MORE and more companies are reaping the benefits of structured water management projects aimed at reducing the volume and cost of mains water in their operations.
An outstanding example is leading beverage producer Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA) which has introduced water saving programs at each of its beverage plants around Australia with significant ongoing results.
The company has received various awards for its water saving initiatives including WA Water Corporation’s Waterwise Business of the Year and is the first manufacturing facility to be awarded a five star rating by Sydney Water.
According to CCA’s national environment manager, Olivia Tyler, the water saving program is based on an efficiency ratio which measures the amount of water used to produce one litre of finished product.
“In 2006, 1.55 litres of water was used to make 1 litre of finished product, making Coca-Cola Amatil one of the most water efficient bottlers in the global Coke system,” she told Manufacturers’ Monthly.
“Beverage production is a high water usage industry as 95% of any product we make is water, so results like that help to ensure our ongoing sustainability, especially when faced with strict water restrictions such as those now introduced in Queensland.
“Significant water savings have been made in our operations in every state, with the biggest success being introduction of dry line lubrication on our production lines.
“Nationally, this has saved 23 million litres since installation in 2005 with projected savings of 75 million litres per year once all lines are commissioned,” Tyler explained.
“Rinsing of beverage containers is a major area where water is used and some 30 megalitres of rinse water is now saved per year by redirecting it to the water treatment plant where it is blended with town water and reused around the plant in bathrooms, kitchens and manufacturing functions such as cooling towers. This water was previously discharged as trade waste.
“In WA at the Kewdale plant, innovative water efficiency projects, such as redesigning a bend used to change the flow of syrup between holding tanks, has led to an extra 60 million litres of water being recovered and reused in 2006,” Tyler said.
But CCA’s water saving initiatives do not stop at the production lines. At the company’s high-bay warehouse in the Sydney suburb of Northmead, underground tanks have been installed with a view to harvesting rainwater collected from the roof and then treating and recycling it for use within operations.
The water will also be piped underground to tanks in a nearby park and used for year-round irrigation.
Big benefits at B&R
B&R Enclosures is Australia’s largest manufacturer of electrical enclosures, racks, cabinets and switchboard building systems at its factories in Brisbane and Adelaide.
Last year the company undertook a six months project to reduce water consumption which has resulted in a dramatic reduction in usage of some 50%, or 1 to 1.5 megalitres per year.
The company’s marketing manager, Simon Griffiths, says that apart from the environmental benefits, water and wastewater costs have been slashed by 72% and 79% respectively and a payback period of only four months has been achieved.
“Initially, we undertook an extensive survey of water usage at the site which showed that the paint line was by far the biggest water user.
“We then identified areas where potable water must be used to ensure high product quality, and areas where recycled water could potentially be used from earlier stages in the paint line,” Griffiths explained.
“Tests were carried out to benchmark flow rates in each section of the paint line, and a number of actions were taken to inspect and improve the efficiency of the operational components of the line including spray nozzles, pumps, piping and the reverse osmosis unit. Considerable water savings have been achieved as a result of these simple inspection and maintenance procedures.
“Opportunities were then sought to improve water usage at each stage of the paint line. It was found that clean water was being added to the chemical tank system in stages 1 & 3 of the line to compensate for water circulated into the spray and collection systems.
“When this water returned, an overflow of 50-100 litres of the dilute chemical solution occurred, wasting both water and chemical.
“This was solved by recalibrating the chemical tank float valves resulting in a saving of over 500 litres for every on/off cycle, and a reduction in chemical usage of around 50%.
“It was also found that the water quality in rinse stages 2 & 4 was sufficiently high to be used as the feed streams for the prior stages 1 & 3, so a recycled water backflow system was installed which is providing water savings of some 6000 litres per day.
“Following introduction of the rinse water backflow system, the only areas where mains water now enters the system is in the rinse stages 2 & 4 and via the reverse osmosis unit,” Griffiths said.
B&R is now investigating other water saving opportunities including the possibility of rainwater harvesting, and there are plans to introduce a water and energy saving project at the company’s Adelaide plant.