SKIL's role in the Khonburi Sugar Project

kbs refinery


Project Rationale

The Thai industry had developed a very substantial export program for white refined sugar, typically shipped in 50 kg bags in break bulk configuration. However, the industry was hampered by old sugar drying technology that employed high temperatures which resulted in 50 kg bags that became solid in a very short space of time. This culminated in a whole cargo rejection at a major export destination and required a major rethink in terms of both sugar drying and the additional need for sugar conditioning.

In addition there was a small but growing trade in big bags and bulk containers. The original trade had been developed by only one producer which had installed sugar conditioning at a number of sites. SKIL was deeply involved in that first installation. After the problems with the 50 kg bag export program, other producers started to install better sugar drying coupled with sugar conditioning.

The most critical requirement for the client was to be able to ship white refined sugar in bulk containers to both the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand across a wide range of climatic conditions and over a time period of several months.

In addition the company wanted to develop access to the retail market in a cost effective manner that did not involve double handling, taking the sugar direct from the production process.

Project Concept

The initial discussions in 2016 centred around the need to install sugar conditioning and bulk container loading in order to satisfy a need identified by one of the major sugar traders.

During those discussions and the exploration of several options, the client identified the need to also integrate a complete retail packing operation into the sugar flow.

The final concept embodied :

  • 1,500 tons per day counter current, low temperature sugar dryer;
  • three short residence time batch sugar conditioning silos and associated air handling equipment;
  • retail packing equipment installed in a clean room environment;
  • big bag reclamation facility;
  • bulk container loading in a controlled environment loading area;
  • high quality, sealed, sugar handling equipment;
  • explosion protection on silos and associated elevators;
  • full automation system;
  • all equipment to modern food grade standard acceptable to any multi-national auditor and fully compliant with FSSC 22000 and BRC;


A key requirement was that all equipment had to be to modern food grade standards acceptable to any multi-national auditor and fully compliant with FSSC 22000 and BRC. In addition, the installation and commissioning had to avoid disrupting the existing production and guaranteed off-take contracts.


Project Implementation

SKIL developed concept layouts according to the clients requirements. Because of the complex and integrated nature of the project there were a number of iterations before the final concept and layout was approved.

International suppliers were selected for the supply of the major items of equipment.

Local consultants were used for civil design and local contractors were used for tanks, steelwork, piping, electrical (including Instrument cabling) and erection.

The client provided day to day project implementation with SKIL providing regular site visits as support.

Project Completion

Initial commissioning took place in early 2017 with the commissioning of the sugar dryer. Over the next few months the other facets of the project were brought on line and the area brought up to the required food grade standard.

The first trial shipments of bulk containers took place in the latter half of 2017 and were a success.