December 19, 2022
Leading Dutch goat cheese maker gains instant insights into process variations that help ensure consistent quality, while saving time and costs
One of the biggest challenges for dairy manufacturers is the unpredictability of milk, the primary ingredient. Milk composition varies across farmers and seasons, which means there is no standard recipe that can be applied across all raw milk batches to achieve consistent quality and yield. To ensure cheese consistency, keep customers loyal, and maximize yield potential, goat cheese producer Amalthea needed a better way to closely monitor and steer the cheese production process as fast as possible.
Amalthea is the leading goat cheese producer in The Netherlands and sells its products in more than 35 countries. Improving cheese yield from milk not only improves profits for Amalthea, but also improves sustainability practices since extracting more product from raw milk reduces waste. For every 1% increase in yield, Amalthea saves approximately 500,000 euros that it reinvests to further develop the business. Amalthea plans to significantly increase its manufacturing capacity in five years to meet the high demand for more cheese varieties and innovative products such as CleardMilk®, whey and other components extracted from raw milk.
Photos courtesy of Amalthea
For each cheese batch, Amalthea used to set a target yield based on the practical or past knowledge of production. When a cheese batch deviated from the target yield or the right target yield wasn’t set, factory operators had to act and make changes to production to make the process more efficient. Production issues were identified by manually processing data and analyzing it on a weekly basis. With approximately 240,000 liters of milk processed each day, it was not optimal to wait a week or sometimes even a month to get insights and make the necessary system changes to optimize the yield.
“We had to do these milk yield calculations manually, and we were only able to do this once a week or once a month, so it was too late. On top of that, we were not able to calculate the yields per batch; we could only do it on an aggregate level. We could improve the milk yield somewhat but now, with Infor Coleman AI, we are not only able to see the yields per cheese batch in real time, it also gives us direct insight in what contributors are causing a higher or lower milk yield so the operators can directly act on it,” explained Amalthea CFO Joris Aarts.
In 2020, Amalthea modernized its ERP with Infor CloudSuite Food & Beverage and leveraged the power of the integrated cloud technology platform Infor OS to solve a critical milk yield business problem. This was previously hard to tackle due to outdated and disconnected applications, data silos and lack of time and resources. The modernization formed the building blocks to create AI-driven applications in less than 90 days. As innovation is in Amalthea’s nature, that was the next logical step.
By applying Infor Coleman artificial intelligence to past manufacturing orders/batches and other production attributes, the machine learning model detects batches that deviate from the target yield, along with an explanation of the main contributors to the yield value. This process runs daily, and insights are delivered through flexible interfaces depending on the end user — CloudSuite Food & Beverage Homepages for Operators and Infor Birst dashboards for management. Amalthea’s AI-driven yield deviation detection and explanation is now fully automated — from data collection to processing and presentation. Implemented in less than 90 days, the solution helps in decision making to stabilize the process for future manufacturing orders by:
- Adjusting the target yield
- Understanding yield drivers and potentially fixing the input variations
- Updating the process parameters of the cheese making
“What we also saw and learned is that for some cheese batches, we did not have the correct target value,” Aarts said. “Infor Coleman AI showed us the average milk yield of all the cheese batches since go-live, and we used this information to change the target value to the correct value, so that the right parameters are in place for the best outcome possible.”
With Infor Coleman AI, Amalthea can now steer the cheese production process faster, and with more accuracy:
- 7x faster (from weekly to daily) identification of yield deviations
- Identification of main contributors to the yield, for subsequent action to optimize yields
- More accurate target yields
- Stabilizes the variability in the process for more predictable yield and quality
- €500,000 annual savings for every 1% increase in yield
- 10 hours per week time saving in data collection and analysis
- Improved sustainability with more product yield and less waste
- Happier customers with high-quality cheese consistency
Another big win for Amalthea is that operators don’t have to spend time in diagnosing issues with yield deviations, as the Infor system automatically generates actionable insights or explains the contributors to yield deviations. Operators are now able to focus their efforts on stabilizing the cheese production process and continuing to grow with a more efficient process.
“The Infor partnership and data science team are great. They really listened very carefully to our requirements, and, in a very short time, they delivered a great tool. It is easy to use and understand, so we can improve our process and yields, which makes my life easier,” said Liesbeth Stoopen, Amalthea operations manager.
Infor CloudSuite Food & Beverage supports Amalthea across the supply chain — from milk reception to the cheese warehouse. The system interfaces with the production automation in the factory, such as weighing units and the processing tanks. It also makes financial closing much faster than it used to be, from weeks to now days. Having the business now fully running in the cloud with Infor is the basis for its future growth, as data will play an increasingly important role in dairy production.
“Infor has a process catalog specifically designed for dairy and can give good insight into milk utilization and yield. Milk utilization is the most important driver for our cost, and Infor already helped us to save on that,” Aarts said. “Now with Coleman AI implemented, we can stretch that even further because we have more real-time and faster information about the milk yield.”
Industry & Solution Strategy Director
Infor Platform Technology Team