Nestlé: Implementing a Water Efficient Washing and Conveying Line System


Nestlé has more than 180 U.S. locations in 31 states, including manufacturing R&D, supply chain facilities, and corporate offices. To better handle incoming raw material and reduce water use during food processing at their Fremont, Michigan site, Nestlé installed a new multi-product washing and conveying line. Before this project, raw materials were received using multiple preparation lines and water flumes. 


The substitution of water flume transport with mechanical conveyors resulted in a more consistent flow of material and 5% total annual water consumption savings. The project minimized water use while also aligning with Nestle’s goals to increase asset intensity, efficiency, and throughput. By replacing the water flume, the project resulted in 3.19 million gallons of water savings annually.  



The scope of this project included modifying two production lines and associated equipment. Initially, this project’s primary objectives were to ensure a consistent flow of material and improve the zoning of production activities. However, water conservation also became a key objective as the project team identified an opportunity to replace the water flume transport process with a conveyor-based transport system.


Though the initial project timeline of 6 months was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic and project scope changes, by working with external project managers, the project was ultimately completed by January 2021, just 7 months slower than expected. Water metering was already in place, which helped quantify the impact of the project and confirmed the expected savings of 3.19 million gallons of water per year. 



The project met all primary objectives and improved line configuration while also improving the safety of the operational area as more of the employee activity for raw material preparation moved from outside to inside. Yield improvements on raw materials increased substantially, especially on root crops. The water savings from the project yielded over $11,000 per year of direct cost savings and the project team is planning to use DOE’s Plant Water Profiler tool to accurately estimate the project’s true cost savings of water and energy – as well as to analyze other opportunities in the plant. These calculations will account for not only the direct cost of water, but also the cost of energy used for water extraction, pumping, treatment, and disposal.



Annual Water Use

Baseline (2021)
64,000,000 million gallons
Actual (2022)
60,800,000 million gallons

Water Savings:


Sector Type



Fremont, Michigan

Project Size

1.2 million square feet

Financial Overview

Over $1 million