Saving water sweetens bottom line

Busch Australia Pty Ltd
Monday, 03 April, 2006


Snow Confectionery is implementing a world first in vacuum pump technology - designed to reduce water consumption by 50% and save seven million litres of water every year.

Snow Confectionery began with a batch of toffee made by Harry Hughes in an inner Sydney home kitchen in the late 1920s. So popular was Harry's toffee that he decided to sell it and today the company - now run by his grandson - is one of the largest confectionery manufacturers in Australia.

It has been operating at Wetherill Park for more than 16 years and produces chocolate eclairs, butterscotch, toffees, nougats, jellies, caramels and more.

Having always recognised the value of water to its business, the company was eager to join the EDC Business Program* in April 2004.

"We recognise our social and business responsibilities in relation to water and aim to use this precious resource in the best possible way," technical manager, Mark Byrne said.

The focus for Snow Confectionery was to combine a reduction in water use with a lowering of the temperature of the effluent discharged to sewer.

The cause of the hot effluent was the seal water discharged from liquid ring vacuum pumps (LRVPs) connected to high temperature vacuum cookers operating above 140°C.

The LRVPs were contributing to half the site's total water use.

Sydney Water sponsored a study to determine alternatives to Snow Confectionery's vacuum producing technology.

Dry running vacuum pumps were investigated; however, they rarely operate with inlet gas temperatures above 80°C. Modifying the system for gas temperatures exceeding 140°C was a new challenge. Snow Confectionery contracted Busch Australia to help.

After several months of trials, Busch delivered, offering innovative solutions such as air scrubbers and sugar dissolving oil in the dry running vacuum pumps.

Busch Australia's dry running pumps have now been operating on one of the vacuum cookers for several months, with fine-tuning almost complete. The two remaining vacuum cookers will be retrofitted as well.

"The key ingredient to a successful outcome was Busch's willingness to work with our engineers and to experiment with ideas from the factory floor," Snow Confectionery's quality assurance manager, Ruth Alcock said.

Busch Australia NSW state manager, Pat Murphy said: "The use of our dry running pumps has reduced water and power consumption and provided an environmentally friendly outcome."

For Snow Confectionery, the results speak for themselves - it has reduced water consumption by more than 30% and decreased the heat load discharged to sewer.

When all three cookers are retrofitted, water use will reduce by 50%, or 7,000,000 L a year.

The company's goal to reach a water use benchmark target of 1.5 L of water for each kg of confectionery produced is now clearly in sight.

* Sydney Water offers a formalised water saving process for business customers who spend more than $70,000 per year on water and related charges. This amount equates to more than 50 thousand litres of water per day. The Every Drop Counts Business Program process incorporates water management into a company's day to day business operations, as well as at a strategic level. The Program compliments the NSW Department of Energy, Utilities and Sustainability (DEUS) Water Savings Action Plan for high water users and local councils under Sydney's Metropolitan Water Plan.

To participate in the EDC program companies enter into a voluntary business arrangement with Sydney Water. This arrangement demonstrates the business's commitment to improving water management practices and implementing water saving measures, provided they meet agreed investment criteria.

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