Big new factory feeds tiny new consumers

Danone has invested more than 240 million Euros in their new factory in Cuijk, Holland. The investment ensures production of baby food of impeccable quality for more than 100 countries. 

Utility Manager Joost Oosterbroek is almost bursting of pride as he takes his Glamox visitors for a tour around the factory. No wonder, since the 8.4 hectare plant, will be doubling the output from the previous factory. The tour around the premises also reveals state of the art production technology, energy efficient and low emission solutions and last, but not least a strong focus on hygiene and cleanlinessIf you think that baby-food is a generic product, you should think again. The raw materials used for the baby-milk formula, by-products from cheese production, vegetable oils and a range of different micro ingredients can be used to make an almost endless variation of recipes. Recipes that can help babies with special needs, like preemies and babies with allergies. Also, the preferences regarding nutritional content varies from country to country. Hence the new production lines need to be able to put out a wide range of different products.“Danone’s international R & D centre, Nutricia Research, is located in Utrecht and collaborates with researchers from the universities of Utrecht, Groningen, Wageningen and Amsterdam in order to formulate the best recipes.” Oosterbroek said. 

Extreme Chinese demand caused rationing

One of the countries that is in high demand for baby-food, is China. A food safety scandal in 2008 that lead to serious health problems for more than 60.000 children under the age of three, has led Chinese parents to choose baby food from European and American manufacturers. For years the Chinese demand for these products has forced Dutch supermarkets and pharmacies to put a restrain on the number of baby-food items sold to individual customers. Only one or two tins of baby milk formula per customer has been the rule.  The new factory in Cuijk is a way for Danone to meet the huge Chinese demand. However, the factory will also serve more than 100 other countries. And no compromise is made when it comes to food safety. A good proof of this are the more than 50 employees working with quality. Another good example is the packaging lines where every can of baby-food is x-rayed in order to avoid contaminations and the strict routines to ensure that every tin has the same content, colour and composition.   

The tanks are used to mix raw materials. The tanks and the pipes are cleaned regularly with hot water under high pressure. 

The room is illuminated with MIR products from Glamox.

“A clean factory starts with good lighting”

A full tour of the factory takes several hours. The size of the premises is one reason for this, the other reason is the hygienic precautions needed to access different cleanroom production areas. As human beings are a big source of contamination, employees have to cover up with hygienic clothing from head to toe and thoroughly sterilising their hands. Visitors can only look at the production lines from the visitor corridors outside the cleanroom.According to Oosterbroek, lighting plays an important role in keeping the factory hygienic and clean.“A clean factory starts with good lighting. Every surface must be kept as clean as possible. My experience is that areas that are not properly illuminated are easy to miss when you clean.” Oosterbroek said. This is one of the reasons why Danone has insisted on having a high lux level throughout the factory. It was also a matter of course to choose energy efficient LED products. Some of the luminaires were also customised in order to meet the strict hygienic requirements.  “We started with the basic engineering for this project in the beginning of 2016 years ago. We were in touch with several lighting vendors, but decided that Glamox was the best choice for us because of the quality of the products and the competence both in the sales team and the technical team”, Oostbroek said. 

Lighting designer Miriam de Rover from Glamox made more than 900 3D lighting calculation for the Danone project.

A dedicated team

A large and complicated project such as the Danone factory, often requires “out of the box-thinking” and tailor-made solutions. A dedicated team from Glamox has been working hard to find solutions for some project specific challenges and to make the lighting part of the project a success.

All in all, Glamox has supplied more than 5,000 luminaires for the Danone project. Furthermore, many working hours have gone into customising products and solutions for the customers. One example is the large quantity of lighting calculations Glamox has contributed. In order to achieve the necessary level of cleanliness Danone requested a lux level well above what is common for factories. The idea is to have sufficient light in every corner to ease the process of visual inspection. To help Danone achieve this goal, Glamox has contributed with more than 900 3D lighting calculations covering almost every inch of the factory.

Customised products

Also, in a factory that literally produces powder, keeping surfaces clean is a big challenge. For high care areas, Danone has used the industrial luminaire i35-S and the cleanroom luminaire C60-S. The i35-S is an IP65 luminaire, specifically designed to meet strict requirements in the food industry. Proper material selection is critical for the product’s lifetime therefore i35 is made of acid-proof steel (AISI 316) that is a corrosion and chemical resistant material complying to corrosion class C5-M. As Danone wanted to make sure that the screws used to attach the luminaire cover wouldn’t be collecting dust, Glamox offered a tailor-made version with recessed screws. The C60-S is tested and certified in accordance with the toughest ISO requirements for cleanrooms. With excellent lighting technology, well considered material choice the C60-S is designed for easy maintenance and a long product lifetime. In some locations Danone wanted to mount the C60-S on the walls rather than in the ceiling. This would normally have created a horizontal “shelf” where dust could accumulate. To avoid this Glamox offered a tailor-made version of the luminaire with a slanted side.