Reducing Water Usage and Meeting Sustainability Goals
As processors of food, beverages, personal care, household products and other liquids navigate the COVID-19 pandemic with flexibility and resilience, many have ramped up their production due to the sudden increase in demand.
We recently wrote an article about how household product manufacturers are increasing their production capacity to meet demand.
As well as increasing capacity, many manufacturers are also largely focusing their efforts on reducing water usage in their operations and meeting environmental sustainability goals.
So, they’re investing in innovative, “green” technologies such as pipeline product recovery (also known as “pigging”) that can significantly save water, money, and drastically improve the bottom line.
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Disrupted Supply Chains – Is Reducing Water Consumption Really Important?
With the global pandemic plunging nearly every industry into crisis with supply chains particularly disrupted, it brings into question whether reducing water consumption is still a critical priority for manufacturers.
However, what if failing to address issues such as water usage ends up costing money and weakening their business in the long run?
That’s why water reduction and sustainability projects are still high on the agenda for many companies that process liquids.
After all, consumer, and investor pressure to embrace sustainability is a problem that isn’t going away. Plus, manufacturers know that if they abandon their efforts, it could have serious implications to their businesses in the future, making picking up the sustainability agenda later unfeasible or too expensive. So, manufacturers are maintaining a focus on sustainability efforts such as improving water efficiency.
Water Conversation Once an Afterthought
With more and more companies using water efficiency to reduce unnecessary water usage, this hasn’t always been the case.
In fact, water conservation was once an afterthought for processing industries such as food and beverage, personal care, household and so on.
This isn’t too surprising, considering water has been historically less expensive and less volatile that other utilities. And, with water being an essential input, manufacturing facilities simply used the amounts they needed as a processing aid and for clean-in-place (CIP), and sanitation.
However, this is no longer feasible as water is now a limited resource. In some areas, it’s also scarce. What’s more, regulations regarding treatment and disposal have tightened and costs increased. So, in recent years, attitudes towards water have changed drastically.
Manufacturers can no longer afford to waste water and need to use it wisely. They must address water scarcity or face being exposed to rising water costs and potential shortages, which may limit their ability to operate effectively while meeting the needs of customers.
Consumers Views on Sustainability
As well as being important to manufacturers, environmental concerns and sustainability issues such as water consumption are increasingly top of mind for consumers.
In fact, a large proportion of consumers buy from brands solely on their social and environmental impact.
A recent study conducted by BCG looked at how consumers views on sustainability and environmental issues have changed since the coronavirus pandemic. A staggering 90% of those surveyed said they were equally or more concerned about these issues after the COVID-19 outbreak.
It was a similar picture for Getty Images, who identified climate and sustainability as key issues for the public, even amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, data acquired by Getty Images, in combination with YouGov, found that these key issues had increased significantly in importance since the pandemic began.
Reducing Water Use Through Liquid Product Recovery
To meet sustainability goals, a growing number of companies are increasing their investments in water-saving projects that can save energy and support climate goals.
They are leveraging technologies such as pigging that not only improves sustainability, but also ensures rapid return on investment (ROI).
Pigging uses a specialist projectile (the ‘pig’) to recover every last drop of useable liquid from the inside of pipelines.
The HPS pig is a highly-specialist, industry proven device that has exceptionally high product recovery rates. It nearly always recovers up to 99.5% of product from full pipelines. In some cases, this can be even higher.
In this way, pigging is an extremely effective way to reduce water consumption and improve profitability, efficiency, and environmental sustainability in liquid processing.
How Pigging Systems Save Water
So, how exactly do hygienic and sanitary pigging systems save water in liquid processing?
For CIP and sanitation, manufacturers often use considerable quantities of water to flush out the pipeline. This can be an extremely lengthy, costly, and labour-intensive process.
Pigging systems can help companies reduce water usage and meet their water conservation and sustainability targets by reducing the requirement for long, continuous pipeline flushes between product transfers and changeovers. This is due to the pig recovering the majority of product residue from the pipeline.
In some cases, the process pig can eliminate the need to flush completely. Even when water flushes and CIP are still required, their length, intensity and the volume of water used is significantly less with a pigging process in place. So, not only does pigging save water, but it also saves energy, resources, product, and time. That’s why the environmental benefits of pigging are major.
Other Ways Pigging Systems Improve Water Efficiency
As well as reducing the need for long and continuous pipeline flushes, pigging systems also save water by eliminating over flushing.
In many processing plants, over flushing the lines with water is extremely common. People want to be sure they’ve cleaned the pipe and quite simply use far too march water and cleaning agents. However, with a pigging system this is much less likely to happen. This is due to HPS liquid product recovery systems being automatically controlled and their operation optimised. So, pigging improves the control and efficiency of the CIP process.
In addition, in some processes such as distilling, pigging systems can improve water efficiency by re-using and recycling rinse water.
Essentially, by pigging the flush water out of the line, it can then be reused as cooling water. Remember, HPS pigging systems are fully hygienic/sanitary so there’s no issue with water or product contamination.
Pigging in Wide Use by Companies That Process Liquids
Pigging systems are widely used by companies that process liquids. This includes manufacturers and processors of food, beverages, confectionery, personal care, cosmetics, household and cleaning products, paint, coatings, pet food, chemicals, and so on. Essentially, if the product can be pumped, it can also be pigged.
As well as reducing water consumption and improving the efficiency and sustainability of operations, pigging systems offer a wide range of additional benefits.
Pigging systems also speed up changeover times, lower disposal costs, reduce downtime, improve the capacity of operations, boost productivity, plus much more.
In this way, pigging greatly improves profitability and offers a high return on investment. Payback from a pigging solution is also extremely quick.
As an example, HPS implemented pigging systems for a winery in Australia. As well as increasing wine yields, the pigging systems are saving roughly 40 mega litres of water a year. Here’s the case study on how pigging increases yield and reduces water usage in wine processing.
Find Out More
If you process liquids and are looking to save water, increase yields, improve sustainability, boost efficiency plus more by pigging and liquid product recovery solutions, then please get in touch.
We also have a wide range of pipeline pigging case studies, so make sure you check them out.