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Keeping the Merlin milking machine safe

Keeping the Merlin milking machine safe New technological advances in dairy milking systems, has brought automation technology to an industry that is not widely known for its use of robots in the agricultural sector.

Traditional methods of milking over the years have nearly always been a manual system that involved the farmer getting up early in the morning to manually set up the system for milking the cows on a daily basis. Now with fully industrial automated cow milking systems, life is a great deal easier for both the farmer and the animal. More emphasis has been put on automation to take care of the whole process for automatic feeding and milking. This enables the farmer to concentrate on the many other important tasks around the farm and not having to plan the day around a strict milking schedule.  

Such advances in technology have brought together two companies that have collaborated on finding a solution to a problem that has existed for some time. Fullwood - a leading manufacturer of dairy milking machinery systems - contacted Steute for advice on a product that would withstand harsh and aggressive environments such as conditions on a dairy farm. Fullwood was looking for a specific product that would help overcome a number of problems regarding its emergency stop switch, and which would also fit into the narrow profiling on their flag ship Merlin machine.  

The Merlin - Fullwood's latest and most prolific robotic milking machine - is a robotic milking system allowing cows to be milked 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at a time they choose. Fullwood's long experience in machine milking systems ensures that the very best knowledge available is utilised in making life as easy as possible for man and animal.

When Fullwood chose equipment to be built into the new Merlin automatic milking system, of prime importance were products that could withstand the harsh aggressive conditions within a farmyard shed, including the animals themselves. The Merlin milking robot is placed within a farmyard shed and so needs to operate efficiently no matter what the environmental conditions, from changes in temperature and humidity to dealing with animal waste. For the emergency stop pushbutton, this meant sourcing a device that had a concealed contact block, good IP rating and which would withstand the daily high pressure washdown procedure so vital to keep the area clean.

The Steute product ES 14 RUV emergency stop switch met all of these criteria. Fullwood project engineer Fraser Adams says: "We required an E-stop button that was to be mounted in a stainless steel open box channel section which meant the switch would be open to the elements. I then came across the ES 14 RUV e-stop button from steute which has a fully enclosed contact block and fixed cable and is sealed to IP 65."
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