Reconstruction for the future
The Uelzena Group aims to improve its long-term economic performance and environmental efficiency through various major projects. The strategic focus on growth in milk processing capacity should at the same time reduce the relative use of resources.
In 2018, the Uelzena Group experienced many changes. At its main site in Uelzen, the company implemented several major projects simultaneously, all of which expand its capacities and increase its efficiency. The planning phase for further measures based on these projects has already started.
Investment and modernization
The new fully automated high-bay warehouse in Uelzen was completed and started its test operation at the end of 2018. The new warehouse provides room for about 13,000 pallets. The construction cost amounted to a total of 17 million Euros. This means that there will be no more rent paid for third-party warehouses in the future; and costs and CO2 emissions (29 tons of CO2 per year) that have arisen in the past, for example, for truck transportation to and from external interim storage facilities will also be eliminated.
In addition, the company has invested 14 million Euros in the renovation and expansion of drying technology at the Uelzen site. In detail: The skimmed milk drying tower has been fitted with a new filter system; two new evaporators are now in operation at the preliminary stage, and the bagging system has been modernized. With the new technology, the annual production capacity at the main site in Uelzen will increase from 18,000 to 22,000 tons of milk powder. In addition, the production of products such as milk powder in specific low-spore quality that meet particularly high quality requirements will also be possible in the future. Other important positive effects include improved energy efficiency, lower dust emissions (less than 10 milligrams per cubic meter of exhaust air) and lower noise emissions (minus 15 percent).
The numerous construction and modernization projects have been and still are based on the work of various project and working groups. An enormous amount of personnel capacities and resources across different departments have been tied up over a long period of time and this will continue until commissioning is completed in 2019.
For more details and in-depth information on the investment program, please read the key topic information.
“In addition to high technical quality requirements, our technical departments also implement the latest standards in terms of environmental protection. We work on this every day with a dedicated team of highly qualified employees."
Jochen Reinhardt, Head of Technical Department
Apart from these major projects in Uelzen, several measures at the other sites have also been implemented, which have had a positive effect on resource consumption and emissions. These include the replacement of feed water pumps with frequency-controlled pumps and the optimization of air flow control in the cold store in Warmsen. In Bismark, it has been possible to significantly improve utilization of the waste heat from the combined heat and power plant.
The improvement program, "Production OC 2025” has been well accepted at the sites in Uelzen and Bismark. This multi-year program focuses on employees and managers and in particular those who are involved in the Organization and Communication (OC) of labor. The expansion of the program in the various departments has taken place gradually, and numerous changes have been implemented.
There is also measurable success: In the contract drying segment, production volumes increased significantly, and in 2018 Uelzena eG achieved the lowest costs for complaints since records began. Some further improvement measures have already been planned or implemented. For example, a project is currently underway to further streamline administrative activities related to production.
The Uelzena group is a medium-sized industrial enterprise that predominantly processes milk raw materials into food products such as butter, milk powder or cheese. In 2018, we produced and sold a total of 231,107 tons of products - most of which were made from milk. Refining is an intense process and requires a high input of natural resources including fresh water and natural gas as an energy carrier. At the same time our sites produce greenhouse gases, wastewater and waste.
Example: Greenhouse gases. With CO2 emissions of almost 30,000 tons in 2018, our Group is not amongst the major emitters nationwide. Nevertheless, we are committed to delivering our contribution towards reaching climate protection goals. The German government has decided to reduce German emissions by between 80 percent and 95 percent by 2050 compared with 1990 levels. This would mean a reduction from around 900 million tons of carbon dioxide today to 250 million tons (80 percent) or 62.5 million tons (95 percent). By the middle of the 21st century, Germany aims to become largely greenhouse gas neutral.
We keep our production equipment at the cutting edge of technology in order to limit negative effects on the environment as much as possible. Year after year, the Uelzena Group invests in measures to make our four sites more efficient, productive and clean. A welcome effect: The measures improve the input-output ratio, reduce the use of energy and resources per product unit whilst the entire Uelzena group produces fewer emissions.
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 handles these topics. Stakeholders include food industry customers, employees, authorities and the shareholders of Uelzena eG as our members as well as residents living close to our production sites.
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 also 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 production processes is recycled, and 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 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 at all possible by way of respective agreements with suppliers.
A multi-year improvement program was introduced in production. The name of this program is “Production OC 2025” with its focus placed on work and communication processes as well as on organizing cooperative work. Objectives: 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.