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    Pioneering project: producing milk in Mauritania

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    Krones set up a turnkey dairy for Enazaha, a Mauritanian importer/exporter, in the country’s capital Nouakchott. The entire process technology required to make milk by recombining powdered milk and milk fat is an essential element of this greenfield project.

    People in Mauritania like milk. It’s a drink with a long tradition in the country’s nomadic culture, and consumption of milk and dairy products is currently gaining even more in importance. However, the climatic conditions in the desert state hardly permit dairy farming. At present, four dairies in Mauritania produce fresh milk with a shelf-life of just one week, which means it can only be used to meet demand in the capital itself, with its roughly one million inhabitants.

    That is why the country in the northwest of Africa has so far imported most of its UHT milk and dairy products from Europe, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. In order to reduce its dependencies, Enazaha has now started to process and fill UHT milk, evaporated milk and drinking yoghurt. Powdered milk and milk fat are both imported and serve as the basis for making the company’s dairy products.

    Project: Turnkey dairy as a greenfield project
    Customer: Enazaha
    Location: Nouakchott, Mauritania
    Commissioning: May 2023
    Scope:

    Turnkey dairy with the entire process technology involved, for an output of 12,000 litres per hour, including

    Milk importer turns into milk producer

    Enazaha is headquartered in Nouakchott and has been active in the fields of import, export and sales of foods and drinks for more than 30 years now. The company has specialised in importing rice, tea, edible oil, milk and beverages. It operates several branches in Mauritania that supply the whole of the country with a good number of its own food and drink brands. For its export business, Enazaha also runs quite a few offices abroad, for example in the neighbouring countries Senegal and Mali. Under the privately owned company’s new business plan, powdered milk and milk fat are to be bought on the world market, imported and processed in its own dairy to make UHT milk, evaporated milk and drinking yoghurt, for example. The aim is to sell these products on the domestic market and to also export them to neighbouring countries.

    “Building our own dairy, that was a big step for Enazaha, taking the plunge from an importer pure and simple to a producer,” explains Cheikh Ahmed Mohamed El Moustapha, who has been the manager in charge of the construction project since 2021. Enazaha had already completed a few relatively small food-production projects before, like a biscuit factory or their own rice plantation, but this was an entirely different order of magnitude. “The market will now be watching our project with eagle eyes. If we’re successful – and we’re firmly convinced we will be – similar projects will doubtless follow in our country,” says Cheikh Ahmed Mohamed El Moustapha. Previous attempts made by competitors to produce UHT milk in Mauritania on a smaller scale had failed.

    Mauritania has a population of just under five million people and except for a strip of savannah along the coast essentially consists of desert, so the country is not in a position to produce a sufficient amount of milk from dairy herds itself. Thus, this project also serves to provide more independence and boost the economy of Mauritania, which is still ranked among the world’s poorest countries. That is why the German federal government supported this project by granting supplier credit cover, contract bond cover and buyer credit cover.

    A greenfield project handled by Krones Middle East

    Krones Middle East in Dubai drew up the plan for the greenfield project in meticulous detail and then translated it into hands-on reality. “Our decision to opt for Krones came quickly and easily,” explains the project manager. “It was especially important to us to get all the kit (except the electrical system) from a single source, quite simply because we lacked the experience to handle such a project.” At peak times, up to 30 employees from Krones Middle East were on site installing the kit, with concomitant benefits for the time schedule: The first items of equipment had arrived on site in June 2022, and the dairy was put in operation just under a year later, in May 2023, following successful acceptance-testing. The official inauguration ceremony took place on 11 April 2023 in the presence of the Mauritanian Prime Minister and the German ambassador.

