Producing Infant Formula to the Highest Hygiene Standards

This case study highlights how Nestlé was able to significantly improve their hygiene standards for their infant formula manufacturing process.

Nestlé – a giant in the nutritional industry

Nutrition has been a cornerstone of Nestlé since the company was founded by Henri Nestlé in 1867; a chemist driven by scientific investigation into child nutrition. Today, around 5,000 people work in Nestlé R&D seeking solutions to complex nutritional needs.

This research has led to the development of an array of new product recipes to suit numerous different consumer needs. Many of these products start with a base of spray-dried milk powder to which is added a combination of vitamins, probiotics and other micro additives depending on the recipe requirements. These products are then presented in a huge range of packaging styles to suit the market.

Manufacturing milk powder products requires the strictest hygiene standards to avoid any cross-contamination of ingredients through airborne dust or residual product being left inside handling equipment.

What benefits did Nestlé discover?

For many years Nestlé was using side-door tote containers to provide intermediate bulk storage between the spray-dryer and the fixed mixing lines. But in 2005 the Nestlé Product Technology Centre explored ways to improve the flexibility and hygiene of their processing system.

In collaboration with Matcon they evaluated the handling, storing and dosing of their high-value nutritional products. After 2 years of rigorous, in-depth investigations, involving full-scale testing and technology audits, they approved the use of the Matcon Cone Valve IBC technology.

The key benefits that the Matcon technology provided included:

  • High containment due to the cone valve technology and alpha-beta coupling at the filling and discharge stations.
  • Protection from contamination as the system is closed at all times.
  • Controlled discharge to the downstream process. The discharging process is automatically controlled, responding to signals from the process below, which prevents the system from choking and head-load variation.
  • Protection from segregation of the blended mix, as the cone valve discharge process promotes mass-flow, ensuring ‘first in first out’ flow of powder.
  • Automatic filling of Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs) with an Automatic Docking Unit (ADU) eliminating the need for the time consuming manual removal and replacement of the IBC lid, as well as IBCs travelling without lids in the factory.

Putting it into practice

In Chile Nestlé products were first sold in 1895, with local manufacturing starting in 1934. Today Nestlé has 7 factories in Chile as well as its first South American R&D facility.

The Osorno plant began operation in 1945 producing dairy products. As part of its continued commitment to developing its operations, Nestlé has made the largest single investment in Chile’s dairy sector in the last 50 years. This factory produces powdered milk products for both the export and local market.

Thanks to the Product Technology Centre (PTC), the Chilean factory is now equipped with advanced technology complying with the high Nestlé hygienic and food safety requirements. The Product is always fully protected as the IBC system remains closed at all times, from filling to discharging.

Benefits around the world

The story didn’t stop in Chile. Matcon have successfully installed their cone valve IBC system in over 18 plants around the world and helps Nestlé to supply quality products from Infant Nutrition to Drinks to Pet food.

For more information and details regarding the investment Nestlé made in Chile please follow the link www.nestle.com/Media/NewsAndFeatures/Chile-investment

The Rewards

Specific benefits include:

  • Added hygiene control from greater containment of product & protection from outside contamination
  • Direct feed without screw metering device
  • Improved quality of product
  • Added flexibility in the production process due to decoupled process steps
  • High OEE of the equipment due to cleaning off-line

Testimonial

“At Nestlé we have extremely strict and tough hygiene criteria during the manufacture of all our products. Minimising the risk of any contamination or cross contamination in our production system is for us paramount. We have recently incorporated Matcon’s IBC system for the storage of intermediate powders prior to mixing and packing in several of our manufacturing sites around the world due to its fully enclosed transfer system.

We chose Matcon Ltd due to their expertise and competitive pricing but also appreciate their support during installation and later during the operation of their systems. Close monitoring by their staff after start-up has ensured optimum performance from all sites to date, which we are obviously delighted about. Matcon Ltd is a very reliable partner for us and we look forward to continue our excellent cooperation in our current operation and for our new developments together with them.”

Peter Suess, Chief Engineer Germany, Benelux & Nordics – Nestlé

If you would like to discuss how the flexibility and hygiene of your processing system could be improved with a Matcon IBC system contact – Sylvain Le Mézec, Global Sales Director on
+44 1386 769000 or email slemezec@idexcorp.com.

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