Featured Product
This Week in Quality Digest Live
Metrology Features
Master Gage and Tool Co.
Why it matters for accurate measurements
Scott A. Hindle
Part 4 of our series on SPC in the digital era
Having more pixels could advance everything from biomedical imaging to astronomical observations
Tara Fortier
It will likely change in the next decade
Douglas C. Fair
Part 3 of our series on SPC in a digital era

More Features

Metrology News
New KMR-Mx Series video inspection system to be introduced at the show
Study of intelligent noise reduction in pediatric study
Easy to use, automated measurement collection
High-end microscope camera for life science and industrial applications
Three new models for nondestructive inspection
Machine learning identifies flaws in real time
Advancing additive manufacturing
ABB robot charger automatically detects boreholes, fills them with charges, with no humans present
Two awards annually for students studying precision metrology

More News

Bo Ingves


Innovative Sensor Stops Milk Losses in Dairies

With milk prices skyrocketing, reducing waste is critical for dairy plants

Published: Wednesday, March 15, 2023 - 11:02

Rising costs from inflation and increased focus on reducing carbon dioxide emissions make product loss management more important than ever in dairy plants. One major reason these losses occur is because timings or other process parameters are set incorrectly, causing a lot of valuable dairy product to be unnecessarily washed out together with the wastewater. Collo’s unique liquid fingerprint technology addresses this problem by detecting any type of liquid in the pipes in real time, offering an easy way to optimize production and cut product losses.

The rising costs of raw milk, electricity, and other expenses are driving dairy plants to put more focus on reducing milk loss. The cost of raw milk has risen by 64 percent in two years in the EU region, and in some countries significantly more. With thin profit margins, it is a strategic imperative for many plants to minimize product loss. At the same time, there is global pressure to reduce the CO2 footprint of dairy production, and here milk loss at the plant plays a key role.

This is a problem on a massive scale. Considering that the EU alone had more than 12,000 milk-processing and -production sites handling more than 161 million tons of raw milk in 2021, significant volumes of milk could be saved, translating into greatly reduced carbon footprints for dairies across the EU by prioritizing reductions in production losses.

“But to be able to minimize wasting valuable milk products, it is essential to know where in the process the leak happens,” says Mikko Tielinen, head of sales at ColloidTek. “With conventional methods it is hard to meet that goal, which often results in milk products being unnecessarily flushed out with the wastewater. When a leakage then shows in the form of excess organic waste in the effluent, it is extremely difficult to determine where it is coming from.”

Millions of euros down the drain

For a typical dairy plant with an intake of about 250 million liters of milk per year, a loss of just 1 percent of the raw material corresponds to literally throwing about one million euros down the drain.

Tielinen points out that current solutions are insufficient for addressing the problem. Flow-rate timing is very inaccurate, and traditional sensors are unreliable and imprecise, with fouling and creep being major issues. Because several types of traditional sensors are needed to detect different types of liquids, such as whey, cream, and cleaning chemicals, the optimization systems become complicated and expensive to manage.

“Our solution, on the other hand, offers an easy and very accurate way to detect where exactly in the process the leakage is,” says Tielinen. “It measures the exact real-time liquid fingerprint at any desired point in the process with a single EMF (electromagnetic field) sensor. Combined with machine learning, our solution ensures that the process stays optimized and easily monitored through our cloud solution.”

Addressing problems at the source

Usually, product losses in the process are noticed when there is an excess of organic material in the effluent. This can also be a sign of problems in the production process. However, measuring just the effluent does not tell why or from where too much milk product is getting flushed out with the wastewater.

“As our technology can supervise all the draining points in real time, it can keep track of the liquids in the pipes and show exactly where the leakage is,” Tielinen says. “This makes it possible to address the problem at the point of origin, saving huge amounts of milk and money.”

In addition to directly improving the profitability of a dairy plant, reducing milk waste also lowers the wastewater treatment costs and helps achieve environmental goals.

“Most of the carbon dioxide generated in a dairy production originates from the stages before the milk even arrives at the dairy,” says Tielinen. “That is why it is essential to not waste valuable milk in the dairies’ processing operations. If milk-based products are lost in a dairy, a replacement amount of milk will have to be produced and transported to the dairy, which will produce even more carbon dioxide emissions.”

Collo is an industrial liquid process performance solution developed by ColloidTek Oy (Collo). The company was founded in 2017 after extensive scientific research in EMF measurement technology at Tampere University. Collo’s cloud-based process performance solution helps industrial customers understand and enhance their liquid processes. Among the customers are well-known industrial companies like Danone, Fonterra, Valio, Ecolab, and ABB.


About The Author

Bo Ingves’s picture

Bo Ingves

Bo Ingves has been working as a full time journalist since 1985. He mainly covers stories related to companies, finance, technology and the motoring business for a wide array of magazines and newspapers. Product communication is one of his mainstays.