Collection of milk from farmer to dairy is done in many different ways in Europe. One should think that collection of milk is pretty straightforward but in reality there are different ways of doing the job depending on traditions, sizes of the farms, level of automation etc.
Most dairies will surely agree on the importance of receiving milk of a certain quality and that the cost of collecting the milk is low.
In regions where the milk producers are big it is important to use big road tankers with high speed pumping in order to save costs. However the reality is often that milk producers in the same region can vary a lot in size meaning that it often must be possible to collect small amounts of milk with the same tanker as used for large amounts.
Where it in Northern Europe is normal to use a tanker (semi trailer) with a capacity of app. 30.000 litres and a pump speed of app. 60.000 l/min it is often seen in other regions that the same job is done with a small vehicle with maybe 8.000 litres and a pump speed of maybe 150 l/min. In some areas the milk is not collected at the farm but at collection points where the milk is brought to by the farmers.
But one thing is sure: The development of milk collection is going in the direction of having less and bigger farms and better quality of the milk.By Poul Tarp A/S - situated in Denmark - we have for 30 years developed systems for milk collection tankers. We have been involved in many solutions made for different demands. We have standard systems but are able to deliver tailor made systems for special demands. Complete pumping systems for milk tankers or for reception systems can be delivered.
Poul Tarp A/S deliver a range of well proved products - a complete concept - which allows the dairy or milk collector to monitor and control the entire 'Milky Way' starting from storing of the milk in the farm vat, followed by the milk collection and transport, to the final delivery of the raw milk for further processing at the dairy.
Big dairy groups in Europe and around the world have adapted the systems. Among these are: Arla Foods, Valio, Fonterra and TINE. But also smaller dairies see big advantages in data acquisition, automatic sampling, high speed pumping etc.
As an example the dairy group TINE in Norway has implemented the system from Poul Tarp A/S on all their 350 milk tankers. The system consists of a flow meter, an air eliminator, temperature reading, automatic sampling and a computer to control the equipment. Identification of the milk supplier is done by GPS and data from all the tankers are transmitted by GPRS to a central server. All the users within the IT-system are connected to this server.
How to choose the right collection system
A system on a milk tanker for measuring the amount of milk and collecting the data can be simple. A step in the right direction has been taken when a flow meter and an air eliminator have been installed. Further to this equipment a computer for displaying the measured amount and a printer for printing our receipts and summaries will normally be installed.
The computer can control all thinkable equipment on the milk tanker. A step further is to install an electronic air eliminator instead of a mechanical. The electronic version ensures a better accuracy of the metering and a safe cleaning of the air eliminator. It also makes it possible to pump faster and still obtain an accurate metering.
In many dairies the amount measured by the flow meter is still being written by hand on a piece of paper. With the new equipment they can print out a receipt for the farmer and after the route they can print out a list with all the pickups and hand it over to the administration office. Another possibility is to transfer data electronically either by an electronic key or by GPRS. When using GPRS the data is being transferred automatically to an IT-system.
When using electronic data transfer it is normal to identify the supplier/farmer in a secure way. This can be done either by keying in a number, by using an electronic key placed at the farmer or by GPS.
In the IT-system - called MTC- at the dairy the person responsible for the milk collection gets a lot of tools and possibilities. Data can be listed and sorted and transferred to the payment program. The supplier database can be maintained. Routes for the truck can be generated, maintained and sent to the trucks via the key or via GSM. In other terms: You get an overview of your milk collection in all phases.
During collection of milk a sample is normally being taken for further tests at the laboratory. The sample can be taken by hand but it is an advantage to automate the sampling. It saves time and eliminates the risks of human errors. The sample results from the laboratory can be transferred to the suppliers via the IT-system to the on-board computer in the milk tankers and be printed out at the farmer directly.