TWIN FALLS, ID
Less than a decade ago, the fleet of milk trucks operated by Glanbia Foods needed 35 units to pick up 5.5 million pounds of milk per day. Today, the company needs only 32 trucks to bring in 8 million pounds of milk daily.
Glanbia buys about 13 million pounds of milk per day for its three cheese and two whey plants in Idaho, including a major Cheddar barrel cheese plant at Gooding, and 11 million pounds per day for a cheese plant in Clovis, NM. In addition to its own milk hauling fleet, Glanbia works with independent haulers who are trucking about 5 million pounds of milk per day to the plants in Idaho.
How the changes in milk hauling efficiency within Glanbia's own fleet were achieved since late 2007 and early 2008 was described in a recent webinar by Glanbia's transportation manager Gary Halverson. The centerpiece is the automated hand-held MobileConductor computer. The independent haulers are not equipped with that computer, he noted.
In the past, milk haulers used a lot of paper, made manual entries, and the processing and sharing of information lagged real time by one or two days, Halverson observed. This also left room for errors that were not always easily or quickly tracked or corrected — quite different than what's the case today, he remarked.
The single device that is kept in the truck cabs of Glanbia's fleet addresses and tracks such items as milk trailer seals, washing schedules, the use of GPS, and even driver behavior, according to Halverson and Steve Sager, the president and chief executive officer or ExtenData, an Englewood, CO firm, which is the manufacturer of the mobile device.
For the dairy farms, the benefits include automated and instant access to milk weights, temperatures, measurements, truck mileage, manifests, seal numbers, and milk samples, Halverson indicated. All of this is available in real time to milk shippers, processors, and customers, he stated.
As MobileConductor was introduced, a 30-day trial period was used to prove driver accuracy before formal conversion to the new procedure, Halverson explained. Once in place, MobileConductor also accommodated truck scheduling, driver pay (base and incentives), inventory control, and integration of the data, he said.
"We wanted to be more competitive and to be an industry leader," Halverson commented. "We're using a lot less paper and any errors are identified very quickly."
As the entire set of changes, including facility changes as the upgrading of milk intakes, was carried out, some of the results are an increase of 15 more loads per driver per week, a 63-percent increase in daily milk volume pickup per driver, and a 72-percent increase in the amount of milk hauled per day by truck, Halverson reported.
Reasons for those improvements in efficiency include a recording of how much milk is left at a farm following a pickup, the hourly tracking of milk production flow on farms, a noting of seasonal differences in that flow rate, driver reroutings, and 24- rather than 12-hour coverage on pickups, Halverson pointed out. "We don't want to let the dairies get full."
The new approach is geared to being pro-active rather than reactive, Halverson remarked. Although Glanbia uses MobileConductor mainly for hauling milk from farms to its processing plants, the concept has much wider applications such as tracking assets, people, and inventories and serving suppliers, Sager indicated.