Following a successful trial of remote vat monitoring systems, Aurora Dairies is assessing the roll out of installation of the Arcoflex Gateway Remote Monitoring System on its 33 farms in Victoria and South Australia.

Aurora Dairies manages 26,000 cows across south-eastern Australia, including eight farms and about 7,000 cows in South East SA.

In 2020, Aurora set up a project at its Bonney View farm in SA assessing the performance of different vat monitoring systems components, using the Arcoflex Gateway Remote Monitoring System.

CEO of Aurora Dairies Ben James said they installed 20 Arcoflex sensors including vat and milking plant monitoring sensors at the farm, which milks more than 1,200 cows.

CEO of Aurora Dairies Ben James.

“We saw some really positive results in terms of the Arcoflex product. One was the real-time dashboard and the alerts, and we’ve now got that set up across several key areas in the dairy,” Ben said.

“We get constantly updated reports on milk cooling for compliance, but we also monitor energy usage and efficiency of cooling.

“Aspects such as being able to monitor our hot water service temperatures, both of the dairy wash and the vat wash is powerful, as it highlights upcoming issues, for example, if an element is starting to go.”

The system can also monitor dairy chemical usage, milk vat volumes, tank water levels, dairy vacuum pressure, stock feed volumes and several other parameters.

All data is visible on a dashboard, which uses the Microsoft Azure cloud platform to collect, analyse and disseminate data in real time from anywhere. Dashboards can be customised to specific farms requirements.

An example of a Arcoflex Gateway Remote Monitoring System dashboard.

The system also offers SMS and email alerts, to notify farmers and managers of any issues, which can be addressed immediately.

Typically, an Arcoflex Gateway Remote Monitoring System including sensors and the dashboard costs less than $10,000, with costs depending on the number of sensors required.

Ben said, in Aurora’s experience, the benefits offered by the system far outweighed the cost.

“If you have a tipped milk event because the cooling system failed, what does that cost you?” he said.

Vat coupling.

“We can monitor if we have changes in our hot water temperature over time, or if we have issues in terms of our chemical dosing through the dairy, even the effectiveness of the milking plant machine – it’s about proactively understanding where everything is at and picking up trends or issues before you would normally see them.”

Ben said the ability to closely monitor dairy functions would also enable Aurora to reduce inputs over time.

“This will offer a cost saving benefit, and from a sustainability point of view, it’s important that we are as efficient as we can be with the utilisation of our inputs and resources, particularly our energy resources,” he said.

The system is utilised for stock water monitoring, and we also plan to integrate it with our irrigation system and our real time weather and soil moisture data.

As farm connectivity improves in the regions, Ben says widespread adoption of these technologies is inevitable. Aurora Dairies is now planning to systematically roll out the Arcoflex system across its 33 farms.

“We take pride in the quality of the milk that we supply to our processors and this system is helping support our food safety systems to ensure that we can provide high quality milk consistently,” Ben said. “Vat monitoring, including the effectiveness of our cooling and cleaning systems, is key to that.”

Clint Knight from Tanderra Dairies in Victoria also has an Arcoflex vat monitoring system in place. He saiditpaid for itself in one day when an alert notified him that his milk vat compressor wasn’t running.

“The remote monitoring system has provided us with complete ease of mind by being able to monitor feed levels and water pressure from any location over the Internet. The mobile phone browser access is an assurance that I would not be without today,” Clint said.

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