WO2000013490A1 - A method and device for improving milking - Google Patents

A method and device for improving milking Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2000013490A1
WO2000013490A1 PCT/SE1999/001505 SE9901505W WO0013490A1 WO 2000013490 A1 WO2000013490 A1 WO 2000013490A1 SE 9901505 W SE9901505 W SE 9901505W WO 0013490 A1 WO0013490 A1 WO 0013490A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
teatcup
falling
means
characterized
milking
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/SE1999/001505
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Hans Martin SJÖLUND
Original Assignee
Alfa Laval Agri Ab
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to SE9802995-2 priority Critical
Priority to SE9802995A priority patent/SE513021C2/en
Application filed by Alfa Laval Agri Ab filed Critical Alfa Laval Agri Ab
Publication of WO2000013490A1 publication Critical patent/WO2000013490A1/en

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Classifications

    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01JMANUFACTURE OF DAIRY PRODUCTS
    • A01J5/00Milking machines or devices
    • A01J5/007Monitoring milking processes; Control or regulation of milking machines
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01JMANUFACTURE OF DAIRY PRODUCTS
    • A01J5/00Milking machines or devices
    • A01J5/017Automatic attaching or detaching of clusters
    • A01J5/0175Attaching of clusters

Abstract

In oder to eliminate loss of milk by spilling at the end of milking, where teatcups (10) are removed from teats, the falling-off of teatcups is sensed and a falling-off signal is created, which is used for controlling a vacuum valve (19) and returning vacuum soon after the teatcups have fallen off. A strong air stream will then stop milk falling off, even if the teatcups turns over. The sensing may be made by sensing the teatcup reaching a predetermined level (L), by accelerometer (20) or by a pressure sensor (21).

Description

A method and device for improving milking

TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention regards a method for automatic milking, wherein a milking animal is confined and teatcups are applied onto teats of said animal under guidance of detection means for finding teats and controlling mounting of teatcups thereon.

The invention also regards a device for automatic milking, comprising an animal stall, milking machine means including teatcups, means for applying said teatcups onto teats of an animal in the animal stall, and detection means for guiding said teatcups into mounting positions relative to the said teats.

Such method and device are known for example from EP-A-0 213 660.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The technical background of automatic milking of animals is now quite established in practice. The animal is often given the opportunity of deciding itself when to be milked, by entering an animal stall. The advantages of increased output of milk and decreased amount of human labour are quite clear. Still, however, some difficulties regarding hygienic measures are remaining to be solved in an expedient way.

A particular problem, to which the present invention is directed, is the spilling of milk. As long as the milking is in course, there are no particular difficulties. The difficulties start at the moment of stopping the milking procedure. It is not feasible to "milk the animal dry", meaning that even at the last milking operation step will make the respective teat emit a small amount of milk. When stopping and removing the teat cups, there is thus a great risk of spilling an amount of milk. This spilling of milk is objectionable for two reasons. Firstly, the spilling means a loss of milk. It may be estimated that there is, for an exemplary cow, an amount of 1 cl per teat which may be lost. With 200 cows milked 3 times a day, this will amount to a loss of some 24 liters per day, which is not to be neglected from an economic point of view.

Even worse is the hygienic danger. It might be considered by a layman that an animal stable would be not very hygienic, with all the various microorganisms feeding on manure. However, milk is much more susceptible to be infected, and is a perfect hotbed for another set of microorganisms, which are extremely objectionable in a stable, as they grow well in milk and, if present in any but negligible amount, cannot be avoided from reaching animal udders.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The inventive problem is solved by a method for automatic milking, wherein a milking animal is confined and teatcups are applied onto teats of said animal under guidance of detection means for finding teats and controlling mounting of teatcups thereon, wherein according to the invention detection means are arranged to signal a separation between a teatcup and a teat and the said signaling starting a suction action in a separated teatcup before it can spill out milk contained therein.

This will guarantee that no substantial spilling of milk will happen. Further, the milk of one animal will be better collected, in particular separated from milk from other animals, if this is necessary for some reason.

In a preferred embodiment, the same detection means are used for finding teats and for signaling teatcup separation. This leads to considerable savings in equipment. The said detection means may comprise a TV camera. This is particularly advantageous for both purposes.

In advantageous embodiments, said detection means are arranged to sense the falling down of a teatcup to a level watched by the detection means. Thereby, the varying times between stopping of milking and falling off of teatcups may be compensated for. and a reliable avoidance of spilling of milk is obtained. Further, the risk of a teatcup falling on the ground and getting contaminated may be diminished.

