Starch makes 5-star savings process

01 Jan 2000Archived News Energetics in the News

Ingredients manufacturer Starch Australasia is set to save $500,000 a year after completing Energetics' Envision One-2-Five program. The program identified a number of energy saving measures and the potential to increase production by 7%, which will materialise when demand for product rises.


Since embarking on the program, the company has already increased throughput from 3.25 tonnes/hr to 3.48 tonnes/hr, which translates to significant savings for a company that spends over $2m on energy each year (equally split between power and gas).

For a $27,500 fee, Energetics identified a $592,000/yr potential increase in product throughput and potential energy savings of $140,000/yr, accumulating in a total improvement value of $732,000/yr. Energetics approached Starch Australasia to improve competitiveness through energy savings in 1997, volunteering it as a trial site for the Envision process.

It began with a One-2-Five diagnostic on energy management systems, involving baseline setting and the development of key performance indicators. The One-2-Five results indicated the site rating was two-star, meaning it had only a basic energy management system.

Starch set to save

A site review and feedback session followed in early 1998. It was at this stage that the Envision process came into its own, allowing the company to decide how far it wanted to go with improvements and providing it with the tools to do it. The critical areas pinpointed for action were corporate commitment, planning, resources, understanding, energy monitoring and reporting.

Energetics spokesperson, Gordon Weiss, said corporate commitment was often the greatest challenge when implementing any energy efficiency program, but was one of the most important ingredients. He said companies needed to draw up action plans and increase energy awareness amongst staff through training initiatives, as it was common for staff to have no idea how much production really costs in energy terms.

Energetics identified the technical possibilities for improvement, then handed the reins back to the plant workers, who decided what needed to be done and implemented the changes. The dryers were identified as the most energy intensive aspect of the starch-making process, limiting throughput on several products. The site teams decided to address this area first, selecting two products for trial and formulating an action plan, thereby benefiting from actions trialed and quantified first-hand.

Through a number of minor improvements in areas closely related to the drier, including filling times, frequency of washouts and dryer temperature, its efficiency rate was increased significantly. Starch Australasia managed to improve its rating to three-star and indicated its readiness to move on to the next stage, training and awareness.

This would include key performance indicators, such as computer screens set to display how much total energy was being consumed in total and how much was being used per unit of production. Weiss said enabling people to see what procedures actually cost in energy terms could have a profound effect on the way business was conducted.

Training and awareness sessions would complement these measures by educating staff on the realities of the Greenhouse Effect and teaching them how their business could do something about it.

Starch Australasia is part of the ingredients division of food company, Goodman Fielder, which has been working with Energetics over the last five years to drive down energy costs, resulting in a group-wide saving of $5m/yr.

Many further energy programs have been identified within the group, with the Lane Cove (NSW) starch division the first to participate in the scheme. 

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