Mataura Valley Milk set out to create the world’s best nutritional business
Mataura Valley Milk says the aim of building the world’s best nutritional plant is not a target but a goal that continuously moves forward as the company raises the bar on production methods and product quality.
Three years later, the dairy company’s milk production plant is an impressive accomplishment that comfortably justifies its early ambition.
At its core is the company’s dedication to customers, says Mataura Valley Milk’s Projects Manager, Brent Robinson.
“This demands the ability to quickly adapt and tailor products to their requirements,” says Robinson.
Situated in McNab, north of Gore at the bottom of New Zealand’s South Island, the state-of-the-art facility was delivered on-time and within budget, an impressive achievement for a greenfield project.
“To achieve our goal, we knew that choosing only the best people, partners, and infrastructure was crucial.
“The success of the project was a consequence of meticulous planning and strategy. We sought out and hired the most skilled staff; we chose construction partners with proven expertise; we purchased best-in-class plant and equipment; and we partnered with industry-leading suppliers and fabricators,” Robinson says.
Employing more than 80 staff and partnered with over 20 dairy farmers, Mataura Valley Milk is now benchmarking innovation and performance for other milk plants.
“We must have agility around what we produce with no sacrifice of quality. Producing nutritional products is a complex, high-reward approach so the plant must be nimble and our expertise unmatched.
“To confidently make these decisions, visibility and trust in our data is crucial” continues Robinson.
Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Plant and Power solution delivers connectivity across all layers of the company’s operation, minimises energy usage, guarantees power quality, and provides real-time data so that transparency and integrity are maintained across the supply chain, from farm ingredients to manufactured products.
“Mataura Valley employees receive any data they require immediately and know they can trust it.
“We’re able to track and trace every ingredient on its journey from the farm and through the facility. This visibility also contributes to our innovation programme and delivers great value in terms of R&D and process efficiencies,” says Robinson.
“The EcoStruxure solution delivers connectivity to all our business layers. It proves itself to us every day as we interrogate data in the MES.
“We’re able to fault find and resolve issues immediately, receive alerts on any irregular findings throughout the plant, test and introduce process efficiencies quickly, and positively affect our final product,” he says.
Mataura Valley deployed Schneider Electric products across the plant, from the switchgear in the offices to variable speed drives, programmable logic controllers, active harmonic filters, and power monitoring.
“Standardising on Schneider equipment gives us confidence around our power supply and the integrity of our operations,” says Mataura Valley Engineering Manager, Scott Waddell.
It is not just the reliability of their equipment but also the support and expertise Schneider provides.
“We are able to see our real-time energy usage, and AVEVA’s System Platform provides context to our data, enabling fine-tuning of our power usage and carbon footprint,” says Waddell.
Ticking all the right boxes
Increases to Mataura Valley Milk’s site capacity are already underway as are accreditations for its products to be distributed in both China and the USA.
The first operating season proved that the plant can consistently manufacture world-class nutritional products with microbial results well below standard requirements.
Over 3,300 Aerobic Plate Count tests were performed during the 2018/19 season to identify colony forming units per gram (cfu/g).
Its highest recorded result was 190 cfu/g, with the accepted limit being 5,000 cfu/g.
This is believed to be a first for New Zealand and indicates that the plant’s critical hygiene areas and processes benchmark performance worldwide.
“It’s all based on a good backbone. From the moment we drilled under the Mataura River to run the high voltage supply cables that secure power to the site, to when the first products left our warehouse, we’ve been looking at how we can broaden our offer, maintain maximum quality, and produce more,” says Waddell.
“The trust and confidence we bring to the table extends all the way through from our suppliers to our customers’ customers.
“Along the way, we’ve proven that our approach was sound, and this is evidenced in our commercial performance as well as our compliance and audit results.
“We’ve successfully progressed through AsureQuality’s five performance-based verification audit levels without being held back at any stage, which justifies our audit processes and validates the effort that our staff and partners have put into the operation.
“We’re very proud of our short past and excited about our long future,” Waddell concludes.