Success story

The new secret ingredient for reducing environmental impact at Nestlé Puljonki

Tucked away in Finland’s North Karelia region, Nestlé Puljonki is home to a team of true professionals in the art of sauce making. Industrial-scale cooking operations – over two million kilos of raw ingredients pass through the facility each year – mean there’s plenty of washing up to be done. And where there’s washing, there’s water treatment. When Nestlé Puljonki needed the help of an expert partner to stabilize and improve their water treatment process, they turned to Kemira’s remote plant operation solution.

The new secret ingredient for reducing environmental impact at Nestlé Puljonki

Nestlé Puljonki in numbers

70+

different recipes made at the plant

2,500t

of raw ingredients used each year

300m3

of water processed per day

The North Karelia region of Finland is home to some of the country’s most stunning natural landscapes, with lakes and forested hills as far as the eye can see. It’s also home to one of Europe’s leading producers of premium-quality sauces and stocks. Established in 1991 when two Helsinki chefs moved to the town of Juuka, Puljonki has grown from a small-scale producer into an industrial-scale facility. The company’s reputation is based on its commitment to quality, attention to detail, and using only the best raw ingredients in its products, which are sold direct to wholesalers and catering professionals.

“We have more than 70 different recipes of bouillon, demi-glace, fond, and sauces – and we make everything from scratch from natural local ingredients,” says Laetitia Fauconnot, Factory Manager at Nestlé Puljonki.

The production line includes eight cooking vessels in which the products are prepared. In an industrial food-production facility such as this, there is a huge amount that needs to be washed and prepared every day, and these processes use water. When you do the dishes in your kitchen you simply remove the sink plug and let the wastewater drain away, but this isn’t an option for an operation of this size. Here, wastewater needs to be carefully treated to remove contaminants. Nestlé Puljonki uses a dissolved air flotation process to pre-treat the wastewater from production before it is passed on for further treatment at the on-site plant. The sludge generated by the treatment process is dried in a screw press, which is a slow-moving device that squeezes the sludge against a screen or filter to remove water.

A phased approach to achieving success

“Before we asked Kemira to support us with the operation of our wastewater treatment process, we were definitely having challenges from the perspective of competence and expertise in this area. Our domain is producing premium-quality products for chefs, so we needed a helping hand to address the challenges we were facing,” Fauconnot points out. “We produce many different products here, and this variety means we were having problems coping with the huge variations in the composition of the wastewater and even the flow; this was definitely our biggest challenge.”

Kemira had already established a good working relationship with Nestlé Puljonki after collaborating with them for several years, and this was a significant advantage when it came to investigating possible next steps for improving the wastewater treatment process. “It was a natural step to turn to Kemira because they already knew about our operations and our treatment process, and we knew they had the expertise to help us succeed.”

Kemira carried out an in-depth audit on the wastewater treatment process towards the end of 2016 and presented Nestlé Puljonki with the findings and a development proposal in February 2017. The first phase of the project, consisting of technical improvements, began in June 2017 and continued until the end of the year. The second phase involved operational improvements. During the first two phases, Kemira utilized the services of a development specialist to design and coordinate the work and a technical operator for executing the technical and operational improvements on site.

In January 2018 Kemira assumed responsibility for managing the wastewater treatment plant, while the customer was responsible for operation and monitoring with support from Kemira experts. After planning and implementing upgrades to the plant automation, the groundwork was in place for Kemira to assume full responsibility for the remote management of the wastewater treatment process at Nestlé Puljonki.

With the help of Kemira’s expertise, not only do we have the wastewater treatment process fully under control, but we are also able to continuously improve it.

Improving efficiency and proactivity

For a fixed monthly fee, Kemira takes care of all aspects relating to the operation, management, and support of the wastewater treatment process through the Kemira Operon turnkey service concept, which is based on specific key performance indicators agreed together with the customer. Using Kemira’s KemConnect platform, all relevant performance parameters at the plant can be monitored in real time by experts at Kemira’s Lapinlahti control center over 150 kilometers away.

“With the help of Kemira’s expertise, not only do we have the wastewater treatment process fully under control, but we are also able to continuously improve it, says Fauconnot. “We can use the data we collect to learn how to better manage the process, improve its efficiency, and increase safety too. After phase one of the project we could clearly see the efficiency gains, and now we can take proactive action if we detect a potential issue and resolve it before it turns into a bigger problem.”

Kemira’s excellent standards in project management took a lot of the stress out of our hands.

Solid preparation and good project management pays off

“In terms of the preparation for the project, we really appreciated Kemira’s excellent standards in project management because it took a lot of the stress out of our hands, Fauconnot highlights. We worked closely with the Kemira team and they really spent the time to make sure that everything was exactly right for us. As a result, the objectives for the project were clear for everyone.”

The results of the project so far have exceeded everyone’s expectations, with Nestlé Puljonki realizing significant cost savings from the improvement in their wastewater treatment process. While cost savings are important, Fauconnot is keen to highlight that improving environmental performance and reducing waste volume is the first priority.

“Early estimates indicate that we could save somewhere between €20,000 and €30,000 per year as a result of the improved water treatment performance. However, our focus is very much firstly on reducing the environmental impact of our operations and creating as little waste as possible, and Kemira’s support will be vital in helping us to achieve this goal.”

In addition to remotely managing the wastewater treatment process, Kemira has also provided training for members of the plant’s technical team so that they are better equipped to monitor the data gathered from the process and recognize when proactive intervention is needed to avoid potential problems.

The Kemira contacts we work with are true experts, and for us it’s this expertise that adds real value and lets us focus on our core business.

A partnership based on openness and transparency

“Thanks to Kemira’s support we have lots of opportunities to learn more, optimize our process, and improve things even further in the future,” Fauconnot says. “We’re looking forward to continuing the collaboration and seeing how the partnership develops. The Kemira contacts we work with are true experts, and for us it’s this expertise that adds real value and lets us focus on our core business. From day one the partnership has been based on openness and transparency, and I believe this is why everything has gone so smoothly.”

Results

Approximately

50%

reduction in time spent to address treatment issues

Approximately

30K€

annual cost savings from improved efficiency

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