Discovering, detecting, tracking: Industry 4.0 in dairies

A small bowl of ice cream
© SEW Eurodrive

It’s impossible to optimize processes without transparent production flows. And if individual process steps lack clarity, those hoping to make improvements will end up flying blind. Industry 4.0 can help dairies monitor and improve production steps.

Before we get down to brass tacks, let’s consider this: Companies would not be able to pass the numerous audits they face if they didn’t know their operations down to the last detail.

Greater confidence and transparency thanks to manufacturing execution systems

To maintain an overview of complex production operations, virtually all dairies today have installed a manufacturing execution system (MES). These systems provide transparency and confidence to both customers and consumers. The degree of complexity in production operations usually correlates with the size and diversity of the dairy’s production range. Those who concentrate “only” on milk to sell it on the spot market don’t need a sophisticated MES. But those businesses that do a little bit of everything need to invest more time, money and brain power into a system to produce the desired results.

Dairies: Optimize production processes and create transparency through automation

The basis for all this is automation. It not only controls process flows, but also logs all key process parameters and documents every detail, thus enabling complete traceability. Product movements and lot relationships are recorded and graphically displayed. Special monitoring solutions enable measured values and switching states to be recorded at the same time, which creates the necessary transparency to optimize production and cleaning processes in dairies.

Automation process information at the touch of a button

Things also get interesting when the process data from the database is used: Reviewing the recorded history using the display system offers a whole new view of production. From error analyses and help with audits to employee training – automation offers a wide range of possibilities. At the touch of a button, process information can be displayed in any number of ways needed by plant management at a given moment. Forward tracking and balance sheets can also be generated with ease.

Visitors to drinktec will find plenty of current information about automation IT, with a primary focus on developments and considerations related to Industry 4.0. Although dairies constitute, without a doubt, the best-organized, most automated segment in the food industry, technical developments are continuing at breakneck speed. You can learn about other trends and get details firsthand from the more than 280 exhibitors in the milk and liquid milk products category at drinktec.

Roland Sossna

The trained dairy expert, agricultural engineer and freelance journalist Roland Sossna is part of the editorial staff of the trade magazine molkerei-industrie (dairy industry) and IDM International Dairy Magazine. He regularly presents outstanding innovations from the dairy industry on the blog.