Analysing energy consumption using flow sensors

14 July 2020

Arla Foods has achieved transparency over the energy consumed during cottage cheese production at a factory in Sweden. This involves the use of a flow sensor which is able to measure the temperature of the medium as well as the flow rate.

At its Falkenberg factory in Sweden, dairy cooperative Arla Foods produces 20,000 tonnes of cottage cheese every year. Production volumes of this magnitude call for a resource-efficient manufacturing process, and Arla Foods is working towards  making its products completely CO2-neutral by 2050. A key element of this journey is energy efficiency. Mattias Abrahamsson, production system manager at Arla Falkenberg, explains further: “In recent years, we have placed an increasingly strong focus on monitoring the energy consumption of our plants. In certain areas, however, we simply didn’t know where exactly the energy was being used.” FlexFlow, the calorimetric flow sensor from Baumer helped the company achieve a breakthrough. Arla installed these sensors at the neuralgic points in the cooling and heating system and used the measurement results to obtain a clear image of energy consumption which allows the company to put in place measures for reducing energy consumption.

Clear solutions 
Because of its commitment to sustainability, the food manufacturer had already made a great effort to reduce the energy balance when the plant was designed. For example, it uses the low external temperatures of the Swedish climate to achieve a cooling temperature of 0.5°C for the cooling circuit, which cools the produced cheese from 60 to 30°C. Yet energy losses which Arla had been unable to localise for some time occurred here as well. FlexFlow sensors solved the problem of monitoring energy consumption because they could easily be integrated into the existing plant and are able to measure both flow and temperature.

The sensor is easy to install thanks to its symmetrical and centered design with one sensor element ahead of the sensor tip, which allows it to be optimally installed in the process regardless of installation position and orientation. The flow sensor has a robust stainless-steel housing that accommodates all the electronics, so there’s no need for complex wiring or control cabinet installation.

The FlexFlow also meets the requirements for protection class IP 68 making it well suited to use in hygienic applications. Further, its maximum temperature range to 150°C qualifies it for Sterilization-In-Process (SIP) tasks.

Arla has already installed around 15 of the flow sensors in the cooling circuit and heating system. The plan is now to also integrate these sensors into the CIP return line to monitor and optimise the energy consumption there as well.

Commenting further on the project, Abrahamsson said: “This has proven to be a cost-efficient solution. And because the sensors installed so far are reliably returning the results we need, we will now install more and more of them.” 


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