In a competitive marketing environment, it becomes necessary for a dairy plant to operate efficiently to stay in business. For efficient utilisation of available resources, the key areas that the dairy plants need to focus on are the product, the process and the people. The cutting edge is leadership in quality or leadership in cost, if not both. Waste reduction in all processes assumes importance. Most dairy plants have been certified to ISO 9001 and 22000. The certifying agency points out the non-conformities in what the plant states and what it actually does from time to time. This compels the plant to build and develop for itself high standards of operations and loss control and continual improvement for the same.

Vidya Dairy undertook Total Quality Management (TQM) concepts twelve years ago. One of the central requirements of this programme is measurement to allow monitoring and subsequent control of operations and utilities. Measurement of operating parameters and their outcomes allows construction of run chart and 3 sigma statistical control charts (SQCs). It is necessary to review the charts periodically. Vidya Dairy undertakes this exercise once every month by way of an Apex Steering Committee Meeting-cum-Management Review Meeting comprising all departmental heads and the managing director (MD). All departments make PowerPoint presentations including department’s performance through selected quality indicators or characteristics. The MD examines regularly the comprehensive management information system (MIS) report of the previous day’s production and other activities and discusses the variation daily with departmental heads.

Besides the Apex Steering Committee meetings, which have been internalised in Vidya Dairy culture for the last ten years, regular departmental meetings are also conducted as a routine activity. Such meetings are arranged before the ASC meetings and include all the employees of the department. Various points and issues are discussed along with problems faced. The action plan for the next month is prepared in the same meeting. The summary of this meeting is presented in the monthly ASC meetings.



Dairy plant operations are energy intensive, which demand energy in terms of fuel and electricity. It is desirable to calculate energy consumption value for each operation and to have periodic energy audits. Such is the case with Vidya Dairy. Vidya Dairy measures, records and analyses the data of its utilities consumption and after converting them to specific terms, discusses and analyses in monthly meetings. The current month data were compared with the data of previous month and previous year for same month. Any variation in this will be discussed and justified with the variation in the processes resulting in their increased or decreased consumption. Different examples of the utilities like electricity, steam and water, which are considered for monitoring on day-to-day basis are presented here.


Figure 1. Chart for litres of milk processed per kwh of electricity consumption in refrigeration section.


Electricity consumption

The monitoring chart for litres of milk processed per kwh of electricity consumption in refrigeration section is shown in Figure q. The daily value runs between the UCL and LCL (Upper Control Limit and Lower Control Limit), which are statistically computed from the values of last three months consumption. Deviation of consumption within this limits indicate that the process is under control, while the points outside these limits indicate the abnormality. For example, in the chart the values on 28th and 29th July are above the UCL, which indicate the lower overall electricity consumption of entire dairy plant. This is because of the shutdown of energy intensive processes like cheese and ice cream manufacturing toward month end.

Along with this, the contribution of energy consumption in refrigeration plant to total electricity consumption by the entire plant is recorded and analysed. The reason is that the refrigeration section consumes maximum electricity (nearby 60 per cent) of that consumed by entire dairy and thus special focus is required to be given to it. To get the idea of effect of ambient temperature on electricity consumption by refrigeration section, the graphs for daily maximum and minimum ambient temperatures are compared with the refrigeration electricity consumption charts.

 Natural gas consumption

Earlier, Vidya Dairy used to consume furnace oil as fuel for its boiler, which has lately been replaced by natural gas. The amount of milk processed per standard cubic metre (SCM) of gas is calculated on day today basis. This data includes the boiler efficiency, distribution efficiency and efficient utilisation of steam in process and thus gives a clear indication of thermal efficiency of the plant. A chart showing litres of milk processed per SCM of natural gas is presented in Figure 2.


Figure 2. A chart showing litres of milk processed per SCM of natural gas.


