Any Info On Milk Tanker Work

Hi All,

New to the forum and this is my first post.

Been in general haulage for years and it’s getting a little long in the tooth.
Been thinking of a change and just recently, a firm near me has advertised for drivers to drive milk tankers on a 4 on 4 off shift pattern.
Not done this sort of work before and was wondering if anyone can shed some light on what it’s all about.
The working pattern is appealing and just wondered if the work is easy enough to pick up and get in to.

Thanks in advance.

It is good work.I enjoyed it.I did large farms in Devon to Ashby for Arla.
The tanker gets cleaned after use with cold and hot water and chemicals to sterilise it.Then a rinse.In a plastic tube on the tanker there is a log book to sign when it is cleaned.
Cream takes hours to unload.
Be careful of the vent taps on top of the tanker.Correct position or the tanker will implode inwards and it is written off.
Do not rely on anyone that says they have done the vent taps.
Check yourself to make sure.
A dairy in London is a real pig to reverse in to.A few bays are worse than the other bays.
Most milk factories/dairies have good canteen food and is very cheap.
The milk sloshes around if you brake hard.Some have baffles.
Take it steady on the roundabouts and icy roads.

Farm collection or depot transport?

Farm collection is domestic hours, and (obviously) lots of rural driving. Do not apply for this job if the smell of dung upsets you or you don’t like rustic characters or are frightened of animals (cows, dogs and farmer’s wives). A bit of ‘housekeeping’ involved as well, because the milk has to be traceable back to the farm it came from.

Depot transport…just like other tanker driving really. The milk tank won’t explode if you smoke near it though, which is a bonus.

Used to run for a company in Dalton just off bottom of A19.

Basic job was collecting either from depots or trans shipping from rigid tankers to deliver in bulk.

Not sure if rules are changed but basically each 24hrs the barrel had to be steam washed inside…every depot I ever went it had this facility so job was easy…basically connect to tip then connect to wash for 20 mins.

Only problem is some of the depots were old and were really more suited to rigid or horse & cart.

Just make sure if vehicle is loaded for you to check the hatches…makes a real mess of the cab if front hatch is not secure and you brake hard…especially if sunroofs open lol.

Apart from that just remember you have a live load…roundabouts, bends and stopping will all start to become new obstacles.

Good luck

Some delivery depots the staff will connect the hoses for druvers and some you do yourself.
A large spanner needed for the taps.
If doing bulk farm collections,the driver checks for contamination in the raw un-pastuerised milk at farms.
By accident the farmer may have got chemicals in the milk when washing his own dairy pipe lines.
Some add water so they get paid more for less.
The driver will have a sample set and test the milk or take a sample back for the laboratory.
All the milk tanker drivers i met were pleasnt and friendly and it is not like general haulage and in a way it is a specialists job.
Nobody will rob the load.Hope you enjoy it.
Bring a book for the Tip washes.It takes time.

Also done it for Arla. Everything above is pretty spot on. Its not too hard to pick up and as they say, making sure the tanker vents are open when loading/discharging is the biggest thing to remember.

If you’re the kind of driver that likes to go racing around and bombing up to things and whacking the brakes on, you may want to think twice about doing it. Nice and smooth is the order of the day as many milk tankers aren’t baffled.

I did 3 years at Milklink Cullompton on ex farm.

It’s not for everyone and I’ve seen many a good driver fail miserably.

We had set rounds so you knew where you were going and you get into a routine. Give it a go but don’t expect a cushy job. It is hard and as others have said, you will smell of cow ■■■■ but you get used to it.

Transhipment (artic tankers) is an absolute doddle though. Pick up trailer, take to dairy, they test a sample, discharge, CIP, then home.

I used to do quite a bit of trans shipment work for Gregorys through an agency down here in Devon. Pretty much as has already been said, the main thing to remember when driving a milk tanker is 28 tons of milk sloshing around in the trailer is a totally different experience from anything else your ever likely to haul, especially as I have never come across a baffled milk tanker. (The baffles would turn the milk to butter on the way to the dairy). Oh and if you ever get a part load its even worse than a full one as the milk has more room to move. All that said take it easy and adapt your driving style to suit the load and you’ll soon get used to it. One plus’s is you can’t handball it :smiley:

Rather than baffled, aren’t some of the tanks multi-compartment?

I used to drive milk reload (trunking in artics) at 38 tonnes years back and then a few years later at 44 tonnes - maybe I’m a smooth driver but I found it actually doesn’t slosh anywhere near as much as it used to. The tanks are still around the same size - 30000 litres or so, if you have 28-29000 litres on your notes then by all means have some respect for the load but don’t expect it to move much as the tank is near capacity and there isn’t much room for it to move. In the old days at 24000 ish litres though - look out! Don’t know about baffles, you don’t necessarily know when you have them now as often there is no access to tank top to look in (elfin safety) but in the old days you’d get quite a few twin-pot milk tanks which IIRC where worse when braking than single potters. If farm collection work it varies how full you are through the day (obviously :astonished:) so they can still swill about lots - and it is genuinely surprising how violent it can be until you get used to it!

Good advice above from Toby on venting tanks ^ ! I’ll add that with venting:

  • make sure you know what you’re doing, if in doubt it used to be pretty foolproof to open a top hatch and leave it sitting on a latch (open an inch or so) but with h&s lots of tanks now have no access ladders and often no top hatch (and no don’t open the one on the side!!!).

