Optimised compressed air consumption

Efficient ice cream production with data analysis

Ben & Jerry's is an ice cream manufacturer with a mission. Their aim: to make the very best ice cream possible. One part of their mission: sustainable business practices. This is an aim that requires the efficient use of available resources. Ben & Jerry's in Hellendoorn, the Netherlands, use compressed air at every single step of the production process. As all production processes are monitored, measured and analysed, it became clear that they could make more efficient use of compressed air. It was just the "how" that presented the company with challenges. With its energy efficiency module MSE6-E2M, the CPX-IOT gateway and dashboards, Festo offers the optimum tools for accurate analysis.

Optimum knowledge about compressed air

Compressed air is used at Ben & Jerry's at many points throughout the entire production process, from the agitators in the pre-mixers to the packaging machines. Martijn Schavemaker, supply engineer at Ben & Jerry's, explains: "We work with eight sequential grippers when unstacking the cups. These are set to the full actual pressure, i.e. 6.4 bar. But the same result can probably be easily achieved with a pressure of 5.4 bar or less. Truth of the matter is, we just don't know yet." To obtain this knowledge, the ice cream manufacturer turned to Festo.

Dashboard for data analysis

The entire compressed air supply at Ben & Jerry's is standardised by Festo. The experts from Festo have designed a digital, mobile test station for Ben & Jerry's, consisting of a flow meter, a pressure gauge and the necessary intelligence by connecting the energy efficiency module MSE6-E2M to a CPX-IOT gateway. The test station can be connected to any point in the production process. It communicates via Ethernet. The data is collected locally and prepared so that the correct interpretation is sent to the cloud via the IoT gateway. This data is then made available for analysis via a web-based dashboard.

Optimum pressure is variable

André Senkeldam, Technical Specialist at Ben & Jerry's, explains that optimum pressure is probably very variable. The properties of the various generators provide each generator with a different optimal curve. "We measure the current condition and use it as a base parameter. Then we install a reducer and measure it again. In this way, the diagrams show when we have reached optimum pressure. But besides the optimum pressure, we also see the pressure drop after switching the valve off. This allows us to detect any potential leaks," explains Senkeldam. The dashboard uses both figures and diagrams to display the supplied pressure and flow, consumption and savings.

Added value through optimised energy consumption

"We're constantly expanding our lines and want to have an intelligent overview of efficiency and energy consumption. The process has to be as simple as possible. That's why we rely on the expertise from Festo when it comes to compressed air," says Schavemaker. "These monitoring tools offer major added value. We can instantly see where savings can be made and how high they could be."

Ben & Jerry's not only focuses on the efficient use of compressed air, but also on the quality of the compressed air. André Senkeldam reports: "The compressed air is mixed in the product itself; Festo looks after this aspect too. We also carry out microbiological measurements. And we've contributed to the Safe Food Factory platform in doing so. A working group of this platform produced a report dealing with all aspects of hygienic compressed air, from generation to final consumption. The report used measurements from our lines."


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