Water consumption

Similar to the electricity and natural gas measurement and monitoring, the precise and accurate measurement and monitoring of water consumption is also being done on daily basis. Such collected data are further converted in specific terms and are compared with the last month as well as last year data to get an estimate about the improvement or deterioration in the processes. Alongwith such graphical presentation of total water consumption, department-wise water consumption is also monitored and presented. This obliges the department to have control on water utilisation and waste during different processes. Figure 3 presents a chart showing litres of water consumed per litre of milk processed.


Figure 3. A chart showing litres of water consumed per litre of milk processed.


Besides utility monitoring and monthly presentation of data, regular energy audits from external agencies are also done. The audit findings, if any, suggested by the external agency, are taken very seriously and are implemented as soon as possible after its feasibility study. For example, the audit report years back suggested us to replace a few of the pumps used in refrigeration condenser: some were overrated, one had lower capacity and lower horsepower. Not only the pumps were changed, the shell and tube type of condenser was also replaced with an evaporative type condenser, which is much more energy efficient compared to the earlier one. The conventional light fixtures used in dairy premises were replaced with energy efficient CFL (compact fluorescent light) fixtures, as suggested by energy auditors. Vidya dairy has recorded over years various such improvements in the field of energy conservation. Different objectives are set for making these processes more and more efficient. These objectives are reviewed for their status, responsible person and date of completion in monthly TQM meetings.



 Cleaning-in-place (CIP)

CIP, which stands for cleaning in place, generally includes the recirculation of cleaning solution through the equipment with the purpose of proper cleaning. Almost all steps in dairy manufacturing processes are followed by rinsing and cleaning. Proper cleaning is a must for achieving desired microbiological quality of the end products. The efficiency of the CIP operation generally depends on four factors i.e. mechanical energy obtained through proper flow rate of solution, temperature of the cleaning solution, time of contact of cleaning solution with the surface and the strength of the cleaning solution. The perfect combination of these factors is important for efficient CIP operation in terms of cleaning efficiency as well as in economic terms. Overuse of any of the factor, for example using higher temperature of cleaning solution and/or higher strength of solution results in wastage, while the under use of any of the factor may reduce the efficiency of the cleaning operation.

The reuse or recirculation of CIP solutions is important with respect to the recovery of chemical and the heat from the solution. The reuse of CIP solution results in lower consumption of CIP chemical and steam for heating of the solution. To have a check on it, Vidya Dairy has adopted a regular practice to monitor the water consumption in CIP section along with the consumption of cleaning chemicals like lye, acid, etc in terms of consumption per litre of milk processed. The average consumption of lye used for cleaning ranges from 1.0 to 1.2 ml per litre of milk processed, and of acid i.e. nitric acid is about 0.7 to 0.8 ml per litre of milk processed. These data are also reviewed in monthly meetings.

Materials consumption

Different packaging materials and other consumable items are used in a dairy plant for its smooth operation.Their monitoring is as important as the monitoring of fat, SNF loss in a dairy plant. In Vidya Dairy, the use of packaging material, e.g. poly-film used for milk packaging and ghee packaging, is monitored in terms of pouch yield, i.e. number of pouches packed per kg film. The average value of yield of milk packaging film and ghee packaging film is 410 pouches and 205 pouches per kg film, respectively. In addition to this, the accounts department is also involved in calculating the packaging cost per kg of each product and these data are discussed in monthly meetings. Table 1 shows the average value of packaging cost for each product.

Table 1: Per unit cost of packaging for different products packed.



Cost per unit






(including Cassata and RollCut)



Mozzarella cheese

(200 gm and 1 kg pack size)




(200 gm and 1 kg pack size)







The use of other consumables like muslin cloths, iodophore, etc are also monitored and reviewed in monthly meetings. The data is monitored in such a way, that it gives clear understanding about its consumption.

To have better control on the inventory level, total inventory is divided under different categories like packaging material inventory, spares inventory, raw material inventory, etc and then it is analysed for its optimum level. The information is also presented in the meeting.

