Why are we talking about optimizing dairy production? Because Milk represents the most important segment in the food market and as a drink, it is the most consumed product among dairy products, followed up by butter and cheese ... Milk and milk derivatives are considered an essential part of a balanced diet and various governmental bodies recommend drinking milk or eating dairy products and cheeses, so global consumption does nothing but grow.
This growing consumption puts pressure on the manufacturing industries that must implement more efficient production processes, while always keeping in mind the concepts of Quality, Safety and Hygiene. The wise use of the raw material with appropriate management of the collection and recycling treatments impacts directly on the costs and resources used: the so-called sustainability is increasingly important and with process control, optimizations and measuring instruments, manufacturers can achieve its objectives, making the most of the raw material and at the same time reducing waste. Accurate measurement of the production process, therefore, increases the profitability and overall yield of the industrial plant.
There are multiple types of processes in the dairy
Milk consists of water, fats, proteins, lactose and minerals: when the fractions of water and gas are removed, the dry fraction (DM Dry Matter) or total solids (TS Total Solids) of the milk is obtained. Among the most popular production processes in this food segment we find:
Evaporation and Drying
Evaporating milk to higher solids content and dried to powder makes the product lighter in weight, easier and cheaper to transport as more product can fit into a smaller space. Powder’s shelf life is also longer, and the product is easier to handle and ship as pathogens usually require moist or wet conditions to develop. Thus, milk powders are the most traded agricultural commodities globally. Milk is also evaporated to a certain extend when it is processed into condensed milk or sweetened condensed milk. All of these operations need tight evaporation control, and a common measurement scale is Brix or total solids (TS) measurement.
Total solids and product identification
Fresh milk, usually packed in milk cartons, has a lot of product options, varying between fat-free skim milk to whole milk. Due to its short shelf life, this product is more of a local commodity. In the manufacturing, all fat is first removed from the raw milk and then added back according to legal standard and recipe. This processing step is called standardization, and this is a critical step as each nation has different regulations on the composition of milk. Homogenization is a common step after standardization, and it reduces the fat molecules into such a small size that they do not rise up and create a creamy layer on top of the milk. When producing fresh milk, the producers want to measure the total solids content (TS) accurately and in-line to meet the legal standards and to create products while creating minimum waste. Fast milk product identification in-line enables better yield, leading to savings to producers by minimizing product waste and prohibiting product mixes and expensive product recalls..
Baby milk is a synthetic version of breast milk designed to be used as an additional alimentation or as a substitute to fulfill an infant’s nutritional needs. Producers want absolute certainty in hygienic conditions as well as in product safety while protecting the nutritional value of the product. In the manufacturing process, total solids (TS) measurement is a critical measurement for any infant formula manufacturer.
- Enriched and flavoured milk
Milk, dairy, yogurt, ice cream and alternative milk products might be blended with jam, flavours and syrups to create delicious commodities. The correct and accurate blend is essential in this process.
Measure the process with the K-Patents Vaisala Refractometer
In addition to the tight process control and hygienic process conditions, accurate and reliable measurements from the process are required for better profitability as well as clean, safe and familiar tasting food, made precisely according to a recipe.
Vaisala’s solution for the dairy production process optimization is the Sanitary Process Refractometer PR-43 system, which consists of a compact or probe refractometer and a graphical user interface bringing ease of use into play. The refractometer can be also used as a stand-alone device. Different user interface options range from rugged to a compact lightweight and a web-based version and allow the user to select the most preferred way to access and use the refractometer measurement and diagnostics data.
The measurement of the refractometer is not affected by bubbles, particles or vibration. The hygienic design has a 3-A certificate and the product can handle cleaning-in-place (CIP) and sterilization-in-place (SIP) operations. The refractometer covers the full Brix range of 0-100 %.
Learn more about the different processes and how a refractometer can help to control, optimize and save raw material and energy from our Dairy Processing Optimization eBook. The publication is available for free on our website.