John Donnelly knows all too well how preventative maintenance is a dairy farmer’s first line of defense against breakdowns and lost time.
As the Service Manager for all of our DeLaval Dairy Service locations in New York, John has helped dozens of VMS™ operators develop InService plans. We asked him to shed some light on these service agreements and tell us how they can add value to a dairy producer’s operation.
Q: Why is preventative maintenance important?
A: Preventative maintenance is one of the most important things for a dairy. A maintenance program provides a bit of insurance against untimely breakdowns. Properly maintained equipment dramatically reduces the risks of an emergency call. A scheduled service program assures the dairy that trained technicians will service the equipment well and at the appropriate interval. In my experience, dairy producers often see me as a vital part of their team.
Q: What is the biggest operational cost for a VMS operator?
A: Emergency service and downtime contribute to the largest operational costs for a VMS operator. Of all the equipment that we service, a proper maintenance program for VMS is probably the most important. An emergency breakdown on a VMS means cows cannot be milked; this is lost production. Once you lose time, you cannot make it up as you can in a conventional milking system.
Q: What is the payback on scheduled service?
A: Generally, labor rates are cheaper for scheduled maintenance as compared to an after-hour’s emergency call. Properly functioning equipment is more efficient to operate and will offer better performance that will lead to healthier animals.
Q: How does preventative maintenance affect milk quality?
A: Properly maintained equipment directly affects the health of the animals. If the equipment is performing below specifications, cows are at higher risk of developing mastitis and elevated somatic cell counts. Both of these directly affect milk quality. When an animal gets sick, she often receives antibiotics, which can potentially create a food safety issue. Certain measures are in place to prevent this, but the risk is there. Poor milk quality has a direct effect on the product that we purchase and consume daily. Effective milk quality management is about having the right tools and programs in place.