Production never stops for Tate & Lyle in the land of the midnight sun

Since Tate & Lyle, a leading global provider of speciality food ingredients and solutions, acquired the Kimstad oat ingredients factory in Sweden four years ago, its capacity has increased more than ten times. ABB has been part of the success by delivering reliable automation including variable speed drives and motors.

Oat fields stretch out as far as the eye can see in Kimstad, a small town close to the city of Norrköping in Sweden. Although it’s already after 10 PM, the sun has still not set, which is common in the land of the midnight sun.

The cold climate together with the long and sunny days during summer make the Nordic countries the perfect choice for growing first-class oats. Due to these conditions, it is easy to understand why Tale & Lyle has made Kimstad its global center for the production of oat based ingredients.

“We are located in the heart of oat fields, with a large supply of high quality oats. This is one reason why Tate & Lyle is here,”explains Annika Werneman, Plant Manager for Kimstad.

Oats as part of the healthy trend

An important trend in the food industry is the growing interest that consumers have in improving their health and weight management. The global market for specialty food ingredients, including health and wellness products, is high and growing, with annual sales of $51 billion1 and annual growth of 4-5%.

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Oat ingredients have been actively involved with this trend as they offer some key nutritional and functional benefits. In particular, oat contains beta glucan, a soluble fiber that has been proven to lower cholesterol and reduce post prandial glycaemic response — claims that have been approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

It was these properties of the grain that made the sector an attractive one to Tate & Lyle when it made a decision to diversify its portfolio.

In May 2013, Tate & Lyle acquired a leading manufacturer of cholesterol-lowering oat beta glucan based in Kimstad. The company officially opened the capacity expansion in 2016 and today it produces health and wellness ingredients made from oats that are added to various food, beverage and cosmetics products worldwide.

A new highly automated process

Since its acquisition, Tate & Lyle have been working to expand the production. From the outside the factory looks rather modest, with some of the buildings dating all the way back to the 1940s. On the inside, however, the equipment is brand new.

“Our aim was to design a process that was highly automated and capable of running 24 hours, seven days a week, all year round. We therefore need the equipment to work consistently,” Werneman says.

The new automated production line and factory expansion have indeed produced results. Just as the summer sun never sets in Kimstad, the production never stops in Tate & Lyle’s new facilities!

“With the new automation equipment, we have more than ten times the capacity with the same number of shift operators compared to four years ago. It is a huge change over a short period to reach our new high level of production,” says Werneman.

ABB has been part of the success

By delivering reliable automation products ABB has been part of the factory’s success. In particular, when Tate & Lyle needed new variable speed drives (VSDs) to run the factory with a high degree of energy efficiency, they wanted to have high quality products.

Tate & Lyle has previously used ABB as a supplier in plants around the world and was pleased with the cooperation. This previous experience also simplified the work in the expansion project and in the operations thereafter.

In addition to the VSDs, ABB motors, motor control centers (MCCs) and low voltage products together with Valve Positioners have been installed in the Kimstad factory. These products were supplied directly as well as via system integrators and OEMs.

“We wanted to avoid surprises with such a big expansion,” Werneman says. “ABB is a company that we knew had the capacity to deliver the products and services we needed,” she continues.

ABB’s drives keep production running

Leo Dijkstra, Power & Controls Team Leader for Europe, has experience of using ABB’s equipment at Tate & Lyle’s factories worldwide. He appreciates ABB’s long experience of variable speed drives and was pleased that the products were delivered in the expected lead time.

“Working with ABB is always a pleasure. What I really like about ABB is the quick delivery time compared to other suppliers. In one case, we even had an extra VSD delivered within only a few days, because of a change in the project,” Dijkstra says.

Tate & Lyle is committed to working continuously to reduce the environmental footprint of its operations. In the Kimstad factory, over 85 of ABB’s ACS880 variable speed drives, ranging from 0.37 to 55 KW, are used mainly to run pumps and centrifuges, as well as handling the transportation of dry products.

