Meat and Livestock Australia Transforms Digital Operations with Data Modernization

The Australian beef industry is daunted by a volatile market. Farmers are responding by optimizing digital infrastructures and cloud-based data operations, with the goal of reducing inefficient livestock management while maintaining sustainability efforts.

  • September 7, 2023 | Author: Jenn Verta
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Cattle markets in Australia are always changing, and farmers must adapt quickly to stay relevant and profitable while also respecting the environment and minimizing impact. The factors that are impacting the cattle market include fast-changing local (and global) climate trends, inflation, labor shortages, and increasing supply chain costs. 
The Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), a nonprofit industry advocate, works in tandem with several meat producers and manufacturers. Together, they use research and development to work through improving operational inefficiencies in the Australian cattle and livestock industries and beyond. With the past and present volatile conditions in the Australian beef industry ever evolving, farmers must evolve with them, while enduring the rollercoaster of cattle prices and staying technologically relevant. 
MLA aims to flow with the beef markets by transforming the way farmers gather, store, and manage livestock data, relying on cloud-based data to make better decisions. Owen Keates, associate vice president of digital transformation and supply chain for Hitachi Vantara Consulting in Australia, states that the industry needed to move to smart digital technology in several areas, including data collection, change management, decision support, and intelligent prediction tools. 
“We needed a process where we could use best practices to initially assess digital transformation opportunities,” Keates says. “We wanted to use that information in the co-creation process, to provide a platform where the customer could engage with every part of the livestock data management transformation.”
Meat and Livestock Australia Transforms Digital Operations with Data Modernization
Harnessing and Storing Data on the Farm
Hitachi Vantara recommended the Hitachi Process Intelligence (HPI) solution, which transformed how MLA harnessed its farm data from capture to value. The solution allowed the organization to attain data and insights in real time, with a new modernized workflow. Additionally, the AI capabilities enabled a data collection and storage framework for each part of the supply chain, unlocking complete coverage of the workflow processes. 
When creating an optimized network infrastructure, Hitachi Vantara established and installed several points of data collection to the farms. They used RFID tags on livestock, collected aerial imagery with drones, and used open software to connect the data systems and paint the big picture in one cohesive dashboard for MLA R&D teams.
Meanwhile, Hitachi Vantara developed a solution that collected all the fragmented data and stored gathered it into a singular repository hosted in the cloud for maximum operational efficiency.
A Model for Efficiency and Sustainability
MLA’s digital transformation created a model of discovery that can help other Australian cattle farms keep track of livestock on a grand scale, in real time, using cloud-based storage, says Dr. Nigel Tomkin, head of research and development at MLA. 
The organization is now also setting up weather stations to capture rain, temperature, wind data, soil temperature, and other metrics related to operations. “It’s very important for us to get all that data together with our livestock information to be able to make the best decisions on where we are heading,” Tomkin adds.
Beefing Up with Digital Solutions
With the rollout of a smarter process across MLA and its associated companies’ entire supply chain, there has been a significant value add with Hitachi Vantara solutions. The value gains include an improvement in the quality of meat itself, as well as more revenue through the optimization of the feed supply chain.
Key results from Hitachi Process Intelligence solutions reported by MLA include:
• $1.1 million per year potential annual revenue for a single farm of 30,000 cows
• $14.2 million per year sales potential across all the of the organization’s members
• Supply chain transparency
• Use of an open-data ecosystem
• Entire life traceability for individual cattle
• Central data repository and an onsite Farm Management System for each individual farm. 
As businesses scale, so must the data. MLA utilized Hitachi Vantara expertise and gained data visibility, flexibility, and resilience. The increase in operational efficiency due to smart decision making has allowed for the cattle sector to gain a competitive edge in the meat industry.
Image Credit: Hitachi Vantara

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