Depth of Knowledge Delivers Deep Savings for Rembrandt Plant in Minnesota
Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called Blink where he discusses the notion of how people just “know” when something is amiss. This “intuitive judgement” is developed by experience, training and knowledge, and that’s what happened at the Rembrandt Foods egg cracking plant in Renville, Minnesota, last March. We were hired by plant manager Brian Zawierucka shortly after he took over operations and realized there were savings to be realized there.
The first day Region Manager Greg Stang and team toured the plant, Greg noticed right away things that could be improved with our help. “One look at the color in the Sequence Batch Reactor (SBR) told me that they were overfeeding ferric chloride,” Greg said. “And, sure enough, when we compared the amount of flow – 20,000 gallons a day – with the amount of ferric chloride added – 45-50 gallons per day, this confirmed why the color was off. We use that amount of ferric with our plants that flow 500,000 gallons a day. Now in the Rembrandt plant, we use 10-15 gallons of ferric per day because that’s all that’s needed and conservatively, at 30 gallons less per day and $3.95 per gallon, we’re saving Rembrandt $3,555 per month. That’s a lot of the reason we like to let the bugs – the biology – lead the way in wastewater treatment with just the right amount of chemical help.
We’re big believers in bugs – letting the biological processes take hold before dumping a bunch of chemicals in. It’s like a farm where the philosophy is ‘happy cows make for a happy farm.’ Happy bugs make for a happy plant. The ferric overload was causing a ripple effect of inefficiency and expense,” Greg added. “Past plant operators were feeding a 50-gallon drum of polymers every week to the sediment tanks to aid in settling. This was at a cost of $1,500 per week. When we reduced the amount of ferric, the need for polymers was mitigated. Since July, we have not fed any polymers to the system, savings Rembrandt another $6,000 per month.”
Thicker Sludge – Savings on the Haul-Away
Another insight brought to the Rembrandt operation by Greg and team was that of decanting more water out of the sludge. With this operational enhancement just last fall before hauling sludge, more than 300,000 gallons of clear liquid was decanted from the sludge and brought back to the head of the plant, saving on the cost to have that additional 300,000 gallons hauled away. At a conservative penny a gallon, that’s $3,000 saved.
Equipment Checks Unveil Opportunities to Save and Step Up Operations
One reason for the volume of sludge, as identified by Greg, was that the sludge in one of the biosolids digester tanks was frozen solid, so all the wasting was put into another other tank, which was full at the time. In that it was March in Minnesota, Greg had to deploy a creative solution vs. waiting for the spring thaw. “I had to find a way to get this tank on line. It was a big ice cube with no sun on it. So I bought a 2″ submersible sewage pump and set it near the bottom of the SBR tank where the heavier solids were, then pumped it over the top from the warm SBR into the frozen digester using a 24′ extension ladder to support the hose from tank to tank. At 20 gpm, it took awhile, but once we got a couple of feet of warm liquid above the ice, it started to break loose and we were able to get the frozen digester back into service.”
Another issue with equipment was immediately detected by Greg and team when they were in the blower room. “It was so loud in there, we couldn’t hear each other when standing two feet apart,” Greg said. That isn’t standard operating procedure, and in addition to providing an unpleasant work environment, it’s unsafe. “A quick check of the blowers revealed that all of their enclosures were open. Blowers with enclosures are designed to run with the enclosures closed. “Apparently, awhile back they had an overheating problem with the blower, so they opened all the enclosures,” added Greg. The decibel difference is remarkable which is too bad since they had been left open and loud for four years.”
Maintenance Tech McGraw Nelson was on deck to check other equipment, like the mixers which hadn’t worked for many years. While getting them up-to-speed, he inadvertently left one on, which caused more discharge to the city of Renville than anticipated. He and Greg contacted the city right away, which went a long way toward repairing the relationship between the city and the plant. In years past, the plant would send shock loads to the city, perhaps without knowing it. This prompted the city to show up at the plant every morning at 7:30 am to check samples themselves. The improved maintenance, flow and transparency are bringing some trust back into the partnership with few checks at a little bit later in the morning. Greg and McGraw are dedicated to continual improvement here.
Less Chemicals. Less Clogs. Less Risk. Less Cost.
The benefits of partnering with experienced, caring experts in the water and wastewater industry – for your business operation or your community – are many. Truly, not just anyone will do. You need the one who walks in and instantly – intuitively after years of experience – knows something is amiss. And, you need the one who can then go a step further offering solutions that work to save money, save time, even save health and lives. That’s the Power of PeopleService expressed in this one example of our valued partnership with Rembrandt Foods in Renville, Minnesota.