Dalehead foods

Dalehead Foods

Powerful online utility management tools helped Dalehead Foods reduce water consumption by 35% in just 18 months.

Dalehead Foods is part of one of the largest meat processing groups in the UK. The company takes their social, ethical and environmental obligations very seriously which is well evidenced by their work on water efficiency.

This has not only generated financial savings but has also reduced the strain on the local water supply and the business’s impact on the environment.

Meeting potential growth requirements

The Dalehead Foods plant in Spalding, Lincolnshire, processes up to 3,000 pigs a day to supply pork products to retailers such as Waitrose. Following a landmark deal agreed by the British Agriculture Minister that opened up China to British exports, the site has been ramping up production to meet the demand from new markets such as this. However, the company is clear that any future growth must not increase their consumption of utilities.

Using a powerful online utility monitoring tool that gives staff visibility of the resource use in their area, the Spalding site was able to reduce consumption on one of its water supplies by an impressive 35% in just 18 months.

This translates to a financial saving of over £19,000 in water and wastewater charges alone but the actual savings are much higher. The true cost of water to businesses is not just about the water bill, it’s also the cost of the energy required to use it especially on sites that heat water for cleaning and hygiene.

Smart meters

To achieve these substantial savings, additional meters were installed to provide detailed water consumption data for individual processes and areas of the site. Each ‘smart meter’ transmits data wirelessly via radio signals every 15 minutes, providing a comprehensive overview of where and when water is being used. The information is then accessed via the site’s utility monitoring system using a standard desktop computer.

As a result, Dalehead Foods’ understanding of water and energy use has improved greatly and managers now take ownership of their divisional performance, with daily reports being used to spot opportunities for efficiencies. The improvements that have been made using this information are many and varied, and the savings made have far outweighed the costs of both the utility monitoring system and the projects that have been triggered by its findings.

Understanding waste

One such finding was an unexplained loss of 30,000 litres of water a day during production downtime. This was tracked to an ageing condensing tower which, on further investigation, was found to be leaking. This was quickly replaced and the losses were stopped.

Another anomaly in the data pointed to an issue with a new tray washer. Expected to be more water efficient than the previous model, the machine appeared to be using more water when out of operation than during the working day. It transpired that operatives removed a bung in the base of the tank at the end of the shift for cleaning. The tank level would drop causing a ball valve to open and up to 9,000 litres of water a day to run straight down the drain.

Changing behaviour

This lost water would have added around £6,000 to the company’s water bills over the course of a year had it not been spotted early. The solution was surprisingly simple; operators were asked to introduce a final stage in the shutdown process, which they were very willing to do once they realised the extent of the waste.

Hidden leaks

Less visible underground leaks have also been found by engineers from Anglian Water Business’s Leakage Find & Fix service. A leak of approximately 18,000 litres a day was found from pipework under the concrete yard area. Repairing this leak alone will save Dalehead £5,300 per year.

All of this activity is helping the company to improve water efficiency and eliminate waste, which will obviously help their bottom line and allow production to grow in line with demand.

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