A $6-million evaporator was lifted into place at Kalamia Mill earlier this week marking the first key milestone of the project.
The Wilmar Sugar mill is located in the Burdekin region and utilised two cranes to lift the bottom cone of the vessel into the factory. The calandria, body and top cone of the evaporator will be lifted into place across the next several weeks.
The new evaporator is the first of four replacement vessels being installed at Kalamia Mill over the next three years. The total cost of the project is $25 million.
Project engineer, Chris Lammas, said all four vessels were being engineered, fabricated and installed by Wilmar employees, as part of the company's strategy of bringing large-scale manufacturing back in-house.
"We've drawn on specialist contractors for some portions of the job, but the vast majority of the drawing, fabrication and installation work is being done in-house by Wilmar's asset management and integrated work management teams," he said.
The new evaporators will replace four older vessels that had reached end of life.
"We'll commission the first of the new evaporators ahead of this year's crushing season," Mr Lammas said.
"Two new evaporators will be installed next year and the final one in 2024."
The evaporator is the stage in the sugar manufacturing process where water is evaporated from the sugarcane juice and concentrated into a syrup.
Mr Lammas said the business had taken the opportunity to standardise and improve the evaporator station.
"The existing evaporators are of different sizes and capacities," he said.
"The new ones will adopt a common design, each having a seven-metre diameter and a heating capacity of 3200sqm.
"This creates greater efficiencies in design and construction."
The new evaporators are part of a larger program to replace end-of-life vessels across Wilmar's eight sugar mills.
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