dairy factory design parameters

Dairy factory design
The detailed design of a Dairy Factory is critical to its efficiency ease of operation and profitability.

Design the fine detail into the master drawings to save time and money later and bring the project in on time and on budget

"DAIRY Factories of the Future" Putting people first is the key.
Design for ease of operation, think of it like your kitchen at home where you cater for a large family, put everything where it should be within easy reach and easy to maintain.

Designing a factory should be about functionality and ease of use, make it simple and impress with everything being where it should be and not overdesigned.

The strength of a new dairy factory design is in the functionality.


A new dairy factory design is an opportunity to design a factory suited to your needs for volume efficiency, hygiene, high and low risk zoning whilst taking account of ease of operation and low running costs.

Coronavirus (Covid 19) now needs to be taken into account in the design of all new facilities to ensure staff and visitor safety as well as customer safety.

Dairy Factory Coronavirus risk assessments should be made in all existing factories, offices etc. For help with redesigning existing dairy factory premises then please contact us.

The factory should be designed to take account of potential future expansion and to optimise the space available. The growth in supermarket private labels and big brand contract manufacture and packing means that the manufacturers have to provide state of the art new product development services.

Dairy Industry Coronavirus risk assessment

You must:

Identify what work activity or situations might cause transmission of the virus.

Think about who could be at risk.

Decide how likely it is that someone could be exposed.

Act to remove the activity or situation, or if this isn’t possible, control the risk.

The frequency of change in pack design, ingredients, marketing / health claims etc means that the supermarkets have to continually innovate to stay ahead of the competition.

This means that factories and processes need to be modular and flexible (plugand play) with rapid changeover to different products, flavours, packs sizes, pack formats etc.

Just in time production with shorter production runs allowing retailers to minimise their stock holding and reduce the time that product remains on the shelves (less inventory)

Factories need to be user friendly with an emphasis on higher skilled / higher paid operators running very efficient and highly automated plants.

Operator satisfaction is a key consideration in the design of a new dairy plant, designing a pleasant, safe and efficient work environment.

Pasteurised milks, Ultra High Temperature Milks (UHT ), Extended Shelf Life Milk (ESL milks), drinking yogurt, cheese of various types and specialist cultured-products building require specialist knowledge of dairy processing and quality in design.

A cultured products dairy plant would ideally be segregated from a pasteurised products dairy plant due to the potential for cross contamination which concentrated live cultures on clothing, hands and footwear as well as in the atmosphere of the plant.

The dairy industry's hygiene requirements and zoning of plants requires that internal surfaces and ledges are designed to be easily cleanable, easily maintained and hygienic in design.

Many companies still use wall and floor tiles and these can be extremely costly to install and are not a good hygienic solution due to the multiple joints which over time will crack and harbour bacteria. Simplicity is design is usually the best and if an expoxy floor is not for you then use an epoxy paint on the fllor or a very hard concrete floor with a float finish. Insufficient care is taken by many when designing dairy floors and these are usually left to the architect and very often they get it wrong due to a lack of first hand experience.
The exterior of the plant is also important to the hygienic design of the factory The design specification, and routing of piping, pumps, valves, and equipment is critical to the ease of operation and also the cost of installation. Design the utilities to optimise the flows of utilities and reduce pipe runs. Position the utilities closeest to the main consumers and reduce cost and wastage. All plant need to be capable of being cleaned-in-place (CIP) and there is usually a high and low risk segregation of CIP units, with one allocated for raw milk and one for pasteurised milks. Most countries need to work to standards and the UK works to British and European standards and for export to the USA need to design to meet the USDA 3A standards.
The manufacturing rooms for pasteurised products are kept seperate from cultured products due to the risk of cross contamination. DAiry walls, floors, ceilings, electrical installations and drains mustbe water and chemical resistant. The environment is usually protected by positive pressure hepa filtered air with the air flowing from high risk areas to lower risk areas. Many factories take account of air conditioning but many fail to plan properly for ventilation and the measuring and balancing of air pressures which are aprticularly critical with Infant formula production.

It is critical that your chosen dairy consultant establishes exactly what you wish to produce as leaving out a single product size of variant can add millions to the cost of the plant.

Optimising building, site and construction is resulting in new materials and new ways of building to optimise energy production and consumption.
  • New precast concrete panel construction with high insulation and fire protection.
  • Wiring built into the construction panels
  • Prefinished panels - no wall coverings
  • No suspended ceilings / acoustic dampening
  • Exposed utilities piping / made a feature / easier to maintain / no hidden areas for vermin / leaks
  • Continuous hygienic non slip floor finishes (no tiles)
  • New and emerging energy sources.
  • Nano Sciences and new building materials and new raw materials and packaging materials.
  • New production methods.
  • Information and Communication Technology.
  • Intelligent Factory Management Software.
  • Intelligent sensors
  • use of natural light and ventilation
  • Sterile air and nano filtration
  • Rapid communications
Challenges ahead
The Global manufacturing sector faces a growing competitive pressure.
Companies are faced with continuous competition from other developed and rapidly developing economies. Manufacturing has to address the challenge of producing more products with less material, less energy and less waste. Our living standards are on the rise; global manufacturing today has to meet a constantly increasing demand for consumer goods. Manufacturing has to improve its innovation activity. New ideas have to be transformed into new products and processes.  

