Case study

The final ingredient in Veurne Snack Foods’ recipe for success

The humble potato is at the heart of many of our favorite snack foods, many of which start life at places like the Veurne Snack Foods plant in Belgium. Just like in many other food production processes, creating tasty snacks from potatoes involves water and water treatment technologies. With the help of Kemira’s expert support and industry-leading chemistries, the water treatment process at Veurne Snack Foods is not only working more efficiently than ever – it’s also making an even bigger contribution to their bottom line.

The final ingredient in Veurne Snack Foods’ recipe for success

Located in West Flanders in Belgium, Veurne Snack Foods is where many of the most popular potato-based snack brands start life – household names like Lay’s, Doritos, and Smiths to name a few. The company is part of PepsiCo, a global leader in the food and beverages industry with a portfolio that includes 22 brands that each generates more than a billion dollars in estimated annual retail sales.

The production facility in Veurne incorporates a full-scale water treatment facility and sludge digester, which are used to process the wastewater generated during production, mainly consisting of rinse water from the potato-washing process. The water treatment process includes a water filtration system that enables almost 60% of this water to be reused as process water at the plant. This amounts to an annual saving in fresh water consumption of at least 180,000 m³.

A new recipe for success

Regardless of the type of setup, wastewater treatment generates sludge in one form or another, and the more water you treat, the more sludge you need to dispose of – and this comes at a cost. Thankfully Veurne Snack Foods has Kemira’s world-class expertise and chemistry on its side. The digested sludge generated by the production process is fed to a centrifuge for dewatering, which reduces the sludge volume by removing as much of the water content as possible. Prior to the centrifuge, precise doses of chemicals are used to enhance the dewatering process, and it is here that the close cooperation between Kemira’s experts and Veurne Snack Foods really pays off.

Results

Improvement of

6%

in cake dewatering performance

Sludge throughput increased by

2.5

m3/h

Dry solids in centrate reduced to

4%

and under

Based on their intimate knowledge of the customer’s process and results from thorough lab testing, the team at Kemira identified that switching to Kemira’s Superfloc XD-5500 polymer would deliver significant benefits. After the switch, not only did dewatering performance improve by 6%, but the quality and stability of the centrate – the water that leaves the centrifuge and is fed back into the biological wastewater treatment process – also improved.

With the new chemistry in place we have better process control and a more stable process overall, which means lower overall costs.

“The switch to Superfloc XD-5500 has really paid off for us,” says Patrick Maeyaert. “With the new chemistry in place we have better process control and a more stable process overall, which means lower overall costs,” he explains. “Thanks to Superfloc XD-5500 we’ve also been able to increase sludge input to the centrifuge from 16 m3/h to 18.5 m3/h, meaning we can treat more sludge more quickly.”

Another Kemira product, PIX-111 – an iron-based coagulant dosed prior to the biological treatment of wastewater influent – is used to ensure that the effluent generated by the plant meets the strict standards required by local environmental regulations.

By working closely with Patrick and the team at the plant we have been able to identify the best possible way to help them enhance the performance of the wastewater treatment process.

“Building up a deep knowledge of the water treatment processes at Veurne Snack Foods means we can offer them far more than just chemical products. By working closely with Patrick and the team at the plant we have been able to identify the best possible way to help them enhance the performance of the wastewater treatment process,” says Kemira´s Belgium Sales Manager.

Making sludge pay its way

The improvement in sludge dewatering enabled by Kemira’s chemistries and expertise doesn’t just mean lower disposal costs, it also contributes to the business’s bottom line in another way. The sludge at the plant is pelletized after drying, and these pellets are sold on to a fertilizer producer – creating a source of income for Veurne Snack Foods. The drier the sludge that comes out of the centrifuge, the easier it is to pelletize and the greater the volume of pellets that can be produced.

“Before we switched to Superfloc XD-5500 we were still left with some sludge that wasn’t dry enough for pelletizing and therefore couldn’t be sent on to the fertilizer producer,” says Patrick Maeyaert. “With the improved dewatering performance enabled by Superfloc XD-5500 the non-pelletized sludge is dry enough to be taken by them.”

A fruitful relationship based on knowledge and understanding

Throughout the 2 years that Veurne Snack Foods has been partnering with Kemira, the relationship has been based on a shared desire to achieve continuous improvement. Kemira’s goal is to dig deep and understand the unique needs of the process and, based on that knowledge, propose new products and new approaches to enhance performance.

“What I appreciate the most is Kemira’s proactive approach to suggesting new ways of doing things and new products that would benefit our process based on their expert knowledge, says Patrick Maeyaert. “I like to work in this way, where the supplier comes to us with fresh new ideas and is committed to helping us improve all the time.”

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