GEA completes remote commission for Oliyar Ukranian edible oils project

The GEA equipment and systems group has successfully completed a project with Ukranian edible oils specialist Oliyar, commissioning a new refining line remotely amid the coronavirus pandemic, writes Neill Barston.

With an existing relationship already in place between the two companies, the ambitious plans to expand and optimise existing facilities were initially put forward in 2019 before the covid crisis.

Oliyar had specified its key goals of improving oil quality, increase machine availability and process productivity, and reduce fixed costs while keeping their up-front investment low, with its product ranges destined for the food sector, with uses including within snacks, chocolate and confectionery use within finished product ranges.

In standard process lines for refining edible oils, the water and special degumming are handled in two separate stages. Identifying an opportunity to cut the customer’s costs, GEA engineers condensed this process.

“We did not offer a simple standard solution, but instead designed the new refining process to our exact needs and specifications. As result, we can now handle both water degumming and special degumming in one stage,” explains Taras Tsybuh, Production Manager at Oliyar.

GEA RSI separators feature GEA’s “finetuner” technology, which allows for settings to be adjusted during processing to account for natural variation in oil compositions. Customers like Oliyar leverage this special feature because it allows them to maximise yield while consistently meeting quality specifications. The finetuner also increases a plant’s flexibility, given a single separator can carry out all refining processes.

The integrated direct drive feature of GEA RSI separators furthermore eliminates the need for gears and belts. This delivers significant energy savings compared to gear-driven machines while reducing maintenance and downtime.

Pandemic challenges

In addition to the design and delivery of the line itself, Oliyar was depending on GEA’s longstanding expertise for the upcoming commissioning and training of its operators. Unfortunately, between contract signing in 2019 and commissioning in July 2020, lockdowns were imposed across much of Europe due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This made it impossible for GEA process experts from Germany to travel to Ukraine. While GEA’s Ukrainian service team is skilled in all the necessary service and maintenance work for centrifuges and has extensive commissioning experience, the new Oliyar process line was not a standard solution; the installation required the support of the GEA’s refining experts in Germany.

To ensure on-time delivery, the German team set up an intensive training schedule for their Ukrainian colleagues via video conferencing. “We guided the Ukrainian team through the entire commissioning process so they could repeat it at the customer’s facility successfully,” explains Birger Horns, Deputy Head of Business Line Renewables at GEA.

GEA digital tools, such as Remote Access for installation and commissioning, proved invaluable during the project. They enabled GEA’s team in Germany to access the process line control system in Ukraine and therefore support with the testing, running and optimisation of Oliyar’s centrifuge systems without having to be on site. During final commissioning, the German team “attended” each test run virtually, interacting and engaging in the process as if they were on location.

The customer was delighted with the end product: “The results have exceeded our expectations, both in terms of throughput capacity and separation results – and even better than promised in the original KPIs,” states Taras Tsybuh.

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