August 31, 2016

Process engineering of the dairy industry at drinktec

Dairy industry 4.0

drinktec, the world’s leading trade fair for the beverage and liquid food industry, has become a must-go for the producers of milk, liquid dairy products and liquid food. The filling and packaging techniques of drinks and liquid food are so similar that numerous synergies inevitably result for exhibitors and visitors. Process engineering will also play a major role for milk production at drinktec, which will take place in Munich from September 11 to 15, 2017. As a result, it is an indispensable trade fair date for professionals from the dairy industry.

drinktec has also quite clearly become the leading trade fair for the dairy industry. In 2013, the fair recorded growth of a whopping 58 percent to more than 12,000 visitors from the area of milk and liquid dairy products. Approx. 18 percent of the visitors come from this industry, which is almost one out of five. Consequently, drinktec is the meeting place for the industry.

Quality assurance in dairies has top priority. Exhibitors at drinktec 2017 will present complete systems for milk and liquid dairy products, but also for liquid food products such as cooking oil, vinegar, ketchup and soy milk. These include the cleaning of milk and whey clarification, skimming and standardizing milk and whey as well as homogenizing, cooling, heating and keeping warm. More than 270 exhibitors are already registered in the online catalog at who specifically deal with the topics of milk and liquid dairy products.

Sustainable energy efficiency of processes
An important issue is the energy efficiency of processes considered from a sustainable viewpoint. This is particularly important for thermal process engineering with heat exchangers and evaporators as well as equipment for thermal food preservation and mechanical separation technology. “The balancing act between the customer demands for individual and distinctive dairy products as well as low-cost, sustainable and safe production is becoming increasing difficult,” explained Torsten Sach, Managing Director of the Central Association of the German Dairy Industry (ZDM). The manufacturers of process equipment for production and processing of milk and liquid foods will particularly take these aspects into account with their innovations at drinktec. “drinktec is a melting pot of the industry and a leading trade fair for us, both with respect to its size and significance. There is nothing like it in any other country,” Anja Oltmanns, Marketing Manager of GEA, Germany, already said after the last event. It is not without reason that one of the focal topics at drinktec is dedicated to the fields of energy, water and resource efficiency. Especially with respect to the extreme price pressure in the industry, the big challenge is to keep the total operating cost with corresponding measures under control, i.e., to achieve the desired product quality without compromising hygienic safety at the lowest possible cost.

For example, this is also possible for processing companies dealing with the topic of wastewater in milk. New cost reduction opportunities are continually being created there. Author Roland Sossna (“Sossna Diary”) illustrates this by pointing out a flotation system for the separation of fat from dairy wastewater in the drinktec blog ( “Cheese factories save hard cash with their flotation system, and they do it sustainably.”

Food safety and hygienic design
The right choice of process engineering can significantly reduce the workload on dairy producers in their daily work. This applies regardless of whether they are filling ESL milk, refining milk-based drinks with cereals or producing products that put special demands on hygiene and a gentle treatment. The very important topic of food safety in the dairy sector undoubtedly prioritizes hygienic design of equipment and components, and it is certainly a basic issue for drinktec exhibitors. Process automation with control, control station technology and IT solutions also plays an important role here. For example, fully automated CIP systems help plant operators to track changing process conditions. This ensures the efficiency of CIP and reduces product losses and energy costs during the cleaning process. Appropriate measurement techniques are a prerequisite for this, as they will be presented in multifarious ways at drinktec 2017.

The fourth industrial revolution is affecting the dairy industry
This also affects the professionals from the dairy industry as well as the exhibitors at drinktec 2017: the fourth industrial revolution. It is based on the third revolution, the digital one, which began in the middle of the last century. Its specific feature is the fusion of technologies. “The whole agro-food industry is being changed completely,” Professor Thilo Hühn of Zurich University of Applied Sciences, explained. For example, this is the case if the machines used are configured to be self-learning, request appropriate spare parts when necessary or even request their favorite service technicians. Lots of data are the main basis for these changes. “Big Data” is the buzzword. In real time if possible. In process engineering in the dairy industry, this means sensitive sensors and inline measuring devices that provide customized solutions with different measuring principles for each assignment and communicate with each other perfectly. The cost of resources can be lowered and downtimes reduced with inline measuring devices in this way.

A number of exhibitors at drinktec 2017 will show ways of how operators of process engineering systems, equipment and components can better coordinate and integrate them into their automation systems in the future. “Technical innovations will revolutionize the industry,” the Head of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, stated in Davos earlier this year. Artificial intelligence and comprehensive networking will dramatically reshape the global economy. Everything will change for humanity as well as for the dairy industry. “The fourth industrial revolution is also a reality in the German dairy industry. The personal members of the ZDM, who are involved in all levels of production in German dairies, are constantly facing new challenges at ever shorter intervals. A look at the opportunities and experiences of other industries is essential to master daily business. What works elsewhere need not be reinvented. Mistakes that others have already made need not be repeated. Against this background, drinktec in September 2017 is a must for producers and decision makers in the dairy industry,” according to Mr. Sach. “In addition, when the ZDM Association Day 2017 takes place with awarding of the year’s best trainees, trainers, technicians, masters, Bachelors and Masters at the trade fair, there is no reason not to come to Munich.” The European Dairy Association AEDILE will also hold its General Assembly and Executive Board meeting at drinktec 2017 as already in 2013 as well as the international conference “Work-Based Learning” in addition. Milk meets drinktec.