6 Benefits of Digitising the Dairy Supply Chain

dairy supply chain

A recent Harvard Business Review report finds that only 8% of companies have achieved digital maturity across key components of supply chain operations such as logistics, demand planning and supplier risk management.

The technology industry loves buzzwords, none more so than ‘digitisation’, ‘digital transformation’ or ‘digitalisation’ and the supply chain management software sector is no different. Such terms are widely used by consultants to paint a futuristic picture of what, in truth, is a relatively simple concept – to use computer software to manage business data and processes, with the goal of saving time or money, or both, for maximum productivity and efficiency.  

The question of how to achieve ‘digital maturity’ is one for another article. This post focuses on the ‘why’, in the context of the dairy supply chain. Why should dairy companies embark on a journey to this brave new world and invest in technology? This is our view.

Centralised Data

Everyone will have access to the same version of business data in one central location when they move to a software solution. Using technology to manage the dairy supply chain increases efficiency and speed of execution while reducing the possibility of human error.  In dairy production, data is often stored on paper, excel or in a much more advanced storage system – employee’s minds.  Centralised data provides 24/7 access which not only saves time and money, but also mitigates risk by reducing reliance on staff availability to keep your dairy operations running. 

Business Continuity

When a key employee leaves or is absent for any reason, their knowledge will stay in the company and is available to the wider team. It can also be used to train new employees, reaching productivity quicker and allowing staff to work remotely if the situation requires it. For example, local knowledge on the best way to access a milk producer’s farm is sometimes only known only by their regular haulier.  If there is a change in haulier, making this information available to others  will maintain high levels of efficiency and customer service regardless of who the haulier of the day is. 


From farm to fork, traceability is essential within the food industry.  When issues arise, it is important to know when, how and why so that they can be remedied. A modern software platform allows users to easily manage first expired, first out (FEFO) scenarios and to view historical data on their activities to find the source of the problem. Or in the case where a factory is unable to meet its production targets due to a shortfall in raw ingredients, i.e. milk, then being able to quickly identify the root cause is easy, and will minimise the potential of wasting precious manufacturing capacity.  

Forward Planning

Dairy production is seasonal. Maintaining high levels of operational efficiency through ‘flush’ milk production or peak consumer demand is difficult, but made possible by using intuitive software.  Running scenarios and cost models in advance of these known events helps dairy teams to make informed decisions about factory requirements, fleet size and driver resources.  This helps to ease the effects of the seasonal fluctuations and help cash-flow and expenditure management as managers can better match resources to demand.

Real time visibility

In the dairy supply chain, things happen which were not expected.  If a single supplier’s milk has been contaminated and subsequently mixed with other supplier milk in the collection tanker, it could result in an entire load being destroyed. If a notification of the issue with the offending supplier’s milk was provided before the collection, it would help avoid cross-contamination and significant loss in revenue.

Greenhouse gas emissions

What you can measure, you can improve. Supply chain’s contribution to GHG emissions in food production is growing faster than any other sector, as discussed in our recent article.  All stakeholders in the dairy supply chain not only have a responsibility to address GHG emissions but also face an expectation to do so from their end customers – consumers of dairy products.  Modern logistics software helps to measure vehicle GHG emissions and to find new ways to reduce them.

OptaHaul is working with the dairy industry to improve business efficiency, reduce risk and increase visibility into supply chain operations.  If you would like to learn more, our team is ready to have a business conversation today –  without the buzzwords.

To learn more about the OptaHaul platform, check out the resources section on our website.