07 April 2020 - Kate
MILK VAT MONITORING SYSTEM Our Co-op is always looking for the latest technology and tools that can help you on farm, and through The Co-operative Difference we are committed to supporting you in producing high-quality milk. To help make farming easier, as well as to improve our Co-op’s milk collection efficiency, we will be introducing new milk vat monitoring system on our vats over the next couple of years.
Whether you are in the milking shed or out in the paddock, you will be able to monitor your vat’s volume, agitation and temperature from the palm of your hand. You can choose the type of monitoring system that best suits your farm and have the base model installed and running on farm at no additional cost to you (other than power supply). You will also have the opportunity to upgrade your system at an additional cost based on the additional offerings of your chosen solution provider.
This system will help you make more informed decisions and address issues quickly helping you to avoid lost milk or grades. Specifically, this system will alert you to cooling challenges, enabling you to rectify the issue early and meet the Ministry for Primary Industries’ milk cooling standards. By avoiding grades, you are also a step closer to achieving recognition under The Co-operative Difference.
This milk vat monitoring system will help our Co-op improve collection efficiency as we’ll have more precise information about available volume and milking time. This will also save you time as you will no longer need to manually update your milking time window.
More information can be found here in our Milk Vat Monitoring System booklet.
We will be installing this system region by region over the next couple of years, based on the approximate schedule below. Solution providers and options are being finalised now and will be shared with you as soon as possible.
|Installation begins||Last day to select preferred solution provider||Approved Providers|
|Canterbury, Tasman & Marlborough||Oct 2019||31 Dec 2019||HALO and Levno.|
|Otago & Southland||Feb 2020||31 Mar 2020||HALO, Levno and DTS|
|Northland||Mar 2020||3 Apr 2020||HALO, Levno and DTS|
|Waikato||May 2020||TBC||HALO, Levno and DTS|
|Bay of Plenty||Sep 2020||TBC||HALO, Levno and DTS|
|Central Districts||Feb 2021||TBC||HALO, Levno and DTS|
|Taranaki||Apr 2021||TBC||HALO, Levno and DTS|
You can choose your milk vat monitoring solution by letting us know your choice below. Once you’ve made a selection, the system provider will schedule a time convenient for you to install the new system and show you how it works.
We know you’re busy on farm so if you would rather us choose a system for you, give us a quick call at 0800 65 65 68 to let us know. We’ll ask a system provider to contact you and arrange a convenient time to install the base model at no additional cost to you.
1. Why is our Co-op installing milk vat monitoring system?
We’re always looking for the latest system and tools that can help you on farm, and through The Co-operative Difference we are committed to supporting you in producing high-quality milk. To help make farming easier, as well as to improve our Co-op’s milk collection efficiency, we want to work with you to install new milk vat monitoring system.
2. What are the benefits to you?
This milk vat monitoring system will:
3. What are the benefits to our Co-op?
This milk vat monitoring system will:
4. When, how, and what will be installed?
Given the size and scale of our Co-op, we will be installing this new system region by region. You will have access to a few different system providers, depending on the region. We will provide information about these providers and systems available closer to the time when the system is ready to be installed as outlined in the approximate schedule below.
You can choose the type of system that best suits your farm. You can choose a base model (the cost of the system provider’s base model will be covered by your Co-op) and you can add any additional features or extras at your own cost. Once you have confirmed your selection, the chosen system provider will be in touch to organise a convenient time to install the system and provide you and your team with training.
|Otago Southland||Northland||Waikato||Bay of Plenty||Central Districts||Taranaki|
|Oct 2019||Jan 2020||Apr 2020||July 2020||Jan 2021||Mar 2021||May 2021|
5. How much is this going to cost me?
The cost of the system provider’s base model will be covered by your Co-op. If you would like any additional features or extras over and above the base model, you will need to pay for them. We can tell you what those costs might be closer to the time we plan to install in your region.
6. How much is this going to cost / save for our Co-op?
In addition to the benefits on farm including the ability to respond quickly to issues reducing the likelihood of lost milk, grades and demerits, on-going collection efficiencies will result in savings that will fully cover the cost of this new system. There will be an up-front and on-going cost to our Co-op of approximately $6.7 million per annum for the base model. We will be able to improve collection efficiency through schedule accuracy and we’ll save approximately $7.6 million annually in milk collection efficiencies once fully rolled out. This does not include benefits of improved milk quality and flexibility in consistently being able to make products that meet our customers specifications.
