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Arla dairy combination trailer

Stourton, Leeds, UK: Arla Foods has developed a combination trailer to carry raw milk and finished dairy products.

Arla’s new hybrid trailer, half milk tanker, half refrigerated container, is expected to reduce road miles by collecting raw milk and delivering finished products more efficiently.

Paul Lloyd, vice president of logistics at Arla, says: “Arla’s logistics network is one of the largest in the UK, responsible for over 4,000 daily deliveries to stores and regional distribution centres nationwide.

“The new trailer is just one of many solutions we are delivering to ensure our carbon output and costs are as low as possible.”

In line with the company’s ‘Closer to Nature’ ambitions, which targets a reduction in CO2 emissions by 34% by 2020, the trailer will cut the number of road miles travelled by the company as it enables the collection of milk from farms as well as the delivery of both cages of milk and pallets of other dairy products, he says.

Arla's new trailer operates at 44 tonnes carrying 19,000 litres of raw milk and 85 milk cages (22 pallets)

Arla worked with Crossland Tankers and Gray & Adams to develop the hybrid. Gordon Irvine, Arla’s group fleet director, says; “There were occasions when we were sending out a vehicle full of finished product then later sending out an empty milk tanker to collect milk.”

“They could both travel the same route, but carry a load in the opposite direction. We aren’t the only company faced with this dilemma but we are the first to deliver a solution and put one of the country’s most innovative trailers on the road.”

The exterior view of the trailer is very similar to a standard double deck trailer but standing at 4.4metres, it is 300mm taller than a standard refrigerated trailer. It is 12.2m long by 2.6m wide and has low profile running gear with a lowered step-frame section on the bottom deck to accommodate the milk tank.

It is built to operate at UK maximum weight of 44 tonnes and the milk tank can hold approximately 19,000 litres and the trailer 85 milk cages or 22 pallets.

“Both Crossland Tankers and Gray & Adams are long-established suppliers to Arla Foods,” Irvine says. “We were keen during the development phase to maintain confidentiality and I knew that not only would they deliver a quality product, but we could also trust them to work with us in the strictest confidence.”

The new trailer, two years in the making, it is being tested at Arla’s transport hub in Stourton, Leeds using a new lightweight Scania tractor.  “We apply a detailed three-stage implementation plan to validate its performance,” Irvine says. “The individual farms collected by the trailer will be carefully selected as the trailer is significantly larger than a normal farm collection tanker. It has been a tremendous project to work on, especially in the knowledge that we were breaking new ground.”

Arla intends to increase its fleet by 30 combination trailers by the end of 2013 in the UK and Arla’s Sweden and Denmark logistics functions are also considering the possibility of incorporating combination trailers into their fleets.