    Our decision to opt for Krones came quickly and easily. It was especially important to us to get all the kit (except the electrical system) from a single source, quite simply because we lacked the experience to handle such a project. Cheikh Ahmed Mohamed El MoustaphaProject manager

    The new dairy in detail

    • The recombination system is the core of the new dairy. It consists of a powder dissolver for the imported milk powder with an output of five tons per hour and a butter-melting unit for fat standardisation.
    • Krones also installed three buffer tanks, each holding 30,000 litres.
    • The milk is then processed at ultra-high temperature in the VarioAsept M. That is an indirect product-UHT system featuring a shell-and-tube heat exchanger, in which the product flows through the inner tube and is heated up by hot water in the outer tube. The UHT system guarantees the requisite flexibility for working with different temperature/time programs. It heats milk at 143 degrees Celsius for five seconds, for example, whereas drinking yoghurt is processed at 95 degrees Celsius for 30 seconds. It also handles protein stabilisation. To this end, whey protein is denatured at 92 to 95 degrees Celsius for 300 seconds. That results in a longer continuous running time of the UHT system, which was engineered by Krones Middle East to suit this specific aspect.
    Image 35861
    A shell-and-tube heat exchanger serves to turn a VarioAsept M into an indirect product-UHT system.
    • The dairy products are processed in a homogenizer from Krones’ subsidiary HST, a HLI90 model from the new HLI series with an electrical power of 90 kilowatt. This two-stage homogenizer achieves pressures of up to 250 bar and is able to process the products either in the standard way or aseptically. Standard homogenization takes places upstream of ultra-heat treatment and is used for UHT milk with a fat content of 3.1 per cent and drinking yoghurt while aseptic processing downstream of ultra-heat treatment is used for evaporated milk with a fat content of 7.5 per cent. Thanks to their fully integrated, compact construction, machines from the HLI series do not require any additional devices and cooling media, which substantially reduces power and cooling-water consumption and thus makes for considerable cost savings.
    Image 35862
    The two-stage homogenizer achieves pressures of up to 250 bar and is able to process the products either in the standard way or aseptically.
    • Two aseptic VarioStore buffer tanks, holding 25,000 and 20,000 litres respectively, serve for intermediate storage of the finished products, which are passed directly to the filling line from there.
    Image 35863
    The two aseptic tanks installed hold 25,000 and 20,000 litres respectively.
    • Krones’ subsidiary Evoguard supplied all of the valves and pumps: aseptic, double-seat and disk valves (butterfly valves), and centrifugal pumps.
    • A fully automated CIP system, which was also engineered by Krones Middle East, features three loops and handles cleaning and disinfection of the entire process-technology kit and the filling line.

    Utilities also supplied and installed by Krones

    Needless to say, Krones’ scope of supply for the turnkey dairy also included the utilities, such as steam boilers, refrigeration system, compressor and a Hydronomic water treatment system rated at 35 cubic metres per hour. The latter processes municipal water that has already been treated and therefore consists of only three units: an activated-carbon unit, a UV filter removing ozone and chlorine and a polishing filter (policing filter).

    A Scada system (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) handles system control and also collects and records operational data, thus enabling batch tracking. That means the entire process-technology kit can be run fully automatically by only two or three operators. “Maximised automation has always been one of our paramount requirements for this project as it makes everything so much easier,” is the firm conviction of Cheikh Ahmed Mohamed El Moustapha. “You see, we don’t have enough skilled operators here in our country. The people who’re running the line now have come directly from a school for technicians and have been involved in the commissioning work right from the start. So the Krones team were able to train them on the machines and systems.”

    The new dairy already runs in multi-shift operation. Krones designed it so as to ensure it can be expanded to achieve double the output at need. According to estimates, annual demand for milk in Mauritania comes to roughly 200,000 tons. Operating at capacity, the new dairy can produce about 40,000 to 50,000 tons per year, that is around one quarter of the country’s demand. “As soon as we’ve reached this, we will expand the system,” emphasises Cheikh Ahmed Mohamed El Moustapha.

    One big advantage for the dairy is that the sales structure and distribution channels it needs are already in place, thanks to Enazaha’s import business. So the dairy has only one customer: Enazaha. For its UHT milk, the company has created a new brand “Lobna”. UHT milk is at present the dairy’s main product. The intention is to also make evaporated milk and drinking yoghurt, but to quote the project manager “for the time being that’s Plan B”.

    “Enazaha has hit the bull’s eye”

    The project manager is very satisfied overall with how the new greenfield dairy was planned and implemented: “The project proceeded very smoothly, especially when you bear in mind that the coronavirus crisis was still ongoing when we started. Our employees feel right at home with their new line, which has been up and running for several months now. There haven’t been any problems so far. What’s more, we can always directly contact Krones in Dubai in an emergency. Mauritania and Enazaha have hit the bull’s eye here.”


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