DeLaval unveils game-changing rotary
In mid-November, DeLaval rolled out the world’s first robotic rotary milking parlor at EuroTier 2010, Europe’s largest livestock show, held in Hannover, Germany. The Automatic Milking Rotary, or AMR, is a long-anticipated game changer for the global dairy industry.
As DeLaval CEO Joakim Rosengren put it: “No part of the supply chain will be immune to the impact of the AMR.”
• With five robots, the AMR can milk up to 90 cows an hour.
• The system is built for milking herds of 300 cows or more.
• Retrofitting conventional parlors may be possible.
A quick look
The AMR mechanically integrates computerized robotic technologies from the company’s Voluntary Milking System and its conventional rotary. It includes everything from milking prep steps to post-milking teat treatment — all done with robotics and without human labor.
The first AMRs will target herds of more than 300 cows. The basic rotary will be equipped with five robots capable of milking up to 90 cows per hour.
Two robots handle teat preparation while two others attach the milking cups — four cows at a time. The fifth robot handles teat disinfection after milking, using a time-of-flight camera that locates teats in 3-D.
System flexibility is a key design feature. Andrew Turner, DeLaval’s vice president for capital goods, explains that it can, for example, milk a herd of 540 cows three times per day, 800 cows twice per day — or anything in between.
“A customer could also start on a smaller scale, with one robot for teat preparation and one robot for milking cup attachment,” he adds, “and achieve 50 cows per hour.”
Key advantages for all sizes include reduced milking labor costs, and using computer-assisted management to improve overall efficiency.
How it works
Cows enter the platform like a traditional rotary. Identification numbers are electronically read so the robots can access their pre-stored information — including teat placement and automatic uploading of milking data.
At the prep step station, teats are washed, stimulated, dried and prepared for milking.
Next, the rotating platform moves the cows to the teat cup attachment station.
Milk flow rates, total yield, blood and conductivity for each quarter are analyzed as the cows are milked.
The last robot sprays the teats before releasing the cow at the platform’s exit position.
The system comes with an automatic deck flush module — a scraper blade and water jets.
“Platform size will depend on a number of factors, including milk-out time and yield,” adds Turner. He says it’s possible the AMR might be retrofitted to an existing herringbone platform. But each installation would need to be evaluated independently.
DeLaval officials wouldn’t reveal where the initial AMRs will be marketed. But much of the research work was done with support from Australia.
This article published in the January, 2011 edition of AMERICAN AGRICULTURIST.