Thermal Processing Got Milk? Cutting the Energy Bill of Dairy Production

Editor: Dominik Stephan

Energy-aware dairy plant cuts costs – Schneider Electric has designed innovative solutions for the dairy industry, which reduces energy consumption by improved controls through its tested validated documented control blocks.

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With the advent of globalization and industrialization, the number of industries being set up have multiplied manifold globally. In India this number is overwhelming. The electrical energy and thermal energy consumed is very closely associated with this phenomenon. Every industry has to ensure optimum utilization of its resources along with smart energy management in order to cut costs and ensure greater productivity.

Currently India ranks first in milk production, accounting for more than 18.5 per cent of the world production. As per capita milk consumption in the country is rising, the need to produce more amount of milk is gaining priority. As the milk processing industries extend their production horizons, the energy consumption in these and the upcoming industries also tend to rise.


In accordance with the alternative and innovative means adopted for the milk processing plants, one also needs to consider various energy conservation techniques in the existing plants in operation through improvements in energy utilization with the latest available resources and technology.

The Process

Dairy manufacturing processes vary greatly from one product to the next but the initial steps of raw milk processing such as separation, standardization, pasteurization and homogenization for liquid milk as well as supporting facilities such as refrigeration, steam generation and Clean In Place (CIP) system and other applications such as evaporation and spray drying for skim milk powder remain the same.

The milk industry’s competitive nature, energy incentive operations, environmental targets and customer demand have resulted in a proactive approach to energy efficiency and cost reduction. The specific energy consumption per m3 of milk has been steadily reducing as different energy saving measures are continuously being implemented.

Steam, Water, Fuel and Energy

The utilities used for the dairy sector are refrigerant, steam, water, hot water, electricity and fuel. The energy saving opportunities is mainly in the area of pasteurization, homogenization, CIP, evaporator and spray dryer where one or two utilities are used. At the pasteurization section, the milk is heated and cooled within a few seconds; hence, there are intense heating and cooling demands.

Therefore, this process is one of the largest emission sources within the industry, even though much of the heat is regenerated and reused in the pasteurizer.

In the homogenization section, milk is pumped at high pressures through narrow tubes, breaking up the fat globules into small particles which do not recombine so that the resulting homogenized milk has a consistent texture and taste. To build this pressure across the homogenizer tubes, electricity drives the pump which consumes a lot of electrical energy.

In the CIP section, it is used to clean the interior surface of pipes, vessels, process equipment, filters and associated fittings without the need to remove them. CIP typically includes an initial rinse of recovered water to remove heavy soiling, followed by hot detergent wash of caustic soda or acid solution and a final rinse of clean potable water.

Cleaning in Place

Sometimes high temperature sterilization is also used. Hence, CIP is a large consumer of water, heat and chemical consumption. The players in the dairy sector have slowly recognized the benefits of an efficient electrical distribution system that enables systems to continue operating for a certain length of time after an unexpected power loss.

Moreover, the perishability of milk and its byproducts leads to greater losses if not processed with utmost care and on time. This characteristic feature of the dairy industry poses many problems of competitiveness, flexibility, innovation, food safety and sustainable development.

DFemand for Innovation

There is a constant demand for innovation of new products by improvising the old formulations and it is critical to sustain in the competitive market. In addition, traditional mechanical/manual packaging is shifting and dairies are opting for safe, convenient and newer technologies to ensure the brands are appealing on the retail shelves.

Innovative solutions

Now, Schneider Electric is a global specialist in food and beverage solutions and energy management with operations in more than 130 countries. The company has taken a progressive approach to energy efficiency by designing innovative solutions using cost effective technology for reducing energy consumption by improved controls through its tested validated documented control blocks which are used in pasteurizer temperature controls, optimizing the CIP to reduce thermal energy, electrical energy, reduce water usage and reduce chemical usage.

It also has solutions for evaporation & spray dryer to reduce the steam consumption using the APC (Advanced Process Control) blocks. The solutions can also be used to understand, evaluate and make decisions about processes, plants and enterprise operations to identify bottlenecks, analyze production downtime causes, calculate key performance indicators, deliver accurate views of production inputs and outputs, understand work-in-process, track the real costs of production and many more operational performance issues. The company also provides dedicated experts to help the industry with application, product and technical needs. By providing this, food and beverage industries including the dairy sector can have access to complete process automation and control solutions, they would be able to ensure increased overall equipment effectiveness, yield and process efficiency, ensure uptime, reduce waste and scrap, help one to measure the quality of their operation, reinforce continuous improvement and implement track and traceability for quicker response times.

Some of the key features of the control systems and electrical distribution solutions for the dairy sector are to enable systems to continue operating for a certain length of time after an unexpected power loss. They help to detect failures quickly, perhaps even anticipate them. Further, they provide increased flexibility for packaging lines and ensure secure power supplies.

Liquid Food Library

Schneider Electric is committed to bring its global experience and innovation in the dairy industry for its Indian customers through its dairy suite package. The organization has started with a dedicated team of experts catering only to its dairy customers. Its R&D lab in Bengaluru has a state-of-theart Liquid Food Library that its customers can experience and leverage. Besides this, some of the key innovative solutions and products from Schneider Electric in India have been in the dairy segment such as quality monitoring during the procurement process, all the way from village collection centres to bulk milk coolers, online milk quality analyzers, product recovery solutions, batch processing, MES, localized process control and data recording of pasteurizer temperatures to comply with the PMO standards and tailor-made hybrid DCS.

* First published in PROCESS Worldwide Subcontinent Edition Aug. 2016