Dairy industry is a well developed one among the major food enterprises and continue to make rapid strides among the top rankers. This is especially so given the fact that with growing human population and slow but steady rise in per capita income, especially in developing countries. The growth in the dairy industry is encouraging with maximum growth being recorded in developing countries, varying between 3 to 5 per cent and the statistics for the entire world is 658.7 million tonnes, milk equivalent for the year 2006.

Though milk production, collection, transportation, storage and distribution have been executed very neatly in developed dairying countries, there still remains to be a vast scope for the utilization available milk in rural areas of developing countries.

Because of the availability of small quantity of milk and long distances from main dairy plants resulting in high transportation cost, it becomes unviable to collect milk from these remote locations. Hence, establishment of a dairy plant at locations where fresh and abundant milk is available is considered as a profitable adventure.

Marketing potential, raw milk availability, its quality and price and product mix are considered as important factors of dairy plant operation that decide the capacity of the milk plant in terms of handling milk and the equipment required for receiving, processing, storage and packaging of milk.

The following points are considered important while selecting a suitable site to locate dairy plant

  • The dairy plant should be located in a suitable site and the approximate area required for the plant must be arrived at after taking into account all the deciding factors. Special care has to be given for the orientation of the building, giving due care to the north-south orientation, wind direction, approach road, and the effluent discharge.
  • Another essential point is the availability of abundant and fresh water which may be from under ground source or from a local municipality. The quality of the water is important with regard to its salt content and microbial count. Hard water having dissolved carbonates and bicarbonates along with iron poses a lot of problems in the dairy, especially so with boiler maintenance and from animal health point of view.
  • The area surrounding the proposed dairy plant shall preferably be free from trees, food storage depots, waste materials and overgrown vegetations since their presence attract rodents, insects and birds which would ultimately enter the dairy plants.
  • Sufficient space should be available to accommodate the effluent treatment plant at suitable point taking into account the prevailing wind direction and speed. A drain or water stream should be available nearby in order to discharge the treated effluent water.
  • Electrical substation, its capacity, location of the poles, high tension / low tension lines requires attention along with telephone lines and exchange.
  • The site must be approachable from the main road or from lateral road and if such facility is not available, service road may be constructed up to the plant premises.
  • Availability of public transport system would facilitate the movement of personnel employed in the dairy plant to and from their residence.

The different processing sections of the dairy plants are as follows

Raw Milk Reception Dock (RMRD)

Activities related to various milk reception take place in this milk reception dock. Obviously, this section should have adequate space for unloading of cans, sampling, grading, weighing, testing and storage of milk and cleaning of cans. Generally this RMRD is provided with interconnected chain conveyors to transfer the cans from the unloading point to the weigh balance and from the outlet of the can washer to the loading point. Other equipment that find a place in this RMRD include weigh balance, dump tank, can washer etc.

Milk Processing Section

It is located next to the RMRD section. This section shall be spacious enough to accommodate milk chiller, pasteurizer (usually HTST in large dairies), homogenizer, cream separator, milk storage tanks, Cleaning In Place tanks (CIP tanks) and reconstitution unit. Raw milk tanks are generally located at an elevated level.

Milk Filling Section

Sachet filing machines are installed in this section. Standardized, pasteurized milk is stored in tanks located at higher level than the ground to facilitate gravity feeding. The filled up pouches are transferred by conveyor belt and stored in crates and in turn the crates are moved to the chilling chamber which is located next to the milk filling section. Immediately next to the milk filling section is the crate washer room which supplies cleaned crates to the filling section continuously.

Milk Production Section

This section is located adjacent to the milk processing section. The surplus fat obtained during the cream separation operation is processed as cream and this section includes cream storage tanks, butter churn, butter melting vat, ghee boilers, ghee storage tanks and ghee filling and packaging units.  Deep freezer capable of bringing down the temperatures up to -30°C is kept in this section for preserving the dairy products.

Byproduct section

This room is located next to the milk product section. The equipment and the utensils that find a place in this section include casein drying unit, casein vat, sour cream separator, butter churn for sour cream and facilities to handle curdled milk.

Parlour Products Section

In this section, equipment for the value added products like ice cream, peda, masala butter milk, shrikhand etc are provided.

Milk Drying Section

In a bigger dairy, milk condensing and drying units are usually installed. This include milk condensing plant, condensed milk tanks, homogenizer, spray or drum drying equipment, nitrogen packaging chamber, and tins and carton packaging units.

Quality Control Laboratory

The quality control section is generally located near or at least easily accessible to the raw milk receiving dock. It has facilities to test the fluid incoming milk, milk products testing, packaging materials testing, bacteriological and mycological analysis and AGMARK grading sections. Naturally, this section accommodates all the equipment required for the quality control tests.

Refrigeration and Boiler Sections

Though considered auxiliary to the main dairy operations, the refrigeration and boiler sections nevertheless, do play a vital role in the processing of milk and dairy products. They can be housed in the main dairy building itself or located in a separate building adjacent to the main plant. The refrigeration section consists of ammonia compressors, receivers, chilled water tanks, etc. Condensers are usually located on the roof of the refrigeration section or outside the building. The boiler section includes the boilers, water softening units, water tanks for soft water storage and coal storage or furnace oil storage section.