24-hour operation, fluctuating temperatures and air containing ammonia - the cowshed conditions with which technical components of automatic milking systems also have to cope are not easy. In order to be able to rely on safe function, the GEA company relies on harnessed energy supply solutions from igus for its products.
Starting, cleaning, stimulating, pre-milking, milking - these are the individual steps that the MIone, an automatic milking system from GEA Farm Technologies GmbH, carries out independently as soon as an animal lines up at the box. GEA, the company behind the system, is a global mechanical engineering group that employs 18,000 people worldwide. Around 2,400 of these are in the area of 'Dairy Farming', i.e. milking technology. "It's fair to say that around a quarter of the world's milk is processed with GEA equipment," explains Thomas Troppmann, Functional Module Engineer at GEA. This comprises the complete range of milking systems - including automatic milking systems and milking technology - products for cooling and storing milk, automatic feeding systems, barn equipment and manure technology.
In the field of automatic milking systems, in addition to the MIone multi-box system, which has been in series production for six years and is suitable for herd sizes from around 70 animals, GEA also offers a mono-box for smaller farms or the DairyProQ milking carousel for herds from 400 animals upwards. The special thing about the MIone is that the cows themselves decide when they should go for milking. The animals simply line up at the free box, which is detected by the system and the automatic process is initiated. A robot arm is extended and the individual teat cups at the end of the arm are placed on the udder teats one by one with pinpoint accuracy. The system works quietly while the animal is busy eating. After the entire milking process is completed, the teat cups detach from the udder, are cleaned and prepared for the next cow. "The challenge for our systems is the 24-hour operation and the wide variety of conditions that can prevail in the barn," explains Thomas Troppmann from GEA. "These are, for example, fluctuating temperatures from 0°C to 40°C, usually high humidity as well as air that often contains ammonia. " This also means a big challenge for all components at MIone.
24-hour operation, fluctuating temperatures and air containing ammonia - the cowshed conditions with which technical components of automatic milking systems also have to cope are not easy.
The challenges for the systems are not only the 24-hour operation, but also the different conditions that can prevail in the barn. Fluctuating temperatures from 0°C to 40°C and usually high humidity occur here.
The energy supply to the robot arm is implemented with plastic energy chains and cables from igus GmbH, for which these conditions do not present any great difficulties. Two energy chains filled with igus chainflex cables that are specifically developed for motion are used in this application. A chain of the E2/000 series each on the horizontal and the vertical axis. Components from igus have been used here since the start of production. For some years now, GEA has also been purchasing them as completely pre-assembled 'readychains' from igus. "To enable savings in the procurement process, we have now opted for the ready-made systems, for whose durability igus is responsible," explains Thomas Troppmann. "In addition, we also received important tips and information on the operational safety of the energy chain systems. " This mainly concerns the correct strain relief and the interior separation in the chain, so that all cables are laid gently and separated safely from each other. The issue of weight distribution is also crucial for a long service life of the systems.
The dynamics are relatively low in the application of the MIone, which is important so as not to injure the animals. Due to the protected installation of the energy chains in GEA's plants, damage caused by external influences can be virtually ruled out. However, operational reliability and high availability are all the more crucial. "Our machines have to function all round the clock and unscheduled failures have to be avoided at all costs", explains Thomas Troppmann. "When we worked with igus to design the cables for the application, we extrapolated the cycles for ten years in order to determine the requirements. " Stephan Adamik, the Technical Sales Consultant at igus, adds: "Since we manufacture both the energy chains and cables and supply them from a single source, we are able to optimally match them to each other. So our customers can trust in this security. "
Good service and fast availability
Many other companies also make use of the readychain service and rely on the system solutions from igus. At the Cologne factory, 165 employees work in three shifts on the harnessing of readychains alone. On average, they produce around 10,000 harnessed and tested cables per week. In order to cover all requirements, igus stocks 4,800 connector components, which can be configured to a five-digit number of options. "A big plus point at igus is the short delivery time," concludes Troppmann. "You usually need the required products as early as yesterday - which is possible at igus. We also hear very little from our production and quality management, which is always a good sign. " GEA's design engineers are happy to make use of the advantage of a complete solution - a principle that also applies to their own 'cow-related' products.
In order to be able to rely on safe function, the GEA company relies on harnessed energy supply solutions from igus for its products. The energy supply to the robot arm is implemented with plastic energy chains and cables from igus, for which these conditions do not present any great difficulties.
Two energy chains filled with chainflex cables are used in this application. One chain of Series E2/000 on the horizontal and one on the vertical axis.
For some years now, GEA has been purchasing the chains as completely pre-assembled readychain systems in order to achieve savings in the procurement process.
igus is responsible for the durability of the finished systems. In addition, there were important tips and information on the operational safety of the energy chain systems. The topics of strain relief, interior separation and weight distribution are decisive for a long service life. Since we supply both energy chains and ready cables from a single source, we are able to match them perfectly.
"A big plus point at igus is the short delivery time," concludes Troppmann. "You usually need the required products as early as yesterday - which is possible at igus. We also hear very little from our production and quality management, which is always a good sign. “