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TEG Projects Leading the Way in Sustainability: Silver Fern Farms’ Decarbonisation Journey

TEG Projects Leading the Way in Sustainability: Silver Fern Farms’ Decarbonisation Journey
June 22, 2023

Kiwi businesses are taking bold steps to reduce their carbon footprint and embrace eco-friendly practices. One such exemplar is Silver Fern Farms (SFF), a prominent New Zealand meat processor. Collaborating with TEG Projects, they have spearheaded an ambitious sustainability agenda that aims to eliminate coal usage from their operations. In 2022, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern joined SFF’s Chief Executive, Simon Limmer, to celebrate the commencement of a decarbonisation project at SFF’s Christchurch processing site in Belfast.

Silver Fern Farms And TEG Projects

This is not the first project TEG Projects has worked with Silver Fern Farms on, in fact the business relationship started in 2020. Over that time TEG has developed a site wide machine safety assessment  programme, and been involved with several ammonia safety projects, significant conveyor and HVAC projects.

A Path To A Coal-Free Future:

The $1.6 million decarbonisation project, co-funded by the government, marks a significant milestone for SFF. With coal accounting for approximately 8% of the co-op’s total consumption, the project’s goal is to eliminate over 1500 tonnes of coal usage per year. A heat pump will be installed inside a new ammonia engine room replacing the original engine room building, dating from the plant inception. The new engine room and heat pump project is set to take 11 months, and TEG Projects Senior Project Manager Altan Gurevin will remain onsite joining SFF’s internal management team for the duration of the project.

Harnessing Energy From High-Temperature Heat Pumps:

At the heart of SFF’s decarbonisation efforts lies the implementation of high-temperature heat pumps at their Christchurch plant. This innovative technology replaces the coal boiler and operates by utilising waste heat to preheat hot water for the beef processing facility in Belfast. 

A Roadmap To A Greener Future:

SFF’s collaboration with TEG Projects is part of a larger commitment to achieving long-term sustainability goals. By 2030, SFF aims to completely phase out coal usage across all 14 of its processing plants. In addition, they have set an ambitious target of halving emissions from coal by the end of next year, a project TEG Projects is proud to be a part of. The project’s emphasis on working sustainably is one Altan is well versed in. Due to his marine engineering background, he has extensive experience in project management, refrigeration and reticulation processes, as well as a PMP certification.

In terms of sustainability projects, Altan has previously upgraded factory lighting to LED lighting (EECA funded) and installed power-efficient machinery to replace old and inefficient printing machinery. Altan says part of TEG Projects capability lies in pairing team members with complementary skill sets. “Brendon Dowling who recently joined us is a refrigeration engineer, is extremely knowledgeable in this field, and will also be sharing his knowledge on this project”. Altan adds “TEG Projects has a good knowledge base across the board as all of our project managers are engineers. The majority have worked in manufacturing plants and have an exceptional knowledge of the food and beverage industry”.

Onsite Challenges:

As with any project there are always challenges and Altan notes that chief among these for the SFF Project are the time and space constraints of working within an operational plant. “The most important aspect of our work is to fit the projects into day to day operations, we need to have efficient communication processes to avoid any interruption to production. We sometimes need to work during nights or weekends in order to get work done”.

Beyond those time constraints, other challenges lay in the design of the solution. “The plant had to be designed to operate at all demand conditions. i.e. at the weekends when the refrigeration loads are not available, and to manage cooling water discharge when the hot water demand is reduced”, says Altan.

During the design process hazard and operability assessments were carried out. This was especially crucial as ammonia is a hazardous substance. It was essential that the plant be designed and installed complying with stringent safety standards. 

Expanding The Green Initiative:

With the success of the decarbonisation project at the Christchurch site, SFF is poised to replicate these sustainable practices at their other facilities. The Finegand site in Balclutha and Pareora site near Timaru are already completed and were at commissioning stage prior to TEG Projects involvement. TEG Projects were however involved in other initiatives at Finegand, including the large scale Conveyor Project and the installation of two very large HVAC Systems installed for the lamb slaughterboard. Other SFF sites throughout New Zealand are set to undergo similar transformations, with the support of the TEG Projects team.

For TEG Projects it’s exciting to be part of a sustainability initiative that see’s real, measurable change on-site, with a plant that will now be efficient in extracting maximum waste energy at all operating conditions.

“For our team it’s great to see the operators and engineering staff onsite looking forward to operating the new plant with its greater ease and higher safety ratings”, Altan Guervin, Senior Project Manager. 

Do you have the skill set to Project Manage a sustainability initiative such as this? TEG Projects works with a range of well known Food and Beverage Manufacturing businesses across Australasia and we’re looking for skilled Project Managers to join our team. If this sounds like you, reach out to the TEG Projects team today.