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Date: 03/10/2017

Testing times give a valuable return

Mike and Esmerelda Duffin like to keep up with technology. So when Tru-Test came knocking, informing them they’d been selected, via My Farm, to trial their new Vat Manager Auto, they happily said yes.

“It sounded like a good product. Dairying is going into the future and we see we can't stay behind. We look to be proactive in upgrading our systems to make the most of new technology,” Mike explains.

Esmerelda adds “We also wanted to keep track of how much milk was going into the vat. As well as have the peace of mind that the refrigeration actually does turn on when it needs to turn on, and that’s what the Vat Manager Auto is designed to do.”

“We like that we can monitor this as well. We don't have to be on farm. So, it's just that double peace of mind,” Mike rounds off.


“If you’ve got an early warning system and an early detection system, then it’s a really big benefit. It saves you money and time at the end of the day.”


Mike and Esmerelda Duffin with their milk saving Vat Manager Auto.

Benefits of monitoring keep adding up

Since the Vat Manager Auto has been installed they have experienced a number of benefits.

“It alerts you if there is a power failure or it alerts you if the refrigeration has failed to turn on for any reason. It sends you a text. To make sure that we know how much milk is in the vat, it also gives us apercentage of the milk that is in the vat. That’s a benefit if we want to know before pick-up or if we want to report to Head Office to say that we've got say 10,000 litres in the vat.

When the tanker picks up, it alerts you that the refrigeration is turned off as well. If there is any tampering with the vat, it also alerts you that the vat is open or there is someone there taking milk.”

It has also saved their milk on a number of occasions.

“We had a power failure and weren't on farm. Following the alert, we were able to find out there’d been an accident, so the power was just cut off, meaning we didn’t need to get a technician out. We've also had an incident where the refrigeration unit failed. The Auto alerted us and we were able to get a technician from Tru-Test out to repair it without any loss of milk.”

Before, they wouldn't have realised they had an issue until it was likely too late.

“It’s so easy for someone to miss that the milk temperature has gone up for some reason. Now we get an early warning so we can get on top of it really fast and really early” says Esmerelda.

“For example, it monitors the milk inlet that's going into the vat. One milking it alerted that the milk was going into the vat a little hot. It turned out the tap for the plate cooler had accidentally been turned off. We could see we had an issue, trace the source and fix it, before it affected the milk,” Mike recounts.

Esmerelda continues “If we didn’t pick that up we would have had to dump that whole vat. At approximately 15,000 litres per day and around 1,500kgs of milk solids, if you times that by the current milk price, that would be a significant amount of money lost. So in actual fact, I think the system pays for itself really quickly because you are combating even just one lost pick up.”

Monitoring for compliance

They have found that it also helps with compliance.

“The Auto sends an alert if the milk’s not cooling fast enough to the regulations and Fonterra’s standards. We know we’re compliant as we’ve never received a message.”

She concludes, “the more information you have, the better for decision-making on farm. If you’ve got an early warning system and an early detection system, then it’s just a really big benefit.

It saves you money and time at the end of the day.”

*Vat Manager Auto trials are continuing. Tru-Test looks forward to making it available for sale soon and can be pre-ordered.

Mike and Esmerelda can review milk cooling performance data and receive phone alerts wherever they are on or off farm.