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Digitalising dairy

Researchers in the Food Chemistry and Technology department at Teagasc Moorepark are examining how the Industrial Internet of Things can make dairy processes more efficient and streamlined.

TResearch Summer 2023

WAPS dashboard for energy monitoring of the spray dryer operations. Photo credit: Hanieh Amani.

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) aims to provide greater cohesion and communication between tech systems. At Teagasc Moorepark, researchers are examining how it can be used to aid the dairy industry.

In dairy production, IIoT sensors and devices can be embedded in milking machines to collect data on milk quality. Dairy processors can also use IIoT sensors and devices for process automation and optimisation, to monitor environmental parameters and product properties and to collect data on the equipment itself, for performance evaluation.

There are several notable challenges facing industry implementation of IIoT. The complexity and scale of IIoT systems requires significant power consumption, dairyand connecting their arrays of devices and sensors across different departments can be difficult to manage and orchestrate. Further to that, different devices may be operating on different protocols or communication standards, requiring effort to ensure effective system-wide communication and data transmission.

Additionally, businesses must ensure that they implement accurate security protocols and stay abreast of security measures tomitigate the risk of cyberattacks and data breaches.

Centralised, real-time data access

An IIoT platform has been successfully installed at Teagasc Moorepark pilot plant to enable real-time process monitoring and historical data access in one centralised location. This has been achieved through the use of existing unit operations, coupled with additional wireless sensors and gateways that create a live representation of the processes. The following unit operations have been integrated into the platform: heat treatment, membrane filtration, evaporation, and spray drying.

The IIoT platform has been designed to perform a variety of data processing tasks, including real time acquisition and aggregation, integration to a centralised location, analytics, and visualisation during pilot plant processing. The objective of this platform is to identify outliers and trends, to create a repository for real-time and historical data. In addition, process efficiencies can be identified by monitoring any variability that occurs in the process.

 Internet of Things (IoT)Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
What is it? A system for connecting varying types of devices to shared networks – including, but not limited to, computing, mechanical and digital devices. An extension of IoT, merging devices, software and networks for industrial sector applications (e.g. logistics and transport, health, agriculture, manufacturing).
What is it used for? Allows devices to communicate and exchange data without the need for human interaction. Supports real-time data gathering and remote monitoring of industrial

Data-driven decision-making

In addition to capturing these important process parameters, such as mass flow, feed pressure, steam-in pressure, temperature, process viscosity and powder moisture, the IIoT platform also calculates and visualises individual unit operation energy and water usage.

Moreover, the Work Area Performance System (WAPS) has been developed to support takt (a manufacturing term for required product processing time) and downtime analysis, digital workflows, energy monitoring, real-time visualisation, advanced analytics and reporting. It has been designed based on a standard architecture and meets the highest industrial networking and cybersecurity standards, including options for secure offsite remote connectivity.

The WAPS system uses both wired connectivity and wireless sensors to gather data from PLC controlled (Programmable Logic Controller) machines and manual workstations. The data is then recorded as time-stamped events in the centralised location. WAPS is comprised of several modules and dashboards, each designed to provide specific functionality to users and offer a comprehensive overview of the pilot plant’s performance, allowing researchers to make data-driven decisions during experiments.

Overall, implementation of IIoT in the dairy industry is advantageous as it allows real-time process monitoring and data analysis, which can lead to increased process efficiencies, enhanced productivity and improved safety for employees. It can also help reduce downtime and equipment failure. Furthermore, optimising the use of resources and minimising waste can result in overall cost savings. Teagasc’s implementation of the IIoT and the WAPS dashboard system has enabled the pilot plant to collect, analyse and visualise critical data in real-time, thereby enhancing the plant’s productivity and efficiency.


This research was internally funded by Teagasc.


Hanieh Amani, Postdoctoral Researcher, Food Chemistry & Technology Department, Teagasc Food Research Centre, Moorepark, Fermoy,  Co. Cork.

John Tobin, Head of Department, Food Chemistry & Technology Department, Teagasc Food Research Centre, Moorepark,  Fermoy, Co. Cork.

Norah O’Shea, Research Officer, Food Chemistry & Technology Department, Teagasc Food Research Centre, Moorepark, Fermoy, Co. Cork.