Creating sustainable dairy ingredients: what does an energy management system do?

Discover how FrieslandCampina Ingredients is making real-time differences in ingredient production with our energy management system.

Discover how FrieslandCampina Ingredients is how making real-time differences in ingredient production with our energy management system.

Creating sustainable dairy ingredients: what does an energy management system do?

Andor Hendriks, Director of Technology at FrieslandCampina Ingredients discusses how we’re making real-time differences with our EMS

The nutrition industry has an important role to play in creating a more sustainable future. And environmentally-savvy consumers agree – 65% want food and nutrition brands to do more to protect the environment.[1] But they’re also holding brands more accountable; in the wake of greenwashing fears, consumers are scrutinising sustainability claims more than ever. To win these sceptical consumers over – and to create a truly sustainable dairy industry – brands must be able to set meaningful sustainability targets and demonstrate their progress towards them, something which can only be unlocked with effective, accurate measurement.

At FrieslandCampina Ingredients, we’re serious about making meaningful progress towards our waste reduction and energy consumption targets. That’s why we’ve implemented a new energy management system at our production sites. In this blog, Andor Hendriks, Director of Technology at FrieslandCampina Ingredients, tells us what an energy management system does and how it’s helping us to be more efficient, keep costs down, and ultimately support our mission to create more sustainable dairy ingredients for all.

1. What can you tell us about the project – what does an energy management system do? 

Ingredient manufacturing, naturally, requires energy. So, just like you do at home, we need measuring devices to make sure we’re keeping track of our energy consumption. Previously, this registration used to be done manually – a person walked around gathering data to put it into our data system on a monthly basis.

The challenge is that our production sites are very large, so this was a time-consuming task. We also required more detail than this process allowed, in order to make energy saving decisions that have the biggest impact.

This is where the energy management system comes in. It’s a tool built on cloud technology which monitors our equipment on a continuous basis, so we have more accurate data on our equipment’s performance and energy consumption. To make that information useful, it also uses specialist software to visualise data in the form of reports. These reports are accessible at any time and can provide an hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly view. They can even show us our energy consumption by process line or on an equipment level. At the moment, our energy management system is in place at our Veghel and Bedum sites, and we’re almost fully implemented at Borculo – with future plans for even more roll outs.

 

2. What does the energy management system measure, and what impact do these things have on our environment?

The energy management system measures electric, gas, water, wastewater, and steam – all of which have an impact on our environment and in turn has an impact on our CO2 footprint. In 2021, our ingredient production plants produced 180,000 tonnes of CO2. As a company that’s committed to creating a more sustainable dairy industry, it absolutely made sense for us to focus on cutting our energy consumption to help reduce our CO2 footprint. Now, we can measure 90% of our energy consuming equipment in detail, giving us better insight in our performance and how we can reduce our footprint.

 

3. What are the benefits of the energy management system?

There have already been so many benefits to implementing our energy management system. At the most fundamental level, it’s helping us to make informed decisions about our waste reduction and reducing our energy consumption. The system allows us to see what the main consumers of energy are at our production sites, exactly how they are consuming energy, and if they are working properly. Armed with this information, we can monitor our systems more closely, compare equipment, and make recommendations for improvements. This is important because energy efficiency is a key factor in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.[2]

For example, we can see if a piece of equipment isn’t running as it should and needs to undergo maintenance, have process corrections or be replaced by a more efficient model. As a result of this initiative, we’ve been able to determine that at one of our production facilities, there are three main process units that contribute the most to the site’s CO2 emissions. So, we’ve put plans in place to improve the efficiency of these units. Because we can view data by equipment, we can easily compare units, find out which are the most efficient and make process adjustments to improve the energy efficiency of those which aren’t. Ultimately, it’s helping us to be more sustainable in our factory operations so we can reach our target of reducing our emissions by 63% by 2030.

There’s also a cost benefit. Energy is one of our main costs. Our Veghel production site is one of our biggest, so it has a significant energy consumption, and therefore spend, too. But thanks to our energy management system, we have already made an approximate annual energy saving of up to 5% at the site, which quickly adds up! The savings made through these efficiencies can help to keep costs down for our customers or be re-invested into sustainability initiatives to make sure we’re doing our part as a business.

 

4. What benefits does FrieslandCampina Ingredients’ energy management system deliver to customers?

Today’s consumers are environmentally aware, and they’re demanding clarity from the products they buy in terms of their environmental impact. In turn, more of our customers are asking us – as part of their supply chain – how we can help them improve their product’s carbon footprint. However, it can be difficult in complex supply chains to get an accurate view of an individual product’s footprint. Our energy management system is bringing us one step closer to delivering that.

As a starting point, companies need to have insight into their extended supply chain and the individual ingredients that make up their product – so they increasingly want to know the exact CO2 footprint of our products. In time, we hope to be able to say exactly how many kgs of CO2 were produced and how much energy was used to make each order we send out. That way, our customers have a better understanding of the impact of their final product – that’s the real vision for me. Couple this with FrieslandCampina Ingredients’ efforts to become climate neutral, through both offsetting and reductions, we hope to say by 2050 that each bag of our powder ingredients produced exactly 0kg of net CO2.

 

To learn more about what we’re doing to track our sustainability progress and create a more sustainable dairy industry, check out our sustainability hub.

[1] FMCG Gurus, ‘Top Ten Trends’, 2021

[2] International Energy Agency ‘Report: Multiple Benefits of Energy Efficiency’, 2019

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