Valio Riihimäki: Bold and controlled change brought a host of improvements

Valio's production facility in Riihimäki produces many common staples of Finnish kitchens and dinner tables: milk, cream, sour milk and yogurt. The speciality of the Riihimäki facility is curd foams that require special manufacturing equipment. Annually, the facility produces a total of over 200 million kilograms of different dairy products. Valio's production facility in Riihimäki chose Kiilto as its partner.

Production manager Minna Laatikainen is responsible for production at the Riihimäki facility. The heavy responsibility for the spotless hygiene of the processing rooms and packaging machines rests on her shoulders.

– In food production, good hygiene is basically the most crucial and critical issue that must be maintained perfectly at all times. We have to remain constantly aware of the fact that we are dealing with foodstuffs. The starting point for everything is that our environment and equipment are clean. You absolutely cannot compromise on cleanliness − otherwise the operations of the entire company are jeopardised.

Co-operation between Kiilto and Valio’s Riihimäki facility began in 2016. This tighter co-operation has now been going on for over a year. According to Laatikainen, the early stretches of the partnership have gone splendidly and in good mutual understanding.

– Kiilto had previously supplied us with some cleaning products, but we didn’t have an actual service agreement in place. Other Valio facilities were already working in closer co-operation with Kiilto and their experiences of the arrangement were very positive.

Specialist support to meet the customer’s need

The Riihimäki facility began its co-operation with Kiilto by exploring what kind of specialist support Kiilto has to offer. We were also looking for development suggestions on what kind of changes we could make to our existing product selection.

– We wanted to reduce the number of cleaning products we were using, but we also wanted to ensure that each product we ended up selecting would absolutely suit its intended purpose, says Laatikainen.

We go through a lot of cleaning agents, but they get the job done!

Our cleaning routines include washing machine surfaces by hand, exterior cleaning of tanks, cleaning of floors and CIP cleaning of production machinery and process lines. Machine surfaces are cleaned by hand while floors are foamed with a low-pressure pressure washer and then brushed.

CIP, or Cleaning in Place, is an automated cleaning system for production machinery and piping. The CIP system is used to clean product lines, for example. Control over the system is centralised to the facility’s control rooms. When it is time to clean a piece of equipment, the user sets the machinery to the cleaning position and the CIP cleaning process is initiated from the control room. Both alkaline and alkaline-acidic washes are used for the CIP process.

Laatikainen considers the cleaning power and suitability of cleaning agents and the versatility of slideway lubricants to be very crucial factors.

– Each cleaning agent and slideway lubricant must be tested thoroughly so that we can be sure that the agent or lubricant achieves the desires results. We must ensure a thorough cleaning result and the functionality of the machines, Laatikainen says.


From a supplier to a specialist development partner

From Valio’s, and Laatikainen’s, perspective it was important that Kiilto could assign contact persons who themselves were food industry specialists. This resulted in fruitful co-operation and led to high-quality development of the production process.

– We would not have succeeded in this massive project to the degree that we did without Kiilto’s specialists and the seamless co-operation we had with them. Their specialists familiarised themselves with our environments thoroughly, and they already had a good enough grasp of our cleaning needs and the general requirements set for food production facilities.

– They had a clear vision about which cleaning chemical or slideway lubricant would fit in at which stage of the process, Laatikainen says.



With specialist help, changes can be controlled

During the year many things have progressed and improved; the production facility has undergone a lot of changes. In the co-operation with Kiilto, Laatikainen has been especially pleased with the professionalism displayed in rolling out even the more significant changes in a controlled manner.

– Change management has been a tremendous success. We transferred to using Kiilto’s chemicals and completing the changeover in a controlled fashion required the expertise of a lot of people. Kiilto’s people have been there assisting us to ensure that everything is done correctly.

– If some product did not work as desired, it was modified. From this perspective our co-operation has been very successful, praises Laatikainen.