How to reduce waste in the dairy industry

How to reduce waste in the dairy industry

As the farmgate price of milk continues to decline, how can dairy manufacturers squeeze more into their profits?  Dairy UK has recently published an export strategy that looks to help UK dairy manufacturers improve their export performance. This could lead to increased production opportunities - but as production increases does it make sense for the amount of waste to increase proportionally?

No of course it doesn’t.

To be able to benefit from export opportunities, looking at ways to reduce your waste will enable you to ramp up your production capacity.

So what are the causes of waste?

1. Inaccurate coding

Incorrect product codes cause scrappage, as the perishable nature of dairy products means they cannot be reworked. Getting the right date on the product with readable codes is therefore essential to reduce waste. The costs of errors can be substantial, particularly if these are not detected until after the product has left the factory. In a survey of the food and beverage industry for Ernst & Young, 81 per cent of respondents deemed financial risk from recalls as significant to catastrophic, while 58 per cent had been affected by a product recall event in the last five years.

How can this type of waste be reduced?

• An easy to use interface on your coding equipment will allow for error-free coding.
• No-one has time to read a manual on the line, so touch screens with simple menus, and obvious icons also help reduce mistakes.
• Frequently used codes stored in the printer with a recognisable name can be quickly retrieved – no need to type out a regular message every time.
• Remote printer monitoring in the back office can also override operator error, if your systems are complex enough. If you are only running a couple then an easy to use coder is essential.

2. Codes which don’t stay put – often to damp or wet product surfaces – again if codes rub off then the batch is scrapped, or rejected by the customer. Codes also need to stay in place during end use by the consumer (next time you get a carton of milk out of the fridge, give the code a wipe – does it come off?)

How can this type of waste be reduced?

• Continuous Ink Jet (CIJ) coders come with a wide choice of inks, so you can choose the one which works best on your products: for example quick drying inks will prevent codes from smudging when they come into contact with other products or equipment soon after coding; plastic-adherent inks stick well to plastics incl HDPE

3. Illegible codes or codes in the wrong place – for instance on high speed traversing lines (over 2m/s) such as yoghurt pots. High speed lines bring their own risk – your coder will often dictate the speed of your line, so you don’t want to be held up by your coder. Codes which are stretched or illegible can be caused by a coder that can’t keep up or is not set up correctly for the speed of your line.

How can this type of waste be reduced?

• Cutaway printheads that allow the printhead to be positioned at the optimum distance when coding onto gable topped cartons
• Long flexible conduit between the printer and printhead will allow the printhead to move easily across traversing lines, and ensures accurate positioning of codes

4. Downtime caused by wet environment affecting your equipment or cold adversely affecting your code quality

How can this type of waste be reduced?

• The correct IP rating IP55 for damp / washdown environments will ensure no ingression of moisture into critical parts of the printer, and continual reliable running
• Internal monitoring of printer systems – temperature monitoring at the point of print ie the printhead will ensure the system compensates correctly and your code quality is consistent, even if the ambient temperature fluctuates

Take a look at your current dairy coding technologies – are they holding up your production or causing waste? If so then now is the time to act to improve your production efficiencies, and ramp up your profits.