-Tanks usually now have air valves for vents and CIP (washing) lines but after five+ years some of the labelling wears off so don’t just guess - better to ask someone.

-And close vents before leaving the yard with a full tank too, as milk ■■■■■■■ out over the road doesn’t go down well with plod.

-On some tanks there are taps on the cip pipework coming down from the top of the tank which need closing to travel/opening to unload/wash: tap handles in line with the pipe means open, at right angle is closed.

Washing as very important as someone above mentioned - always check the wash book before you leave with a full trailer (the book is kept with the trailer, usually in a plastic tube in the outlet locker or in a metal box by the sideguard) and if it hasn’t been washed in the last twenty four hours make sure someone in charge knows about it before you leave! Similarly always make sure you fill in the book when you wash the trailer.

Last tip from me - if samples are required from a dedicated sample tap always run a bit out before taking the sample (in case there’s dirty old stuff in the sample line which could get the load refused), and during the wash cycle leave the sample tap open so it gets a run through of all the wash process. :slight_smile:.

Oh and if you’re talking reload/trunking not farm collection, then never assume it’s just a day job, if a processing site goes on stop for unforseen reasons they need to get the product pasteurised within so many hours from the farm so it’s either a case of getting checked in and WAITING (this can mean 24 hours plus) or being diverted to somewhere else (possibly bloody miles away) where they CAN take the product, possibly en masse with a bunch of other untipped artic loads. Westbury Dairies is a prime example of this kind of debacle, great when the going’s good, AWFUL when it’s not. :slight_smile:

In general though, the milk trunking is good, clean, easy work. Go for it! Milk farm collection, same applies, but not so clean :slight_smile:

as above, does a full bottle of coke slosh? not really!! i generally found 1/3 to 2/3 full to be the worst as you’ve got enough weight and room for it to move.

try not to be daunted by it, just trace where the pipes go and what the valves do etc and it’s quite simple once you get your head round it, but it can look more complicated than it is to start with.

Did anyone work out of Oldford Staplemead creamery near Frome.
It has changed names many times over the years.
MMB Milk marketing board.
Mind the farmers dogs that may be off their leads and free range children running around the farm.
Farmers do not like throwing things away.
They hoard old machinery and spikes hidden where you want to turn and pop the truck tyres.
They get lonely so allow a good hour to hear the sob story of having a bad year.
Some hand gel to sterilise the hands prior to eating the sarnies.
And a few pairs of good quality rubber gloves with long sleeves and a boiler suit or change of clothes.You can not get nicked for no internal or ratchet straps on the load.!!

Just take it steady. Don’t want to end up with a big creamy mess…

CIP stands for, I think, cleaning in place. i.e. cleaning the tank at the location at which you tipped

Make sure you know the volume of the tank. i.e. if you fill it to the brim, it may be over weight.

I assumed the unit was 7 ton, the trailer was 7 ton so the load was 30 ton

I worked for Willis in Gresford, Chester. Nice people.

and Lloyd Fraser in Marchwiel

liberate your own set of spanners

check tank vent is open when you tip

personally, I found un-known farm collections in dark conditions difficult to manage.

A farm collection near Tiverton,the slope gets icy and tricky in the wet so the tractor has to pull you up.Used to swap trailers there.
If you miss the sharp right turn you get stuck in the small village and have to be towed or craned out.
Baileys agency and Skills direct do Arla in Frome on agency work.

Thankyou for your replies.
I appreciate everyone who took the time to share their knowledge and experience.
I have found out that it is Class One work for Wincanton.
Not sure if it’s farms, depots or indeed both.
I have to say going to a farm in the dark sounds a little daunting.
I suppose it’s something you get used to.
Thanks again for your relies and advice.
Will keep you posted.

Rather than baffled, aren’t some of the tanks multi-compartment?

Two or three at the most. That’s what I mostly pulled. When you pull up at a junction, the cab is still rocking just quicker and a little less severe.

Remember when the Yorkshire Water water hauling was going on?

There were drivers who had never pulled tankers getting to grips with barrels that were 2/3 full of water.

I seem to remember that they had to ban EPS Mercs from the work, because the water sloshing back & forth made the gearbox change up and down, which made the water slosh back and forth even more…

Thankyou for your replies.
I appreciate everyone who took the time to share their knowledge and experience.
I have found out that it is Class One work for Wincanton.
Not sure if it’s farms, depots or indeed both.
I have to say going to a farm in the dark sounds a little daunting.
I suppose it’s something you get used to.
Thanks again for your relies and advice.
Will keep you posted.

Don’t just rely on a sat nav to find your way around when you start.

Do get the big Philips Navigator road atlas, it names individual farms and shows the access roads to them.

You could consider getting the OS maps on-line too.

Given the size of modern farm machines, most farmyards themselves are much easier to access than they used to be. The lanes in between are still difficult sometimes, but don’t forget the first rule of rural driving…a milk tanker has priority over everything!

Somebody mentioned spanners,don’t forget to get a “reducer” too,thats a coupling that reduces the size of the fitting on the end of the discharge pipe from 3" down to 2 and a half then to 2".The firm should supply one,not all dairies have them,also the advice about plant breakdowns is spot on,always carry night out gear,as said above easy clean job,good luck