Integrated Engineers Inc.

Decrease Operating Costs with Water Recycling

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Courtesy of Integrated Engineers Inc.

Compliments to the growing competition from NAFTA, tighter environmental regulations, and increasing demand for higher quality finished products, the profits for Fresh Cut Food processors has decreased over the years. Profits can
be as low as a few cents per pound of finished product. Plant managers and engineers are scrambling to find methods of decreasing the processing operating costs and still maintain the level of quality higher than ever before. There is a growing trend to save money by decreasing the amount of water coming into a plant as well as leaving, water recycling and conservation. Simply, if a plant can decrease the amount of process water entering the plant thereby decreasing the amount of water leaving the plant, there is a double savings on the operating costs. In addition, if a plant utilizes this technology prior to starting production, then the water supply system can be smaller, the hookup fee to a municipal wastewater treatment facility would be less, or the cost and size of the equipment to treat the wastewater can be reduced, saving capital expenses. Once in production, there is a daily savings in operational costs. The topics of water reuse is very diverse and case dependent, but the general trends and technologies as well as their impacts to the ‘Fresh Cut Food’ processor will be discussed. As a first step to water conservation, documenting the present water usage is a
first step to determine the existing flows as well as a means to quantify the financial payback of a water recycle system. On the otherhand, if a plant is at its peak for freshwater usage, or the water demand exceeds the fresh water supply, then it is easier to justify a water reuse system. Once the flows are determined, the costs can be associated for both the water supplied to the process ($/gallon) as well as the cost to dispose of the ‘used’ water ($/gallon). The flow data also is used to size the water recycle system and a capital cost can be determined.

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