Total milk solid losses

The target of any dairy plant would be to have minimum milk solid losses. A proper milk solids accounting system is necessary for accurate estimation of solid losses. It would only then be meaningful and useful for a plant to compare the dairy’s losses with the industrial norms and know about the performance of the plant.

At Vidya Dairy for proper accounting of milk solids, section-wise entry is done on daily basis. Three different sections are involved at Vidya Dairy for milk solid accounting, namely, quality control department, finance and accounts department and most important of all, production department. Laboratory based calculations involve the calculation and identification of losses occurred due to overweight (over filling) and over standardisation. The contribution by these two factors to total dairy plant losses is identified and appropriate actions, if required, are taken based on the results. Finance and accounts section gives the overall picture of solid loss by considering total receipt, opening, closing and sales data, while, the production department gives the section-wise break up for the losses. This helps to concentrate efforts in the particular section/s, where much loss occurs. Besides these, regular monitoring and accounting of chemical oxygen demand load of incoming effluent to the effluent treatment plant (ETP) is also done. By doing this, ETP section also helps in getting an idea about fat and SNF losses.

Housekeeping audits

Figure 4: Sheet for housekeeping audit findings used for different sections.


The general principles of housekeeping are now known to everyone and are widely accepted for their usefulness in smooth operations of different processes. In order to make housekeeping more and more effective, it is necessary to review it from time to time. Thus, Vidya Dairy has adopted a regular practice of housekeeping audits thrice every month for each department. The housekeeping-in- charge is assigned a job to conduct and monitor the housekeeping audits, which involve inspection of each section for predefined sets of criteria covering all aspects of housekeeping. Example of one such form including the criteria for housekeeping audit is shown in Figure 4. Each criterion carries marks from which the Sections are assigned marks based on the extent of fulfillment of identified criteria. Finally such marks are added toward a final score for that particular department. Based on this final score the grades are given to the departments which are presented in monthly meetings. The minimum required marks for each grade are shown in Table 2. Along with this the specific findings of non-conformance are also summarised and presented in meetings for review and action to eliminate them.

 Table 2: Criteria of grading for housekeeping performance of different sections.



Vidya Dairy workforce includes its staff, students and workers. Roles and responsibilities of entire workforce have been very well defined and documented. Continuous monitoring of the performance of the workforce is done on daily basis to ensure 100 per cent utilisation in order to achieve desired goals and objectives. Human resource plans are made in accordance with the competency required for particular task together with need based training for the entire workforce of Vidya Dairy.

Vidya Dairy also has its workforce competency skill matrix chart, which records profile of employees and their competency gap, in order to identify lack of competence in its workforce. After identifying the training needs and after providing the training, evaluation of effectiveness of training is also done by concerned sectional heads. The type of training programme could be: in-house and external training to staff, students and workers; need based focus group training; orientation programme for new recruits; visits to another dairy or unit; and awareness programmes.

In addition to the above, training like fire fighting, first aid, operation of safety equipment, emergency preparedness, mock drill, food safety, TQM, good manufacturing and housekeeping practices, dairy technology for non-dairy technologists, statistical control, good laboratory practice, ISO-9001, 22000 and 14001 are suitably provided to workforce of Vidya Dairy. Records of training given, training needs and evaluation of the same are maintained.


Figure 5: Per unit labour cost for cheese, ice-cream and ghee.

Besides these, for regular and efficient utilisation of labour, the labour utilisation by entire dairy plant on daily basis is monitored, which is further divided department-wise. Also, the quantity of product manufactured per worker and labor cost per unit of product manufactured are also computed and presented in monthly meetings. Figure 5 shows the labour cost per unit of product manufactured. Most of the operations involved in manufacturing of these products at Vidya Dairy are of manual nature and thus require more manpower. These figures cannot be compared with those of the automated plants of modern dairies having most of the work done by machinery. Thus, the setting of internal benchmarks becomes necessary to get any idea of improvement.