By Elke Tures-Fischer

A member of the Procter & Gamble Group (P&G), Wella is more than 100 years old and a leading supplier of haircare products and fragrances in more than 150 countries. In order to meet the ever-increasing demands of the market, the company’s production facilities are continually upgraded. This recently included a comprehensive refurbishment of the plants for production and distribution of ultrapure water.

Water quality for product excellence
“Water is one of the most important constituents of our products. As the demands of our formulations increase, the purity of the water becomes increasingly important,” said Rüdiger Schäfer, Project Manager at Wella/P&G in Germany. “Changing market and consumer behaviors create new challenges. Our aim is to maintain our leading position and to defend it  against the competition.” In order to be prepared for the increasing demands of the future, the company decided to completely upgrade its plants for the production and distribution of ultrapure water. “It was necessary to overhaul the system design to ensure GMP-compliance in order to achieve the highest possible water quality. Our plants are now state of the art and can produce water complying with the USP,” Schäfer explained. “In addition, we wanted to greatly increase the performance of the old plants so that they can meet today’s requirements—and tomorrow’s.”

An ‘old’ partner with new technology
A European-based ultrapure water specialist known for world class water technologies offered a comprehensive concept for the refurbishment and provided Wella/P&G with solutions, advice and assistance over a period of more than nine months. The firm had installed the current system in place at the plant two decades earlier, on time and within budget.

As the first step, the 20-year-old ion exchange plant for water treatment was replaced by a turnkey plant for the production and distribution of purified water (PW) in accordance with United States Pharmacopeia (USP). This was followed by the modification and expansion of the existing loop lines for hot and cold water, including refurbishment and good manufacturing practice (GMP) compliant reconstruction of the storage tanks (one for cold water and three for hot water).A new instrumentation system was linked to the new control system; furthermore, a completely new intermediate storage and distribution system for PW was implemented. This is comprised of a tank with a capacity of one cubic metre for storage of the PW and a proprietary loop component system with a circulation rate of six m³/h for distribution of the cold water. An electrolytic ozone generator with an output of four g/h ensures effective and environmentally friendly disinfection of the PW system. Ozone both eliminates micro-organisms and provides continuous protection for the storage tanks and distribution systems. An ozone meter with switching between various measuring points and an ultraviolet (UV) irradiation unit are integrated into the proprietary loop component system; it also has a heat exchanger for maintaining the temperature of the water in the loop and a facility for connection of a mobile total organic carbon (TOC) measuring device to permit assessment of the organic quality of the PW.

No interruption of production
From the very start, Wella/P&G demanded that the refurbishment work not interfere with production in any way. “The basic requirement was that the new plant components should be commissioned in parallel to the old plant so that it should not be necessary to interrupt production,” stated Schäfer. “The ability (of the water technologies provider) to convert and integrate the water treatment plant under normal operating conditions made the project particularly interesting for us.” This was a challenge which the firm accepted, Schäfer said. “Our main emphasis is economical operation or, in other words, optimization of the operating costs. This, as well as our experience with the quality of their equipment and service, was the main reason for selecting the firm who had installed our system two decades ago.”

Due to the concentrate treatment stage installed after the RO stage, the new system increased the yield from 75 to 90 percent and reduced the operating costs.

Innovative and safe
In order to produce water in PW quality economically, two ultrapure water generators, each with an output of six m³/h and including a water softener, an RO stage and an electro-deionization (EDI) stage, were installed. The unique EDI module includes an integrated membrane stage. This is based on the firm’s patented spiral-winding technique and has an additional membrane unit for the removal of particles and germs. The EDI modules receive the water treated in the RO stage and demineralize it continuously with the aid of an electric current. This process requires no chemicals and consumes very little electric power.

Overall, the new system relies on sanitization with hot water. Schäfer realized significant benefits from the changeover to this new technology: “Hot-water sanitization and the facility for storage of ozone guarantee uniformly high water quality. For us, this is an enormous step forward.”

An unbeatable team The compact proprietary loop component system permits distribution of the PW, continuous disinfection and monitoring. Combined with the system for production of PW, Wella/P&G now has a safe and economical plant from a single source.

