Durban-based sugar producer Umfolozi Sugar Mill have set its sights on producing a higher grade of sugar by introducing a new distributed control system (DCS) as well as upgrading several of its systems for the 2016/17 season.
The company has invested in the multimillion-rand system from Japanese electrical engineering and software company Yokogawa.
The new DCS will accompany the installation of a Western States A batch centrifugal machine and a rationalisation of an evaporator station.
“The many upgrade projects under way will increase the boiling house recovery at Umfolozi as well as ensure that the sugar being sold will improve in quality,” Umfolozi Sugar Mill operations director Alan Williamson notes.
He believes that the introduction of the systems will have a significant benefit for both the company and community.
“The target for Umfolozi in 2016 is to achieve a throughput of around 1.3-million tons of cane crushed in the 36-week season, insuring an overall time efficiency of 82% and an average crush rate of 260 t an hour. This will ensure that the mill remains sustainable and that the surrounding area remains stable,” Williamson points out.
Amid the gripping drought over the eastern parts of the country, Umfolozi has continued to sink three new boreholes, which it hopes will provide an end to its water woes. The company, which is committed to insuring enough water is supplied to the factory as well as the surrounding community, has already spent R400 000 sinking boreholes in the area around the mill to supplement nearby Colin’s lake and the Umfolozi river.
“The three boreholes are yielding roughly 70 000 ℓ an hour, providing enough water to keep the factory running with the help of Colin’s lake.”
In an effort to enhance efficiency and ensure crop demands are met in the following season, the mill will also focus on a crop maintenance plan as well as overhauling and repairing the equipment for the next season.
“The fact that the crop is down this season, owing to the continuing drought, means it is imperative that we shift our focus to maximising throughput and overall recovery, while minimising the lost time availability,” Williamson adds.
All the upgrade projects over the next two seasons will be valued at close to R80-million to ensure the mill reaches its targets of 1.3- million tons of cane.
Among the other new additions, the mill will also be installing a new C Massecuite reheater as the current reheater is undersized and is no longer fit for duty.
“The new reheater will ensure that we are able to cool the massecuite effectively for maximum exhaustion, resulting in lower molasses losses and more sugar in the bag.”
Williamson adds that a new set of lifting screws installed into the mill’s diffuser will help reduce flooding as well as help to achieve a more even bed, which will result in an increase in extraction.
“The combined results of these projects is expected to increase the overall recovery adding an additional 600 t of sugar in the bag,” mentions Williamson.
Umfolozi notes that additional developments this year include additional A and C crystallisers, retubing of evaporator vessels and upgrading juice and vapour lines as well as added boiler maintenance.