FINLAND – ColloidTek Oy (Collo) has come up with a Liquid Fingerprint Technology that is able to detect milk wastage in real-time, offering an easy way to optimize production and cut product losses.

Dairy facilities are focusing more on reducing milk loss as a result of increased prices for raw milk, power, and other expenses.

In the EU region, the price of raw milk increased by 64% in two years, and by much more in other nations.

Many plants must strategically reduce product loss due to their low-profit margins. The loss of milk at the plant is crucial in this context since there is a concurrent global effort to minimize the CO2 footprint of dairy production.

The issue is massive in scope. Given that the EU alone has more than 12000 milk processing and production facilities handling more than 161 million tons of raw milk in 2021, large amounts of milk might be saved, resulting in significantly lower carbon footprints for dairies throughout the EU.

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

“But to be able to minimize wasting valuable milk products, it is essential to know where in the process the leak happens. 

“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,” says Mikko Tielinen, Head of Sales at ColloidTek.

Mikko draws attention to the fact that the problem’s present solutions are insufficient.

Traditional sensors are unreliable and imprecise, and fouling and creep are two key problems. Flow rate timing is also quite imprecise, he notes.

The management of the optimization systems becomes difficult and expensive since multiple varieties of conventional sensors are required to detect various sorts of liquids, including whey, cream, and cleaning agents.  

“Our solution, on the other hand, offers an easy and very accurate way to detect where exactly in the process the leakage is. 

“It measures the exact real-time liquid fingerprint at any desired point in the process with a single EMF sensor. Combined with machine learning, our solution ensures that the process stays optimized and easily monitored through our cloud solution,” Tielinen says.

Product losses in the process are typically observed when the effluent contains an excessive amount of organic material.

This may also be an indication of production issues, however, monitoring the effluent alone cannot reveal the cause or the source of excess milk product being 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.

“This makes it possible to address the problem at the point of origin, saving huge amounts of milk and money,” Mikko says.     

Reducing milk waste not only boosts a dairy plant’s profitability directly, but it also helps dairies meet their environmental objectives by lowering the cost of wastewater treatment.

“Most of the carbon dioxide generated in dairy production originates from the stages before the milk even arrives at the dairy. 

“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,” explains Mikko Tielinen.

The solution, dubbed ‘Collo’, is currently used by companies like Danone, Fonterra, Valio, Ecolab, and ABB.

ColloidTek Oy (Collo) was established in 2017 as a result of an in-depth academic study at Tampere University on electromagnetic field (EMF) measurement technology.

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