GETTING milk to processors so that it meets today's standards means milk haulers must keep up with changes in equipment specifications, product security, and test procedures — just to name a few of the challenges facing the transporters today.
Members of the International Milk Haulers Association (IMHA) were briefed on several topics related to their businesses at the annual IMHA meeting earlier this year in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.
Stephen McWilliams of Walker Transport, a division of Walker Stainless Equipment Co LLC, discussed issues surrounding the many varieties of clean-in-place (CIP) systems and concerns in the industry about the ability of those systems to meet sanitary standards.
McWilliams was part of a speaker lineup that included J-C Robillard of Tremcar, Chris Thompson of the University of Kentucky, and Ryan Waters of Charm Sciences Inc.
McWilliams noted that there are at least eight types of CIP systems in use in tank trailers today and as many different state regulations for them. The many variations make it difficult to maintain sanitary standards.
A member of the audience noted that CIPs may not clean the tank properly if the system driving the equipment does not have the appropriate pressure capability. The result can be spray head holes plugged with residue. If the water pressure is too low, tanks will not be cleaned properly. If the pressure is too high, water exits the spray balls in too fine a spray, resulting in inadequate cleaning.
McWilliams pointed out that the more equipment inside a tank, the more chance there is for bacteria to hide in the crowded space. He also noted that eliminating CIP systems in a tank trailer would make the overall cost of the vehicle less.
Problems could be ameliorated if CIPs were eliminated and processing plants took over the cleaning responsibility by adding wash racks at their facilities. However, Thompson said that eliminating CIP systems from tank trailers is likely to be controversial because of the expense for processors to install equipment and accept the cleaning responsibility.
Another subject that impacts the dairy industry is product security. While the foodgrade industry has been involved with meeting strict standards throughout its modern history, the terrorists attacks on the United States in 2001 increased the awareness even further and prompted further seal scrutiny.
Transporters always are concerned about drivers having to climb atop the tank for any reason, such as checking for compromised seals. Robillard discussed a sealing system that can be linked from bottom outlets to domelids so that drivers do not have to climb atop the tank. He said the system costs about $1,000, weighs about 20 pounds, and is designed for foodgrade tank trailers.
Also discussing security involved in milk transportation, Thompson updated the attendees on a University of Kentucky project underway to lessen the chance of loads being compromised. He said that in the Southeast today about 75 loads per day are rejected at the processor because product security has been compromised.
The computerized tracking system in the study is designed so that only the driver or other authorized users can access it to trigger loading and unloading. Testing milk at the dairy farm is another means employed by transporters to determine whether all standards are met. Waters presented a new Charm Sciences Inc product that can be used to expedite a drivers' testing procedures for antibiotics before loading. The driver applies a milk sample to a strip, waits three minutes for it to be incubated, and then reads the results, using a Charm Sciences reader. The reader stores the results electronically for record keeping and reporting.