“Automatic arms may be more popular than box milking robots in five to ten years’ time”, says Ypma. “In New Zealand, Australia and Ireland farmers are accustomed to combining conventional milking with outdoor grazing. Due to the often long distances between pastures and stable, automatic milking in boxes is not ideal there. We believe in a broad global application of (semi) automatic robot arms in conventional milking parlours and commit to this.” Recently the first DairyProQ was installed in Germany in a 40 stands external milker which rotates 24 hours per day.
Schlenter of SAC certainly sees possibilities for their industrial robot arm in conventional stables. “China already has farms with 60,000 cows, but also many farms with more than 1,000 cows. Box milking robots are too expensive and not very practical with numbers like these. This offers opportunities for robot arms, enabling lighter work for employees in large carousel parlours.” SAC will remain very active in its quest for practical solutions to milk cows with a milking robot in the field.
Name: René Meyer Johannsen (45)
‘The robot will come to the cow’
SAC foresees that robotisation of milking will progress strongly in Europe. In other regions this will happen to a limited extent.
Danish milking machine manufacturer SA Christensen & co, SAC was founded 75 years ago. It makes an annual profit of €700,000 out of a €40 million turnover. CEO René Meyer Johannsen is optimistic about the future, especially as the demand from China is gaining ground and SAC plays a very strong role in that market.
How will cows be milked around the year 2025?
“Robotisation continues. Technology will gain in reliability and speed; in addition, costs to purchase and maintain will halve over the coming
decade. In north west Europe half of the cattle will be milked robotically by then. I foresee robots will eventually come to the cow, milking cows in the stable or field. This requires a lot of investigation, especially
concerning safety and high-quality legislation.”
And elsewhere in the world?
“There robotisation will be less progressive and not as fast. In North America labour will remain widely available and relatively cheap. Over there 20-25% of cattle will see a robot by 2025; in China this will be less than 5%, as in New Zealand. In South America robots will milk 15-20% of the cows in Argentina and Brazil, as labour will become expensive there. In other countries percentages are negligibly small.”
There is no robot yet in your carousel parlour. When will it arrive?
Grinning: “I am not answering a question about that, but we are working on it.”
Where will SAC be five years from now?
“Take into account where we have come from. We are a full-liner, delivering carousels, milking robots and standard milking parlours. We have been working on automatic milking for fifteen years. Our slogan reflects our focus, we strictly comply with that: for the cow, the milker and the milk. We are close to our suppliers and will not produce other products.
Five years ago we owned two organisations that divided sales markets on a global scale: Denmark and the Netherlands. We currently own seven organisations; we also deliver from and to Russia, France, Sweden, Spain and China. So each year we add one, and we will steadily continue this pace towards a revenue of €50 million.”
How do you plan to win the battle with the major players?
“By our focus on cow and milker. In terms of reliability and
service-friendliness our industrial arm stands at lonely heights and our self-learning scanner works faster than all other brands. Lely has a lot of technical expertise and its product is of very good quality. However, it lacks knowledge of cows. The DeLaval milking robot demands too much maintenance. GEA’s robot has a construction problem. Our industrial arm is winning on all fronts. Boumatic connects cows from the rear side; every cattle farmer knows this is asking for trouble.”