Photo of white milk powder on a table

Delivering an innovative design to tackle frequent breakdowns in dairies

In the dairy industry, steam to air heaters are critical elements in the drying process. But, in extreme conditions, they often fail and require either replacement or extensive maintenance. These breakdowns occur because, at elevated differential temperatures, materials such as steel and aluminium expand at different rates. This leads to stresses in critical areas of the exchanger and subsequent weld failures and tube leakage.

Through innovative design and meticulous manufacturing processes, Sterling Thermal Technology (Sterling TT) has tackled the problem of frequent breakdowns and failures of this type. By providing more durable equipment for our customers, we help them to achieve greater efficiency and productivity.

Knolton Farmhouse Cheese logoFor example, Knolton Farmhouse Cheese recognised the advantages of our steam to air heaters on a recent upgrade to their spray drying facility.

​Knolton Farmhouse Cheese is a third-generation, family-run business that provides processing services to produce a range of bulk dairy ingredients, which are exported around the world. These include cheese, butter, cream, dairy concentrates and powders.

“When considering an increase in throughput on our spray dryer facility it was important to consider the reliability of the air heaters” commented Stuart Latham, Knolton’s Director. “We manufacture our powdered products in batches; therefore, the exchangers would be subject to significant thermal stress over their lifetime. In addition to the increase in production, we would also be operating the process at higher steam temperatures to enable us to achieve the required drying times. Under such conditions, we needed a robust and proven design of the heat exchangers. Having seen the level of engineering incorporated into Sterling TT’s model, as well as talking to their other clients who operate similar processes, we were convinced Sterling TT steam air heaters were the best available.”

The upgrade delivers a 23% increase in airflow and a 36% increase in heat input to the process, utilising exchangers of the same cross-sectional area to those they replaced. Also, Sterling TT solution helped to increase the pressure capability from 16 Bar to 30 Bar. Due to the robust nature of the exchangers, it is possible to bring the units up to temperature over a shorter period, allowing the process to come online faster. This operation improves productivity and reduces steam consumption, thereby delivers considerable cost savings.

Sterling TT is recognised by dairies for its expertise and experience in delivering innovative and efficient heat exchange solutions. Our air heaters are in operation around the world in companies such as Arla Foods, Arrabawn Co-Op, Glanbia Ingredients, Kerry Group and Volac International.

For more information, visit our webpage about our steam air heaters.