A significant increase in the production of cheese created a need to increase the whey handling system capacity by 15-20 percent in order to concentrate whey, the primary byproduct of cheese production. The total solids in whey average approximately six percent after it is drained from the vats during the process of curd production. This whey can be further concentrated by removing the water, thus increasing the solid content. A new evaporator was installed to increase the solids to 32-45 percent, depending on downstream product needs. Significant cost and disruption were prevented when Food Plant Engineering’s team devised a way to install the evaporator within the existing facility structure.
In order to implement this project, the existing evaporator needed to remain in operation while the new evaporator was installed. The plan also needed to allow for changeover of the production feed system to the new evaporator without disrupting production after the evaporator installation.
The owner originally thought that a completely new building was needed to house the evaporator. However, working collaboratively with the manufacturer and the Guggisberg team, our firm was able to devise a way to install the new evaporator inside of the existing structure, and create an addition only for the fans, motor, and an electrical VFD control room.
Utilizing this approach allowed for a streamlined changeover for the product feed system and evaporator utility feed. The downstream product HTST system was also replaced to add pasteurizing capacity for the increased volume of concentrate being produced from the new evaporator.
The large volume of water generated as a result of concentrating the whey is commonly called “cow water.” This water can be recycled or reused, thereby reducing the demand for fresh water in the plant. The storage system for this water was enlarged and reconfigured to accommodate the increased production of cow water. Typical uses in the plant for this water is CIP pre-rinse and make-up water for the cooling and heating system.