Stefan Klebert, CEO GEA, and Detlef Latka, CEO Hochwald Foods, celebrating the first milk intake at the new Hochwald plant in Mechernich, Germany (photo: Hochwald Foods GmbH)
GEA Group AG and Hochwald Foods GmbH yesterday celebrated the first milk intake of a new, highly efficient dairy near Cologne together with all employees of the large construction site. The new plant in the German town of Mechernich will be the most modern dairy in Europe and will start commercial production as early as January 2022.
Stefan Klebert, CEO GEA, is impressed by the project’s progress: “GEA has defied the challenges in Mechernich. We kept this greenfield project on track through the Covid 19 period and the flood in summer 2021: we are on schedule and in exceptionally constructive cooperation with our long-standing customer.” In the meantime, commissioning of the various process steps is underway. “Hochwald’s new facility is a lighthouse project that we can all be proud of.”
GEA’s highly efficient process technology lays the foundation for sustainable production of the new dairy. For example, the particularly short downtimes of the GEA plant ensure resource-saving operation. In addition, the sophisticated cleaning-in-place (CIP) concept saves water. Energy-efficient heat exchangers return the otherwise wasted waste heat from the process to an energy cycle for reuse elsewhere.
In the future, Hochwald Foods will process around 800 million liters of milk per year in the new plant into high-quality dairy products such as UHT milk, UHT cream, UHT mixed milk products as well as condensed milk and UHT drinking yogurt. Detlef Latka, CEO Hochwald Foods, takes the first milk intake as an opportunity to thank all those involved in the project for their outstanding adherence to deadlines and quality in the course of the project so far: “Four years ago, the members of our cooperative paved the way for the construction of a new dairy with their resolution. From the search for land to the planning and construction work, the project is the result of a great team effort of which we can already be proud today. We will also overcome the final hurdles together until the start of commercial production next year.”
As a general equipment supplier, GEA’s contract includes the execution planning, building, delivery, assembly and commissioning as well as acceptance of all process-related and operational treatment and processing machinery for the manufacturing of the various dairy products. The Mechernich plant focusses on products with a long shelf life, a benchmark field for GEA’s aseptic technology.