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CenFRA simulating the future for dairy producers


The UK dairy industry has gone through turbulent times but DairyCo Datum recently reported that the filtered milk market has actually grown by 16.1 percent since last year, totalling 327.1m litres – making it the largest growth area within the sector.

To help this liquid dairy sector continue to flourish, Europe’s leading centre for food robotics and automation, CenFRA Ltd, has launched a campaign to invigorate dairy producers towards identifying even more intelligent production systems.

Over the next few months, CenFRA’s team of expert engineers will be visiting dairy manufacturing sites across the country and, through the use of sophisticated 3D simulation software, will be demonstrating how emerging technologies can be integrated into existing processes and how these will help dairy processors ‘work smarter’ rather than harder. CenFRA will also be carrying out factory audits and giving quality, unbiased advice on available automation and robotic solutions.

One of CenFRA’s key messages will be that automation and robotic systems not only provide substitutes for shortages of farm labour but also have the potential to deliver a range of benefits that can improve productivity, hygiene and provide better process and quality controls.

An area where automation has already had a significant impact is in replacing tiresome repetitive processes such as milking, where automated teat spraying in mechanical milking systems has resulted in turning a twice-a-day batch process into a fully automated, continuous one. This added flexibility and regularity has also improved udder health.

Principally funded by Yorkshire Forward, CenFRA’s aim is to educate dairy producers on new automation and robotic technologies for both production and for improving overall efficiencies such as solutions for reducing carbon and methane emissions, reduce disposal volume, recycle water and reduce overall energy consumption.

To help achieve this, CenFRA will be using discrete event simulation software to present visual models of factory layouts, which will reveal how technological advances can work with current processes exist and can be incorporated into the one factory regime, as well as identifying any obstacles that may arise from an installation.

This evaluation will quantify, at very little cost to the producer, the benefits and implications of integrating automation techniques, without creating any disruption to current operations.

CenFRA’s managing director, Steve Blazye said: “Although automated milking systems within dairy processing plants have been around since 1879, the greater speed and accuracy of newer solutions offer improved flexibility, enhanced ability to handle complex processes and increased cost effectiveness.

“CenFRA wants to help dairy producers recognise process situations that would benefit from improved automation as well as new areas where it could be included. Our principle aim is to offer a helping hand to the industry – for it to be profitable, innovative and competitive, thus achieving long term sustainability.”

For more information and a chance to secure a free automation audit visit the CenFRA website or telephone 01302765680.

CenFRA Ltd (Centre for Food Robotics and Automation) mission is “To support the future sustainability of food and drink manufacturing in the UK by providing leadership, guidance and assistance in the development and application of automation”.

Funded principally by Yorkshire Forward but with additional support from Northern Way (an amalgamation of the three Northern-based Regional Development Agencies) the Centre is in partnership with a consortium of the country’s leading independent robotic and automation facilities.

Driven by food industry professionals CenFRA is working towards becoming the beacon organisation for all robotic and automation activities related to the UK food and beverage manufacturing industry including education, consultancy and research and development.

Since its formal launch in 2007, CenFRA has established itself as Europe’s leading centre of excellence, providing valued knowledge and services to the food and drink industry.

The CenFRA organisation is Europe’s first Centre for Food Robotics and Automation and is located in Crompton Business Park at Doncaster. It is supported by a dedicated team of professional engineers, researchers and technologists drawn from a wide variety of academic and specialist engineering centres. All are highly experienced in the field of mechanised food assembly and automation technology.

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