Why Sustainability and Efficiency is Important for Companies That Process Liquids
Liquid product recovery (also referred to as “pigging”) systems are increasingly being adopted by companies that process liquids as they help to improve environmental sustainability and efficiency.
From food, beverages, pet food and homecare to personal care, cosmetics, lubricants, paint and coatings processing, there are many complex challenges facing these manufacturers. Competition is intense, margins are spiralling downwards, raw material prices often fluctuate, and the overall cost of doing business continues to rise.
In this current climate, higher efficiency and increased sustainability are quickly moving from an option for processors to consider to an imperative to remain competitive and profitable.
This blog article looks at the importance of efficiency and sustainability in liquid processing. It also looks at ways pigging systems can help companies that process liquids improve the efficiency and sustainability of their operations.
What is Environmental Sustainability?
Environmental sustainability has become a hot topic in recent years. To put it briefly, sustainability is concerned with using the barest minimum of non-renewable resources, such as materials, energy, fuels, land, water and so on, while not harming the planet. It’s often part of a broader commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Sustainability is commonly associated with minimising greenhouse gas emissions, transparency, water conservation, reusing and recycling, improving energy efficiencies, lowering emissions plus much more.
An increasing number of companies that process liquids are treating sustainability as an overarching goal in their strategy and operations to boost growth and improve competitiveness.
And the larger the business, the more important sustainability usually is.
The Business Case for Sustainable Manufacturing
There are many reasons why companies are embracing sustainable production. As well as improving profitability, sustainability enhances a company’s reputation and can help secure future business through loyalty and trust, therefore increasing brand value. Leveraging sustainability can also increase operational efficiency by reducing costs and lowering waste.
In addition, sustainability can help manufacturers reach new customers and increase their competitive advantage.
More than ever, the purchasing decisions of consumers are increasingly being influenced by sustainability. Consumers are specifically seeking out companies with eco-friendly manufacturing practices. Customers want to feel good about the products they’re purchasing and like to buy from companies that share their values and uphold the same standards as they do.
Increasing Efficiency in Liquid Processing
With margins under constant pressure in today’s fast-paced market, as well as focusing on sustainability, it’s also become absolutely essential for manufacturers to increase efficiency in every area of their business.
This is though lowering water usage, cutting waste, and reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions.
Waste and energy expenses account for a significant proportion of operating costs. For example, for food and drink manufacturers energy can account for more than 15% of operational expenditure. In addition, both energy and waste represent a severe threat to the environment and sustainability.
With energy and waste disposal prices volatile and likely to rise, improving efficiency has become an imperative.
Using Water Responsibly
Manufacturers of food, beverages, cosmetics, personal care and so on are heavily reliant on water as it is frequently used in the manufacturing process. As well as being used as an ingredient, water is crucial for activities such as clean-in-place (CIP), washing, processing, boiling and cooling purposes.
Water is becoming an increasingly scarce commodity. Therefore, it’s more important than ever that manufacturers use it as efficiently and responsibly as possible.
With climate change advancing and water scarcity accelerating around the world, many manufacturers and processors have taken a proactive approach to water management. They have embraced water efficiency initiatives and have targets in place to reduce their water usage.
Reducing the amount of water used can help save energy, improve efficiency, and support climate goals as less pumping, heating, and treating is required.
Improving Efficiency and Sustainability by Pigging
To reduce the impact of their activities and products on the environment, many manufacturers and processors are looking at ways they can produce their products more efficiently while in a sustainable way.
Many have implemented green initiatives throughout their business. These initiatives are to help reduce water consumption and lower energy usage. Often this involves utilising Liquid Product Recovery Technology (also known as Pigging).
Pigging refers to the widely used technology that uses a specialist projectile (a “pig”) to recover, rather than waste, residual liquid in pipelines between batches. Pigging has a wide range of benefits for companies that process liquids. What’s more, pigging systems deliver a significant return on investment and pay for themselves extremely quickly. In most cases, pigging system payback is less than 12 months.
How Do Pigging Systems Work?
A pigging system consists of a wide variety of components, including the hygienic (sanitary) pig, pig detector, pig control software, receive and launch station, pig housing, various valves plus much more (here’s more about the key components of a pigging system).
Pigging systems work by propelling the pig through the pipeline by compressed air, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, water, or the next product. The pig fits compactly to the pipeline, so as it travels through the pipe, it recovers practically all the product from the pipeline. A pigging system provided by HPS typically recovers up to 99.5% of product from full process pipelines. Here’s a case study which shows how HPS pigging systems are helping a soft drink manufacturer increase product yield by 4%.
Reducing Waste by Pigging
The product reclaimed by the hygienic (sanitary) pig is perfectly usable, and without a pigging process it would be discarded as waste or flushed away.
In this way, pigging technology is an extremely quick and effective way to reduce wastage in the manufacturing and production process. Because less product is sent to waste, this, in turn, saves on the associated removal, transportation, treatment, recycling, and waste disposal.
So, by recovering product and reducing waste, this not only improves environmental sustainability, but it increases efficiency and improves a processing line’s profitability.
Saving Energy, Labour and Resources
As well as reducing waste, pigging systems make the cleaning process much easier. Because most of the product has been removed by the pig, this eliminates the need for lengthy and resource-intensive water flushes or washouts. In this way, pigging reduces water usage considerably and lowers the amount of cleaning chemicals used.
Because less cleaning chemicals are used in the treatment of water and wastewater, this means there is less energy used, and less by products to contend with. So, the environmental benefits of pigging are significant.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that pigging has become a necessity for companies looking to reduce their environmental footprint, increase sustainability and improve their green credentials.
Improving the Efficiency of Product Changeovers
Another major benefit of pigging systems is that they significantly speed up the changeover process.
Changing from one product to another accounts for significant downtime and can be extremely costly for manufacturers. What’s more, changeovers can seriously hinder line efficiency and productivity. After all, changeovers are time spent not producing a product that contributes to profit.
In addition, during a changeover, any product washed through at the start or end of the batch is typically flushed to waste. In addition, there’s the cost of water, chemicals, labour, and energy to consider. In this way, changeovers can be extremely wasteful and time-consuming.
How Pigging Improves the Changeover Process
Because pigging cleans the pipeline so effectively, it speeds up the changeover process significantly by reducing flushing and CIP. In some cases, if there’s only a slight change in colour or flavour, it’s often possible to follow on immediately with the next product after pigging (eliminating the need for flushing and CIP completely). On top of that, the pigging process is extremely quick (here’s a video showing a pigging system in operation).
So, by speeding up changeovers by pigging this results in less downtime, improved efficiency, productivity increases, enhanced capacity, and reduced labour requirements.
That’s why pigging systems make financial and operational sense and help manufacturers and processors towards their efficiency, productivity and sustainability goals.
If you want a pigging system price or require more information about improving your food, beverage, confectionery, homecare, personal care, cosmetics, paint, or pet food processing operations by using hygienic or sanitary pigging systems, liquid product recovery or transfer solutions, then please contact HPS.