Dairy industry explores advanced technologies to digitalise global production

11 Aug 2022

Dairy manufacturers are increasingly integrating automation, the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies into their production plants in order to meet growing global demand for dairy products, particularly in Asia.

Digitalisation in dairy production units is allowing manufacturers to maximise efficiency, reduce operational costs and meet consumer demand.

Automation is garnering attention in the dairy industry as it enables producers to implement and use automatic equipment to undertake steps in the production process that traditionally would require manual operation. Intelligent storage systems, known as dark warehouses, are available in today’s dairy space.

Dairy industry explores advanced technologies to digitalise global production
Photo by Mehrshad Rajabi on Unsplash

The technology enables manufacturers to connect automatic storage systems with packaging and vehicle management systems, enabling goods to be moved from workshops to warehouses without human labour.

Unmanned factories, powered by robots

Automatic online analysis can also add automation elements to facilities. With the rise of advancing technologies that prioritise convenience, efficiency and sustainability, the dairy industry is welcoming the era of the unmanned factory.

For instance, building information modelling (BIM) technology can integrate a variety of systems, including automatic guided vehicle (AGV) feeding system, warehouse control systems (WCS), spare parts management information systems, centralised energy control systems and manufacturing execution systems (MES).

The Internet of Things (IoT), which refers to interrelated digital machines and physical objects that can connect and exchange information, is also being leveraged by major dairy companies. Today’s dairy manufacturing facilities have access to 3D monitoring systems, which enables operators to monitor warehouses in real-time, immediately detecting and reporting any anomalies and providing corresponding solutions.

Addressing the ‘dairy gap’ in China & Southeast Asia

Integrating such technologies can help manufacturers meet the growing global demand for dairy products. Dairy producer Yili, for instance, recently opened a global dairy hub in Hohhot, China featuring these facilities for this reason.

Compared to developed dairy markets, there is still a gap in markets like China and Southeast Asia, Yun said. “In recent years, as public awareness of healthy lifestyles has increased, we have seen an overall trend towards growing consumption for dairy products and an ongoing diversified and personalised trend,” said Dr Zhanyou Yun, assistant president of Yili Group.

Another challenge is integrating sustainable development into dairy manufacturing processes, added Yun.

“The dairy industry features a long and complex industrial chain that involves partners across the primary, secondary, and tertiary industries,” he said. “Carbon emissions are produced throughout products’ life cycle, including feed planting, cow farming, manufacture, transportation, and sales, among other areas.”

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Dairy Innovation

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