Westland Milk Products (WMP) is underway with their plan to upgrade their Hokitika factory. The upgrade comes as the company’s strategy moves towards producing more consumer-based products as opposed to bulk dairy commodities. Their goal is to double production of their ‘Westgold’ butter brand to 42,000 tonnes per year, as demand increases globally for grass-fed butter.

Due to this increase in capacity, Neo undertook a site audit of the electrical supply capacity. Due to the growth of the site in recent years, it was determined that significant upgrades were required to meet the electrical demand of the new butter plant.

Transforming the future

The existing butter plant and refrigeration plant main switchboard (MSB) was supplied from a single 1.5MVA transformer. This existing MSB supplied multiple motor control centers (MCC) for the refrigeration and butter plant. The existing MSB did not meet today’s standards and was undersized to meet the new butter plant electrical demand. Neo designed a plan in which a new 1.5MVA transformer would be installed into the substation next to the existing transformer.

A new MSB dedicated to the new transformer would supply the refrigeration MCCs. This MSB was strategically placed so the existing refrigeration MCC supply cables could be redirected without joining cables. Therefore, the entire capacity of the existing transformer could be used to supply the new butter plant MSB. To distribute power from both transformers, Neo designed new 2500A MSBs for each transformer, which also allowed the full capacity of the transformer to be utilised in the future.

A 48 hour window

Due to the refrigeration plant being essential to the overall site running, most of the work was planned for the annual 11kV site shutdown. This gave a 48-hour window in which to remove and redirect over 1km of 400 to 630mm2 solid copper conductors for the refrigeration system.

Neo planned the migration for the project – in particular the shutdown weekend – to work around the clock during this window of time. The shutdown entailed collaborating with the electrical contractor Energy and Instrumentation services to create two shifts, with a combined total of 19 electricians.

During the planned 48-hour shutdown, the transformers had new mains cables run through underground concrete trenches into the new switchboard room. Additionally, all the cables from the three existing refrigeration MCCs were then redirected into the new refrigeration MSB.

Senior Projects Manager for WMP, Johan Klopper, was impressed with Neo’s planning and implementation. “The detailed construction planning from Neo to complete such an extensive amount of work during a short timeframe, while adhering to all safety measures, was exceptional. We’re extremely pleased with the outcome.”

The outcome

Neo was able to manage the completion of all the upgrade works, while not effecting the existing production, by designing and implementing this transition within 48hours. Increasing global sales of their Westgold butter has been in plans for Westland Milk Products for nearly 5 years, but due to the capped production capacity, the growth had not been viable. By enabling the successful build of a new butter plant, without compromising any additional downtime for the factory, Neo ensured that WMP can move forward with their business goals for growth and global sales.