Contributing to and co-innovating for a better world

  • 22 August 2022
  • 5 min

Until recently, orange peels were regarded as waste and incinerated. This changed with the opening of PeelPioneers in 2016. Funded by a few investors, the three founders built a plant that soon turned out to be far too small.

A new round of investments followed, and Europe's largest peel processing plant opened its doors in Den Bosch in 2021. Every day, it processes an olympic swimming pool's volume of orange peels into high-quality base material for the food industry. ICT Group took care of the automation of the plant.

Partner for total plant automation

The first plant was built by one partner, says one of the three founders, Sytze van Stempvoort. “Everything was in the hands of one party. That was ideal when we were a start-up, as we had
little experience with building and running a plant at the time. However, now that we are in the scale-up phase, we are mainly focussing on the future. We want to engage partners who can help us to keep moving forward in the long run.”

ICT Group is the partner for the total plant automation. “They really wanted to land us as a client. They also understand very well that a scale-up is different from a company that has been in business for years, and that this may require some more thinking along than the contract stipulates. That is exactly what they did during the construction of this plant.”

For instance, PeelPioneers thought lightly of the project management when building the plant. “Choices you make in one sub-project have consequences for the other. We underestimated how complex that was going to be. Sometimes, we could not move forward in one area because a decision still had to be made somewhere else. ICT Group proved itself very flexible in this respect. They understood why things were going the way they were, and shared their constructive ideas.”

Assistance in writing the PDS

One of the sub-topics that required extra attention was the Process Design Specification (PDS). And although ICT Group's software engineer did not know much about chemical processes, he did think along about how to design a chemical plant process so that it can be automated. “His advice was invaluable”, says Van Stempvoort. “We have plans to build a second plant in Spain. When the time comes, we will definitely ask ICT Group to shed their light on the PDS in an earlier stage.”

Another issue is increasing the automation maturity. The plant is currently made up of two parts: an open part with a relatively low degree of automation, and a closed part with a higher degree of automation. Right now, the automation mainly consists of PLC/SCADA, but ICT Group foresees connections to MES and ERP in the future. Van Stempvoort: “It is good to know that we have a partner who knows how to make your orders roll automatically into the plant from ERP; who understands what dashboards are useful to control the production even better, and knows what is needed to fully digitalise the traceability in the entire chain. We will definitely tackle that sort of issues together in the future.”

More information about PeelPioneers

Download the reference case here

Reference case PeelPioneers

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Mark van Lanen