Throughout 2022, globally renowned dairy co-operative Fonterra entrusted Neo with the crucial task of assisting to resolve their persistent power supply interruptions at their Waitoa UHT site.

Leveraging industry expertise, Neo adeptly transformed what initially appeared as a complex task into a straightforward and comprehensive solution, ensuring optimal power stability for Fonterra’s operations.

Fonterra’s Pursuit of Enhanced Power Stability

Fonterra, owned by approximately 9,000 New Zealand farmers, holds a dominant position in the global dairy market, accounting for around 30% of the world’s dairy exports. With annual revenues exceeding NZ $22 billion, Fonterra stands as New Zealand’s largest company, playing a pivotal role in the country’s economy.

Recognising the critical importance of a stable electricity supply, Fonterra sought a solution to mitigate power dips that had been causing disruptions at their Waitoa site. To address this challenge, Fonterra joined forces with PolyJoule, partnering on the application of the world’s first industrial-scale organic battery made from electrically conductive polymers – an organic compound with metal-like properties.

The Challenge at Waitoa

Fonterra’s Waitoa UHT facility faced recurrent power dips, risking costly plant shutdowns and production delays. Seeking a solution, Fonterra aimed to integrate PolyJoule batteries with a large scale uninterruptible power supply (UPS). While complex initially, Neo Consulting, led by Electrical Engineer Joshua Le Mon, expertly resolved this challenge, ensuring uninterrupted operations and waste reduction.

Neo’s Role – Simplifying Integration for Power Stability

Renowned for expertise in electrical engineering, Neo was entrusted with the responsibility of designing the connection between the PolyJoule batteries, the UPS system, and the existing plant. Despite the initial complexity of the task, Neo’s ability to simplify intricate processes made the integration straightforward and comprehensive, ensuring optimal performance of the solution.

Neo’s solution included:

  • – The design solution for integrating the UPS for critical equipment with that of the PolyJoule batteries
  • – Designing a new power distribution centre alongside the required UPS wiring
  • – Ensuring compliance with New Zealand’s safety standards (Neo actively assisted the battery manufacturers in meeting local requirements)
  • – Future-proofing, and incorporating this into the design
  • – Mitigating risk through knowledge share and risk workshops
  • – Assistance during construction and commissioning

Navigating Challenges

Several challenges were encountered that demanded thorough planning and execution. Neo undertook extensive risk assessments, meticulously considered the optimal equipment placement and conducted comprehensive safety reviews of the systems. On top of supply chain issues, the Neo team also faced the imperative task of minimising the shutdown timeframe to prevent disruptions to Fonterra’s production schedules.

Uninterrupted Operations and Enhanced Efficiency

Since the implementation of Neo’s design solution in January 2023, Fonterra has experienced improvements in their operations. Notably, there have been no production disruptions caused by power dip incidents, with production running smoothly even during three significant events. The new system has ensured the safeguarding of critical processes and reduced the risk of losses due to downtime.

Driving Progress and Reliability

Neo’s experience in electrical engineering, combined with an expertise for simplifying complex tasks, proved instrumental in successfully integrating PolyJoule batteries with Fonterra’s new UPS system across their UHT production plant. With Neo’s support, Fonterra has further solidified their commitment to reliable power supply and enhancing operational stability in the dairy industry.