An Arla UK spokeswoman told DairyReporter.com that the system was also in use at one of the firm’s butter production dairies in Scandinavia, although it differed slightly compared with the Leeds setup, due to its configuration for different products.
The firm said that, over five months, it had successfully trialed technology that involved shooting a flexible, serrated piece of plastic down pipes to remove excess product; Arla said this material could then be saved, rather than washed out of pipes and wasted during cleaning.
Arla’s head of process development, Karina Mikkelsen, said: “We have the potential to reduce cleaning times, as the pipes haven’t got any product residue in them after the process has taken place, and therefore we can reduce the number of flushes because of this.”
Improved process technology
Far more product than expected was recovered during initial trials, Arla said, with the technology now being used permanently on the Stourton site’s cottage cheese and custard production lines.
Announcing the transfer of custard production to Stourton in February, Arla said it had a 50 per cent share in the UK private label market for custard.
Director of retail brands, Lorraine Wheaton, said Arla was refocusing its range to provide more appeal for hot and cold desserts, and encouraging consumers to switch from ambient to fresh custard.
Asked how new the pipe-cleaning technology was, an Arla spokeswoman told DairyReporter.com: “The technology was not developed in-house, the innovative element at Stourton is that the technology is used on highly complex and automated pipelines. Most of the pipelines at Stourton dairy will have up to 40 valves in addition to the pipes changing direction.”
Arla had two dedicated teams working on process technology solutions, the spokeswoman said. “The teams apply their engineering and product knowledge to developing and testing new or improved process technology ideas.
“These are either developed in-house or with innovative partners. The new dairy at Aylesbury will see a number of new process technology solutions implemented.”
Work on Arla’s controversial ‘mega dairy’ in Aston Clinton will start in December after the dairy giant signed a legal planning agreement with Aylesbury Vale District Council.
Video conferencing systems
Arla said it would also cut road miles and emissions by using a new video conferencing system that allows staff at processing sites and in logistics roles to hold face-to-face meetings online.
The administrative controller of Arla’s national debriefing system, Teresa Nabozna, said: “All our drivers must have debriefs after they finish a shift. Previously this was done separately at our different sites. Now we just have one central team that deals with it all.”
One core logistics planning team is now based at Arla UK’s head office in Leeds, and the company said its new system enabled drivers to provide debriefs and receive feedback more quickly.
Said Nabozna: “We find that drivers are able to debrief sooner, which means if any issues have occurred they are able to provide much more accurate details, and it also allows us to feedback any important information they need to know.”
Centralising the logistics team had also allowed Arla to streamline its planning process, Nabozna added: “We are able to maintain regular contact with drivers and for site colleagues to be updated on any issues on a regular basis.”