Melbourne’s North Food Group partner Floridia Cheese has developed a secure milk payment system thanks to a Melbourne Polytechnic student project facilitated through the North and West Melbourne Data Analytics Hub and the Northern Industry Student Placement Program.
The project is planned to be implemented company-wide to better organise data and provide more accurate calculations, which will result in a reduced staff workload.
Floridia Cheese is a family operated cheese producer from Thomastown, with 60 years’ experience making traditional Italian style cheeses. The business has been making cheese for three generations, using techniques perfected in Sicily.
Floridia’s previous milk payment system used several Excel workbooks to record data and calculations. It was complex and time consuming, and small input errors would result in miscalculations.
A team of Bachelor of Information Technology students at Melbourne Polytechnic undertook the project as part of their degree studies, under the auspices of the North and West Melbourne Data Analytics Hub. Through the work of the students, Floridia now has an efficient and effective database with less redundancy and more scalability and security.
Rosalba Portella, General Manager Finance and Marketing at Floridia, explained that businesses in her sector all face the same issues when handling milk payment data and this new process could become adopted industry-wide.
“We pay our dairy farmers based on criteria set through our spreadsheet system, but we found that we were undercharging in some areas. The project outcome was much more reliable and could be viable for businesses across the sector.”
Before this project, the team at Floridia had very little understanding of data analytics and the benefits of data analytics to a company like theirs.
“It’s difficult to keep up with IT – we don’t have that expertise in house,” said Viv Banner, ERP Manager. “Now we have a much better idea about the importance of efficient data collection and analysis. It gives us access to information we desperately need. Now that we know how valuable data analytics can be to a business like ours, we’re definitely keen to participate in more projects.”
Before the project started, Floridia invited the student team onsite, gave them a tour of the plant and offered them a cheese tasting. The idea was to give them a good understanding of the business from the outset.
“The students were able to grasp the complicated nature of our system quickly,” said Rosalba. “We gave them all our data. Then they interpreted our requirements, checked a few things with us and came up with an outstanding result.
“Initially we thought a student project might be a burden for us, but it wasn’t at all. We had regular meetings but they weren’t intrusive. Instead, for minimal effort on our part, we gained viable information that will progress our business.”
Rosalba confirmed that Floridia Cheese would highly recommend a Melbourne Polytechnic student project to other businesses seeking some extra expertise.
“It was a very rewarding experience for us and for the students too, as they solved a real workplace issue and gained valuable experience,” she added. “We are now looking to continue our relationship with Melbourne Polytechnic and are exploring different ways we can work together in the future.”
The North and West Melbourne Data Analytics Hub, which is managed by local economic development organisation NORTH Link, gives businesses an opportunity to harness student skills, analyse the data students collect and use that data to build business capability. The Hub works with students from tertiary institutions to help businesses use their data to their best advantage. During their data analytics projects, students see how their skills can positively impact a business and they increase their own employability.