GEA has remotely put into operation a ready-to-drink coffee production line in Shimada, Japan, for Nestlé, the world's largest food company. Due to the pandemic, the commissioning, the most critical phase, was done remotely. This opened up new, more sustainable ways of collaboration between globally dispersed project teams.
Takayuki Miyazaki, managing director, GEA, Japan said, ”We have already completed a few projects for Nestlé in Japan. Getting the entire production completely up and running virtually and on schedule was where our partnership really came into its own. We are proud of this joint effort, which has proven its worth in the six months since production began. The extreme conditions we faced due to the COVID-19 restrictions forced us to be exceedingly flexible and enabled us to leverage digitization opportunities more effectively. Ultimately, we are glad we had this experience, which exposed us to a new way of working on projects and we are becoming more agile and adaptable.”
COVID-19 alters the course of the project implementation
To protect the workforce and avoid jeopardizing the project, Nestlé and GEA moved the work to the digital sphere and changed process routines: Much of the equipment was pre-installed at GEA’s plants instead of on-site. In fact, the UHT (ultra-heat temperature) treatment system was transported from Germany to Japan in one piece after extensive factory acceptance testing in the workshop. Using digital tools like remote service desktops along with digital control rooms allowed GEA's commissioning experts from Germany, Pakistan and Singapore to guide the team in Japan remotely as it did the actual hands-on work. Thus GEA simulated and optimized operations in a virtual environment, making sure the commissioning went smoothly for Nestlé.