Milking robot development
For one of our principals, Rotec Engineering has developed a revolutionary milking robot, or voluntary milking system. The objective was a product that would immediately distinguish our principal from the competition. This resulted in a unique idea to milk the cows not from the side but from the back. This approach made it possible to distinguish the product in the area of cow logistics, animal welfare, investment costs and protection of the robot system. The complete development took place in-house in a very short timeframe. The development began in 2009, after which the first prototype was placed at a test farmer in 2010. In September 2011, the milking robot was presented to the public and production at our principal began. Subsequently, Rotec Engineering developed a double box edition, which was placed at a test farmer in 2012 and taken into production in 2013. At this moment, a total of more than 200 milking robots have been produced.
Different point of view, new possibilities
The concept of not milking cows from the side but through the hind legs immediately has offered extra possibilities and advantages in relation to conventional milking robots. Because the milking technique and the robot arm, including the driving mechanics and operation, could be placed behind the cow, there was room for two entry gates and two exit gates for the cow. This has opened the possibility to apply cow selection. Because all technique is united in one closed space, it is not necessary to make any structural adjustments upon installing the robot, which further benefits the investments of the farmer. The cow also has sight on the herd from both sides and is not distracted by the robot arm during milking, because it cannot see it. This results in a very good milk release by the animal and subsequently in higher revenues for the cattle farmer.
For the movements of the robot arm and the control of the entry gates, hydraulics have been chosen. Hydraulics offer a very reliable and robust control in a milking robot. This is an absolute requirement because of the influence of dirt and manure. The system should also be resistant to the potential damage that a five hundred kilogram cow can cause.
Control and human interface
The complete control of the milking robot has been developed in-house as well. You may think of the robot arm, the feeding system, the milking technique, the cleaning of the robot and the milking system, cow recognition and obviously, the human interface, which is the interaction between the system and the user.