Training: The importance of keeping pace

SAINT-HYACINTHE – The Institut de technologie agroalimentaire du Québec (ITAQ) is welcoming a brand new milking robot again this fall. Like every year for the past five years, food engineering students benefit from a state-of-the-art tool that provides them with training in step with the rapid evolution of equipment. The milking robot selected for this year’s call for tenders is the DairyRobot R9500, from GEA.

Technological advances being what they are, the ITAQ relies on equipment rental to offer its students training in line with the reality on the ground. “Technology is advancing very quickly,” explains Pascal Giguère, professor at ITAQ and head of the agromechanical engineering technology program. We don’t want to buy equipment that will quickly become obsolete. »

Rental allows the institution to follow the technological evolution step by step. It also has the advantage of giving greater flexibility to the teaching staff. “Having a complete and functional milking robot allows us to exploit it to the fullest and to configure real situations that students will encounter when they enter the job market”, explains Pascal Giguère. “We can generate problems where the students must establish diagnoses and establish the problem-solving process. You can also perform the entire regular maintenance sequence prescribed by the manufacturer, like for a car,” he adds.

On the left in the photo, Pascal Giguère, professor in charge of the agromechanical engineering technology program at ITAQ, during the reception of the milking robot from the GEA company, at the end of September. He is accompanied, in order, by Yves Jacques, technical support specialist at GEA, David Scott, GEA dealer, and Jérôme Voyer, automated milking sales specialist at GEA Canada.

However, the ITAQ cannot reproduce the model for all the equipment needed for its programs. Its limited budgets do not allow it to rent expensive maize planters, sprayers and other threshers, for example. “We have partnerships with the industry, which lends us equipment,” explains the teacher. This type of arrangement, although appreciated, nevertheless limits the pedagogical horizon of teachers, admits Pascal Giguère. “As the technology is lent to us, we cannot play with the components or simulate problems on the machines”, illustrates the pedagogue.

Renting a milking robot makes it possible to circumvent the limit imposed by loaned equipment. “As the robot is a rental machine, it is clearly stated that we will generate problems, that we will undo parts, etc. “, emphasizes Pascal Giguère.

A modern machine

This is the first time that GEA has won the ITAQ tender since the initiative began five years ago. “We took all the small design, mechanical, software and program improvements and integrated them into the 2021 edition of the R9500,” says Jérôme Voyer, automated milking sales specialist at GEA Canada. “Before, we cleaned the outside of the teat liners for a few seconds. We then cleaned the interior up to the good and bad milk decision valves, to finish with the cleaning of the camera and to be ready for the next milking, explains the representative. There, we do all these steps at the same time, with a single sleeve. »

Milking in a single operation would save 26 seconds in stall time per cow.  -Jerome Voyer

Milking in a single operation would save 26 seconds in stall time per cow. – Jerome Voyer

Milking in a single operation would save 26 seconds in box time per cow, argues Jérôme Voyer. Casually, adds the GEA representative, 26 seconds is significant. “We often talk about a presence time in the box of around 6 to 7 minutes per cow. Our technology reduces this presence time by 5%, he says. Ultimately, that means more productivity per machine and a faster return on investment. »

The new ITAQ robot would also allow considerable gains in the management of good and bad milk during milking. “Our robot separates the milk by quarter,” explains Jérôme Voyer. “If a cow is high in somatic cells, has blood in the milk, or has some problem with one teat but not the other three, we can keep the three teats to the good milk and separate the quarter that’s at problem to direct it towards the milk intended for the calves or the drain, without having to throw everything away”, he underlines. Once again, says the representative, the producer gains in return. “We separate about 7 to 8% of the milk on average per year, both in conventional milking and in robotics. With this principle, this loss is reduced to around 3%. All of that is obviously not given. GEA’s DairyRobot R9500 retails for between $250,000 and $280,000, all installed.

Claude Fortin, special collaboration

This article was published in the November 2022 edition of our magazine L’UtiliTerre, to read here.

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