Robotic innovations developed at Hamra Farm

Developing innovative solutions that are more resource efficient and improve productivity to help farmers do more with less is part of our sustainability strategy. Having our own farm next to our headquarters, where development engineers are located, is a great advantage.

At DeLaval innovation is in our blood. It’s been in our blood since Gustaf de Laval patented the centrifugal cream separator back in 1878. More than 140 years of continuous knowledge, accumulating year after year changing how we do things, innovating to make them better.

Trust and transparency
The relationship between Hamra Farm and the robotic engineers at DeLaval rely on trust and transparency with good communication and frequent meetings. “Hamra Farm is a great place to develop our products and facilitate innovation. Thanks to the experienced Hamra employees, we receive well-grounded analysis of the solutions to improve, adapt, and develop it. The product must be ergonomic and easy to use whilst meeting all the requirements for animal welfare and efficiency,” says Per Hasselqvist Manager Verification & Validation in Robotic Milking.

Testing of new solutions
Many of our tests are conducted in the R&D barn, a free stall barn at Hamra Farm. How does it work in practice? First, the product development team simulates the process in their lab. After a successful simulation, the new feature is brought to Hamra. The engineers make sure the equipment is properly installed before using the new product or solution with any cows.

The product development team then continues the testing during office hours at the R&D barn before the Hamra staff takes over the testing ─ around the clock, seven days a week. The time for the test varies depending on the features being tested. “An endurance test requires several months, while other tests take less than a day. If the test results are satisfying, the product is brought to external test farms for additional trials. This thorough testing is crucial for our development of new solutions as it gives us more data to fine-tune the product before launching it on the market,” says Per.

So why is innovation so important? “Our customers are operating in tough conditions with increasing demands on profitability and sustainability. Innovation is therefore crucial to remain competitive in a market where several actors are active. Key areas are e.g., automation, decision support, ease of use and reduction of environmental impact,” says Ola Markusson, Product Development Director, Robotic Milking.

In DeLaval, the sales organisations take the customer input back to our development engineers, which often becomes the basis for the innovation initiative. “Today, our software is a focus area, and it is being developed and fine-tuned on a continuous basis. It can be easily installed into robots to increase efficiency, ease of use, yield and energy consumption. The hardware is also improved, but less often compared to the software,” says Per.

This was a little insight to how some innovations are developed at DeLaval and how the collaboration between our product development teams and Hamra Farm employees works in real life.