Bega Cheese is set to launch a new internet of things (IoT) service linking its farmer suppliers, milk transport and storage and processing facilities with real-time data.
The project with Germany’s Software AG and Swinburne University will involve developing a new, low-cost milk quality sensor along with the deployment of existing weather and transport-based IoT devices.
The ASX-listed dairy company is set to combine data from these devices on a ‘Dynamic Pick Scheduling and Monitoring’ tool based on Software AG’s Cumulocity IoT platform.
It will monitor for milk supply change events so that optimal pickup schedules are maintained.
It will also look at how capable suppliers and distributors are of adapting to the new ways of working.
Data from all of these sources will be used with long-term historical data to train a machine learning-based forecasting tool that attempts to predict milk quality and quantity - something that should also help reduce transport and distribution costs through better planning and resource management.
Bega Cheese’s supply chain general manager, Adel Salman, said the deal takes advantage of Swinburne’s experience with IoT and industrial partnerships, which has already helped the company receive IoT research funding through the government’s cooperative research centre projects.
“What we [at Bega] didn’t have was experience in setting up IoT projects, so we started looking around for a partner that could provide us with IoT expertise, resources, industry contacts and help with government backing,” Salman said.
“Swinburne University listened to what we needed to achieve and together with Software AG, developed an IoT strategy with a set of solutions that met our needs.
“We’re excited to see the benefits that IoT can bring to our company.
“By working with Swinburne University and Software AG, we hope to be able to increase our growth across higher-value premium products thus enhancing the competitiveness for both Bega and our suppliers.”
The project also complements what the company describes as an "extremely high level of automation and mechanisation" at its factory, which produces over 107 tonnes of consumables each year.
Fellow dairy producer Lion is also known to have an active IoT project it is using to address milk spoilage on farms.