Saturday, 27 July 2013

Margarine 101

So, as I briefly mentioned in my About Me page, I work at a factory. On my site there are a number of different factories producing a number of different products, but at my factory we produce margarine. Of all the exciting factories I could have been allocated to, I was allocated to the margarine factory.

As you can imagine, I (a dedicated butter eater) had been allocated to work at a margarine factory. In the maintenance department. No other females in my office. It was TOUGH. I mean, really tough. For the first 6 months I was not a happy person. I missed Frosty. After spending almost 3 years together seeing each other every day I had to go months weeks without seeing him. I had no clue what I was meant to be doing. I was just dropped in the deep end and left to figure out where I fit in to the department.

After about 6 months, I finally started to get into my groove. I started helping the guys in the ICE (instrumentation, control and electrical) team troubleshoot and solve maintenance issues with the software that controls the processes in our plant. I've now been driving software and ICE in the maintenance department and we are slowly seeing improvements. Yesterday there was an issue similar to one we encountered a few months ago. A few months ago it took us a WHOLE WEEKEND to solve this problem. Yesterday, once we identified the problem, it took us about 2 hours. Middle of the night call outs (for me at any rate) are decreasing. We're starting to see the light!

Now, I'm sure you're all wondering how marge gets made. More importantly, I'm sure you're all sitting there thinking 

          "Finally, someone who can answer me this age old question! Is
           margarine black at any stage of the process?"

You'll be surprised to discover that NO at no stage in our process is margarine BLACK!
Let me explain to you the basic process of margarine making (without giving away any secrets), and then you can decide for yourself if you believe me or not.

Recipe for Marge


Oil (mainly sunflower, can add other types of oil too)
Milk Whey
Minor ingredients

  1. Refine the oil, add a few secret ingredients and store it in a big tank (Oil Tank).
  2. Mix together the water, brine, milk whey and minor ingredients and store in another big tank (Aqeous Phase Tank).
  3. Mix oil and aqueous phase together in desired fat percentage (lets say 50-50, to make life easy) and store in another big tank.
  4. Pass the oil through a series of heating units (heat exchangers) and chilling units (Margarine Processing Units). The temperatures are essential for the correct formation and breakage of crystals and need to be controlled to varying degrees of precision - ask your nearest marge processing engineer what these temperatures are.
  5. Once the marge has got the correct consistency, pack it either into tubs (for the lower fat % marge) or bricks (for the higher fat % marge).
  6. After packing the marge, store it in a cool place to allow final crystal formation for a few days.

And there you have it, folks. Marge 101. And I'm sure you'll agree with me, it's impossible for oil and water mixed together to turn black. 

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