For more than seven years, the shift toward automation of the rotary parlor in commercial dairies has been progressing. Green Source Automation was founded with the purpose of delivering a fully-automated milking process, combining the efficient high speeds of the rotary parlor with the consistent effectiveness of a commercial robotic solution.
The typical rotary parlor is run with a three-station process covering pre-stimulation, milk cup attachment, and post-milking teat disinfection. These "rotary barns" offer a high-speed alternative to the more traditional herringbone parlors, but still present many opportunities for improvement by increasing their use of automation solutions.
The first station of the milking process that Green Source Automation developed a solution for was the post-milking teat disinfection station. The RotaryMATE EXPD uses patented real-time 3D imaging technology to identify teats and spray the post-milking dips with pin-point accuracy, ensuring excellent teat coverage while maintaining economical chemical usage.
During the development and early implementation of this product, there were many challenges the Green Source Automation team identified and overcame. For example, some challenges related to the various shapes, sizes, and heights of the animals and were addressed with improved software algorithms. Another unexpected challenge was that the rotary parlors struggled to maintain a consistent speed. Green Source solved this by developing drive controls that interact with the various manufacturers' rotary parlors to keep the speed consistent. The result of this development is that in addition to helping the RotaryMATE perform more consistently, the cows now know exactly what to expect for entering and exiting the rotary which keeps them more relaxed and able to have more consistent let-downs.
But the biggest challenge of all in the early phases of launching the RotaryMATE was dairy farmers' somewhat hesitant view of the role of automation in their barn. Introducing automation and standards into the dairy operation brings to light many other areas that can be improved. It took time, but as the dairymen began implementing additional changes, the quality of the dairy operation and ultimately their end-product continued to improve and benefit from the adoption of automation.
Now, with more than 250 Million teats dipped by the RotaryMATE solution, the shift in the mindset of dairymen in general has changed. The conversations we have with farmers on a daily basis are no longer about "if" automation is something they should add to their barns, but it's about "when" they can get it in. They now recognize that automating the rotary parlor milking process is a necessity for the future of their business.
Automation has transformed countless industries from automobile manufacturing to food and drug packaging to bottled water fulfillment to medical research and development. And each time the process began slow and then ramped up quickly throughout the industry as businesses strove to remain competitive. The companies who reaped the greatest benefits were the ones that embraced the inevitable shift at the beginning and kept their businesses producing a high quality product with even greater efficiency and consistency than their slower-adopting or non-adopting competitors.
Dairymen now realize that this shift to rotary parlor automation is no longer simply "coming" but it has now "arrived" in the dairy industry in full force. With the launch of the RotaryMATE EXPS, which automates the pre-stimulation station on the rotary and is built on the same technology as the RotaryMATE EXPD, two out of three milking stations around the rotary parlor are now fully automated.
And with the ongoing shift toward larger herds, more farmers are adding rotary parlors than ever before, which continues to drive the dairy industry toward a fully-automated, high-throughput milking process. Green Source Automation will continue to lead the way.