Wafilin’s innovation helps the dairy industry become more sustainable

‘Concentrating milk at the farm’ first surfaced in the Netherlands in 1984. A new invention, which unfortunately never came to full fruition due to the restrictions of the time. Since then, this issue has been a topic of much discussion in the industry, and many parties all over the world have been working on it – unsuccessfully. This was mainly due to the fact that the cost savings of these systems didn’t outweigh the investment. In 2016, under the supervision of R&D Manager Jos van Dalfsen, Wafilin Systems went back to the drawing board to try and simplify the process. The result was an innovative system with a cost-benefit ratio that made it an attractive investment for potential customers. Over the years, many organisations had tried their hand at concentrating milk at the farm, but Wafilin Systems was the first to successfully turn the concept into an affordable process with excellent cost savings. The process was awarded a WIS Award (Water Alliance Innovation Stimulation Award) by the Water Alliance in 2017. We have carried out many tests over the past few years, leading to the development of ‘Gen 2’, a concept in which the process is connected to a rotary milking parlour. Over the past 12 months, we have also invested in market research into this innovation’s potential for the dairy industry.

With the help of VIDA, who have approved our subsidy application and will support us financially during this project, we have started developing the process further. We want to expand on this concept, which was originally intended for use on a milking robot, so it can be connected to a rotary milking parlour. This will enable the concentration of larger amounts of milk. We’re currently working with our partners, such as Dairy Campus, to bring this system to market. It looks like Van Dalfsen’s ambition to help farmers and dairy processors worldwide reduce their processing costs is coming true.

How does milk concentration work?

The demo installation, which uses membranes to filter 50% of the water from the milk, can be connected to a rotary milking parlour. The raw milk goes through a filtering process that uses membranes to extract the water. Dairy processors can then use the concentrated raw milk for further processing into various products, such as milk powder and cheese. Currently, milk is being concentrated at the dairy factory, but Wafilin’s technology makes it possible to concentrate it at the farm, which will greatly reduce the costs of transport, cooling, storage and processing.

Technology Manager Thomas Roersma was first involved in the development of this project 4 years ago, as part of his graduation project. He gives a concise explanation of the purpose of this innovation: “Our aim with this invention is to make the dairy industry more cost-efficient. As it drives down the costs for dairy processors, farmers will be able to ask for a better price for their milk. As a result, both parties will benefit from this investment. This is how we want to help our customers in this industry.”

Future ambitions

The next step in this process is to run the installation at the Leeuwarden Dairy Campus this year. During this project, the process will be connected to a rotary milking parlour that milks 500 cows at a time, where it will run for several months. This way, the process can be tested on-site, giving visitors and dairies the chance to see the technology in action. “We’re very much looking forward to taking this next step and to introducing customers all over the world to this process that will help us streamline the dairy industry,” according to van Dalfsen.

If you’d like to find out more about this interesting project, please contact our R&D Manager Jos van Dalfsen: j.vandalfsen@wafilinssystems.nl.

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