Each year, LIC collects about
11 million milk samples from dairy farms across New Zealand and takes these to
LIC laboratories to be processed and analysed.
Results from this service,
known as a herd test, allow farmers to rank individual cow performance and make
informed decisions around breeding, culling, feed and health treatments.
The new machines automate the
weighing and sampling process at LIC’s herd test laboratories in Hamilton and
Christchurch using a combination of laser light measurement, barcode scanning,
mechanical rotation and syringe liquid transfer.
Brent Wollaston, LIC’s
national herd testing manager, says the machines, which replace a 50-year-old
manual process, represent the future of the industry.
“The conventional weigh
station process was labour intensive and highly repetitive. On a peak day,
staff would be handling up to 90,000 flasks which presented some health and
safety risks such as RSI.
“The manual nature of the
work also resulted in occasional spills and mixing inconsistences. It was an
opportunity ripe for automation.”
The custom designed machines
were developed over the past three years by LIC staff in conjunction with
Intellitech Automation, a New Zealand company specialising in robotic
Wollaston says the machines
showcase “kiwi innovation at its best”.