Milk transport is a critical element of the dairy supply chain. At McColl’s Transport, a focus on digital systems is delivering results for the farmer.

National Compliance Manager Chris Fleming said a state-of-the art Incident Management System and Product Tracking System were imperative for the company’s food safety and accreditation programs.

“Our Incident Management System was developed through trying to streamline the audit and compliance system and make it more user friendly for our drivers,” Chris said.

“Our system records everything from a major incident to a near miss. Each driver has a tablet that is linked to the system. Once an incident is logged, our Work Health and Safety Manager follows it through to the end, delegating as appropriate, until each issue is completely closed off within a determined time span dependant on the severity of the incident and completion of corrective actions, including feedback to the farmer. Farmer feedback is usually provided through the relevant processor.

“I’d like to see a digital Incident Reporting System like this used across the dairy industry, that both farmers and truck drivers use. If a farmer has an issue, instead of raising it with the truck driver, they could report the issue using the system.”

Chris said the system worked as an auditing tool and also highlighted trends, providing a snapshot of the areas to target to improve the business.

The incident reporting system is just one of McColl’s digital resources.

Milk quality is measured throughout the collection and transport process, including milk temperature and volume at pick up and time of pick up, then at milk delivery, the temperature, volume and time is recorded again.

“We also record all hygiene activities, including the temperature of the tanker wash water, the time and date of the wash, the duration of the wash,” Chris said.

“All of this data is time stamped through the system using digital barcodes, which are matched to each sample of milk.

“It’s not a cheap system but we’ve invested in this to remain competitive. We’re known for high quality, so that’s what we have to deliver.”

Digital systems streamline the processes giving faster relaying of information to processors and transport operators, thus producing more efficient operations.

McColl’s has also invested in a comprehensive driver training program.

“Our training program is massive. We have our own qualified in-house training team, which is important as our training program is so specialised. We can’t rely on a third party to get it done effectively,” Chris said.

“At initial employment, drivers get 3-4 days of training including induction training, in cabin drive tests, hygiene training and more. Then we have a buddy system where a senior driver goes with the driver for one week to ensure they are competent.

“Then six months later we do another in cabin driver test, comprising of competency assessment. Then after two years we do refresher training.

“On top of that we have milk grade testing and antibiotic testing training programs conducted prior to commencement.”

Technology is also a critical part of the training program and McColl’s has a database system that keeps track of where each driver is up to in the training cycle.

“Now that we have all of our systems in place, it’s a huge safety net for our business and ensures we more than meet industry requirements,” Chris said.

“Everyone’s guided by food safety rules, but how you implement the rules is up to the individual. We pride ourselves on the way we do things.”