The first place to start on any equipment purchase decision is what you would like the equipment to do. In the purchase decision of milking equipment that decision has often been decided by how many cows it can milk on a daily basis. With the advent of robotic milking equipment the criteria of how many cows it can milk is taking on an entirely new meaning. Obviously robots have an ability to harvest milk, from cows, with very little human interaction. The question now has become how much of the human interaction can be replaced and how many cows can then be milked per human operator.
Robots are simply a means of mechanical advantage, just like a longer lever helped early pioneers remove a stump many times their weight, a robot allows one person the ability to milk many more cows with no more and sometimes even less labor than is currently being used.
But back to the original question, what do you want the robot to do? If simply milking more cows with less labor is the goal, fully exploring parlor/cow handling mechanization opportunities may be all that is needed. If elimination of people is the goal then machines doing the job is always an option. If eliminating irregularities while providing an environment free from distraction is the goal, then locating robots as close to the cow as possible and eliminating the variability of people in the cows environment should be part of the practice.
Robots and their usage in milk harvest, open opportunities that until now didn’t exist. The key to implementation of such dramatic change is to use the advantage to its fullest extent; this often means not just replacing the task but rethinking the entire process.
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