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Top Insights for your Dairy Plant from our Automation Engineer

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Posted by: Jordan Vande Brake on June 15, 2021 at 10:00 AM

At Separators, we like sharing our hard-won knowledge and automated centrifuge insights with our clients. We believe that smart, driven plant managers and technicians value their equipment, and share a natural curiosity that leads to exciting innovations.

That’s why we prodded our seven-year veteran automation engineer, Jordan Vande Brake, for some insights into why he thinks automation will continue to play a vital role in dairy production facilities.

Who is Jordan Vande Brake?

Jordan is an accomplished automation engineering professional, with over 10 years of experience providing high-level technical and controls support, building automation systems, and implementing equipment and system upgrades. 

He’s not only our go-to guy for the more high-level and complicated automation troubleshooting, but he provides technician training and is a valuable bridge between technicians and developers. His collaboration efforts with designers and engineers over the years have been a driving force in our push to constantly improve system quality and efficiency.

So here’s a Q&A with the automation man himself: Jordan Vande Brake.

Q: Hey Jordan! You’re a pretty busy guy, thanks for taking the time to do this.

A: Well, we’re all lucky to be busy nowadays.

Q: Very true. Let’s jump into it. You’re an automation expert. How would you say automation in a dairy impacts production?

A: In a word? Automation impacts dairy with repeatability. Being able to repeat a consistent process provides quality.

Key takeaway: Within an automated dairy system, quality is guaranteed because industrial automation controls are so consistent.

Q: And how does automation complement labor in the dairy industry?

A: It's always a fine line between having a strong automated facility and having the ability to support that automation. You eliminate low paying repeatable jobs and replace them with highly trained service technicians and plant engineers.

Key takeaway: Building automation controls into your dairy system will shift your hiring focus towards technician and engineering jobs. These employees will partner with and support the automation to maximize production efficiency.

Q: Why is automation in the dairy industry so important?

A: Being able to process 24/7 and provide quality repeatability is what is key. It is needed for quality control. With automation, you'll know a Reese’s peanut butter cup will taste the same 20 years from now.

Key takeaway: Round-the-clock automation controls guarantee your products will always be of the highest and most consistent quality for the long term.

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Q: Yum. Unless I’m the type of senior to shake my cane on the lawn going, “Peanut butter cups tasted better in my day!”

A: If that’s true, then maybe you should double-check your local plant’s automation system.

Q: [Laughs] That could be it. So, back on track. In your eyes, what are the top dairy technologies today?

A: I see more and more people using turbidity sensors. Having the ability to monitor process lines helps with waste. Putting [turbidity sensors] on discharge lines to the city or to your own plant’s wastewater facility is making more sense. Putting them near a divert line can save you thousands on city sewer charges. 

Key takeaways: In-line optical turbidity instruments placed in process lines and discharge lines can boost efficiency and save money.

Q: All right, I’m sold. So what is the next step? What’s the best process to get automation in a currently non-automated dairy facility? How do you choose the best industrial automation controls?

A: In my opinion, it starts with a new piece of equipment. Buying something with a PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) and an HMI (Human Machine Interface) is a good booster into automating further processes. Wanting different stand-alone machines to communicate together is typically a desire that can be handled internally or through a trusted integrator. Separators can partner with integrators around the country to handle most of your needs.

Key takeaways: When beginning to automate your dairy facility, do your research and make sure to purchase equipment that will easily integrate into future automation needs. In order to integrate a network of equipment that communicates throughout your facility, consider choosing a company that can fulfill both your equipment and engineering requirements.

Q: That’s a lot of information. I think I might need to talk to an expert.

A: [Laughs] That’s what we’re here for!

At Separators, we believe that the integrity, trust, and mutual respect we strive to foster inside our company is only as valuable as the knowledge we’re able to share outside of that family, with our clients and peers. We hope you found this interview interesting, and plan to share more of our experts’ insights with you in the future.

And if you’re looking to automate your dairy processes, we're here to answer your questions. We handle the technical aspects so that you can figure out the best automation upgrades for your facility. With the help of a low-pressure, high-expertise support system, we make automation painless.

Contact us today for more information, and let us make your dairy processing more safe, efficient, and repeatable.

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