The milk tanker operator is a vital link in the dairy supply chain between the farmer and the processor. Each role is vitally important in the supply chain, however there is often some confusion about what each person is responsible for.

To provide clarity about the different responsibilities for Milk Tanker Operators and Farmers, a summary is provided below.

“The Milk Tanker Operator has an important role in maintaining a collaborative working relationship and communication between the processor and the dairy farmer,” said Geoff Raven, Dairysafe CEO.

Milk tanker Operators require skills and knowledge in communication, driving, transport regulations, dairy and food safety standards relating to the collection of milk, hygiene, cleaning and sanitation methods, milk sampling and storage, testing equipment and operating equipment at the dairy, tanker and processing facility.

Milk Tanker Operators are responsible for:

  • Ensuring all fittings and attachments on the tanker are clean and sanitised;
  • Ensuring all pipes, fittings, milk pump and attachments are assembled, secure and in a satisfactory condition;
  • Providing a system that will keep milk samples cool;
  • Providing and using a calibrated thermometer to check the milk vat temperatures;
  • Providing and using hand sanitising gel;
  • Collecting milk hygienically;
  • Agitating vats sufficiently before sampling;
  • Grading the milk;
  • Connecting the hose, and preventing contamination of the milk, the milk hose and the cap;
  • Recording the temperature of the milk in the vat;
  • Taking milk samples that are representative of the milk in the vat; and
  • Cleaning and sanitising the tanker.

Farmers are responsible for:

  • Cooling milk to 5°C or less within 3.5 hours of milking;
  • Maintaining the correct milk cooling rate and calibrating thermometers and gauges;
  • Maintenance and operation of dairy equipment;
  • Appropriate dairy access and cleanliness;
  • Water quality; and
  • That any construction and equipment in the dairy doesn’t place milk at risk of contamination.

Led by Dairy Australia, the dairy industry has come together to develop a Milk Tanker Operator training program aimed at ensuring Milk Tanker Operators have the skills and knowledge required to carry out their responsibilities and to recognise the importance of the role to industry .

Jeff Hosking a Senior Operator with McColls Transport, was a member of one of the Pilot Programs, and said “The course provides the best knowledge for operators as an ideal step into the future of the role.”

The course aims to deliver a consistent national approach for all companies to use in developing competencies for Milk Tanker Operators in relation to standard food safety compliance and testing. The program includes a refresher program which will be offered three years after the initial course, to ensure Milk Tanker Operators are across the latest requirements and maintain food safety.

The Milk Tanker Operator training course incorporates four units of competency including:

  • BPOPR2009 Load and unload tankers;
  • FBPOPR2014 Participate in sensory analysis;
  • FBPOPR2066 Apply sampling procedures; and
  • FBPOPR2070 Apply quality systems and procedures.

The program has been approved by the Dairy Moving Forward Milk Quality Steering Group and is currently undergoing assessment by the Australian Skills Qualification Authority to have it included as recognised units of competency under the National Training Package.

With more than 1,000 Milk Tanker Operators currently working across the dairy industry, the Milk Tanker Operator program will provide a standardised approach and ensure greater clarity about the role in the industry. The program also aims to attract new entrants to the workforce by establishing formal recognition of the competencies and role of a Milk Tanker Operator within the dairy industry.

GOTAFE is finalising its planning to enable delivery of the program to commence. Information about the program will be made available on the GOTAFE website once it has been formally accredited.

If you would like more information about the program, please email Kirstie Ash on to register your interest.