Cadbury Schweppes’ Ringwood plant manufactures chocolate confectionery. It is the home of iconic brands such as Timeout, Picnic, Crunchie, Cherry Ripe and produces all of Australia’s Cadbury and Red Tulip Easter eggs.
As part of the process to cook the centres for these chocolate bars, a vacuum is required. The vacuum is created using liquid ring vacuum pumps. The pumps use water in their internal workings to help create the vacuum. The water is passed once through the pump and then sent to trade waste, even though it is almost perfectly clean. The Ringwood Plant has five vacuum pumps, which combined previously used approximately 5.5 million litres of water each year.
Cadbury Schweppes recognised that by altering the way the vacuum pumps consumed water, as part of their process to cook the centres for chocolate bars, there was potential for significant water savings, as well as a reduction in trade waste volume.
Using in-house expertise, Cadbury Schweppes designed and installed a water recycling system aimed at reducing the volume of water consumed by the vacuum pumps.
The system involved recycling the waste water from the pumps to be reused back in the pumps again. In the cooking process the water is heated slightly as it goes through the pump. Therefore the water recycling loop included a small heat exchanger to cool the water, and a small tank to ensure that the recycling pipes would always be full of water. Rather than being used for a fraction of a second, a small volume of water can be used for a 24 hour period, before being replaced by fresh water.
This technology has been adapted for use in 19 other liquid ring vacuum pumps in Cadbury Schweppes’ Hobart Plant.
This simple in-house innovation has proven very effective, and has cut water use within the pumps down to almost nothing – a fraction of a percent of the volume of water previously used. This innovative solution was designed and installed by Cadbury Schweppes’ in-house maintenance team and has proven to be a cost effective water saving initiative, and one that is easily transferable to other sites.
A great aspect of the project is that the team who use the equipment brought the issue to light, and were keen that something be done to reduce the wasted water in the process. This water saving solution was identified and implemented by the people who work in the factory day to day, and it is one they can be proud of.
Water savings are around 5.5 million litres of water per year. The project cost is around $25,000 and return on investment will be seen through reduced water costs and reduced trade waste charges due to reduced volume.
Once identified, it was a solution that Cadbury Schweppes was able to design and install in-house to save two or three Olympic swimming pools of water each year, and can be transferred easily into many other industrial applications using liquid ring vacuum pumps.