Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited is a multinational dairy cooperative, owned by around 10,500 New Zealand farmers. The company is responsible for approximately 30% of the world’s dairy exports and with revenues in excess of NZ$19.87 billion, it is New Zealand’s largest company and accounts for 25% of the country’s total exports.
With a network of offices, productions sites and technical centres across the globe, it employs some 16,000 people in New Zealand and around the world; collecting 22 billion litres of milk annually in order to make dairy products available to millions of consumers in 140 countries.
The company recently commissioned a new dairy ingredients plant in Heerenveen, in the north of The Netherlands, which would be used to produce three variants of lactose powder and a range of protein products. This includes whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate and a lipidrich whey protein concentrate as well as several specialty functional whey protein concentrate powders for use in high-value paediatric, maternal, and sports nutrition products.
Officially opened in July 2015, with His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands in attendance, the new plant is built on a 25 hectare site and has been developed in partnership with a leading Dutch cheese manufacturer – where the Fonterra plant processes the whey originating from the other plant’s cheese making process. The plant is Fonterra’s first wholly owned and operated ingredients plant in Europe. Peak production will see the plant process up to 2.7 million litres of whey per day, with annual production figures of around 25,000 tonnes of lactose and 5,000 tonnes of protein products.
For the automation and control of the plant, Fonterra had a wide choice of suppliers and system integrators from which to source primary equipment. In New Zealand it uses Allen-Bradley® programmable automation controllers (PACs) and SCADA solutions from Rockwell Automation, with motors and motor-control technology from other suppliers. At the Heerenveen development, Fonterra did initially investigate using the same combination of suppliers. However, with an incredibly powerful integration and Connected Enterprise solution proposed by Rockwell Automation and Beenen B.V., a Rockwell Automation Recognised System Integrator, Fonterra opted for a complete wall-to-wall solution of automation, process and motor control based around Allen-Bradley products.
Recognised System Integrators make the commitment to deliver the highest technical solution and customer service, leading with Rockwell Automation technologies. These integrators have a mutually supportive relationship with the Rockwell Automation sales and/or distributors they work with.
Using this approach Fonterra was able to deploy a completely integrated control solution from a single supplier that also offered effective communication from the shop floor to the top floor. Production data can be captured, collated, and analysed in order to improve processes and Fonterra can share vital manufacturing information with a wide variety of disciplines both inside and outside of the factory.