7. What milk vat monitoring system providers and systems will be available?
We are currently working to finalise the contracts with several system providers. We will share this information with you as soon as possible. Note that not every system provider will be available in every region but we are planning to have at least a couple of options for each region.
8. What if I already have a monitoring system on my vat?
If you already have a milk vat monitoring system by TagIt or Levno, your provider will contact you in the next month to discuss what, if any, upgrades may be needed and when this will happen. If you have a system by another provider (e.g. Coolsense, DTS(tru-test), My Farmer World and Harvest), we are working with them to understand whether their solutions will be compatible. If the system is not compatible, we will be in touch with you to let you know next steps.
9. Why do current systems need upgrades?
Our Co-op needs a certain level of volume accuracy in order to deliver the collection efficiencies. Many existing systems do not have volume or at the level of accuracy needed. Most existing systems in the market do not monitor agitation. Ensuring continuous agitation is important for milk quality and cooling. Some hardware will need upgrading to measure temperature as well. Our Co-op is also ensuring that every provider offers a minimum service standard including a digital portal to farmers. Hardware upgrades are required on some systems to provide these benefits.
10. What if my farm has connectivity issues?
We will work to understand a farm’s connectivity before installation. The system providers all have systems to help with connectivity, such as connectivity boosting antennas and signal repeaters etc. They will work with you to find the best system for your farm. Any cost of improving the connectivity will be covered by the agreement between the system provider and your Co-op.
11. What if I want a milk vat monitoring system sooner than my region is scheduled for installation? What if I have multiple farms and want a milk vat monitoring system added to all of them at once?
Please let your Area Manager know and we will work to accommodate.
12. When will this milk vat monitoring system be installed by?
To realise the efficiencies and cost savings, our Co-op would like to install this milk vat monitoring system on all supplying farms by the end of July 2021. Please choose a base model as early as possible. If you do not make a selection, a base model will be installed giving you volume, agitation and temperature data.
13. What can I expect to receive as part of the base model?
Generally, you can expect:
14. How will this change what I do on farm?
Where your operations are running as required, the monitoring system should not change any of your day-to-day practices. However, in the event of unforeseen incidents affecting the milk, this milk vat monitoring system will provide you with early warnings. For example, if your milk is not cooling as it should because, for example, someone has forgotten to turn the pre-chiller system on, or there has been a power outage in the shed, you will get an alert.
15. How will this impact my milking time window?
The new milk vat monitoring system will provide more precise information for each farm relating to milking times and volume available for collection. This means you will no longer have to manually update milking time windows as they change throughout the season. Milking time windows will automatically update based on the monthly rolling average start and end times, plus a buffer. We still need you to notify the service team about any significant milking cycle changes (start of season, stop collection, once per day, 16-hour etc). The original purpose of milking time windows – to not have a tanker arrive while milking – remains. Farmers will still be able to request a special non-collection (e.g. school bus, central pivot irrigator).
16. Who owns the data? Who will have access to the data?
The milk vat monitoring data belongs to you. It will be collected by your chosen system provider and we have been careful to ensure that, for the base model, this data can only be used by the system provider to provide the milk vat monitoring services to you and to enable the provider to develop new products and services for farmers related to on-farm monitoring. Any further use of your data by the system provider requires your express consent. Our Co-op will have limited access to data.
17. What data/information will our Co-op get?
Our Co-op will have limited access to data. We will receive the volume and milking time information as well as a Milk Quality Indicator (farms will also receive this). The Milk Quality Indicator is an estimate of the bacterial level in a vat based on the milking time and temperature data. The Milk Quality Indicator is determined by a theoretical model using the volume, agitation, and temperature profile. This Indicator is an estimate, not the actual data. It will support our discussions with our farmers to improve milk vat systems and milk quality where necessary. Our Co-op’s permitted use of the data is outlined in section 4.3 of the Terms of Supply. Any changes would be reflected in future Terms of Supply.
18. How will our Co-op us this data/information?
This Milk Quality Indicator will be used for advisory purposes only between installation and September 2021. We will use the Indicator to support discussions with our farmers with the aim of improving milk vat systems and milk quality where necessary.
