Smart Microdairy™ Milk Vending Application

The Smart Microdairy™ application was developed in Limerick, Ireland by Unison Process Solutions.

Unison is a team of experts in dairy processing and milk vending. Their aim is to make dairy production as simplistic, user-friendly, and cost-effective as possible. Unison have helped dairy farmers worldwide to set up and succeed in selling their milk directly to their customers.

Benefits of Milk Vending

  • Increase profit – Dairy Farmers in the UK are getting over 5 X MORE PROFIT by selling direct to the public.
  • Farm Diversification
  • Sustainability- Less Plastic packaging, less emissions and supporting the circular economy
  • A trend in Europe initially, it is becoming increasingly popular worldwide

Current Milk Vending Market

The current market of milk vending means for dairy farmers looking to start vending have a very lengthy process ahead of them. Along with the high investment financially they also must invest a lot of time to get the venture off the ground. This includes applying for planning, filling out endless documents, building hygienic rooms (and operator changing rooms) along with the stress of hiring and managing contractors to carry out the work.

This process can typically take months but with Unison’s solution, farmers can be up and running within just 2 days.

Application Summary

The Smart Microdairy™ is a complete hygienic pasteurising solution that makes on-farm processing and milk vending easier than ever before. This plug-and-play unit can be up and running in just two days, includes everything you need to pasteurise your milk and saves up to 50% on typical setup costs.

The Smart Microdairy™ is built to the Irish Department of Agriculture standards and doesn’t require planning permission. All that is required is a concrete base (7x7m), internet, electricity, drainage, and water supply.

The Smart Microdairy™ does not require a manual operator, operating the unit is effortless and remote, taking place using a fully automatic and user-friendly PLC from Horner technology which will allow our users to have a mirror version of the pasteurising screen that they can operate on their phone/tablet.

Technical Details of the Implementation

This application is using Horner’s XL4e, XL7e, XL10 as well as our SmartRail I/O. The Smart Microdairy™ also leverages Horner’s WebMI connectivity tool for operating the system remotely. Envision RV our remote viewing software application, which allows the user to view and monitor their Horner OCS remotely is used also for screenshots.

The main programming involved in the application is IEC (mainly ST, then FBD and SFC).

The value of Horner in this Application

Competitors’ products were considered by Unison, but the All-in-One nature of Horner’s products proved to be more valuable to the application.

Other features which provided value were our embedded analog I/Os, USB cable interface and the ability to download from USB drive and MicroSD card. All data is recorded on an integrated SD card which holds up to three years information. A USB can also be used for downloading daily charts for record keeping and analysis. All operations of the unit such as temperature, pressure, pump speed, valve position and alarms are recorded on the SD card.

Horner’s free configuration software, Cscape was an extra bonus in keeping the overall costs down of the application.

The overall cost, I/O integration and HMI PLC integration and ability of datalogging with the controllers were big factors supporting Unison’s choice of Horner for this application. The choice of use of Horner was a ‘simple solution’.

Unison also use Horner on all of their compact pasteurizers, which are all manufactured in accordance with PMO requirements.