Driving from strength to strength
There are many different sectors within the haulage industry, but all have a common goal;delivering products on time.
This is especially essential in the bulk milk transportation sector, an area that time constraints are of a great focus.
There are many bulk milk hauliers throughout the 32 counties as dairy farming plays a massive role in industry on the island of Ireland.
For the past 27 years, Stronge Haulage Ltd have been providing an efficient and reliable service to the many farmers and co-ops in their area.
From their base in Castlederg, Co Tyrone, this haulage firm covers two creameries and their surrounding areas. One in Coleraine and the other in Ballaghaderreen in Co Roscommon.
Operating a fleet of nine trucks, Stronge Haulage Ltd collect milk in seven different counties, such is the vast area that they cover.
With seven trucks operating on a daily basis and two at night, this is very much a 24hr service and they experienced they have gained over the years has stood to them.
“We have a good team here. It is very much a family run business as my wife Maureen and sister Eve look after the administration side of the business, while our sons Keith and Jason also work in the business.
“The likes of Harry Scott has been with the company since almost the start and the rest of the drivers are very experienced and I'm delighted to have them with me,”said Cecil.
The business has been built up over the years and the fleet is upgraded every few years as Cecil opts to use MAN, Renault and Volvo trucks.
“We would keep the fleet well maintained, but would also upgrade as often as we can. Obviously, the trailers are owned by the co-ops so that keeps down some of the overheads for us.”
Speaking of overheads, Cecil revealed that it was important to shop around when it came to buying the likes of diesel and insurance.
“We would buy our diesel from a number of places, depending on how much a litre it is. You have to shop around. Our diesel bill could be in the region of ￡37k a month and saving a few pence on a litre makes a big difference when you are buying so much.
“Our insurance was up a few hundred from last year and it is an area that we would like to make more of a saving, but there is not much you can do about it.”
Through their many years of business, the team at Stronge Haulage Ltd have built up a great rapport with not only the farmers, they collect from, but the two creameries as well.
“We would have a great relationship with anyone we are dealing with. The drivers are familiar with the farmers and vice versa, while the guys in the co-ops in Ballaghaderreen and Coleraine would have a great relationship with all our drivers.”
Over the years, the collecting of bulk milk has changed considerably and Cecil stressed that it was essential that they moved with the times also.
“These days, it is a lot more computerised and everything detail has to be recorded. The drivers are well trained and they ensure that everything is done correctly.
“We collect milk from farms in Derry, Coleraine, Limavady, Newtownstewart, Castlederg, Fintona and Dromore to name just a few of the locations that we would cover.
“The milk collected is used for a wide variety of dairy products. We would also do a secondary transport run for Lackpatrick to Virginia, Co Cavan and Lakeland Dairies in Killeshandra. Cream is collected in a number of places on the return journey.”
The collection of bulk milk is a complex process that where when milk is collected by the tanker, it must be possible to drive all the way to the farm milk room. The loading hose from the tanker is connected to the outlet valve on the farm cooling tank. The tanker is usually fitted with a flow meter and pump so that the volume is automatically recorded.
Otherwise, the volume is measured by recording the level difference which, for the size of the tank in question, represents a certain volume.
In many cases, the tanker is equipped with an air-eliminator. Pumping is stopped as soon as the cooling tank has been emptied. This prevents air from being mixed into the milk. The tank of the bulk collection vehicle is divided into a number of compartments to prevent the milk from sloshing around during transportation.
“It used to be a case of that it would take a lot of manoeuvring to get in and out of farm yards, but the majority of farmyards these days are more user friendly and it is easier to get in and out of them.”
Cecil is pleased with how the business is going at the moment. “The haulage industry is a tough sector to be involved in, but we have picked up a lot of experience over the years and I do feel that stands to us. We also have a reliable work force and without them we wouldn't be able to provide the level of service that our customers are used too.”
Stronge Haulage Ltd
79 Strabane Road
2017, Vol 20 No 5