaries of stringent hygiene requirements is an accomplishment we’re very proud of,” he says.

This tenacious pursuit of engineering knowledge enables GEA and Schneider to advance the capabilities, performance and profitability of the dairy industry as a whole.

Included at the Outset

Taylor says that the decision to partner with Schneider Electric was made at the early design phase and strong relationships with suppliers like Schneider underpin GEA’s reputation as industry leaders when it comes to building dairy plants.

“MVM’s communication with us from the outset was excellent. Their clear vision of the outcomes and deliverables required gave us assurance during the design phase. We were confident in being able to deliver the whole project on time, within budget and with the full suite of ambitious capability because we know we can rely on the expertise and support of our staff, contractors and supply partners like Schneider Electric,” he says.

Download the full Mataura Valley Milk EcoStruxure story


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