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    The beverage sector moving towards sustainable factories

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    Krones’ sustainability-consultancy team assists customers in reducing their operating costs and CO₂ emissions, thus helping to enhance the sustainability of their plants.
    • Still plenty to do! The past seven years have been the warmest on record. Krones offers a sustainability-consultancy service designed to help customers play their part in combating climate change.

    Reducing costs, enhancing sustainability – That is what Krones’ new consultancy service is all about. What is our aim here? We want to create added value for our customers while saving valuable resources and minimising environmental impact. The guiding principles on the road towards sustainable factories are: “Avoid, optimise, recycle”.

    We are in the midst of a climate crisis. All over the globe, natural resources are in short supply. An ever-growing number of people and companies are striking out in a new direction, whether out of a sense of responsibility towards future generations or in response to rising energy costs and carbon dioxide taxes, or possibly both. Enterprises have noticed that consumers are keen to buy “green” products. Many businesses are launching a process of transformation in their operations to ensure a viable future for coming generations. And the beverage sector is no exception here. The members of the Krones Factory Planning team have noticed this customer trend towards sustainable operations over the last eight years. 

    Therefore, the department offers comprehensive sustainability consultancy  as a separate service for the beverage, dairy and plastics-recycling industries. A group of experts led by Bernd Rothmeier, Head of Plant Engineering and Consulting, sustainability consultant Norbert Ottmann and product manager Michael Russ, assists customers in systematically reducing operating costs and CO2 emissions and in designing their operations for enhanced sustainability. Norbert Ottmann explains what sustainability means for Krones and the expert consultants: “Our work is guided by the UN’s sustainable development goals, SDGs for short, with a special focus on sufficiency, efficiency and consistency. We match these to the beverage industry’s specific business environment.”

    * SDGs: Sustainable Development Goals 

    The major focuses of Krones’ sustainability-consultancy service

    • Sufficiency: saving energy and natural resources by optimising process, production and warehouse-inventory planning
    • Efficiency in the shape of processes and machinery that achieve maximum productivity with minimum waste
    • Consistency: waste avoidance through the recovery of valuable materials

    Three steps to sustainability

    Krones’ sustainability consultancy is typically requested in connection with modernisation or new-construction/installation projects, says Norbert Ottmann. He continues: “Before investing in a new boiler house, for example, companies seek our advice on which configuration is best for them. A traditional gas boiler, a combined heat and power system, a heat pump, or a combination of these elements?” The goals vary significantly from one customer to the next. Some companies are considering building a climate-neutral factory, some want to cut costs, and others wish to calculate their climate impact to determine their carbon footprint. Yet others would like to have a fully self-sufficient facility. So every consultancy job begins by formulating the specific goals together with the customer, while never losing sight of commercial viability.

    Step One : feasibility study

    The first thing that our consultants undertake is a feasibility study. This includes a detailed as-is analysis, or (for a new construction) a detailed listing of all the expected factory requirements. How much energy, heat or water is consumed – where and when? What is the process sequence? Are there any peaks in demand? Is it possible to recover energy? Where and when are wastewater, waste heat and organic waste produced? And how much of each? What are the local environmental conditions? Many of these details will already be on file, others are recorded by the Krones team at the customer’s premises, as Norbert Ottmann explains: “Our supply-technology audits include measuring the condition of the compressed air, heating and refrigeration systems, and assessing the overall status of all systems.”

    And the inevitable question: Will it pay off?

    Step Two: conceptual solutions

    Based on the feasibility study, a number of conceptual solutions are then formulated. In keeping with the guiding principles of “Avoid, optimise, recycle”, the primary focus is on reducing all consumption figures as far as possible. Next, the relevant production processes are analysed in order to find out whether they offer any scope for recovering energy and/or media. If so, they are improved accordingly. The team then checks how the remaining demand can be covered by recycling and/or by using renewable energies. Should the specific conditions at the facility necessitate the additional use of conventional energy sources, state-of-the-art and ultra-efficient supply systems are deployed. 

    In actual practice, the expert consultants consider the whole range of levers that can be pulled to render the project feasible, effective and cost-efficient. For example: While some companies can deploy heat pumps to make optimum use of waste heat, other firms will do much better with a CHP system. Breweries, for their part, produce a great deal of organic waste, and here the team estimates the amount of energy that could be obtained as a result. Innovative Innovative wastewater recycling systems can reduce water consumption while also generating biogas. Mineral water companies can utilise geothermal energy – from the heat of the water extracted. Our expert team determines how much energy can be generated from renewable sources at the facility in question, e.g. solar thermal energy or photovoltaics. They examine whether it is possible to store heat, power or cooling energy. All the time checking whether the scenario will actually pay off.

