OMTA Assists Ontario Dairy Industry In Adopting Internet Tracking System

Aug. 1, 2000
THE ONTARIO Milk Transport Association (OMTA), Rexdale, Ontario, Canada, has established an integrated tracking system and made it available to producers,

THE ONTARIO Milk Transport Association (OMTA), Rexdale, Ontario, Canada, has established an integrated tracking system and made it available to producers, carriers, and manufacturers, said John Wishart, general manager of the organization.

"Every truck has a bar-code, which allows producers, farmers, transporters, and manufacturing plants to access logistics information," Wishart told members of the National Federation of Milk Haulers at their association meeting April 10 in Galveston, Texas. "This technology allows us to do a lot of things quickly."

The software program was developed by Psion Inc, a United Kingdom company that manufactures data collection systems. The software is used in Ontario by 6,500 milk producers, 80 dairy plants, and 73 carriers.

Data entry into the system begins when drivers start their routes. They scan the bar-code with a hand-held device that fits into a holster on the belt when not in use. After the bar-code is scanned, drivers enter route number and odometer reading. At the dairy farm, another bar-code is scanned for identification. The milk is sampled, graded, and the data entered. Volume and temperature are punched in. If either is incorrect, drivers will be prompted automatically.

Upon delivery to the plant, the odometer reading is again entered. A plant bar-code is scanned for identification and the unloading meter information added. When the tank is washed following unloading, that information is added. Carriers can access the information iflinked to the Internet, or the information can be printed and faxed to them. Plant managers can access the information as well.

"We use the Internet for everything," said Wishart.

In some instances, bobtails are used to pick up milk at farms and later transferred to transports. The same system is used in this process. The program calculates volume, time spent on the road, and miles traveled. An updated volume count prevents overfills and unnecessary trips to the dairy farm.

Enhancing logistics isn't the only benefit of the system. Drivers can enter equipment condition reports, such as a slow pump or dirty hoses. Follow-up responses are made by managers. "This is good for driver satisfaction because it shows their concerns are being addressed," he said.

Another advantage comes from the accumulation of data over time that can be analyzed. OMTA has researched how long it takes to pump milk through various size outlets and had the answers within two days from data from many producers. The association saves vehicle information for performance evaluation and takes a look at miles traveled, fuel and oil usage, and monthly vehicle expense reports. Repair information is listed in several categories, including wheels, chassis, and engine. Towing bills are listed and shop labor hours and tools used are tallied.Transporters can use the information to negotiate price by presenting the documented expenses to shippers, he added.

With the system well established, the next step is to add route mapping. "We should be able to cut unnecessary mileage by using the system," he said.