To design, execute and support the evolution of a regional dairy producer’s plant, to a modern and efficient factory, capable of achieving substantial growth in production capacity and productivity.
To balance through the years the need for modernization of the plant, and the prioritization of the most critical issues. The need to execute all these interventions with the factory in full operational mode.
Through the years, NEOGAL is becoming a sizeable regional producer, with a great brand name, and a flexible and efficient factory that is supporting the company’s growth.
The dairy producer NEOGAL SA was founded in Drama in 1964 and since then operates and evolves continuously until today.
The company produces a wide range of products (both for the retail and HO.RE.CA markets), and it needs a flexible and efficient unit to make the best use of the equipment's operating time.
NEOGAL is one of the most important customers of AS HELLAS in many ways. In 1999, AS HELLAS undertook the modernization of its factory, and its relocation to the place where it is located today. Since then, AS HELLAS carried out all the expansions and upgrades to the production lines and the automation software. In 2012, as part of the automation upgrade and modernization works,
it replaced the existing Saia with Siemens PLCs, and the central control system with Siemens WinCC. This was a major turning point for the performance, the safety, and the productivity of the plant. It was a challenging project, considering that it was completed without causing any downtime at all! In early 2021, AS HELLAS completed another major upgrade and expansion of the plant.
The project concerned a new line for strained yogurt and the upgrade of equipment and automation in many of the production processes of the plant. Specifically:
Reception and storage of raw milk
Two new tanks were added for the storage of raw milk, with one being able to be used both as a mixture tank and as a recipient of standardized milk from pasteurization. In this way, and with the installation of the proper equipment, the capacity of milk reception was doubled, while the storage capacity of mixtures was quadrupled.
A new fully automated pasteurizer for milk for yoghurt with a capacity of 10,000 Lt/h has replaced the existing one in the yogurt section, increasing drastically the pasteurization capacity. The new pasteurizer includes fully automatic operation based on AS HELLAS’s software, onboard the Siemens PLC and the WinCC SCADA system. The control system through special software algorithms, controls and monitors the proper operation of the plant and ensures product quality and safety.
Mixing and mixture preparation
The existing yogurt mixture preparation plant was completely upgraded both in storage and mixing capabilities. The new upgrade together with the increased pasteurization capacity significantly increases the total plant capacity for yogurt production.
The existing yogurt fermentation process was upgraded, resulting in a 30% increase in yogurt storage capacity. Furthermore, the new installation was upgraded with the addition of a GEA Quark separator for Greek yogurt production. After proper fermentation, the product is fed to the new Quark separator and from there to the yogurt filling lines. All the process procedures and safety routines were integrated into the central and local SCADA systems, integrating the yogurt section smoothly in the operation and control activities of the whole plant.
A complete new fully automated CIP unit (CiplAS™) was added resulting in a 20% increase in the cleaning capacity of the plant. Integration of the new CiplAS™ in the central control system was also part of the project.
To accommodate the new expansion the utility systems network was upgraded supporting all the new project needs.
The Plant’s Automation:
For the process control system, NEOGAL has come a long way since 1999. That year marked the first turn-key project that the Dairy producer assigned to AS HELLAS. Since then, NEOGAL strategically upgrades the plant to keep up with the demand and the growth opportunities. With the last upgrade, the company significantly increased the production capacity and is targeting ambitious sales goals.
1. Scope of the latest upgrade of the production process automation
- Integration of all the new equipment.
- Commissioning of the new pasteurization unit.
- Commissioning of the upgraded mixing section
- Commissioning of the upgraded fermentation section
- Commissioning of the production process with the GEA Quark separator.
- Commissioning of the new CIP unit.
- Integration of all new features in the industrial data collection ReportAS™ system.
- Upgrade of the Siemens WinCC software to the latest version.
After these upgrades, the plant’s automation controls the following subsystems:
- Reception and storage of raw milk.
- Pasteurization, standardization, and storage of the pasteurized product.
- Production and storage of fresh choco and sour milk
- Filling all of the above products.
- Production of cream and butter
- Production of Greek, set, and traditional yogurt.
- Packaging all of the above products.
- CIP (Cleaning in Place) of the plant.
The entire factory is controlled and monitored centrally by the production control room, overlooking all the processes. The central SCADA system controls all production processes and all cleaning operations. It also records and stores production information, with full traceability in the past. At the same time, it can create customized production reports with the production data, as well as a complete history of operation and production processes.
2. Features of NEOGAL’s automation system
- Control and monitor all process operations through ASHellas software.
- Generation of alarms and notification of operators in case of malfunctions.
- Recording and graphical trends of all variables (temperature, pressure, etc.).
- Interlocks prohibiting any operator human mistakes.
- Communication with external systems and filling machines for the exchange of information.
- Operator and maintenance separate hierarchy access levels.
- Report generation.
- Remote access via VPN for faster service.
- Ability to exchange data between the production and the ERP management system.
3. Automation Technical characteristics in brief
- Supply and Installation of Stainless Steel MCC (Motor Control Center) panels and interconnection with the equipment and the control system.
- Software for the Siemens control PLC and the Siemens Human-Machine Interfaces (HMI) and central SCADA system.
- More than 000 control points throughout the plant.
- Thousands of software control program coding lines
The reports generated from AS HELLAS, together with the historical traceability, provided by the industrial data collection integrated system ReportAS™, give detailed and aggregate data for all the plants’ processes. Detailed information on all parameters of the production process (including pasteurization quantities & temperatures, quantities of stored milk) as well as of all the CIP operation and performance characteristics, are presented at a touch of a button. They provide a comprehensive and detailed overview of the process data for the operators and the plant management team to analyze and optimize performance.
Regional Dairy producers are very important for local communities and regions. They tend to have a very loyal consumer base, and they are big contributors to the region’s economy. NEOGAL is one of the best examples of this case. They process and distribute local breeder’s milk, and ensure sustainable income for them and the company’s workers. With changing consumer habits and behavior, they must be agile and run an efficient and adaptive operation to face the competition from larger Dairies.
NEOGAL has proven through the years, its resiliency and ability to handle tough times and remain competitive. With the latest upgrades in the production equipment and process, the company will be able to follow the current consumer trends and increase market share.