We've reached a major milestone in our $10.6 million Victoria Mill evaporator project.

Wilmar's Victoria Mill evaporator superlift

The biggest component for the new evaporator vessel has been lifted safely into the factory.

Herbert Regional Operations Manager Adam Douglas said it took a 400-tonne crane with a superlift on the back to lift the top cone and body of the new evaporator into place.

The massive steel construction weighed 46 tonnes and measured eight metres high and eight metres wide.

“We lifted the three major components of the evaporator into the factory over three consecutive days. First the bottom cone, then the calandria, and finally the top cone and body,” he said.

“Seeing the final piece lifted into the factory was a significant milestone.”

Mr Douglas said the evaporator was the biggest capital project for Wilmar’s eight mills this year, as well as the largest fabrication project ever undertaken in-house.

“We’re really proud of the fact that this major piece of infrastructure was designed and fabricated internally.

“Everything – from engineering through to installation – is being done by our own workforce as part of Wilmar’s strategy of bringing manufacturing back to the regions, upskilling our people and providing more year-round work at our mills,” he said.

The evaporator is the stage in the sugar manufacturing process where water is evaporated from the sugar juice and concentrated into a syrup.

Senior Project Engineer Jarryd Knickel, who led the design and planning team, said the new 4000sqm evaporator replaced two smaller vessels and would help increase rate and throughput at Victoria Mill.

“During the planning stage we looked at a number of different options, and the option we finally settled on was to retire the two smaller vessels and install a much larger, single evaporator vessel,” he said.

Project Execution Superintendent Wes Seri, who oversaw the construction, said the evaporator was built over three different sites in the Burdekin and Herbert to maximise Wilmar’s labour resources.

“The calandria, body and top cone were built at the Burdekin centralised workshop, the Herbert centralised workshop did the structural steel and process piping, and our Macknade Mill workshop did the bottom cone,” he said.

“We achieved an incredible milestone to get the vessel into the mill by the middle of February, but there’s still a lot of work ahead.

“Our execution team has to weld out the vessel, install 14,500 heating tubes and install the process piping. They also have to install large vapour pipes as part of a total reconfiguration of the evaporator station.”

The new evaporator will be commissioned in May, ahead of the 2021 crush.