During a countrywide lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, all non-essential operations as well as local movements were suspended in India in the month of April. During this time, the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF), which sells its products under the brand Nandini and is the second largest milk co-operative in India, was faced with a surplus of thousands of liters of fresh milk; without further processing all this milk would be lost.

The challenge was overcome as a result of the outstanding cooperation between GEA and the customer’s on-site team as well as the excellent support of KMF’s chairman, who working together, were able to save the milk by processing it into milk powder through GEA’s Remote Service.

The solution, which sounds quite simple, actually required highly aligned and coordinated efforts between all those involved: Under normal circumstances, KMF’s new Nandini Hi-Tech Mega Powder Plant in Ramanagara, Karnataka, which GEA supplied with complete turnkey solutions for processing liquid milk, milk powder and ghee, could have simply processed the skimmed milk further. Unfortunately, as the lockdown came into force, the plant was in the middle of commissioning and not yet fully operational. Given GEA had already conducted trials earlier in March which resulted in a partially completed product, KMF asked for GEA’s support in running the dairy plant under these trying circumstances so that this important milk supply could be rescued.

During the lockdown, six engineers from GEA India were stranded at a guesthouse. From there, they offered their full commitment to support the KMF staff. Another GEA team made up of process and automation engineers located in Vadodara then developed a smart plan drawing on their extensive experience, which would allow the plant to be run remotely from their home-based workstations. The job was made more difficult by extreme circumstances such as poor internet connectivity, unreliable utilities and the fact that spare parts were not available at the plant.

In the end, the teams were able to run the production successfully. They converted 90,000 liters of skimmed milk into milk powder on the first attempt, followed by 200,000 liters of milk over the next few days.

It goes without saying, that KMF’s management highly appreciated the swift action taken by GEA and the determination of its executional teams who made it possible to safeguard this milk which of course also helps financially support dairy farmers in these difficult times.

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