Centralising Data for Milk Transport Planning

Dairy schedulers and planners whose job it is to manage farm to plant milk transport have to track an exponentially large amount of data as part of their day-to-day work. As outlined in our recent blog post on milk collection complexities, the number of data points which need to be tracked to plan effectively can exceed 20,000 in many cases.

The sheer size of this data set is intimidating enough but when you add in the fact that the data could be stored and maintained in many different locations – paper, excel, whiteboard, legacy systems, employee’s minds – then the magnitude of the task to manage it efficiently increases further.

The types of data categories involved in milk transport planning are :

  • Farm data
  • Vehicle data
  • Milk Tanker data
  • Factory data
  • Route information
  • Production requirements
  • Milk quality data
  • Traffic data
  • Road data
  • Access restrictions

In a milk collection transport operation, this data can be held in many different formats and stored in multiple places. Supplier data may be held in a payroll system or in a supplier CRM database. Data on trucks and tankers is often held on excel spreadsheets, sometimes it is managed in a Transport Management System (TMS). Factory production data is usually emailed to transport planners by their production planning counterparts each week. The results of milk testing, carried out to ensure it is free from infection or excessive bacteria, is held in lab software systems. Traffic and up-to-date data on roads is typically checked on Google maps (not advised for truck routing btw!). Access restrictions at farms, waiting times at factories and other local knowledge about routes are usually held only in the minds of the truck drivers.

The main issue with this situation is that the more data sources there are, the higher the probability is for errors to occur, especially when data is held in a format that can be overwritten. There is a reliance on the owners of each data source to maintain their piece of the data puzzle consistently. Another challenge is the time it takes to make wholesale updates when something changes, and in dairy transportation things change all the time. In the case of data held in employees minds, the issue is far greater as the knowledge leaves when the employee leaves.

With all of these potential pitfalls and the extra work required to manage data flowing from one source to another, a centralised system to manage milk transportation seems like a no-brainer. With relatively little effort or customisation, a purpose-built system can be used to manage, plan and optimise milk collection routes, to provide the following benefits :

  • Less time and money spent maintaining multiple systems
  • Consistent data for everyone
  • Accessible 24/7
  • Reduced risk of data errors
  • Reliable data to accurately track and manage costs
  • Simpler reporting without the need to involve IT
  • Ability to plan for changes by modelling scenarios
  • Ability to report on trends to find new efficiencies

OptaHaul’s route optimisation platform was built exclusively for farm to plant milk transport and is helping clients around the globe to increase productivity by managing their milk collection operations in one modern cloud platform. Visit our Resources page to learn more!