GEA technology to take center stage in carbon-neutral smoothie factory

Delivering end-to-end concept for process planning and technology

New range of smoothies from innocent. Photo - GEA

Global process technology and solutions provider, GEA, has been chosen by innocent, a leading European smoothie and juice manufacturer, as a key technology partner for the design and construction of what will be an industry-leading, carbon-neutral juice manufacturing plant in the Netherlands. Scheduled to open in 2021, the innocent facility will produce 400 million bottles of chilled juice every year for the European market, which amounts to about 60% of the company’s annual production of bottled juices.

In a move that could change the way many foods and drinks are manufactured in the future, innocent is investing a total of US $ 250 million in their groundbreaking facility, which is being built at the new Rotterdam Food Hub, in the city’s harbor area. The plant solution hinges on a sustainably designed process and green technologies from GEA, focusing on maximizing energy, resource efficiency, and reducing waste. The plant aims to rely on renewable energy sources and harness energy recycling systems from GEA.

GEA has worked with the company to configure optimized solutions for key process steps, including handling raw materials, batch mixing and pasteurization, and supply-efficient refrigeration solutions plant-wide. A GEA heat pump will then recycle waste heat from the refrigeration systems and reuse it in other process steps, such as heating for pasteurization. GEA has also tailored automated clean-in-place solutions for the process equipment, which will save on water and chemical usage, as well as reducing manual tasks and equipment downtime.

“The site will be a showcase for sustainability in the beverage manufacturing industry. Constructing the plant at the Rotterdam port also means saving on millions of road transportation miles each year, which will cut the company’s annual supply chain mileage by 25%. innocent estimates that this carbon-neutral plant will allow it to cut its overall carbon footprint by 10%. But it’s not all about reducing the carbon footprint. With GEA’s help, innocent wants to challenge the traditional way of designing, building and operating a production site by offering an inspiring, people-friendly and healthy environment for its roughly 190 employees it plans to recruit. We are very proud to partner with innocent in delivering our combined vision for an end-to-end concept for process planning and technology. We’re providing more than just a collection of machines, but rather a 360-degree approach to processes, which, generates the greatest value,” explains Stefan Klebert, chief executive officer of GEA Group Aktiengesellschaft.

Sam Woollett, Engineering and Facilities lead for innocent, adds, “Our company’s core mission is to develop ambitious goals and tackle things with an open mind. GEA was right on target with its fresh ideas and is delivering what’s important to us.”

The innocent project is one of the largest that GEA has undertaken in this process area. It has involved working in true partnership with innocent from day one, including experts from GEA Netherlands, who will support innocent throughout the design, configuration and installation process. GEA will also continue to provide tailored service and support for the plant and its key stakeholders.


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