How Trelleborg is helping the dairy industry create a more sustainable future


The world’s population is growing, as is the demand for food, which means there is a pressing need to feed more people with a limited amount of land. For example, if the planet’s 7.6 billion people were to consume as much food as the average person in the United States of America, global demand would exceed the available land. In fact, it would take nearly 4.5 worlds to meet this demand.

But there’s more for sustainable farming to consider than the need to supply all humanity with sufficient, safe food: this also has to be done while making the lowest possible ecological impact. The planet’s limited resources need to be used as efficiently as possible.

The need to meet the world’s growing demand for food is creating a dilemma for dairy farmers: production has to be ramped up, but they also need to do their part to fight climate change. The solution is reliable products that allow farmers to not waste resources, and automation represents an opportunity to do this. The dairy industry is steadily transitioning to a more sustainable and efficient way of working, enabling suppliers to meet the world’s growing demand while also lowering emissions and water use.

Trelleborg and the Blue Dimension

All of this is being done with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in mind. The world’s food industries can make a significant contribution to SDGs 2 (Zero hunger), 12 (Responsible consumption and production), and 13 (Climate action). There are Trelleborg products in many applications around the world that help solve these problems as we join other companies aligned by the same goal – to make food production sustainable on an economic and ecological level.

To accelerate business performance while contributing to sustainability in action, at Trelleborg we incorporate a ‘Blue Dimension’ into our products. For us, Blue Dimension represents the fact that our products go the extra mile to increase resilience, which means protecting the environment, people, and infrastructure and assets. Read on to learn more about some examples of the Blue Dimension in action.

People and cows

Helping farmers ramp up production while maintaining quality

One of Trelleborg’s Blue Dimension success stories is from working with our customers in integrated milking solutions to improve dairy farmers’ production, animal welfare, and overall quality of life. The robots and systems are known for their efficiency and robust, consistent performance, enabling thousands of liters of milk to flow through the systems a day.

As efficient as these machines are, they are also highly sophisticated and complex, with Trelleborg providing farmers with more than 170 different parts for different machines to enable their key applications. This creates a complex situation for machines that process thousands of liters of milk a day – and with no room for error for liquids intended for human consumption.

There must be no errors in the product, since downtimes or contamination can cause a serious loss of yield and, therefore, efficiency. Materials are also subject to strict food approvals regulations to ensure none of the rubber affects the milk in any way.

Our cooperation starts at the teat, where Trelleborg helped our customers to design and create a milk liner that is more efficient than anything else on the market, increasing yields and reducing time required to milk. Trelleborg also makes sure the hoses’ surface and materials are easy to work with for the farmer.

Improving cows’ quality of life

Global players make an undeniable impact on the planet, but decisions made at a local level can make a small difference that adds up. This allows all companies to do right by doing good, and is how we play into a key Trelleborg strength: having a global reach without losing sight of our local presence. One example of such as partnership is how Trelleborg is supporting customers to improve efficiency by improving the cows’ quality of life.

Cows encounter serious problems when their hooves are overburdened and get worn down, which often happens when they spend too much time on concrete. This can add up when the time spent waiting in line, walking, and standing during feeding are all considered. Poor walking behaviors can also result in injuries due to a stressed outside claw – putting the cow’s health at risk.

As well as the health risks, this has a significant effect on productivity: a relaxed cow is 4% to 14% more productive than a stressed one. The results clearly show that farmers who invest in solutions to destress cattle notice higher milk yield and efficiency.

One solution is rubber-coated flooring. In this collaboration, providers of rubber profile-covered slatted floors choose profiles from Trelleborg to improve the quality of life for the cow.

While most farms use concrete flooring, rubber is more hygienic and comfortable while also offering friction to add slip resistance. These advantages are especially pronounced when the cow is standing still. According to studies, cows walk better and behave more naturally on rubber-coated floors and calves experience better growth and fewer injuries.

Viable solutions to create a better planet

As serious as the planet’s challenges are, the good news is that efficiency-improving automation will progress rapidly in the coming years. Change is usually brought about as a result of cost and management of labor, increased cow comfort, and a better lifestyle for farmers and herds. The solutions Trelleborg has helped to provide meet these criteria: they are economic, sustainable, and provide a more productive solution for farms of many different sizes.

The SDGs are ambitious, but at Trelleborg we are coming together with industry partners to make it as easy as possible to find sustainable, economically viable solutions. We develop our own Certified Materials to make sure we have complete control over materials that are critical to these processes. This is what we call Blue DimensionTM