In milk transport planning there are unsung heroes that we want to focus on in this article and that is the work done by milk procurement and supply management teams in the dairy industry. These individuals plan and manage millions and even billions of litres/lbs of milk every year. It’s a very demanding and challenging role. But what can be done to simplify the role of a planner.
There are 3 areas of planning we want to focus on today,
- The massive administrative task of milk supply planning.
- The rising challenges from the macro environment.
- Protecting the environment.
The volume of milk transport data
One of the reasons milk transport planning is so complex is the volume of data the planners have to work with each day. If we take an average size Dairy Processor of 1 billion litres (2.2billion lbs) – this volume of milk is typically supplied by 350 farms (possibly over 3000 farms in some countries) and needs to be delivered to approximately 4 factories. Most planners are working off excel or paper based plans or even whiteboards. Therefore, through no fault of their own, they are working with minimal data about each farm, vehicle and factory. Even at this basic level of data collected about each farm, vehicle and factory, the planners are still working with over 3,000 pieces of data (manually). Trying to match factory opening times with truck availability, to match with farm milking times and then road access etc. It is a very manual, time consuming and stressful process.
Services like OptaHaul provides planners with a modern platform that manages all this data, but because it’s a specifically designed solution for dairy, planners can now work with much more data. The optimisation tool works with over 20,000 pieces of data as opposed to the original 3,000. Planners can now easily make better use of resources, because they can take into consideration much more granular data, while saving themselves valuable time. They also deliver far more benefits to their companies by way of reduced fuel costs, vehicle usage and servicing, driver hours, reducing emissions and maximising resources.
Macro environmental factors
External factors can also affect milk transport planning such as the rise in fuel prices, difficulties in driver recruitment, rising inflation, changing climate affecting milk production, factory unplanned downtime, vehicle shortages.
With so many unpredictable factors impacting the industry, how can planners add predictability back into their roles?
Here’s how, modernising their planning process with powerful optimisers and planning tools. Solutions like OptaHaul will give planners the ability to respond quickly to changes. They can make alternative plans based on real modelling so they can react quickly, all the while still making the most economically viable decisions. Things will always go wrong, or there will always be things outside the planners control. But the planners can make the process of planning ahead and building resilience and reducing fuel costs automated and modern with cloud milk optimisation solutions.
Protecting the Environment
Milk needs to be collected, and the only way to do it is via road transport. This means a lot of fuel, large vehicles and as a result, a lot of emissions. But what many don’t realise is that it also means a lot of tanker washes and water. The move to electric vehicles has taken massive steps forward in the past few years. And tanker manufacturers are developing better ways to reduce the volume of water needed to fully clean a tanker. But both areas are still falling short to fully support a 100% green policy in milk transportation.
The industry still needs help in designing collection plans that fully utilise every resource as efficiently as possible to reduce the number of loads, therefore reducing the number of washes needed, and help to take miles out of the routes driven. There are big steps that planners can take to reduce their environmental impact. Modernising the planning process ensures that every tanker is fully resourced, and every unnecessary mile/kilometre is eliminated. And OptaHaul can ensure that all this is done in a quick and manageable fashion.
There are many roles milk planners have. Custodians of the data relating to farms, vehicles, factories and ensuring it’s all up to date. Relied upon to provide the plans/routes for each vehicle/driver. Protect revenue by reducing fuel/driver/vehicle costs. Drive the supply of milk required for each factory to ensure production is not halted. Problem solver when there are sudden changes anywhere in the supply chain. They are a highly skilled and valuable member of the dairy manufacturing team. We here at OptaHaul believe that they need and deserve the kind of support, tools and opportunity that our solution provides.