Central milk and dairy testing laboratories use InfraRed (IR) analyses instruments to analyze milk composition and quality. However, it is a challenge to keep analysis instruments well calibrated, controlled and monitored throughout the dairy chain. And with so many farmers and dairy processors part of this chain, errors are likely to occur at some point. Therefore, this use case envisions a quality assurance service of locally obtained milk and remote dairy composition analyses through the use of sensor appliances. Analytical instruments will be monitored remotely and validated by use of reference samples, calibration sets and software applications. If necessary, adjustments can be carried out remotely. With 15 million samples and 500.000 analysis with large amounts of data, QLip is among the largest dairy laboratories in the world.
Quality assurance and food safety
During the production process, dairy companies are using instruments to analyse the various products, such as milk, cheese or whey. In this way, they keep a grip on the production process and make adjustments where necessary. However, are the test results always correct?
Many factors can influence the outcome. This includes sampling, pre-treatment of the sample, correct calibration, maintenance of the instrument and influence of the person who performs the analysis. As a response, Arjan Bom, the Use Case Coordinator, and his team of researchers developed with Remote Dairy Quality tool. A valuable innovation for dairy companies to improve efficiency and optimise processes by obtaining accurate and assured analysis results.
Not qualified product
High demands are placed on the production of raw milk. Farmers are expected to demonstrate that milk is produced safely, with attention to animal health and welfare. In a similar vein, logistics and the processing industry are subject to strict requirements by government agencies, producers and retailers, and must comply with international recognised quality systems. Qlip provides audits and certification of various internationally recognised food safety standards such as BRC, FSSC22000 and IFS in the dairy processing industry. Demonstrating that raw milk is produced safely as well as responsibly is an integral part of the entire dairy supply chains quality assurance strategy and food safety policy. Moreover, a demonstrable assurance of the production process is a crucial element in the trade and export of milk and dairy products. The farmer is an essential link in terms of responsible production and to support them with the help of technology is the main goal of the use case team.
Certification boosting sustainability
Consumers expect dairy products to be produced in a sustainable and socially responsible way. This is demonstrated by transparent, standardised certification. The use case developed several process certifications in collaboration with the dairy sector.
Through such certification schemes specific demands, based on the general principles of food hygiene, are made with respect to the manufacturing process. As the central testing laboratory in the Netherlands, Qlip analyses 50 000 raw milk samples daily. Their customers are dairy processors which can receive one million liter milk each day. To assure the reliability of the quality assessment, automation and IoT components are the only way to accomplish this task. The researchers use infrared light instruments to compare over 1000 datapoints of the incoming raw milk samples with the known value of control samples. If the raw milk sample stays within a predefined tolerance range, no further action is required. Only in case the values deviate from the tolerance range, a closer inspection of the digital control charts follows. This way Qlip is able to handle the astonishing amount of milk samples coming in every day and measure the exact fat, protein and lactose content of the milk, which is a crucial quality indicator and related to dairy processors’ revenues. The instrumental analysis with infrared is so precisely calibrated, that the team can safely determine if the analysed sample comes from a grass fed or freely grazing cow for instance.
Testing & calibration time
Accuracy of IR measurement
To achieve an improvement in efficiency, it is essential that a thorough control and calibration plan is developed per instrument per dairy product. The actual challenge, however, is to implement the analysis according to plan. With the Remote Dairy Quality tool, control and calibration plans are set up and the implementation of the plan is monitored. Additionally, the method of pre-treatment of the control samples and the corresponding analysis results are meticulously recorded. The tool is accessible online for the various customers, such as process operators, quality control or quality assurance managers, regardless of location.
Achievements, products & services
Reliable results from instrumental analyses (IR) for dairy processors and local testing laboratories
Organised, standardised and easy process, providing standardised insights for QA managers
Customised calibration plan and continuous monitoring of the quality of test results
Results centralised in the control chart generating alerts to take action according to calibration plan