The water produced by the plant is pumped into the existing storage tanks, which have been modified to comply with GMP. The plant has two separate storage systems (for hot and cold water) and three proprietary loop component system distribution racks, each configured differently to meet different requirements:

• Unit for distribution of the cold water with a circulation rate of 40 m³/h, ozonization generator (12 g/h), ozone measurement, UV unit, heat exchanger for control of the temperature of the PW in the loop and a mobile TOC measuring device.
• Unit for distribution of the hot water with a circulation rate of 40 m³/h, heat exchanger for control of the temperature of the PW in the loop and a mobile TOC measuring device. The output of the unit (four to12 m³/h) is regulated on the basis of the water level in the tank, which depends on the amount of water consumed in the production plant. This dynamic control of the unit’s output makes it possible to react economically to variations in production plant demand.

Intelligent control technology
Over and above the normal control of the process, the control system had to meet special requirements with respect to operational safety and reliability, ease of use and data security. A unique water management software system is therefore used in the technical area. This also permits the operating status of each water treatment system and of the individual process systems to be displayed graphically at any time. The archiving and evaluation of process-relevant parameters are no longer problematic. It is also possible to detect trends and chart maintenance requirements in good time. These features improve the availability of the plants and maintenance and repair work can be planned for and scheduled in advance. These benefits will save Wella/P&G money in the long term. “Since we can archive the process parameters and evaluate them regularly, we can act proactively. We can detect trends on a timely basis and know when we have to do something in order to ensure optimal and trouble-free operation of the plant,” confirmed Schäfer.

On the safe side
The manufacture of cosmetic products demands the maximum possible safety, purity and quality of the water used in the processes: chemical and microbiological purity must be ensured at all times. For the company, economical operation is also an important factor. For Schäfer, it was vital, ” The system technology was qualified in advance, thereby saving us a considerable amount of time and money onsite and eliminating the possibility of plant down-times”.

The water technologies corporation offers its customers an added value in the inspection of the water-treatment systems: they are pre-qualified in the factory. An acceptance test normally lasts one or more days and is executed in the presence of a representative of the customer. The systems are fully assembled in the factory and then tested together in accordance with a clearly defined plan. All of the production and system documentation is inspected at the same time. This creates an atmosphere of trust between the manufacturer and the customer, reduces the costs for the complete validation of the system and saves time between commissioning and the handover to the customer.

The complete refurbishment of the plants for production and distribution of PW was a further important step for Wella/P&G. Thanks to the latest technology and services from a single source, the company has achieved its objective of producing top-quality water with more economical and safe plants, which was a prerequisite for maintaining and improving the company’s leading market position.

About the author
Elke Tures-Fischer has studied graphic design and new media and has spent many years at publishing houses, marketing agencies and in industry, where she amassed sound knowledge in the area of marketing and communications. At Christ Pharma & Life Sciences AG, she works in the Marketing and Communications department, where she is responsible for projects related to internal and external communication, such as customer magazines and participation in international trade fairs and shows. Tures-Fischer specializes in concepts and editorial articles. She can be reached via CHRIST’s Global Key Account Manager, Reune Runyon, Haupstr. 192, 4147 Aesch; Switzerland; Phone: +41-61-755 83 64 or via email [email protected]

About the product
The proprietary loop component system used at Wella/P&G is Christ Water Technologies’ LOOPO, designed to maintain the quality of purified water (PW), highly purified water (HPW) and water for injection (WFI) up to the point of use. It combines various process engineered components: a high-pressure pump, an electrolytic ozone generator with single or multi-point ozone meter and a UV device for the ozone destruction, a flow and a conductivity meter, a control panel plus a recorder to monitor the quality. Furthermore, a double tube sheet heat exchanger to cool the ultrapure water during long circulation periods may be integrated. A hot-water sanitization option (Loopo Select), permits the entire loop and the tank to be sanitized with hot water at a temperature of 80°C to 85°C (176°F to 185°F).

About the company
CHRIST is a leading supplier of customized technologies, solutions and services in the field of pure, ultrapure and drinking water production and wastewater treatment as well as pharmaceutical production processes. More than 1,300 qualified employees ensure comprehensive services at 40 locations worldwide for the Christ Water Technology Group. CHRIST has everything that singles out a total solutions provider of turnkey water and process systems: know how, innovative drive, customer orientation and one-stop shopping. Our competence ranges from project identification over planning, production, installation to commissioning and training, backed by first-rate customer service support. The CHRIST share is listed in the Prime Market of the Vienna Stock Exchange (ISIN: AT0000499157).


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