DUCAM project helps Masters in Membrains to grow

The growth and development of Wafilin Systems and our Masters of Membrains are essential in ensuring that we can continue to develop innovative membrane filtration systems. To that end, we offer employees training and other special activities, but participating in the the  realization of projects are also valuable to that. DUCAM is one of such projects that has contributed greatly to expanding our knowledge and skills. We asked Eric van der Wal and Thomas Roersma about their own personal and professional growth and development in the course of this project.

Roles of the various Masters in Membrains

The DUCAM project (a Dutch acronym for sustainable concentration of potato juice with membranes) originated as a collaboration between potato starch cooperative Avebe and Wafilin Systems. Avebe’s production plant in Ter Apelkanaal uses membrane filtration to produce potato juice concentrate. In addition to extracting proteins, this innovative project also generates significant energy and water savings. The first pilot studies for this extensive, long-term project took place in 2013, followed by implementation and commissioning in 2019/2020.

Both gentlemen had specific roles to fulfil during the project. Eric van der Wal was closely involved in designing and conducting the pilot tests that began in 2013. “To me, this was the ultimate project. I’ve always enjoyed doing tests in the container. The pilot started small, but grew bigger and bigger as time passed,” says Eric.

Different process variations and parameters were investigated during in total 4 yearly potato processing periods. Thomas Roersma joined Wafilin Systems in 2016 as a recent graduate. It was a case of baptism by fire, as he was assigned to handle the project’s process engineering. “I went straight from being a student to being responsible the engineering of a project of this size. It was quite a challenge.” Thomas was pretty much thrown into the deep, but that also meant he learned a lot very quickly.

Engineering and construction began in 2018. Six years after the first tests, all that hard work has now paid off and as of November 2019, the installation is up and running. Eric and Thomas: “We are very proud of what we realized together with our colleagues!”

Along with Eric and Thomas, directors Harry van Dalfsen and Henk Schonewille were also closely involved throughout the project. Harry helped Thomas and Eric during piloting and with the engineering and commissioning and Henk worked with Gerrit Klein to ensure the project was completed on time and in accordance with the agreements. They also handled coordination and communication between the various parties. Gerrit was indispensable as the project leader, ensuring the project’s success through activities such as coordination, scheduling and supervision of employees.

Personal and professional growth and development

Wafilin Systems believes in the importance of achieving goals as a team and in giving everyone a chance to develop. Our mission is to develop and deliver smart membrane filtration systems to help solve challenges in the food and dairy industries. This requires passion, but also knowledge and experience. We therefore pay close attention to our employees’ growth, ensuring future access to sufficient knowledge and experience to our business with and for our customers.

The opportunity to contribute to this project has helped Eric and Thomas expand their knowledge and skills. “90% of my actual knowledge of membrane filtration and processes comes from the Avebe project,” says Thomas. While customer meetings were occasionally challenging, it was also a valuable learning experience. We learned to balance defending our own opinions in the interest of Wafilin Systems and the customer’s desires and to clearly explain the resulting decisions.

Having completed such a large project makes everything else easier. As everything worked out in the end, other projects are much less intimidating now. “We’ve seen it all.” Eric agrees. You learn to put projects into a certain perspective. You gain confidence and it makes you stronger. “Ask us anything. We will handle it!”

Want to know more about this project and our Masters in Membrains? Don’t hesitate to contact our CEO Henk Schonewille at h.schonewille@wafilinsystems.nl

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