Boosting Water Efficiency at a Poultry Processor

See how real-time water management increased efficiency and profits at a new, state of the art meat processing complex.

CHALLENGE

By bringing poultry production in house via a new, modern facility, a large food processor that sells over 89 million rotisserie chickens per year expects to save up to 35 cents per bird. Real-time water management from Apana helps make that a reality by driving operational efficiencies at the processor’s feed mill, hatchery, and process plant.

89 million rotisserie chickens sold per year. Goal: 35 cents savings per bird.

Chicken has been a critical strategic loss leader for the food processor’s parent company. Cost pressures and supply challenges tested the ability to keep retail prices low. Vertically integrating chicken production would give the company control over its supply chain and enable the necessary operational efficiencies to keep costs down.  

A key indicator of operational efficiency in large scale production facilities is water use. Complex operations, like industrial chicken plants, can use millions of gallons of water daily. Striving for operational excellence across diverse and complex processes is a continuous challenge.  

[We] utilize new and innovative technology to produce a high-quality product which meets or exceeds the highest food safety standards. We’re always working 5 to 10 years out front.

SOLUTION

The food processing division, working closely with Apana, identified four key process areas to monitor and measure water use: the feed mill, hatchery, and process plant, including process plant offices.

Key processes were further divided with sub-metering to better understand water use within  these areas. A total of more than 20 functional areas of the complex are being monitored currently. Typically, Water Efficiency as a Service is implemented into existing facilities, but in this case, water meters were specified in the site plan and installed as the building was constructed. 

The solution uses commercially available water meters that support either Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) or Pulse outputs. The Apana Internet of Things (IoT) network of radio transmitters send data every minute to Gateways placed strategically in the complex. The Gateways then upload the data to Apana’s cloud-based analytics engine over a secure cellular VPN link.

Analytics are applied to the real time water data to alert the customer to issues with the process, equipment health or non-standard water use. Operators can use this data to continue to optimize production processes and equipment reliability, as well as to coach and mentor operators to use best practices.

Measuring Water

Water data is collected from four main areas across the operation:

Infographic depicting devices communicating wirelessly with a central hub

RESULTS

One person with a tablet can instantly validate – from anywhere – changes to water use or equipment health in real-time.

Plant operations, maintenance and environmental compliance operators and managers gain new insight into their equipment, processes and practices with real-time water data and alerting. Manual monitoring of water use, equipment health and checking for leaks is now a thing of the past. One person with a tablet can instantly validate, from anywhere, changes to water use or equipment health in real-time.

Process Plant: Total Water Use

An alert was triggered when the 25% water use threshold for the boiler room was exceeded.

Circular graph showing 33%

In one example, production staff used Apana to discover excessive water use in a boiler room. The issue was exacerbating a problem with hot water supply and was impacting the commissioning of a new production line. 

Using real time analytics, the problem was isolated to one of the low pressure hot water loops. A 20,000 gallon daily waste event was identified and repaired. This made it possible to bring the third production line online, allowing the plant to meet daily production goals. 

Boiler Room: Daily Water Use

The daily view shows water use spiking on January 13.

graph showing daily water usage with a section highlighted showing higher usage

Thanks to simple, actionable insight from real-time data analytics, this food processor continues to identify and repair mechanical issues and operational waste to reduce their total cost of water.

Process Plant: Total Water Use

An alert was triggered when the 25% water use threshold for the boiler room was exceeded.

Circular graph showing 33%

Boiler Room: Daily Water Use

The daily view shows water use spiking on January 13.

graph showing daily water usage with a section highlighted showing higher usage

Boiler Room: Hourly Water Use on 1/13

The hourly view shows a baseline water increase across the entire facility at 10 AM.

graph showing hourly water usage with a section highlighting unusually high usage

CONCLUSION

Reputation with customers is paramount to the company’s continued growth. Ensuring the ongoing availability of the consumer-friendly price point for rotisserie chicken required a new approach. With help from the Apana Water Efficiency as a Service, the meat processor is able to achieve and sustain efficiency targets.

  1. The customer has requested to remain anonymous.

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