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How a Custom Oil Skimming Solution Saved a Food Operation Thousands Per Month

ESS Enclosed Skimming System

A large food production plant in the southern U.S. faced a major challenge: They were spending thousands in avoidable expenses due to inefficient removal of fat, oil and grease (FOG) from their wastewater.

This particular food plant produces tamales (around 100,000 per day), which are traditionally made with a corn-based dough called masa, filled with meat and steamed in corn husks. The various meats used for filling the tamales is first cooked which renders out the fat content. The grease that results from the cooking process ends up in the wastewater, builds up in the grease trap, and causes wastewater treatment and disposal challenges.

Read on to learn about the particular challenges the company faced, how they overcame them with a custom oil skimming solution and the savings realized today.

The Problem: Oily Wastewater Led to Treatment Challenges and Increased Costs

When making tamales filled with beef, pork or chicken, the meat must first be cooked. During the cooking process, any fat content in the meat renders out. Between batches, the grease is drained, and the cooking equipment is cleaned with water. The wash water and grease combine and flow to the facility’s grease trap.

With a high volume of wastewater, and no efficient means to continuously remove the grease from the water, the grease trap was quickly overwhelmed, and grease began to build-up. Occasional visits from expensive vacuum trucks weren’t sufficient enough to prevent oily water from being discharged to the municipal water treatment plant. To encourage a resolution to the oily water issue, the municipality required regular testing of the wastewater at the expense of the tamale plant.

These challenges resulted in two costly outcomes:

1. Too much oil in the wastewater. With no continuous oil removal solution and a grease trap overwhelmed with buildup, oily wastewater was being sent to the city’s treatment plant. In addition to increasing fees to treat the contaminated water, the city required regular testing of the tamale producer’s wastewater—for a fee of around $1,000 per visit.

2. The cost of cleaning the grease trap was adding up. In an effort to reduce grease buildup and effectively remove oil from water, the plant hired a third-party grease removal company to clean the surface of the 2,500-gallon oil/water separation tank. This was an expensive option as the charges totaled over $8,000 for the year. Using this method, the tamale plant would have needed a truck to service the grease trap daily in order to eliminate the increased treatment and testing fees from the city.

The food plant wanted to find a better grease removal method, increase efficiency of the grease trap, improve the quality of the wastewater, and reduce costs.

The Solution: A Custom Oil Skimming Solution

The tamale plant conducted an online search for possible solutions and found Oil Skimmers, Inc. After a brief introduction call, an onsite visit was scheduled with the local Oil Skimmers, Inc. representative to see first-hand the particular challenges of the application. After thorough discussion and assessment, the team at Oil Skimmers, Inc. determined the proper solution and developed a proposal.

Oil Skimmers, Inc. developed a 3D model rendering that incorporated actual photos and application specifications to illustrate the proposed solution. This helped the customer visualize precisely how the oil skimming system would look and work in their specific application. Because of their decades of experience, applications expertise, engineering capabilities, and full line of proven products, Oil Skimmers, Inc. was selected by the tamale plant for the project.

“This is not the type of solution you can find in a catalog,” said David Cehlar, Oil Skimmers, Inc. Regional Manager. “The project appealed to our expertise and with our custom engineering capabilities and vast experience with these types of applications, we developed a one-of-a-kind solution - even using photos of the company’s actual grease trap to create a model of how our skimmer would work.”

Ultimately, the tamale company agreed that its plant would benefit from the proposed solution. Oil Skimmers, Inc. got to work creating a customized version of their ESS™ (Enclosed Skimming System). The underground grease trap featured a unique manway opening, which was the tank’s only access point. To accommodate the ESS, Oil Skimmers, Inc. designed a special adapter plate, so the skimming system could mount securely atop the opening. The ESS completely encloses the skimmer, keeping the oil removal process contained, secure and messfree. The enclosure is also sealed and gasketed to prevent any odors from escaping.

As the grease rises to the surface in the grease trap, it’s immediately recovered by the skimmer’s Free-Floating Collector Tube® and flows to a collection tote. The new oil removal solution continually skims the waster’s surface and alleviates any potential of releasing contaminated, oily water to the city.

“This System Will Pay for Itself”

Once the plant turned on the new ESS, it immediately began removing oil and grease from the grease trap. The plant’s water quality improved so dramatically with the ESS that the municipality lifted the water testing requirement, eliminating fees of $750-$1,000 per month.

In addition, the ESS delivers 275 gallons of recovered grease to a tote each week, which the company sells for a profit instead of paying for its removal. So, in addition to saving $8,000 on vacuum truck services, the tamale plant now has a new source of revenue.

Pleased with the performance of the skimming system and the cost savings, one representative from the tamale plant noted, “This oil skimmer will pay for itself in no time!”

That prediction became a reality even sooner than expected: The custom ESS saved the company approximately $20,000 in the first year of operation alone, not including revenue from selling the recovered grease.

Get a Quote for an Oil Removal Solution

Do you require effective and efficient oil removal at your facility? Contact Oil Skimmers, Inc. today to discuss your challenges with an oil removal solutions expert.

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