Virtualization helps dairy factory milk analytics benefits

A virtualization project has helped pave the way for an Indian dairy producer, which churns out 400,000 liters of milk per day among other goods, to empower front-line factory workers with data analytics.
Written by Mahesh Sharma, Correspondent

Operating in one of India's oldest and most revered industries, Chitale Dairy's newly virtualized infrastructure has provided it the freedom to use data analytics tools to drive efficiencies in the business.

chitale dairy

Chitale Dairy case study

What: Transitioning to virtual environment to provide foundation for leveraging analytics
How: Replaced physical servers with virtual machines, which opened up capabilities for cross-information flow
Cost: US$66,000 to replace 10 servers with 3 blade servers
Results: Reduced server hardware costs by 40 percent, improved effiencies in work flow

The dairy producer founded in the 1930s produces about 400,000 liters of milk per day. It embarked on the US$66,000 (four million rupees) project about four years ago, when it needed high server availability to provide 100 percent uptime for the 24/7 business.

They replaced 10 physical servers, spread across two data centers in a town 500 km from the nearest large city, with virtual machines. In the space of two months, the Chitale technology staff transitioned to a new operating environment featuring three blade servers, including 24 CPUs, which host 20 virtual machines.

One of the biggest challenges was converting the physical machines to virtual systems, according to Chitale Dairy CEO Vishvas Chitale. It quickly paid dividends as the company slashed server hardware costs by 40 percent. However, that wasn't the end game.

"When we were in planning, we asked 'how do we get return on investment?' We were trying to do more business process transformation but rather than implementing ERP, which only automates accounting and other business functions, we realized the real benefit comes from integrating the factory world with the finance world. When you have a cross-information flow then all the real benefits of virtualization and IT infrastructure really come through. That's what really helped us to do with the virtualization," Chitale said.

Saving on server costs was just the beginning. The ability to provision servers on demand has, more importantly, provided the foundation, and capacity, to roll out technology to the core parts of the business: dairy production. Specifically, Chitale Dairy can now capture data from all parts of the milk supply chain, generating metrics such as how much energy is used to produce a liter of milk, and how quickly the milk is being produced.

Ultimately, the business aims to provide front-line factory workers with dashboards that provide a real-time statistics measuring their performance.

"Suppose the plant has gone dirty because of heating, which will cause the milk to go sour, and if the guy in the processing plant does not clean it, more energy will be consumed. This dashboard would measure the plant efficiency in kilowatts--so how much energy is produced and how much milk processed--and indicate this with red, yellow, and green lights," Chitale said.

The information would be tailored to the different roles of the workers. "[If] it's not relevant for him to see the financial information, so, in his case, it would be just limited to plant efficiency."

The company has been doing this for the past year, but it has taken time to educate end-users about how to use the technology.

"What previously happened was that all this information was going into information silos and nothing came out. Now that we have the computing power to gather more information, you feel you want to analyze and use this information--to give it life, give information back, and make decisions based on that. That's what we're trying to do." 

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