Sustainable Practices in an Evolving Supply Chain
How do you build a sustainable supply chain that’s constantly evolving? Very carefully. It requires continuous attention, adaptability and a willingness to view processes from many perspectives – the customer’s, distributor’s, transportation partners’ and Novus’s.
Cutting out 50 miles of travel might save Novus on fuel costs, but if that change makes it more expensive for the customer, it’s not sustainable. Novus’s goal is to search for win-win opportunities.
“We consider where our customers’ supply chains are now and where they are going to be in a few years, so we can be prepared to adapt to the changing market,” said Brittany Pham, Logistics Senior Manager at Novus International. “We build a map of the most efficient path for each product to follow, keeping in mind increased supply chain costs and biosecurity concerns as the two key factors that continue to drive change in supply chain management.”
Biosecurity Is at the Forefront for Everyone
When it comes to biosecurity, everyone has their own gauge of what it means and how to handle it. Keeping track of customer protocols and balancing customer requests are critical to success.
“If we plan a delivery to customer A and then customer B, but customer B wants to be the first delivery, then we need to balance those biosecurity requirements because we can't ask a customer to change their protocol,” Pham said. “Our goal is to comply with customer protocols while taking a sensible but sustainable approach that helps ensure the product's safety and security upon arrival.”
Novus has built strong partnerships within the supply chain, including with Bulk Transport Company, the dedicated carrier of ALIMET® for more than 20 years. The drivers work hand-in-hand with the Novus team, documenting specific delivery procedures in a reference manual.
For products sold on pallets like bagged or dry formulations, it’s a much more complex supply chain challenge because they typically deliver via common carrier. This product may change trucks and drivers two or three times before delivery.
“Unfortunately, customers bear the burden of biosecurity in this scenario,” Pham said. “If customers want to control how product is coming onto their property, they’ll likely need to invest in onsite equipment to sanitize trucks and provide drivers on their property with items like boot covers.”
AIMS® – Sustainability at Work Every Day
A sustainable supply chain platform Novus developed is called AIMS® - Automated Inventory Management System. The simplicity of the program has made it easy to set-up, use and see success.
ALIMET, Novus’s liquid HMTBa, is stored in bulk tanks at the customer location. Pressure sensors are installed on the bottom of the tanks. The sensor is connected to a remote telemetry unit that reads individual tank pressure. Once a day, Novus receives a reading from the tank, letting Novus know how much inventory is in the tank. A specified drop in pressure is converted to a usable measurement of pounds of ALIMET used.
“After a few weeks of readings, we can identify usage rates and predict how quickly more product will be needed,” Pham said. “It also helps us identify and alert customers if we see anything out of the ordinary like an equipment malfunction or incorrect formulation.”
Novus’s dedicated fleet drives about 3.3 million miles a year, making about 9,000 ALIMET deliveries to 430 customer tanks in the U.S. and Canada, but not all customers take full truckloads of product. AIMS’ forecast algorithm calculates inventory, and based off historical usage patterns and set parameters, it uses predictive analytics to identify when more product will be needed. AIMS allows Novus to bundle deliveries together to build a full truckload and make more efficient routes.
“Because we don't haul anything but ALIMET in these trucks, you would expect only a 50 percent loaded mile metric because the trucks would be loaded on the way to a customer and empty coming back,” she said. “But with AIMS’ ability to bundle deliveries and identify clusters of customers who need product, we run about 58 percent loaded miles. This equates to about 280,000 fewer miles and 35,750 fewer gallons of diesel fuel each year.”
Cutting down on miles also means less wear and tear on vehicles and less maintenance. Fewer trips to customers also reduces biosecurity risks. All of which help create a cleaner, more sustainable supply chain.
“The ultimate compliment is when our customer says ‘we don't even think about ALIMET because we know you are taking care of it,’” said Pham. “It's one less burden for them to think about every day, and it’s great to know customers appreciate how mindful we are trying to be.”
Biosecurity Tips to Reduce Disease Risk
Limiting disease risk is critical to every swine operation, so biosecurity should be on every employee's mind, every day.
“A biosecurity program looks great on paper, but without proper implementation, it is useless,” said Tamara Loeffler, DVM, Technical Services Manager at Novus International. “Whenever there’s an outbreak, it almost always comes back to a break in biosecurity.”
Dr. Loeffler recommends reviewing biosecurity protocols on a regular basis, not just when there’s a problem. The following are practical biosecurity recommendations every operation should follow to limit risk.
Confinement Best Practices
- Tend to animals in order of health status, from the youngest to the oldest
- Minimize airborne risks by building barns away from public roads with frequent live haul travel
- Swine operations
- Shower in/shower out environment
- Purchase pigs from a single source with a known health status
- Buy semen from a farm with a known biosecurity program
- Quarantine new animals for at least 30 days in an isolated area; test for pseudorabies and brucellosis and monitor for disease
- Limit any non-essential farm traffic
- Limit any business or personal travel with animal contact
- Keep an updated farm visitor log
- Disinfect all farm equipment
- Inform all farm visitors about your biosecurity protocols
- Park at the front of the farm, rather than drive between the houses
- Post signs indicating the property is a biosecure area
- Truck drivers should not leave their trucks, and if they do, they must wear personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Remove dead animals daily and in a proper manner
- If feasible, drive through a car wash system to disinfectant all truck surfaces
- Clear the land of trees to limit wild animals on farm
- When leaving the farm, decontaminate shoes with spray disinfectant and use hand sanitizer
- Always wear PPE, including plastic boots, disposable coveralls, hairnet and gloves; all PPE remains on the farm
- Limit the entrance of rodents, wild animals, free-flying birds and insects into barns
General Biosecurity Best Practices
- Permanently identify pigs with ear tag or tattoo
- Keep health records on sows and pigs including vaccination and reproductive history, illness and treatments
- Collect a sample of dead or aborted animals and submit to a diagnostic laboratory
Educate all farm employees, so they can report anything out of the ordinary. Even if they can't identify a disease, they are responsible to recognize a problem. This also includes reporting suspicious activity of people on the farm.
