Manufacturing News

Water a major priority across diverse sectors

ESCALATING water prices and dwindling supplies are driving comprehensive water management programs in a diverse range of industry sectors.

At its 24 hectare confectionary production site in the Melbourne suburb of Ringwood, which encompasses manufacturing facilities, offices and a distribution centre, Cadbury has embarked on a $1.2m program to reduce total water consumption by 40% by 2009/10 with the help of a grant from the Smart Water Fund and assistance from Yarra Valley Water.

The company’s environmental manager, Andrew Hosken, says key elements of the program include installing a water recycling system aimed at reducing the volume of water consumed by vacuum pumps by 5,500 kilolitres.

“Water absorption chillers have also been replaced with electric drive chillers to reduce cooling tower water use, and equipment and systems have been installed to reduce evaporative water loss,” Hosken told Manufacturers’ Monthly.

“Also, toilets have been fitted with waterless urinal cubes, flow control aerators have been fitted to hand basins, and a large scale rainwater harvesting system has been installed.

Rainwater is collected from the distribution centre roofs and pumped from intermediary tanks to a one million litre holding tank.

“The system includes seven water pumps together with pipework and automated valves, and a wireless electronic PLC control system with five remote control centres installed to oversee the system.

“Total site rainwater storage is two million litres which is available for the cooling towers, toilets and gardens.

“It is estimated that the total distribution centre roof area of 24,600 square metres could provide an average yearly rain catchment volume of around 16 million litres, which would equate to 15% of the Ringwood factory and distribution centre water use.

“Already the overall water savings target of 40% has been achieved with savings of 25% in 2007 and a further 15% in 2008,” Hosken said.

Electronics industry

TridonicAtco, in the Melbourne suburb of Tullamarine, manufactures magnetic lighting ballasts and electronic transformers, as well as enamelled copper wire which it uses in its manufacturing processes and also sells to external customers.

As large amounts of water are used to cool the copper wire during the production process, the company undertook a waterMAP water management program in 2007 with the assistance of Yarra Valley Water to identify the sources of water use across the manufacturing facilities,historical water usage, and to identify opportunities for water conservation.

According to the company’s senior buyer, John Barbieri, the program resulted in water consumption reducing from 25,243 kilolitres in 2006 to 6,821 kilolitres in 2008.

“A major improvement resulted from recycling the water used to cool the copper wire in the drawing process,” Barbieri said.

“The initial outlay to enable water to be reused in the production process was around $10,000 but the yearly benefits have far outweighed the costs.

“Other water saving initiatives include early detection of leaks by taking daily readings to ensure immediate corrective action. In addition, bathrooms and toilets have been retrofitted with water efficient appliances, and water conservation signage has been installed to encourage a water conservation culture amongst employees.”

Carpet manufacturing

Establishment of a water management plan at Geelong-based carpet manufacturer Godfrey Hirst Australia has seen total litres of water required per metre of carpet produced fall from 130L in 2005 to 50L in 2008.

Environmental engineer at Godfrey Hirst, Robert Lunardelli, says the first stage of the plan was to undertake a comprehensive water audit that resulted in the numerous water streams being assessed to identify potential areas for water reuse.

“Actions resulting from this include establishment of a water recycling system in the dye house that enables water from wool compacting and vat cooling to now be separated from the effluent streams, filtered, treated, and stored in tanks for reuse in the dyeing vessel,” Lunardelli explained.

“In the carpet manufacturing plant, a continuous dyeing process has been modified to enable in-line dyeing and drying, thus eliminating an entire washing and vacuuming stage.

“Water is reused at least twice in a number of areas including rinse water used in stain blocking, and stamping water utilised in the dyeing process.

“Modifications have also been made to the print line wash-off system and vacuum seal water utilisation, and wastewater is now used to rinse fibre screens. All processes are continuously reviewed to ensure that they are operating correctly and efficiently.

“Water use has also been reduced by modifying the chemical application process and investing in the production of solution-dyed nylon products that do not require dyeing or drying because the yarn is coloured in the extrusion process.

“Introduction of these new lines has significantly improved our key performance indicators for both water and energy,” Lunardelli said.

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