Shutdown time at Clandeboye

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 05:00 10/07/2013
Clandeboye
NATASHA MARTIN/Fairfax NZ

FINAL CHECKS: Contract engineers do some final maintenance work on the high-pressure feed pumps, as Fonterra's Clandeboye factory goes into shut-down over the next two months.

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There is a lot going on behind the Clandeboye dairy factory's closed doors.

More than 400 repair workers–including plumbers, drain layers, and equipment specialists–will be on site at the factory every week until the end of July, as Fonterra undertakes its winter maintenance project.

Clandeboye is in its off-season, and will not take any new milk until the new season in August.

Fonterra's shut manager Jayson Spittal said it was the only time during the year that it could carry out a lot of its essential maintenance.

"We're operating at full capacity for 10 months of the year, so that doesn't give us a lot of down time. A lot of the activity we undertake over the next two months is absolutely critical to ensure product quality," Spittal said.

Clandeboye's annual production is 381,000 metric tonnes of product per year from whole, skim milk and protein powder, butter, cheese drysalt and mozzarella plants.

"There are clear milestones for each stage of the shut-down maintenance activity. The first milk arrives at the plant for the new season in August. Our Studholme plant is taking winter milk during the Clandeboye shut down, with its operation strategic to manage winter milk volumes," Spittal said.

Fonterra bought the Studholme dairy factory in September for $48.5m. It had previously been owned by NZ Dairies.

Spittal said the plant's five industrial boilers have to be air-lanced, with sucker-trucks removing any residual ash from them.

"They're a big mechanical piece of kit. They provide the heat energy for the processing, and are just as important as the dryers for our site."

"We also have thousands of valves on site and all critical product contact valves are inspected with seals replaced. It's massively labour-intensive and easily the largest single-activity across the site.

"The sole purpose is to ensure product quality," he said.

Spittal said all activities on site required work permits.

"A high-risk activity might not necessarily involve complicated equipment, it could be the location and task," he said.'

When the Clandeboye plant goes back on line in August, it would employ more than 800 staff on site.

This year, Fonterra will spend more than $70 million on maintenance at Whareroa (Taranaki), Edendale (Southland), Clandeboye and Te Rapa (Waikato).

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