milk processing

Milk Processing: From Truck Tank to Production Plant

A great number of variables determine the journey that milk takes from the farm to the dairy processing plant. If the two sites are situated relatively close together and there are no delays, the trip can be relatively straightforward. If they’re further apart, or if unforeseen difficulties arise in the processing schedule, a simple delivery can turn into a day spent waiting. Here’s how:

From Farm to Plant

When the farm and processing plant are located relatively close to each other and appointments are running on time, drivers are usually able to make farm collections, reach the processing facilities, unload their tank, complete all necessary paperwork, and be back en route to their next pick-ups in 1-2 hours. If their next scheduled farm pick-ups are close by too, drivers can often complete two collection trips (from farm to plant) within normal Hours-of-Service (HOS) allowances.

In Case of Delay…

As a result of equipment malfunctions or a backlog in receiving previous deliveries, drivers are sometimes forced to wait several hours (sometimes 5 to 6 hours or more) for an unloading dock to become available. Since their tank remains full, they can’t make any further pick-ups until they are able to unload, so they’re stuck waiting as long as it takes for previous appointments to be completed.

Addressing Issues

Because long wait times have become a challenge for the industry, hauling companies can now charge processing plants for detention time if a driver waits more than two hours to begin his or her scheduled appointment. This helps to cover additional costs incurred when a driver exceeds HOS limits by waiting, and must be replaced by a new driver to complete the delivery or remaining farm collections. This can happen since drivers remain on-the-clock while they’re waiting for their appointment to unload.

Most Common Causes of Delays (in no particular order):

  • Equipment malfunction or breakdown at the processing plant (reduced operational efficiency)
  • Delays in processing previous appointments (backlog resulting from one of the previously listed issues, for example)
  • Driver tardiness (most often because of weather or mechanical issues)
  • Unexpectedly large deliveries received earlier in the day
  • Last-minute changes or adjustments in the processing schedule

Unlike freight deliveries, which can sometimes be delayed until the next day if issues arise, milk must be picked up as scheduled. If a pickup is skipped, some farms may not have adequate storage space for subsequent milkings. That’s why it’s very important that everyone works together to prevent delays, and to get operations back on track promptly if they get thrown off.

Drivers do their best to make all of their appointments on time. Still, they know what to do if they’re faced with delays (namely, communicate with their dispatchers), to limit further complications.

Insight and reliability are a big part of why experienced milk haulers are worth their weight in gold.