Dates: 2003-
Client: British Sugar

For high-volume, low-margin products like sugar which are being sold in a globally competitive market, the manufacturer must constantly fine-tune the efficiency of every stage of the process and make use of all possible waste products in order to remain viable.

New opportunities beckon while competition intensifies

British Sugar is the sole processor of the UK’s sugar beet crop, processing around 8 million tonnes of sugar beet every year to produce sugar and a variety of co-products including power generation, bioethanol and animal feed.

Over recent decades, it has been subject to EU production quotas but these are due to be abolished, removing minimum beet prices and eliminating the artificial distinction between sugar sold for food and industrial applications in the EU. The changes open exciting opportunities although competitiveness remains a constant pressure on the entire EU sugar supply chain.

British Sugar is well placed to benefit. Margins within the sugar market have long been tight and British Sugar has a highly efficient business producing a wide range of bi-products to support its overall viability.

For well over a decade, it has relied on specialist technical expertise from Royal HaskoningDHV to support the reliability and efficiency of its operations.

In pursuit of 100% reliability

Sugar beet is harvested in the UK over a six-month period from September each year. During those months, British Sugar’s production plants operate 24/7. Reliability is vital. System outages can have significant impact, particularly if sugar cools and crystallises in the evaporators and other critical parts of the production process. If this happens, even a small-scale breakdown could see the unit out of production for several days. British Sugar is constantly exploring ways to optimise the production process and seek 100% reliability in systems and services.

To support this, Royal HaskoningDHV has developed complex mathematical modelling to help ensure the both operational efficiency and regulatory compliance. Its technical staff are available as an additional resource to help keep systems running or to diagnose and resolve specific problems.

Optimising energy use

Energy optimisation is important for controlling input costs for what is an energy-intensive manufacturing process.

Royal HaskoningDHV’s expertise in high voltage networks assists British Sugar in using the power they need as efficiently as possible. This includes planning network connections for the installation of new equipment and modelling and analysis for energy optimisation.

British Sugar has been generating its own electricity for more than 50 years and recently set up an anaerobic digestion plant fed from the adjacent processing factory. Rates for renewable energy exported to the National Grid are higher than for energy produced by traditional means and Royal HaskoningDHV has helped British Sugar gain necessary permits and licenses to export excess energy into the grid.

A long association with British Sugar has provided Royal HaskoningDHV with considerable knowledge and experience of the company’s plants. It is a trusted and reliable partner that operates as an extension of the in-house team bringing specialist technical knowledge for complex challenges.


Industry 4.0: Happening or hype?
(Summary from panel session Foodex 18 April)

During Foodex 2018 a discussion panel of four experts led by David Parkinson from Royal HaskoningDHV concluded that the industry needs to wake up to the opportunities and that it’s about much more than technology.

Roadmap to Industry 4.0: Read about our experts’ top five recommendations