The Vermland, a Skretting feed delivery vessel, now offers a bulk blowing service for the customers on the west coast and Western Isles of Scotland.
In addition to conventional delivery, the Vermland is able to blow feed from the boat directly into a silo. It is a faster method, is better in bad weather, has fewer risks for people who are delivering and receiving the feed, and there is less contact between boat and farm.
Chartering the Vermland is part of the company's project to optimise the supply chain from Invergordon to the farms, said John Williamson, general manager of Skretting UK.
The Vermland's versatile and maneuverable attributes allow more opportunities for the company to work with customers to further optimise deliveries at specific farms, Williamson said.
In a further move to optimise the supply chain, deliveries to the west of Scotland are now controlled by the Skretting sales order office in Invergordon, giving customers a single point of contact for all delivery enquiries or changes.
There are two links â€“ Haulage contractor Ferguson Transport Ltd takes feed from Invergordon to its store in Kishorn on the west coast and the Vermland collects feed from there for delivery. A computer terminal on board is linked to Invergordon and gives the skipper a view of deliveries in the coming two weeks. This allows the skipper and the sales order team to prepare delivery voyages in advance, enabling more efficient production at the plant with coordinated transport to Kishorn and less feed held in the store, which is linked to the ERP system.
Other optimisation changes include an agreed fixed rate per tonne carried by road, Williamson said.
"At sea, the Vermland is chartered exclusively by us and we supply the marine diesel. That level of control helps to stabilise costs, providing some insulation from volatility, for example in fuel prices."