Advanced process control for whey powder
The production of whey powder is a complex and energy intensive process. It is particularly important to control the moisture content precisely. Too high water content causes stickiness of the whey powder that can disrupt or even stop the production. On the other hand, if the powder is too dry it generates dust and uses excess energy. The moisture content of the product is set within a spray dryer in the final stage of the production line. An advanced process control (APC) solution consists of two tools included in Neste Jacobs NAPCON Suite: NAPCON Indicator, which calculates the material and energy balance information and sends it to NAPCON Controller, the multivariable model predictive control software package which is optimized for control of processes with cross-dependencies. The result is that the APC solution automatically controls the process so that the factory significantly increases its production. At the same time the risk for system downtimes due to bag filter clogging is reduced. Overall a more than 10 per cent increase in whey powder production may be obtained with no increased energy consumption and improved process control allowing an increase in the average moisture content.