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Keeping Danish Cheese Fresh

Getting dairy products to market on time is a necessity. Knowing the status of machines down to the temperature of production helps Arla Foods get milk from the cow to the grocery store within 12 hours.

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The Christiansfeld, Denmark, supplier services 850 stores and more than 1 million people, augmenting milk shipments with organic milk, skim milk, chocolate milk and cultured products such as yogurt. “An efficient manufacturing cycle is key to our goal of delivering quality products,” says Erik Vesløv, production manager at the Christiansfeld Dairy Centre.


“The previous dairy systems were not automated,” Vesløv explains. “The PLCs (programmable logic controllers) were not connected, there was no reporting, and there was no traceability. It was also possible to overfill a tank, leading to unnecessary waste.”


The company’s automation era began in 1998 when the dairy installed a new separation and pasteurization line to produce organic milk. APV—a partner of Lake Forest, Calif.-based automation software vendor Wonderware—provided a turnkey solution that included hardware, PLCs and Wonderware’s InTouch human-machine interface (HMI) software for supervisory control.


A major advance came in 2002, when the dairy was refurbished and upgraded. The Pascon control system used for 25 years was replaced with a plant intelligence system that provides full integration, traceability and visibility into actionable plant data. Arla picked the Wonderware plant intelligence solution, which includes the IndustrialSQL Server historian, InTrack resource tracking software, DT Analyst asset monitoring and OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) software, and the InTouch HMI.


Wonderware’s InTrack resource tracking software now handles the continuous manufacturing process. The software provides reports on the cleaning and filling processes; the various temperatures in the filling process; and the flows in the cleaning process. This level of data collection and analysis helps Arla Foods maintain its reputation as a leading provider of the freshest dairy products.


Problem tracking


Though the system helps reduce problems, it also helps when problems do arise. “In addition to faster response times, this new level of traceability actually reduces the risk of having to recall a large amount of product, because we have detailed information on each batch. All we need is a package number to know exactly what time a given product was produced and what ingredients were used to make the product. We can then create a report and see exactly what was going on at that time, and then implement a limited recall if necessary,” Vesløv says.


The backbone of this system is the IndustrialSQL Server historian. Based on Microsoft’s SQL Server technology, the software collects data from industrial and business systems throughout the plant, going down to the individual PLCs on the plant floor. It provides a single centralized data resource for production, process and material history.


Data can be accessed in real time by the Wonderware system, which provides data visualization and control via the InTouch HMI and detailed product genealogy from the InTrack software. Next, DT Analyst software identifies and fixes problems in the production process and distributes the important and useful information to the appropriate personnel. 


The Christiansfeld plant controls its equipment efficiency with DT Analyst asset monitoring and OEE software. This out-of-the-box reporting system delivers a simple OEE solution that helps Arla Foods’ personnel drive machine efficiency improvements on the plant floor and then report their accomplishments throughout the organization, all the way up to corporate headquarters.




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