    Benefits provided by sustainability consultancy:

    • Clearly defining the goals involved
    • Reducing primary-energy demand and operating costs
    • Reducing carbon footprint
    • Upgrading system efficiency and improving the supply-technology units 
    • Concepts for sustainable energy supply
    • Recommendations on sustainable management of the production operation
    • Comparing the technologies available so as to identify the optimum solution 
    • Cutting costs through use of sustainable packaging solutions
    • Suggesting options for reducing water consumption
    • Assessing the potential of biomass or biogas use
    • Decisions on technology and financial viability are based on KPI and TCO analyses 
    • Providing transparency for energy and media consumption levels (energy management system)

    In drawing up their proposal, the sustainability experts put the entire factory under the microscope because synergising all the elements involved yields the biggest potentials. “We examine not only aspects such as production, filling and packaging technology, logistics and supply technology, but also the technical building equipment,” explains Bernd Rothmeier. “We may find, for example, that a system’s waste heat is not sufficient to be used in the production operation, but it is enough to heat the offices.” 

    Step Three: all-embracing sustainable concept

    The consultancy is concluded by drawing up an all-embracing sustainable concept in conjunction with the customer, while also keeping a close eye on the big picture, factoring in aspects like transport and logistics optimisation, in order to further reduce the carbon footprint. Once the concept has been finalised, the Krones team, in close liaison with the customer, specifies the requirements for the future lines and systems. If necessary, the team also provides support in the subsequent tendering procedure. 


    Martina Birk and Norbert Ottmann talk about sustainability as an integrated approach:

    Independent, all-encompassing consultancy

    In their work, the members of the Krones sustainability-consultancy team benefit from the fact that they belong to the Krones Factory Planning Department, as Michael Russ explains: “We plan the entire plant, starting with raw material acceptance right through to warehousing, including all necessary peripherals, developing integrated solutions. In this process, our tools show how the individual systems are operatively interconnected. We are also very well networked with other specialist departments at Krones – for filling, packaging, plastics or supply technology, for example, or for recycling or water management.” For their work, the team members can draw upon this fund of practical knowledge in regard to our customers’ lines and processes. So, compared with consultants from outside the sector, they can provide analyses with greater depth and more detail.

    Nevertheless, sustainability consultancy is not tied to Krones products, as Bernd Rothmeier explains: “In the early phases of project development in particular, it is important to focus on identifying the optimum solution, irrespective of possible vendors. We will always consider any and all innovative technologies available on the market.”

    And he points out: “The more substantiated, the more based on soundly researched data our conceptual solutions are, the more efficiently the project will run later on. Many of the issues mapped out in detail in the consultancy phase must be dealt with anyway during project implementation. And if it then turns out that some questions have not been addressed, this will result in delays.” And Michael Russ adds: “An early start is also important as far as subsidies are concerned. The relevant applications must be submitted before the project implementation begins.” Companies can obtain subsidies for many measures, including the consultancy service itself, he says. “We collaborate with partners on subsidisation and certification, and can give our customers comprehensive, professional advice in this regard.”

    Sustainability rigorously targeted throughout the group

    Krones itself has also affirmed its ongoing commitment to sustainability. The group is a member of the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform and the Science Based Targets Initiative. It has defined ambitious targets in regard to climate protection and the circular economy and is rigorously pursuing them. This has definitely been noticed by the public, says Bernd Rothmeier: “Our in-house efforts in this regard lend our sustainability-consultancy service a high degree of credibility among our customers.” What it boils down to is that our own and our customers’ activities mutually support and strengthen each other because every single sustainability concept which is implemented helps everyone to achieve their own climate targets along the entire value added chain.

    “Our sustainability consultancy is not tied to Krones products. In the early phases of project development in particular, it is important to focus on identifying the optimum solution, irrespective of possible vendors.” Erwin HächlBernd RothmeierHead of Plant Engineering and Consulting

    Krones had its climate strategy validated by the independent Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). The results show that Krones’ climate targets are making a contribution to limiting global warming as a result of greenhouse gases to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

    Sustainability consultancy in shopfloor reality

    Building a new dairy:

    • The target: reducing energy consumption by 40 per cent
    • Essential measures: process modifications, heat recovery using a heat-pump system, energy recovery, photovoltaic systems including storage units

    Brewnomic concept for breweries:

    • The target: carbon neutral production, thanks to minimised energy and heat demand and use of alternative fuels    
    • Essential measures: process modifications and energy recovery, heat recovery via heat-pump system, storage technology, photovoltaic system, using biogas as fuel in a CHP system
    • Analytical result: over 30 per cent of the primary energy required can be obtained through energy recovery

    > Depending on the efficiency-enhancing measures taken, the concept will have paid for itself within three to five years 

    Facility concept for a soft-drinks company:

    • The target: carbon neutral facility, thanks to the use of green energy    
    • Essential measures: changing over all thermal processes to electrically powered heating, use of heat pumps for heat recovery and of biogas from wastewater treatment as substitute fuel 

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