For those of you who follow us on social media, or who live local to our Tweed Valley Maltings in Berwick-upon-Tweed, you may have noticed – or seen photographs – of two cranes on-site during the month of February.
The reason for this was that the group of five Germination & Kilning Vessels (GKVs) – each with a capacity of 330 tonnes – were having their kiln fans replaced, resulting in a three-week shutdown of those GKVs. We also have a group of four GKVs on-site, with a capacity of 430 tonnes each.
Kilning is an important part of the malting process, as it is where the cool, humidifying air from the germination phase is switched over to warm air. This halts the growth of the grains and removes most of the moisture from them – going from around 45% moisture content to 4% or lower in the finished malt, which will be in line with the customer’s specification.
After some investigation work, our team discovered that the fans weren’t operating overly efficiently. In particular, it was found that one of the fans – a replacement in 2016 – had a design flaw, which restricted the consistency of the airflow.
Overall, it meant that the kilning process went on for longer than it could take, resulting in greater energy use. To address this, a major project was launched and, in February, the GKVs went into shutdown mode.
Considering that these GKVs operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, a three-week shutdown is significant and the malt production and planning teams spent several months building up the required stock to ensure that our distilling customers wouldn’t be too adversely affected.
Howden, a leading global provider of mission critical air and gas handling products, carried out the installation work, with two separate teams from the company working throughout the three-week period to ensure the project was completed in as little time as possible so production in the GKVs could resume.
While the fans were being installed, our on-site team – alongside other contractors – completed other necessary work inside the GKVs to take advantage of the rare shutdown.
The GKVs are now back in operation and, although it has been just a few weeks since the new fans were installed, we are already seeing some strong results, reducing the amount of energy we are using.
Given how energy intensive the kilning process is, this is a very positive development and we continue to explore other energy reduction related projects at our sites as we seek to continue reducing our carbon footprint.
Read more about our sustainability related projects HERE.