Starting September 2021, once all farms have a base model installed and have had time to review the advisory Indicator and make any necessary improvements, our Co-op will likely use the Indicator to inform testing. At first this could lead to more grading and demerits as farmers adjust and improve their systems to meet the Terms of Supply. The Indicator will likely be used to identify low-quality milk and direct it away from high-value product manufacturing. For the highest risk milk, our Co-op may choose to not collect.
Within one month from the date of installation of the new milk vat monitoring system on farm, the milking time windows will be calculated by us by using a rolling monthly average determined by the milk vat monitoring system plus a buffer of approximately 15 minutes. Therefore, the application of milk cooling grades will be based on these more precise milking times. For example, if the tanker arrives to collect the milk and the temperature of the milk (as assessed by the tanker, not the vat sensor) is not at or below 6.0° and the milk vat monitoring system shows it’s been more than six hours since the commencement of milking and/or two hours from the completion of milking, the farm may receive a grade – as per the current Terms of Supply.
19. Will you use the Milk Quality Indicator to determine grades/demerits?
No. Grades/demerits will only be determined after testing – as they are today. From the time of installation until September 2021, this Indicator will be for advisory purposes – essentially information to help you make any necessary system changes. Starting September 2021, this Indicator will help inform testing but the grade/demerits will only be applied based on the testing – as it is today.
20. Will you use the temperature data on the vat to decide milk cooling grades/demerits?
No. The temperature on the tanker at time of collection will continue to inform the current milk cooling grades/demerits.
21. How can the Co-op support me if I need to improve my milk cooling?
Smart Finance is available until 31 March 2020 to support farmers with their milk cooling needs. Improving milk cooling infrastructure can be a significant financial investment and Farm Source has a unique opportunity to help make farming easier and help farmers comply with government requirements. Farmers can contact an approved vendor (Snapchill, Varicool or Tru-Test Milk Cooling) to discuss a solution and get a quote which will include a Farm Source discount. The farmer can then send a Smart Finance application form and quote to their Farm Source store. For more information contact 0800 731 266.
22. What research has been done to support this initiative?
Our Co-op undertook a pilot programme with approximately 80 farms in the Waikato and Canterbury for three months earlier this year. The data and farmer feedback received has been used to help validate our assumptions about the benefits that could be realised. More information about the pilot programme can be found on the Farm Source website.
23. Are the Terms of Supply or MPI’s milk cooling requirements changing?
No, the Terms of Supply and the Ministry for Primary Industries’ milk cooling requirements remain the same as outlined in the Terms of Supply in section 8.1. For more information, also see the Farmer Handbook.
Our Co-op has investigated a range of milk vat monitoring systems available and how this technology could be mutually beneficial to you and our Co-op. Our Co-op undertook a pilot programme in Autumn 2019 with approximately 80 farms in the Waikato and Canterbury for three months. The data and farmer feedback received has been used to help validate our assumptions about the benefits that could be realised.
We asked farmers to have the sensors installed. We also asked farmers who already had sensors to share their data with our Co-op. During the trial, we tested solutions from a range of vendors including some with an established presence in the market. We arranged for a sensor system to be installed on the milk vat(s) free of charge. We analysed the data, assessed the performance of the system and sought feedback from farmers on their experience.
The key findings were that we achieved the level of accuracy required to deliver significant benefit to our Co-op. Farmers also provided overwhelmingly positive feedback about using the system on farm. The trial also allowed us to determine that some solutions would not currently meet our requirements. We are working with these providers on the improvements needed in order to be approved for use by our Co-op.
Adam Wainman – “I have been farming for 34 years and this makes life easier for both workers and relief milkers. Specifically, the notifications when the vat chiller has been left off.”
Peter Hancox – “Makes it easy with cupping on and cooling etc. Definitely would recommend this system to other farmers.”
Stuart Vanderweg– “Loved it! Got the text alerts to say milk was too cold and odd time with chiller wasn’t turned on. Easy install with good communications, hardly noticed them on farm installing. Technology and website are easy to use with good visuals.”
Geoff Stevenson – “Really good system, good for watching temps. The data is very easy to see. I’m not a computer buff but easy enough to access. Good alarm systems for temperature. A lot of learnings in it.”
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