Dairy Products Performance Improvement

Innovation in response to changing consumer preferences, competition for market share from non-dairy alternatives, changing international agreements, and evolving views on sustainability and environmental concerns are some of the challenges faced by organizations in the dairy products sector.

Dairy continues to evolve to include innovative products that feature probiotics and fermentation to promote gut health and digestibility. New labeling calls attention to sugar driving low sugar alternatives.  Products need to feature mobile on the go packaging that is also sustainable.

Shifting demand means your organization must be flexible and agile to deliver innovative products timed to market needs, all while managing costs and risks.

The Adroit team helps organizations to improve their agility. Our team works to understand your specific operational challenges, jointly crafting solutions that incorporate best practices, leverage your existing software assets, and where necessary implementing Adroit’s software solutions.

Working with Adroit, you are better positioned to efficiently create and produce products in response to newer trends.

Looking Deeper – Dairy Processing Operational Challenges

As an example of understanding how process improvements can drive performance, let us review the operational challenges faced by dairy processors. Adroit understands the complex nature of processing dairy products.  The top dairy products include milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, cream, frozen dairy products, whey and casein. Unlike agriculture based food products, dairy is an active process originating from milk with a range of product attributes that have to be understood and input into formulas to enable the output of a consistent set of products and by-products.  Typical raw milk quality attributes include:

  • Quantity
  • Appearance, taste and smell
  • Fat, solid and protein makeup
  • Bacterial count
  • Free from antibiotics, detergents, chemicals, etc.

One Size Does Not Fit All

A one size fits all system typically does not work for dairy. Specialized Food and Beverage ERP and MES systems are required that support fractionating processes, by-products, co-products, rework, and much more. For example:

Butter is a fractionating process. Based on fat content % the Dairy Processing Handbook categorizes milk fat and margarine products into Butter, Dairy Spread, Reduced Fat butter, reduced fat dairy spread, low fat butter, and low fat dairy spread. Typically butter is produced with the following steps:

  • The raw milk is received and tested. The raw milk quantity and attributes are utilized to determine the price paid for the milk.
  • Milk heating and pasteurization
  • Fat separation
  • Cream pasteurization. The pasteurized cream can be supplied by a liquid milk dairy or separated from whole milk at the creamery.
  • If the cream has an undesired flavor or aroma vacuum deaeration can be utilized.
  • Cream ripening uses a set of temperatures which transforms that fat into a solid form when cooled. The temperature settings are based on the unsaturated fat content measurements and are specified by the system recipe. Ripening typically takes about 12 to 15 hours.
  • The ripened cream is churned to separate butter grains and buttermilk. Depending upon the equipment the buttermilk may be continuously drained off or in batch when the butter grains reach a specified size.
  • After churning the butter is worked to obtain a continuous fat consistency.
  • If required the butter is salted and worked to ensure uniform consistency of the salt.
  • The finished butter is then fed to the filler for packaging
  • The filled packages are put into inner packs, cases, and then pallets and then to cold storage.

As we review the process steps for butter we can see multiple by-products including skim milk and butter milk.  The recipe in an adequate system would handle the by-products, capture the additional ingredients including live bacteria etc and final packaging in a variety of sku’s.  Through the full process traceability would be maintained via lots and batch control.  A typical one size fits all system will not support these requirements.

Butter is a rapid process when compared to hard cheese production. For example, Parmesan Cheese from start to finish requires over a year.  The concept of production orders or WIP inventory being in place across multiple accounting periods and years is not something most standard ERP systems can accommodate. According to Parmesan.com, the key steps to produce real Parmesan cheese include:

  • Collecting evening milk
  • Skimming and addition of morning milk
  • Whey addition to starts the cheese making
  • Natural Rennet addition
  • Curds breakup
  • Cooking and Knitting
  • Muslin wrapping of curd masses
  • Cheese drying
  • Transfer to wooden forms
  • Brining
  • Aging
  • Packaging

Dairy Products Solutions for Improved Operations

Whether it is crafting targeted solutions to specific operational issues or helping to improve the processes of the entire supply chain, Adroit understands the unique challenges of high-volume dairy products production. 

The manufacturing process is typically a combination of front-end batch processes and continuous runs producing discrete units. As dairy processing scales up and the number of unique formulations and packaging configurations increase, so does the operational management challenge.

In many cases, we can help understand how a dairy products information system can be leveraged to meet key challenges, including: 

  • Developing cohesive sales, operations, and finance plan (SOP Planning) with accurate forecasts, production capacities, inventory inclusive of distribution pipeline and planned expiration, and financial metrics.
  • Managing formulations and recipes via spreadsheets becomes unmanageable.
  • Understanding yields and unit costs
  • Integrating insights into production including environmental factors such as humidity, temperature, and vibration
  • Determining trends across batches and production runs.
  • Eliminating manual and labor-intensive traceability
  • Assessing production software system fit to the required batch and continuous processes
  • Complying with GFSI food safety schema, such as SQF, supported by independent record keeping and plans