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VEM 6.06.2014

Protein boom boosted by Vacon’s AC drives – ensuring quality and safety at Valio’s dairy plant in Finland


Global AC drives manufacturer Vacon has delivered over one hundred new-generation VACON® 100 AC drives to a quark production line at dairy product manufacturer Valio’s plant in Seinäjoki, Western Finland. Vacon’s AC drives contribute to the high quality of the production process and compliance with the safety requirements in standards.

Recently, Valio, the market leader in key dairy product groups in Finland, doubled its production capacity at its plant in Seinäjoki to meet the increased demand for quark, a fresh dairy product high in protein. Commissioned in March 2014, the new production line is equipped with one hundred motors which run, for example, the plant’s pumps and mixers. These motors are controlled by VACON 100 AC drives in the power range from 1.1 kW to 45 kW. The total power of the AC drives delivered amounts to about 400 kW.

The VACON 100 family of products is well suited to many different applications in the food and beverage industry. “We selected the VACON 100 drive to control our quark production line due to changed requirements regarding Safe Torque Off (STO) functions and to improve work safety,” says Teemu Takala, Technical Specialist at Valio’s plant in Seinäjoki. On the quark production line, a special attention was paid to the safety function in the AC drive which prevents the motor from starting up unintentionally.

AC drives are most commonly used for pump control, and at the Seinäjoki plant, 80% of the pumps are controlled by AC drives. The AC drive accelerates the pump motor quickly and smoothly to its running speed. A smooth start-up reduces the stress on the electrical network and the pump’s mechanical parts, and reduces pressure spikes in the pipeline. The continuous control of the running speed also allows the product’s manufacturing process to be optimized. This results in improved reliability and process control. “For us, process control is absolutely the most important reason to use AC drives,” concludes Takala.

At Valio’s plant in Seinäjoki, the first VACON AC drives were taken into use 17 years ago, in 1997. Vacon’s AC drives are mainly used for controlling pumps, mixers and separators but also for controlling e.g. fans, conveyors as well as packing and palletizing machines. In total, Valio’s Seinäjoki plant houses approximately 1,000 VACON AC drives.

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