In the pump applications, Tate & Lyle is using up to 50 per cent less energy thanks to the variable speed drives. Moreover, the VSDs have been running without stoppages.

“They are wonderful, safe drives with smart dimensions,” Dijkstra says. “Since implementation, we have had no failures at all from the ABB drives. The drives are very reliable.”

Remote monitoring enables service and support from a distance

One of the main advantages with ABB’s VSDs is that they support many fieldbuses and fieldbus protocols.

“What I like is the design, and especially the fieldbus flexibility,” Dijkstra says.

This is important to Tate & Lyle in order to be able to communicate digitally with the drives from anywhere in the world, as this lowers the commissioning time and the total cost of ownership.

Should a VSD fail in the Kimstad factory, Dijkstra can connect from his personal computer wherever he is. He can download the drive’s commissioning file over the network, and after correction, upload the file again into the VSD.

“This means that it is always 100 per cent certain that the drive will start up,” he says. “Also, if the drive fails at night or during the weekend, I download the file and without any need to bother local people about software issues, we have it up and running again. This is very convenient.”



Tate & Lyle

Location Kimstad, based 175km south of Stockholm, Sweden
Industry Food & Beverage
ABB deliveries 85 variable speed drives (VSD's) with different power ratings, low voltage motors, MSN 3.0 motor control cabinets and 44 Digital Electro pneumatic positioners TZID-C with Hart protocol for the control valves
Keys to success No downtime, short delivery times, energy efficiency, food and people safety, reduced noise

Annika Werneman, Plant Manager for Tate & Lyle’s factory in Kimstad, finds that working with selected partners simplifies the work because the employees are familiar with the equipment.

When Tate & Lyle needed new motors to run the equipment in the Kimstad factory, they chose to work with a reliable and high-quality supplier like ABB.

Leo Dijkstra, Power & Controls Team Leader Europe. likes the design and fieldbus flexibility of ABB’s frequency drives.

ABB’s variable speed drives support many fieldbuses and protocols, and are a good way for Tate & Lyle to support the factory from a distance.

Food and people safety is equally as important to Tate & Lyle as it is to ABB.

Another benefit with the ABB design is that uploads and downloads in the asset management fieldbus will never affect the real control fieldbus.

“What I like is that the fieldbus for control is split from the fieldbus for asset management, because you don’t want to have the whole network going down when you make a configuration change,” Dijkstra continues.

Sharing safety values

Food safety and people safety have been emphasized when making improvements to the buildings and infrastructure at the Kimstad factory. Werneman likes the fact that ABB also rates safety so highly when designing the equipment. Dijkstra agrees.

“I really appreciate the ABB drives because they are designed with a good feeling of safety in the layout of the drive,” he says.

Dijkstra also likes the integrated safety functions of the ACS880, which makes it easy and inexpensive to set up a safe machine environment. Furthermore, he is pleased that the variable speed drives are virtually silent.

Although 60 VSDs are mounted in one electrical room, there is no need for staff to wear hearing protection.

“I must say that, typically one drive could be enough to require hearing protection, let alone 60. Safety is our top priority, and it’s pleasing that new equipment and resulting low sound levels mean that ear guards aren’t required in an electrical room.”

User-friendly products make Tate & Lyle independent

The Kimstad factory is constantly expanding and improvements are being made. In Dijktra’s opinion, ABB best helps Tate & Lyle by doing what ABB does best; designing reliable and high-quality automation products.

Although the nearest ABB support is only a ten-minute drive away from the Kimstad factory, there have not been any emergency cases so far and the factory has been able to rely on its own staff to handle the ABB equipment.

“We are a self-supporting company, and in my opinion, ABB has already done the work upfront for us by creating a clear, understandable concept: by building compatibility in the software layout and providing fieldbus support,” Dijkstra says.

Petter Hollertz, Area Sales Manager at ABB, and Leo Dijkstra, Power & Controls Team Leader Europe, are pleased with their cooperation.

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