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Dansco Dairy

Dansco Dairy received support through the Welsh Government’s Resource Efficient Wales (REW) scheme to investigate options for improving the efficiency of its refrigeration. 

Dansco Dairy is a mozzarella cheese manufacturer based in Aberarad, West Wales, owned
by Dairy Partners Ltd. The business works in close partnership with a number of British dairy farmers and supplies cheese to food manufacturers, distributors and food service companies.
The business has changed hands several times in its history and Dairy Partners took over the site in June 2013. Since then, Dairy Partners has invested heavily into new production lines in order to keep the business competitive and sustainable. After a slow start following the takeover, production rates have now started to increase and the business currently makes around 800 tonnes of cheese a month.

One of the largest challenges for the business is the ongoing cost of energy for the production of cheese. The manufacturing process requires the use of energy intensive equipment such as chillers, compressors and steam boilers. Although high levels of energy use are common for cheese production, within the context of the industry Dansco Dairy has particularly large energy costs. 

There are two main reasons behind this: firstly, the site inherited by Dairy Partners in 2013 contained particularly old and inefficient equipment which had not been upgraded or renewed for some time; and secondly, the manufacturing site is not connected to the natural gas grid, meaning that the boilers are operated with fuel oil, which is more expensive and produces more carbon emissions than natural gas. 

In order to address the high energy costs, Dairy Partners contacted the Welsh Government’s Resource Efficient Wales (REW) scheme for support with a resource efficiency survey of its plant, with the primary aim of reducing energy costs. This survey was carried out by the Carbon Trust as part of the REW Client Manager service. 

The Resource Efficiency Review completed by the Carbon Trust identified five opportunities to reduce energy consumption across the Dansco Dairy site. This led to a comprehensive five-step action plan that can be followed to improve efficiency across all stages of cheese production. 

The replacement of the chiller was highlighted as being central to this plan, as it carries the largest capital investment cost at £500,000, as well as delivering the highest annual savings, cutting an estimated £100,000 from energy bills each year. The other four opportunities offer additional savings with relatively low implementation costs, which would complement the chiller replacement by facilitating energy savings in other areas of production. 

The opportunities identified relate to the boiler, steam and compressor processes used during production, as well as overarching energy management improvements driven by automatic Monitoring and Targeting (aM&T). Together, the opportunities target the entire cheese making and storing process from beginning to end, allowing savings to be made at every stage.

Some additional recommendations were also detailed for future consideration, including lighting upgrades, boiler burner upgrades, compressor heat recovery and minimising heat gain in air conditioned areas. These options demonstrate the scale of savings possible from energy efficiency, outlining further cost-effective savings that can be achieved by the business once the five-step action plan has been completed. 

If Dairy Partners was to implement all five opportunities in the action plan, this would lead to an expected annual saving of almost £140,000, as well as reducing carbon emissions by over 500 tonnes. 
At a capital investment cost of £535,000, this equates to a total payback period of under four years. As the chiller replacement on its own has a payback period of five years and accounts for the vast majority of the capital outlay, implementing the four smaller opportunities improves the financial viability of the project as a whole.

Dairy Partners has already progressed to the next stage of development for its chiller replacement project. Due to the scale and complexity of the project, the business has identified the need for further independent, technical support in order to conduct detailed investigations and assist in delivering the project. The Carbon Trust has assisted Dairy Partners in accessing this additional specialist support from the REW framework. This support will focus on producing a detailed feasibility assessment, as well as helping with design and procurement. The company hopes to complete the project in early 2016.  

“The Resource Efficient Wales support provided by the Carbon Trust will help us ensure that we make the correct decisions, using the correct information and taking away guesswork by bringing specialist knowledge that we could not access otherwise.”
Robert Peel, Director, Dansco Dairy.