for 30 seconds for fresh milk which can last for a week.
Milk: from the field to the fridge
Everyone knows dairy products. In every possible variety. But hardly anyone knows exactly where and how they are produced. Be it yoghurt, drinking milk, cheese or curd – in every stage of production, innovative technologies ensure the production of high-quality food that is both tasty and healthy.
Feeding, stroking, milking
Elsa is a cow and lives in farmer Hermann’s spacious barn. She can live her life the way she wants, and she feels at ease in the cozy of her herd. The farmer watches over her carefully. With a pedometer (a step counter) around her leg, an electronic sensor around her neck, a number chip on her ear and networked software, the livestock manager can tell, with a click, whether Elsa is moving, eating enough, whether she is in heat or sick or how much milk she is carrying.
Elsa the cow
This is Elsa the cow. She was born in farmer Hermann’s barn in 2014. The Friesian coated cow has a preference for eating strong, fresh green feed. And she likes a lot of it. She polishes off about 20 kilograms a day. But since she produces 10,000 liters of milk annually, she does need her food. Elsa is also rather enthusiastic when it comes to technology. That is why she was particularly pleased when farmer Hermann changed over from the milking stool to the milking robot. When she is not chewing or busy giving milk, Elsa likes to be massaged by a fully automated, fluffy neck brush.
The modern barn for the happy cow
Animal welfare is important because – in addition to the technology – it is a guarantee of the quality of the milk. The quality of the milk begins with the feeding of the cow. Good feed has an effect on the taste and the quality of the milk. Much like a home delivery service, a feeding robot places a fresh portion of hay and concentrated feed directly in front of Elsa’s hungry mouth. The blade of grass is still in her mouth. Elsa is still chewing while indulging herself in a massage. She gets stroked by an automated brush.
When robots do the milking
Elsa’s udder is now full. She wants to be milked and goes to the milking robot independently. A robotic arm extends out, finds her teats and checks whether they are clean. Hygiene is of top priority in milk production. If the teats are clean, the robot attaches the teat cups and pumps the milk directly into the milk tank via tubes. When the milk flow stops, the milking equipment is gently released from the teats.
From now on, the milk remains in a contained and hygienic cycle during the entire manufacturing and refining process. No air, nor human hand or other foreign bodies can come into contact – until Max opens the milk carton at the breakfast table.
Quality and hygiene right from the beginning
Already in the barn the milk is cooled down to 4 degrees Celsius. It must also be kept cool on the way to the dairy in order to avoid the multiplication of microorganisms. Even before the milk is pumped into the milk collection truck and the dairy takes the fresh delivery, the first quality samples are taken. Milk from sick cows or milk containing traces of antibiotics, for example, will not be accepted. The milk will only be processed when all quality standards are met.
The dairy: Quality and safety are top priorities
And now it gets hot: In the heat exchanger the milk is then heated with hot water or steam to turn it into long-life milk and to kill microorganisms. For this, there are different heat treatment processes with different temperatures and heating times. Depending on the desired type and shelf life, the milk is either pasteurized, ultra-heat treated, sterilized or filtered with ultra-fine membranes.
This demands a complex interaction of all electrical and mechanical components. A super-ordinate control system receives the signals of the individual components, processes them, and passes on corresponding control signals to the other components in the control loop. This interaction ensures that the right amount of milk at the correct temperature and the right pressure is always in the right place at the right time. Everything must be matched and coordinated, because even the smallest deviation leads to the milk getting damaged by too much or too little heat. And this will have a negative effect on the quality and shelf life of the milk.
After the heat treatment, the milk is rapidly cooled down again to 4 degrees. This temperature must be maintained throughout the cold chain in order to avoid further growth of micro-organisms.
for 10 to 30 minutes for sterilized milk which can last for up to a year.
“Innovative German mechanical and plant manufacturers ensure quality and safety – for freshness and great taste. Every single day.”
Marketing and Communication Consultant
Since 2014, Margret Menzel has been responsible for the Marketing and Communications Department at VDMA Food Processing and Packaging Machinery Association. The range of this sector includes beverage machinery and dairy technology, meat processing machinery, bakery machinery, confectionery machinery, machinery and equipment for vegetable raw material processing, machines and equipment for the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industry as well as packaging machinery.
Press and Public Relations Consultant
Since 2008, Christoph Götz has been working for VDMA communicating exciting market and technology topics for the agricultural machinery and tractor industry in Germany and Europe. The current sector trends include intelligent networking solutions in the barn and in the field. As a global player, European agricultural machinery manufacturers serve the needs of farmers in around 150 markets worldwide.