Dairy Factory design paramaters - not detailed

Dairy Factory Design Parameters to establish:

  • Do you require a Dairy Feasibility Study
  • Do you require a Dairy business plan / financial model to raise finance?
  • What is your budget for the new Dairy Factory
  • Do you require a consultant to assist from commencement?
  • What Dairy products do you wish to produce?
  • How much of each Dairy product do you wish to produce?
  • What pack sizes?
  • Dairy Packaging format / design, milk pouch, milk bottle, plastic
  • Who is your preferred packaging type supplier; tetrapak,elopack,combiblock etc?
  • What is the cost per litre of your ex farm milk supply? (This is your biggest cost)
  • What is the availability of raw milk for processing?
  • How much competition is there for raw milk?
  • What is the physiochemical quality of your raw milk, Solids Not FAT (SNF) Protein, Lactose, Micronutrients, Contaminants
  • What is the Micronial Quality of your raw milk supply.
  • Do you want to use new or used Dairy plant equipment or a combination of both?
  • Is there sufficient low cost clean potable water available for Dairy Processing
  • Are there any environmental concerns
  • Do you require a Dairy Waste Water Treatment Plant?
  • Are there any site / location restrictions?
  • Is there sufficient utilities available for Dairy Processing?



Fresh from the milk producer at average 4% FAT 8.5 % SNF with no additives
(The raw material specification is critical to plant design capacity)

THE PLANT - outline example
This list is not exhaustive and is for broad example purposes only and describes an outline only of a milk recepttion area of a Dairy Factory
Every factory requires a milk reception area and silo storage

milk tanker

Milk reception area description - and outline example only

  • What is your chosen capacity?
    Pumps - pay particular attention to design to minimize mechanical damage to milk and calculate flow rates through pipes taking account the required CIP flow rate as well as recommended rate for milk flow.
    Equipment suppliers have a tendency to supply small pumps with high speed impellors to save on costs so these should be specified in the detail of the contract

Milk silos

  • Air elimination - use an automatic air bleed to avoid cavitation and extended time in connecting tankers particularly with many small tankers. Pumps should have sufficient head of milk with auto level control on / off to save energy, avoid damage to milk and save time.
  • Sampling - auto samplers are preferred but provision should be made for hygienic dippers, mixing plungers and also plastic disposable dippers and containers, consider on tanker auto samplers with bar coded labels.

Raw Milk Reception

  • The latest milk collection tankers can have auto samplers, labelers and also infra red, wireless or satellite communication of routes, collections and samples so as soon as the tanker arrives at the dairy the data is downloaded automatically and the box of samples with bar coded labels taken to the lab for rapid analysis of all farms in the tanker if necessary to detect whose milk may have caused an issue with the whole tank and invoice the responsible producer if they are seriously at fault i.e. high antibiotics etc
  • Automation - depends on your budget but consider this area carefully
  • Metering - critical to choose reliable accurate meters and place them correctly - try and choose similar voltage and signal meters / instruments for ease of use as some suppliers will mix 240, 110 and 24 volt etc and they all look very similar so can cause issues with safety and maintenance - specify in the contract
  • Weighing - It is essential in large volume plants to have a reliable weighbridge and this can be cross referenced with the flow meters, normally milk payment is made based upon weighbridge weights and laboratory results.
  • Milk software - essential in large plants to ensure you pay the producers on time and for their milk supply where contracts can be quite complex and often deliberately to make it more difficult for producers to assess between manufacturers, i.e. fat and snf premiums and penalties vary as do hygienic quality and water addition etc.
  • Drains - Detailed attention should be placed on drains location and design
  • Pipe insulation - consider potential condensation and temperature issues if the area is exposed to sunlight as milk pipes can heat up rapidly.
  • Hose points - Consider locations and design ensuring ease of use and storage - use only food grade hoses
  • Steam water mixers - Pay careful attention to specification / selection as they are notoriously Unreliable
  • Floors - falls on floors must be specified as this is an area that can cause serious difficulties with ponding etc
  • Floor finishes - Depends on your budget - do it properly and avoid tiles - if budget is tight then use a hardened concrete.
  • Wall finishes - specify - no tiles
  • Tanker driver facilities - Often left out
  • Tanker draining ramp - Usually forgotten but you need an incline in many old tankers in some countries do not have a fall in the tank which can result in the tanker not draining fully
  • Temperature - Consider locations for thermometers and ideally connect to PLC
  • Lighting - Ensure compliance with minimum standards and ensure splash proof with shatter proof covers and located for ease of maintenance - Usually insufficient attention paid to this area - specify in the contract
  • Insect and pest control stations to consider
  • Security access - Air lock or fan and combination locks or card or fingerprint access - budget to consider but this helps with control of staff by area.
  • CIP for tankers - Automated or manual, capacity, design etc
  • Dispatch - consider what is required, plant breakdown, milk, cream, skim, whey sales etc
  • Cooling - where and capacity
  • Quarantine - is a quarantine tank required, which country is this?
  • Covered area or open - Covered is preferable
  • Windows - Glass should be avoided
  • Hose handling and storage - hoses can be heavy and cumbersome and should be easily handled by 1 person and secured after use - use a simple lifting balanced system.
  • Canteen / staff facilities - should be designed for ease of use / location / number of staff / local norms / proximity to change facilities / ease of use / space and light - needs to be an easy pleasant atmosphere / well ventilated
Detailed consideration is also required for each of the other areas.

