Industry story: Dairy

The dairy industry is a competitive sector, dealing with fresh natural products that are subject to the highest quality controls. This leads to specific process requirements.

To meet their growth and innovation goals, small and medium-sized companies in today’s business world require a platform that accelerates their business processes and simplifies decision-making. In the dairy industry, this need is complicated by the challenges that come with the unique characteristics of milk collection, milk processing, catch weight and dairy sales.  Several milk collections can be gathered in one truck. When arriving at the plant, the net weight is measured via a double passing over the weighing bridge.

Milk Collection

When a truck collects milk at a farm or milk collection centre, the quality of milk extracted can be measured both by a counter in the truck and on by calibrated devices at the collection point, like Bartec or Zevodat. The devices transmit their information to the milk processing company.

Afterwards, it needs to be compared to the weight measured at the collection point. Discrepancies may be due e.g. to counters which were not reset, and need to be resolved.

The quality can measured both by an internal and an external lab, which is interfaced with the processing plant. A self-billing process allows proposing milk producer invoices based on the quantitative and qualitative information. The calculation rules may be very dependent on local regulations. Quota limitations, price agreements and penalties may be imposed by the authorities.

Similarly, transporting companies can be sent a self-billing invoices for the collection cost based on volume and distance.

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Milk Processing

Milk processing typically consists of a milk treatment steps and the processing of a final products. This may be fresh or UHT milk, butter, cream, yoghurt, cheese or derivate products. The final products can either be a consumer product (bottle, tetra brick, cheese bulb, can) or an industrial product for further processing (industrial packaging, container, bucket). The specification of the products needs to be defined in detail, not only in terms of components, but also in terms of formulation (fat, protein content, dry mass, allergens etc.). It is integrated with GDSN, the global network of product data, used for communication with mainly retailers.

During the milk treatment step, typically the process quality parameters are measured trough sampling or connected devices. Several batches of milk can be mixed in order to achieve a certain target content. Example: when processing a batch of milk with higher fat content than average, it may be useful to have the system propose the mix with a certain quantity of skimmed milk in order to end at the target fat content.

During the second production step, the creation of the finished product, more detailed registrations are done on the shopfloor, allowing to register product quality and production yield. After production a homogenization period may be required to assure a stable product quality. Product and SSCC labels may be printed on the packaging line.

Dairy sales

Dairy products can be sold to retailers, industrial customers, out-of-home, schools or other. In some cases, brokers may be performing the distribution to end customers. This variety of channels leads to different sales process requirements. EDI communication is mostly used with retailers. In the case of brokers, often the products are sold to the broker and credited upon sales to end customers. In some countries local regulations allow subvention for certain markets, or excises in others. When milk is sold in bottles, the handling of empties becomes relevant for the bottles and crates, next to the generic handling of returnable packaging and pool pallets. Obviously, the traceability of batches needs to be assured across the supply chain.