A transport manager on top of his game


 Arrabawn Co-op is a large diversified co-operative society.)

A transport manager on top of his game

As transport manager with Arrabawn Co-op in Kilconnell, County Galway, Paul O Ceallaigh oversees a vast fleet of 80+ units. We met up with Paul to discuss his meticulous, progressive approach to providing a coordinated, efficient and cost-effective vehicle and personnel management solution.

Currently briefed with looking after Arrabawn Co-op’s striking, hard-working, predominantly-green-and-white fleet, Paul O Ceallaigh has forged a reputation for himself as one of Ireland’s top transport managers. He joined Arrabawn in September, 2013 and took up his current position last January, having previously operated as compliance manager with responsibility for testing, tachographs etc.

After finishing college in 2001, Paul worked for Iggy Madden Transport and also spent five years as a tester with the RSA up until December, 2011. He also had three of his own trucks on the road between ’05 and ’09, so he has had a varied and eventful career to date and has experienced transport from all sides of the equation.

Headquartered in Nenagh, County Tipperary, Arrabawn Co-op is a large diversified co-operative society which generated an annual turnover of €213m in 2014. The Group is comprised of a retail trading division and animal feed division as well as manufacturing divisions with facilities for both liquid milk and dairy ingredients.

The Arrabawn Co-operative society was founded following a merger of Nenagh Co-op and Mid West Farmer’s Co-op in 2001 and produces a wide array of products which include dairy consumer products such as milk, butter, cream; dairy ingredients such as casein, skim milk powder, whole milk powder, whey; and animal feeds products.

Dan O’Connor Feeds was a notable addition to the Animal Feeds Division in 1990. In 2004, a state-of-the-art milk production facility was purpose built in Kilconnell, Galway. The feeds portfolio was further increased in 2006 with the purchase of Greenvale Animal Feeds. In 2010, Arrabawn Co-op purchased Dawn Dairies in Galway and integrated the business into the milk processing facility at Kilconnell.

“At the moment, the Group runs a fleet of 41 trucks as well as ten refrigerated trailers, 26 milk tankers and 15 bulk tippers,” says Paul, who looks after and coordinates the 18 loads per day that ship out of Arrabawn Dairies, which represents the liquid milk manufacturing and sales distribution fleet based out of Kilconnell, supplying all the major supermarket groups, convenience stores and independents in the region.

“The first five artics leave every morning between 3am and 4am, three of them delivering to Aldi stores in the Cork / Kerry region. We also look after Clare, Limerick, Galway, Mayo and Roscommon, delivering to a total of 52 Aldi stores as well as the Aldi RDCs (Regional Distribution Centres) in Mitchelstown and Naas.
“When the trucks come back in at around 5pm or 6pm, a second driver sits in and they drive directly to our own depots with milk and smaller trucks in turn deliver that milk from those depots.”

The milk is drawn in to Arrabawn by contracted hauliers using the company’s own tankers. “The 18 loads that go out of here every day are all finished, packed product,” Paul confirms. “We are a one-stop shop for finished milk. It comes in here directly from the farm and can be processed at 30,000 litres per hour.”
Over one million litres of finished milk is produced per week (57 million litres in 2014) and this goes to Musgraves or Aldi or else is branded as the company’s own Arrabawn Milk.

As transport manager, Paul is responsible for all aspects of the fleet – which also includes 17 company cars – and the driving staff – 65 full-time drivers plus five contracted drivers who provide holiday and sickness cover. “We have two trucks plus two trailers with Dan O’Connor Feeds. Nine different hauliers pull our other nine trailers there.”

Paul is based in Kilconnell five days a week and is on call 24/7. He oversees all vehicle testing, checking and maintenance and does a run himself every month to see if there are any issues that can be picked up or things that can be improved upon. “There’s a lot of value in that and I would encourage other transport managers to go out into the field occasionally if the can find the time. I make a habit of it. I learned all the routes before I took over the job, spending a couple of months driving and getting to know the people in the shops that our drivers will be dealing with.”

In terms of maximising the efficiency of the fleet, Paul adds: “We hold regular management meetings and I put transport packs together including a fuel consumption report, idling time report, tachograph compliance, etc.”

Five 152-reg lorries joined the fleet in July: two Scania R450 Streamline Highlines from Cawley Commericals, a Volvo 460 Globetrotter from Irish Commercials, a Renault T460 from Shaw Commercials and a MAN TGX480 from Athenry Truck Galway, for covering urban routes in Galway city. “There are a lot of advantages to these upgrades,” he says. “The cost of maintenance and fuel consumption is greatly reduced and you are also boosting the company profile by having new trucks out on the road advertising the name.

“We have good trucks and very good drivers, who are thoroughly professional and take great pride in their vehicles. When you introduce new vehicles, it increases morale and you know the men will look after them.” 
Arrabawn Co-op operates through four distinct divisions, each of which is focused on ensuring commitment to the highest standards of quality, efficiency, competitiveness and customer satisfaction.

Arrabawn Dairy Ingredients is based in Nenagh. Working with freshly-assembled milk, the division offers a comprehensive portfolio of high-quality functional food ingredients with proteins, milk powders and dairy fats.

The Animal Feeds division has two manufacturing facilities: Greenvale Animal Feeds, Thurles and Dan O’Connor Feeds, Limerick. Working to support milk suppliers and other producers, the division focuses on providing quality nutritional information and high performance products.

Arrabawn Retail Trading Stores provides a strong network of agri / hardware retail outlets with a strong focus on delivering quality customer relations and ensuring consistent customer service. Operating thirteen branches the retail outlets are centred around north Munster/ Mid West regions.

Arrabawn Dairies is responsible for the production, distribution and marketing of the Arrabawn fresh brand and agency brands in the Mid West region of Ireland and is also charged with the development of new brands to meet the constantly-changing needs of the consumer.

Arrabawn Dairies has its head offices strategically located in Kilconnell, just 6km outside Ballinasloe in County Galway. The site comprises a state-of-the-art milk processing plant in addition to a distribution facility and also hosts the administration offices for the liquid milk division. Meanwhile, regional distribution depots are located in Galway, Athlone, Mayo and Nenagh from which dedicated sales personnel and agents operate.

From these key locations, produce is distributed all over the Mid West, including counties Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Westmeath, Tipperary, Laois, Limerick and Clare. Some 120 staff are employed in this division alone and up to 95% of all raw material is locally sourced, ensuring a significant contribution to the local economy.

Regarding the challenges of his demanding role as transport manager, Paul O Ceallaigh says he wouldn’t have it any other way: “Running this fleet is tight and it does present challenges but that’s what makes it what it is and why I’m in this job,” he concludes. “This is my calling. My father and uncles were in transport. It’s like a bug; when it gets into your veins, it’s difficult to get it out. This is what I know and what I enjoy and I can’t see myself doing anything else.”

Arrabawn Co-op,
Stafford Street, 
County Tipperary
Tel: 067 41800

Taken from Irish Trucker & Light Commercials magazine, Vol 18 No 8, October 2015