If a disease outbreak occurs, the first 24 hours are critical in controlling the spread of the disease. Contact your veterinarian immediately, and lockdown the movement of animals and people - both on and off the premises. Whoever is on the farm stays there until the situation has been investigated, animals have been tested and the operation has been cleared by a veterinarian.
For additional resources please see the Pork Checkoff Biosecurity Manual and the National Chicken Council. You can also find information on fighting avian influenza here.
More Bang for Your Buck with MINTREX® for Nursery Piglets
ADG and Growth
Copper is a growth agent for piglets; therefore, it is commonly supplemented to increase average daily gain (ADG) and growth. Inorganic sources of copper have to be fed at higher levels due to low bioavailability. Inorganic copper sources have a propensity for becoming bound to antagonists as well as dicalcium and phosphate in the GI tract. This makes multiple essential feed elements unavailable to a piglet’s small intestine, and the wasted minerals are then excreted. By supplying a highly bioavailable organic form of copper, piglets absorb more elements and ultimately have a higher ADG.
MINTREX Cu is a highly bioavailable organic form of copper and can improve ADG up to 26 percent and feed efficiency up to 11 percent compared to the same level of CuSO4.
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Post Weaning Stress and Morbidity
Post weaning, a piglet’s immune system is weakened and needs additional support in order to fight disease and to gain weight. Five percent of the millions of piglets born each year are affected by diarrhea ending, on average, in 2.3 percent mortality costing the industry up to $100 million annually. Producers supplement copper in order to offset these challenges; however, much of the copper supplemented is not absorbed by the piglet and increases excretion. In order to make up the nutrient loss from poor mineral availability, producers often feel they need to over-supplement, which results in copper binding up other essential nutrients like calcium and phosphorus, causing a nutrient deficiency, oxidation and significant loss in performance due to poor gut health. So how could this scenario change utilizing MINTREX Cu, a proven bioavailable source of copper? MINTREX Cu is recognized as an antimicrobial reagent in nursery pigs leading to better gut health, less scours and reduced mortality.
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Novus Is With You When It Matters!
The Novus International tent was a buzz this year at World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Iowa! Our Knowledge Centers were a huge hit as our technical and sales teams walked customers and attendees through our interactive solution tables discussing, trace mineral, enzyme, organic acid and antioxidant solutions. Customers enjoyed a Novus happy hour on the fair grounds on Wednesday, and Thursday brought the annual Pig Pickin’ to all attendees with special guest Bill Northey, Iowa State Secretary of Agriculture, joining us! Thanks to everyone who came by, we look forward to seeing you next year!
Getting to Know Brittany Pham
What is your official title at Novus?
Logistics Senior Manager, NORAM
How long have you been with Novus?
8 ½ years
In your current role, what is the most interesting thing you do?
Managing resources (20+ vendors, $15M budget) to meet challenges facing Novus and our customers in the North America supply chain.
Which product of Novus’s is your favorite?
What accomplishment or moment in your career are you most proud of?
Not taking the safe route – taking roles outside my area of expertise, particularly in an industry/function that is male-dominated.
What is the oddest or hardest question a customer has ever asked you?
How to handle a mixture of ALIMET and a non-methionine liquid when another supplier inadvertently unloaded into the incorrect tank.
In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge facing the animal agriculture industry today?
From a logistics perspective, managing costs during a time in which multiple variables are making a lean supply chain more challenging (aging drivers, cross-contamination and bio-security concerns, transparency to consumers). These issues are manifesting in multiple ways such as consumer pressure to know where their food products have been and government regulatory action (FSMA).
What would be your first move if you were tasked with helping the industry overcome that challenge?
Identify what is feasible to address at the company level (ex. customized bills of lading) and what must be addressed at the industry level and engage industry groups accordingly.
When you are not promoting Novus products what do you like to do?
Read, swim, and travel (domestically and internationally)
If you could go to dinner with any three people dead or alive, who would you choose?
Abraham Lincoln (I hail from Lincoln, Illinois – the original town christened by Lincoln)
Queen Elizabeth I (She succeeded in a time where women didn’t have opportunity for success)
Emma Watson (She is leading the HeForShe movement to continue the fight for gender equality globally)
If you had to choose only one book for your library, what would it be?
Bossypants, A Game of Thrones, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Poisonwood Bible, The Lord of the Rings, Jane Eyre, Little Women
This is the most painful question I’ve ever answered.
What is your favorite beef/dairy/pork/poultry product to eat?
Cheese: it goes great on just about everything and is also a perfect food by itself.