Sensor integration for traceable milk chains

Dairy farms with herds of a thousand cows or more are becoming increasingly common. Compared to smaller farms, their infrastructure and operational requirements are very different, but they currently lack the appropriate technology to meet these needs.

The STORYTELLER solution integrates multiple smart sensor technologies to address the four major problems in this dairy value chain: non-representative sampling; inefficiency and under-utilisation in transport; waste due to human error; and lack of real-time visibility and full digital traceability.

By enabling more accurate metering of milk volume and representative samples and improving the digital characterisation of the milk, STORYTELLER is an opportunity to:

  • Improve food quality and reduce waste
  • Produce raw milk with fewer resources
  • Ensure fair payment for farmers
  • Implement a modern data management tool that secures a fully traceable value chain

The lead SME in this project is Piper Systems Limited, which has partnered with DC Fabrication. Both companies are based in Ireland.

Final report summary
The STORYTELLER solution was shipped to Blue Spruce Farm, an AgriMark Farm in Bridport Vermont, USA, in August 2021. To enable full functionality, the farm replaced their bottom-fed tanks with top-fed tanks. Following significant component delivery delays, this equipment was installed in early November 2021.

The project has achieved all target KPIs related to:

  • Sample and volume accuracy
  • Milk loading times at collection
  • Zero rejected loads at the dairy processing plant due to too high milk temperature
  • Real-time availability of critical data per historical load

The cloud-based data portal includes an easily accessible, minute-by-minute overview of all relevant process parameters for traceability, problem solving and process improvement of upstream and downstream processes. The CSV file created for each pick-up contains critical parameters associated with the milk collection and cleaning in place (CIP) processes.

Additional benefits include:

  • CIP monitoring
    Because STORYTELLER is cleaned in process as part of the bulk tank CIP process, the constant temperature recording can identify potential CIP temperature issues with a direct impact on milk quality.
  • Capacity optimisation
    STORYTELLER’s smart-fill technology determines the maximum permitted fill level for each tanker. At Blue Spruce Farm, this revealed potential to transport the same milk volumes with up to 12% fewer journeys – cutting costs, resource consumption and CO2 emissions and helping to overcome the current driver shortage.
  • Suitable for use with silos or large bulk tanks
    Farmers can increase production by simply adding milk storage capacity rather than replacing existing storage facilities.

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Project title

STORYTELLER – smart sensor system for the traceability, metering and sampling of milk transfer

Voucher type

Application

Lead SME

Piper Systems Limited

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Partners

S3FOOD partner contact