Complete clarity at this stage ensures a smooth running project, if you do not go into detail at this stage then issues will be raised later and may cause costly delays and changes.

Optimise your design for ease of operation, ideally use a consultant who has extensively operated and managed dairy plants and ideally has designed, project managed and built a few as they will have already made their mistakes and you will get the benefit of this experience and not learn by your experience.
  • Silo storage - capacities and products, milk, skim, cream, whey raw and pasteurized etc
  • Separation - Milk, standardized milk, cream, whey etc
  • Standardisation
  • Bactofugation
  • Microfiltration
  • Vitamin addition
  • UHT
  • Pasteurisation
  • Thermisation
  • Demineralisation
  • Aseptic Packing
  • Cream Storage - Sweet, cultures, whey cream etc
  • Buttermaking
  • Butter oil
  • Yogurt - specs
  • Cheese - specs
  • Fermented drinks
  • CIP high and low risk
  • Crystallisation
  • WPC
  • Lactose
  • GOS
  • Evaproation
  • Concentrate storage and handling
  • Spray drying
  • Packing
  • Blending
  • Dry mixing
  • CIP high and low risk - Heat exchanger design to be considered carefully
  • Change areas - Critical for ease of use, pay careful attention to design
  • Zoning - High, medium and low designed into the factory
  • Utilities - Location critical to good design
  • Engineering - Location
  • Laboratories
  • Offices
  • Training and visitors - take account of visitors in the design


To build a new factory on a green field site in "location"
Site location and description - visit required
Utilities availability and consents and planning approvals to confirm
The factory will consist of:
1. Security Entrance
2. Staff Parking
3. Mains Electricity Substation
4. Weigh bridge and tanker washing facility
5. Administration section
6. Main Factory Building - Incorporating all manufacturing and storage and staff change areas
7. Services Block, Boilers, Chilled Water, Air Compressors and Workshops etc
8. Water storage and treatment
9. Milk Reception / dispatch 4 bay
10. Laboratories
11. Liquid milk standardizing, pasteurizing, packing and distribution block
12. Canteen and toilet block
13. Tanker cip area
14. Butter manufacture, packing and storage areas
15. Cream cheese and yogurt processing and packing areas
16. UHT and storage and distribution area
17. Bulk chemical storage
18. Dry goods stores
19. Engineering workshop and stores
20. Tanker Cleaning (CIP)

Baby milk powder factory design PRODUCTS TO BE MANUFACTURED: As much detail as possible, this is an outline example only

Detailed specifications to form an integral part of the supply contract
List in detail the Dairy products to be manufactured including volume per SKU, pack types, sizes and flavours
1. UHT Liquid - Aseptic high temperature pasteurised

a) Milk and flavoured milks
b) Juices and soft drinks
c) Cream 30% fat

a) Sweet Cream Butter (salted) 25Kg and 200g
b) Sweet Cream Butter (unsalted) 25Kg and 200g

3. Cream cheese - in small foil top pots size and design etc - labeling and coding, collating and packing

4.Yogurt and Drinking Yogurt


e.g. To handle 30,000 litres/hour of liquid milk at 4 % FAT and 8.5 % SNF (Detailed spec)

Calculating fat in milk to give desired fat in milk powder
Skimmed milk powder production cost estimation

For more information or to discuss your requirements please contact us

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John Watson
Office: +44 1224 861 507
Mobile: +44 7931 776 499

We are a longstanding member of the Society of Dairy Technology and have Fellowship of the Institute of Food Science and Technology.
Member of the Society of Dairy Technology and have Fellowship of the Institute of Food Science and Technology IOD


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Office: +44 1224 861 507
Mobile: +44 7931 776 499

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