Managing Complexities of Supply Chain Costs and Logistics

During the pandemic, dairy plants focused on maintaining operations and their workforce despite numerous drastic disruptions.

However, the challenges in supply chain costs and logistics brought on by the pandemic continue to varying degrees. The main difference today is that instead of dairy companies lingering in survival mode, more and more are increasingly interested in prioritizing projects to optimize and streamline operations related to efficiently managing a supply chain.

What is driving this growing interest? A desire to gain visibility to the data needed to make quick and informed decisions based on the changing dynamics of the dairy supply chain. Ultimately, dairy companies are discovering that they need to digitize their data to gain this visibility.

Fortunately, technological advances provide several options for companies to adopt solutions to digitize the data captured at any point throughout the supply chain network.

From a supply chain logistics perspective, there is a significant movement to digital documentation in farm-to-plant milk movements. Companies are finding that once they make that conversion, they can extract data quickly, efficiently, and accurately.

Additionally, capturing the data can reduce costs in driver overtime, minimize supply chain inefficiencies, and improve traceability from product movements anywhere in the supply chain network.

A recent Harvard Business Review report finds that only 8% of companies have achieved digital maturity across key components of supply chain operations such as logistics, demand planning, and supplier risk management.

Digitizing Data

To reach this point, mobile applications are essential in the immediate digitization of data. For example, data from each load of milk is captured during farm stops, including load weight, milk sample ID, time of pickup and location. The data stays connected with the load as it is transported to the plant. Many companies choose this step as the first in the digital transformation journey as it initializes the digitization of data to effortlessly flow from the farm, to through transport, and finally to where loads are received and scanned at the plant.

Digitizing logistical data at the farm level doesn’t have to be the first step. Going paperless and digitizing data can begin at the dairy plant too. At this point, the data is instantly digitized by uploading spreadsheet documents into a digital solution, securing the accuracy and availability to all key people working at the plant.

Even going one step further, some companies have found that 70% of paperwork at a dairy plant can be automated through using digital recorders and sensors on the production floor – completely bypassing the spreadsheets. A distinctive advantage here is the efficiency and production gains that come from having accessible digitized data to all people on the production line.

Getting Started

Ask any AgTech industry specialist, and they will tell you that getting rid of paper anywhere in supply chain operations is an excellent starting point for digital transformation. Once the data is digitized, an operating system is empowered to reveal where problems exist quickly. From there, a plant can troubleshoot and fix issues before they become major problems.

One Dairy Plant’s Digital Journey to Going Paperless:
Valley Queen Streamlines Processes with In-Plant Digitization

Valley Queen’s in-plant data digitization began with the initiative to provide more information for their team members. Implementing a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) allowed them to capture all the data generated from the plant floor to their ERP system. By the end of the training, team members were excited to see the amount of information available to them. Before implementation, they had a lot of isolated or hard-to-reach data that only a few people could access or had the knowledge to mine the data to troubleshoot. Today, the data availability has completely streamlined all the processes at Valley Queen.

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