Milking Robot - A Mooving Story

When a leading manufacturer of automated dairy equipment was given the task of designing an automatic milking system for dairy cows, they turned to ERIKS for help.

The Issue

It may sound like a simple, run of the mill application but this is far from the case as ERIKS discovered. To automate the process safely and efficiently, there are many aspects to consider:

  • It is only possible to entice a cow to a milking parlour when she is hungry
  • The cow must feed whilst being milked
  • The cow must be comfortable and safe during the process
  • The udders and teats must be thoroughly washed
  • The milk must be tested to ensure it is bacteria free
  • The cow must exit the machine safely and not return too soon

The solution

By pooling the customers and ERIKS knowledge, the resultant machine operates as follows: 

The machine recognises the individual animal by sensing an electronic ear tag. It then dispenses the correct mix and amount of feed into the feeding bowl to which the cow advances.

Automatic gates then close to keep the cow in place and a laser scanner (or camera) scans the udders and teats so the automatic cleaning system can operate in the correct area.

The milking couplers are then attached to the teats and milking commences. In a separate operation, the milk is tested to ensure it is not contaminated and then pumped to a central tank. Once the feed is finished the couplers disengage, the gates open and the cow walks free.

Cows can yield milk three to five times a day but if the cow tries to get into the machine again too soon after a milking cycle, the machine recognises the cow cannot give milk again so soon (due to the ear tag scanner) and the gates will not open.

This method of milking is substantially increasing milk yield for the dairies already using the technology and the potential is huge.

The Products:

ERIKS provided the engineering and automation know-how, construction and supply of every electro-mechanical rotating/linear actuator on this machine which includes:

  • Camera/laser actuators
  • Water jet cleaning actuators
  • Teat coupler actuators
  • Gate actuators
  • Valve actuators