Efficient and eco-friendly
The long-term trend shows: the measures to increase efficiency by the Uelzena Group are working. Consumption and emissions per product unit are on the decrease – although not always continuously. The relative environmental figures remained almost constant in 2017 with only a few minor deviations compared to last year.
In 2017, the Uelzena Group again implemented a large number of measures aimed at increasing energy and resources efficiency and productivity. Some of the improvements have had only a small effect, whereas others have markedly changed production. This ranges from investments in new equipment and technologies to the reorganization of work flow through to communication and management of various production departments.
Energy and efficiency
In the reporting period 2017, the Uelzena Group optimized the use of waste heat in the cogeneration plants in Uelzen and Bismark. This has resulted in new exhaust heat exchangers now preheating hot water in an energy efficient manner. The hot water then preheats the air needed in the drying towers. All in all, this contributes to the cogeneration plants operating more efficiently.
Furthermore, the Uelzena Group optimized the compressed air station at the Uelzen site. Replacing a compressor has increased the availability of compressed air while at the same time increasing efficiency. In addition improved pipelines have minimized the loss of compressed air.
In 2017, as in the previous year, a certification audit according to energy management standard DIN EN ISO 50001 again took place. More measures have been planned for 2018, which were worked out and drafted within the reporting period.
In 2016, the Uelzena Group started the continuous improvement program, “Production OC 2025” in the production departments in Uelzen. The planning to introduce this program at the Bismark site began in 2017. This multi-year program focuses on employees and managers and in particular those who are involved in the Organization and Communication (OC) of labor. “Production OC 2025” is aimed at motivating and qualifying employees as well as encouraging independent, continuous improvement processes by the employees.
“The initiative “Production OC 2025” will create new communication structures that form the basis for sustainable corporate success."
Stefan Lerke, Head of Production, Uelzen
Sustainability context: the necessity of a sustainable production strategy
In 2017, the Uelzena Group produced almost 232,000 tons of products - predominantly from milk. The major part of the electrical energy required is generated using natural gas in our own cogeneration plants. This form of energy generation has a very high efficiency of 84 percent - in comparison, modern coal-fired power plants only achieve an efficiency of about 45 percent. Nevertheless, natural gas is a fossil fuel that causes greenhouse gas emissions. The Uelzena Group is assuming the responsibility of using energy as efficiently as possible. In the interests of the environment, the company is continuing its efforts to reduce fresh water consumption and to keep wastewater and waste volumes as low as possible.
The Uelzena Group is aiming to continuously reduce emissions and resource consumption through effective measures. However, it is often the case that only after several years can the success of the different measures be seen retrospectively. This is demonstrated, for example, by water consumption per product unit, which fell between 2013 and 2017, and the greenhouse gas intensity (energy consumption per production unit), which improved significantly between 2013 and 2017.
Our management approach: production
Energy, water, greenhouse gas emissions, waste and wastewater are the key sustainability topics for our production. In particular the company’s stakeholders are interested in learning how the Uelzena Group is handling these topics. Stakeholders include food industry customers, employees, authorities and the shareholders of Uelzena eG, our members.
The production department actively pursues relevant sustainability topics. Our objectives are to continuously reduce emissions and consumption of resources per ton of product produced, while increasing productivity at the same time. In order to achieve these objectives, several measures have been developed and implemented.
Our sustainable production strategy – overview on our targets and measures
Production and environment
- The aim of the Uelzena Group is to reduce the emissions of undesired substances into the environment per ton of product produced. These emissions include greenhouse gases as well as wastewater and waste.
- The consumption of natural resources such as fresh water or gas per ton of product produced must be continuously reduced.
- Productivity must be further increased.
Energy and climate
- Some examples of measures that were implemented for increasing energy efficiency include new heat recovery systems, high-performance electric motors and energy-efficient LED lights.
- Cogeneration units at Uelzen and Bismark generate heat, steam and electricity that we consume in a highly efficient way. Efficiency is 84 percent at each plant; this is 14 percent above the legally defined efficiency target for these types of power plants. Moreover, electricity surpluses are even fed into the public grid for a fee.
- Based on its certified energy management system according to ISO 50001, the Uelzena Group has improved the energy efficiency at all of its sites.
Wastewater and water
- Water from the production processes is recycled, always under strict observance of the legal regulations. We even reuse condensed steam for the generation of steam.
- At our Warmsen site, an on-site sewage treatment plant cleans the wastewater from the facility so that it then has the quality of river water.
- At our other sites, we discharge our wastewater into local municipal sewage plants. The wastewater quantity as well as the wastewater load are constantly optimized using a management process and on-site measures.
- The Uelzena Group separates waste and recycles recyclable materials such as paper, wood and plastics.
- Added to that, excess waste from deliveries is prevented if possible through the respective previous agreements with suppliers.
A multi-year improvement program was introduced in production. The name of this program is “Production OC 2025” and its focus is placed on work and communication processes as well as on organizing cooperative work. The objectives are to increase employees’ motivation and competencies and to trigger continuous improvement processes. The program was introduced at the Uelzen site in 2016 and at the Bismark site in 2017.