The spray dryer has a capacity of 30 tons of milk powder per hour, and can process nearly 4.4m liters of milk per day.
Second spray dryer of its kind
This is the second spray dryer of its kind to be built by GEA. Darfield II, also operated by Fonterra in New Zealand, has been producing powdered milk since December 2013.
Robert Spurway, COO, Fonterra, said it started production process at the plant in September with the official opening to be in December 2016.
GEA provided all the processing technology; from the tanker to evaporation, drying and powder handling to packaging. Its drying chamber weighs about 200 tons with an 18 meter diameter. During assembly, it was lifted 34 meters above the roof of the building to be installed.
“Premium milk powder is a valuable product for us. The capacity of the Lichfield plant takes the pressure off during peak season, meaning we have more freedom to prioritize milk into higher returning products,” said Spurway.
Reverse osmosis system
“Fonterra will export the premium milk powder from Lichfield to as many as 20 markets, including the Middle East, China and South-East Asia.”
At the Lichfield plant, the GEA team developed several processes to make on site management easier and to reduce the total cost of ownership.
For example, the plant requires little process water as the evaporator condensate is filtered through a reverse osmosis system and can be re-used during processing.
According to Clint Brown, responsible for the GEA operation in New Zealand, highly-productive, efficient spray dryers, such as the one in Lichfield, play a decisive role in the industry.
“The demand for milk in expanding markets, such as China, can only be met by easily transportable and stable milk powder. This is processed regionally into various dairy products with the help of other GEA technologies.”