Water is the number 1 ingredient in beverage manufacturing and is also among the most important ingredients in the production of liquid food. So, it’s only natural that the topics of water and water management have a major role on the agenda of this year’s drinktec, which takes place from September 12 to 16 in Munich.
This starts with the responsible use of water as product water; using it as process water as frugally as possible is also important. For both water sources, the full savings potential has long remained untapped in the beverage and liquid food industry. The water footprint can still be made significantly smaller—leading industry representatives are saying that savings of 60 percent are definitely achievable.
Many starting points for saving water
But where can beverage manufacturers find the scope for frugal water usage? Here are a couple of examples: Regular product changes make it necessary to plan a rinsing or cleaning step between the production orders. A second example is the question of how dirty the containers or production lines are. Manufacturers of beverages or liquid food often base their cleaning processes on a maximum level of dirtiness that generally doesn’t occur in production. And, for a third example: Possible recirculation often isn’t carried out sufficiently. The available process water is then disposed of instead of being utilized in a cascading usage in other process areas.
Visitors at drinktec 2022 that want to optimize their water usage and consumption can choose from a variety of solutions. Software products make it possible to call up water consumption at measuring stations in the production systems in real time and evaluate it around the clock every day of the year. This makes consumption peaks transparent and able to be precisely analyzed. For production managers and their teams, this means that realistic sustainability goals for water consumption in beverage operations are possible. In addition, the full cost transparency contributes to improving the profitability of production.
Wastewater treatment systems that integrate recirculation and circulation concepts depending on the quality and purpose of the water offer a comprehensive approach with a complete circulation system. The treatment involved in water recycling in the beverage and liquid food industry are well known: Biological, biophysical and membrane processes form the building blocks used for organic residue, sludge, microorganisms or non-biodegradable substances.
Robots as smart helpers
Adaptive solutions are also being developed for future, targeted activities, such as in the cleaning step of beverage manufacturing. Highly sensitive sensors recognize how dirty containers are and then calculate the appropriate cleaning duration. This precise cleaning concept is based on machine learning, since the computer program involved calculates the necessary method and time needed for cleaning based on previously learned images of dirtiness and carries out the currently necessary cleaning process while conducting continual self optimization. The trick is threefold: The sensors are comprised of highly precise UV-LED elements, energy-efficient mini-cameras and robust, temperature-resistant 360° guides that can control every position in the tank. The cleaning performance of this solution, presented by researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute IVV under the name “Adaptive Tank Cleaning,” is significantly faster compared to a traditional orbital cleaning curve.
Supporting program with exhibitor talks
Software optimization of existing water consumption data, physical recirculation and complete recycling systems—in some cases even with the additional benefits of generating energy in a biogas plant—and self-learning cleaning concepts: These are just a few examples of how exhibitors at drinktec 2022 are driving high water efficiency in the beverage and liquid food industry. However, in the drinktec TALK on the topic of water and water management held online last December, the experts also stressed that the use of recycled water needs to be accepted by society to an even greater extent. The correlation between the cost and the value of water also needs to be anchored more strongly in people’s minds. The supporting program of drinktec 2022 deliberately takes up this focus on water and water management: In their specialist presentations, the exhibitors will present countless new ideas for where water can still be saved—in the use of this resource in the beverage and liquid food industry.