Valio’s Finnish yogurt plant meets sustainability goals

Valio’s new dairy plant in Riihimäki, Finland is said to reduce energy consumption by approximately 30% compared with existing Valio production facilities.

The new dairy is able to produce 30 tonnes of yogurt per hour and incorporates all processes from milk reception to product filling stations. SPX Flow technology includes reception lines, storage process, separation process, mixer tanks, plate heat exchangers, and homogenisers. Buffer storage tanks with different ingredients add flexibility to the plant and full automation helps ensure optimised processing in terms of productivity and energy consumption.

The new dairy plant is capable of producing many different types of fresh fermented product from standard to high value dairy products, using milk fractionation technologies with permeate valorisation. Working in partnership, Valio and SPX Flow have designed the plant so that all pipework can be drained and product losses minimised between batches.

Dry components can be added to the recipe through use of the APV Flex-Mix Instant technology. This closed system stops air from being incorporated into the solution and keeps wet and dry phases completely separate. The mixer uses a vacuum powder transport system to suck powder underneath the liquid surface.

As well as helping with wettability and dispersability of powders, this technology stops the formation of a free vortex for efficient mixing even at higher flow rates. The efficiency of the mixer further enables the use of greater solids content and pre-mix concentration in recipes for increased production capacity and greater cost efficiency.

After mixing stages, pasteurisation lines utilise APV, plate heat exchange technology. This process is fully automated and designed for constant yogurt milk flow at a rate of up to 15,000 l/h. The yogurt milk is then routed to one of a number of fermentation tanks. The yogurt can then pass through a homogeniser to achieve desired product characteristics prior to storage in one of the 15,000 litre tanks. Final dosing of fruit or other components can be remotely added by operators in the control room into the filling lines as required.

Jukka Partti, project director at Valio, says, “Valio and SPX Flow have a long history of cooperation. We want to ensure our operations are sustainable and responsible. Maximising the use of raw materials, minimising waste and optimising energy consumption are all critical design points for the new plant. We are very pleased with the results which will enable us to meet our social responsibility while ensuring our products are highly competitive.”

Engineering of the new Valio dairy plant at Riihimäki began two years ago with initial production beginning in September 2017. There will be a six month optimisation period where SPX Flow will continue to work with Valio personnel to further tune the plant.

Joël Lotode, process category sales director, fresh and fermented dairy products, at SPX Flow comments, “This has been a great collaborative project. Working with Valio and applying their expertise in yogurt production has led to a highly innovative plant design that offers excellence in hygiene and food safety while meeting operational goals of productivity, minimised waste and efficiency.

“We look forward to continuing to serve Valio through our aftermarket service network and on future projects.”

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