In alternative embodiments of the invention, the detection means for signaling a separation may comprise an accelerometer fixed to each teatcup. When the teatcup then falls, the acceleration sensor will sense an acceleration/gravity near zero, which is identified as a fall-off signal. This solution has the advantage of great simplicity and dependability and is hygienic, being an enclosed entity.

In another alternative embodiment, a pressure sensor is utilized. Thus, wherein a milk conduit is connected to the teatcup and is provided with a pinhole near the teatcup and a closing-valve for ending milking and liberating the teatcup, said signaling means for signalizing the falling-off of a teatcup may comprise a pressure sensor for sensing a sudden pressure increase at the moment of liberation. It is advantageous if this pressure sensor is arranged near to the teatcup for ease of cleaning together with the teatcup between uses on different animals. The advantage of this solution is that it is very simple.

The pressure sensor may advantageously be connected to an input of a differentiating circuit for sensing a rapid pressure change and for emitting a well-distinguishing fall- off signal for reactivating said closing-valve into an open state. A very secure functioning will thus be obtained in a comparatively simple and uncomplicated manner. According to another aspect of the invention, it is embodied in a device for automatic milking, comprising an animal stall, milking machine means including at least one teatcup, means for applying said at least one teatcup onto a teat of an animal in the animal stall, and detection means for guiding said at least one teatcup into a mounting position relative to a said teat, and which according to the invention comprises means for errύtting a falling-signal at a fall off of a said teatcup and means for providing a vacuum to said teatcup in dependence of said sensing. This delivering of a vacuum to the liberated teatcup will suck back any leftover milk and will hinder milk spillage even if the teatcup is turned upside down.

It is preferred in an embodiment of the invention that said means for eπύtting a falling- signal is a sensor-means for sensing the reaching in falling of a said teatcup of a level which is underneath a level of active milking for the teatcup. This level should be lower than the lowest level to which the teatcup reaches during milking. It is then possible to obtain a signal before the teatcup gets too much falling speed and turns over, so that all remaining milk is caught in time instead of falling to the ground.

It is then preferred that said means for emitting said falling-signal comprises the said detection means for guiding said at least one teatcup into a mounting position. Thus. no further sensing means would be needed than those needed for other purposes. Advantageously then, said detection means comprises a TV camera.

In another advantageous embodiment, where said teatcup is provided with a milk conduit connected with one end to the teatcup and with another end to a vacuum source via a closing-valve, said conduit being provided with a pinhole for creating an air stream through the milk conduit, and wherein a closing of said closing-valve is arranged to make the said teatcup fall off from a teat, the invention advantageously provides that said means for providing a said vacuum after a teatcup fall off comprises means for opening said closing-valve in dependence of said falling-signal, which is generated by a pressure sensor which senses the rise of pressure due to the fall-off of the teatcup from the teat.

In one preferred embodiment, the teatcups are held, as long as within the animal stall, in a substantially vertical position. Also in this case, it is valuable to draw off all milk from the teatcups before they are cleaned in preparation for milking another animal. This is true regardless of whether the teatcups are cleaned in an inverted position or not.

In another preferred embodiment, the separation signal is emitted within 0,01 - 0, 1 seconds from lowering to a detection level, in order to enable the suction action to be performed with the teatcup substantially in a vertical position with its teat opening turned upwards. In particular where the teatcups, when active, are affixed only by flexible tubes to the rest of the machine, this means that substantially no milk will be spilled even though the teatcups at milking-end will turn their openings downward.

In the latter case, it is also preferred to let a suction take place during a substantial part of the removal cycle, keeping a film of milk within the teatcup and milk tube from running by compensating for the force of gravity. Suction is removed only for a time sufficient for a teatcup to fall off. Only after reaching an adequate cleaning center would the suction stop.

According to another aspect of the invention, the inventive problem is solved by a device for automatic milking as mentioned in the beginning, and comprising detection means for signaling the coming loose of a teatcup from a teat and suction means for performing a retract action in a teatcup coming loose in dependence of a coming loose signal.

The detection means may comprise an ultrasonic detector, light radiating elements and light detector means (at least one so-called light fork) or a TV camera. In a preferred embodiment, the teatcups being mounted by means of a robot arm, the TV camera may be mounted on the robot arm. It may then be suitably redirected during a milking operation in order to detect the falling off of one or more teatcups.

In particular, if the robot arm is provided with a TV camera which is used for locating and mounting the teatcups before milking, it is preferred to have the camera directed toward the back of the animal, the robot arm then during the milking operation holding tubes away from the hind legs of the animal and directed to regard a field of view comprising emplacements of teatcups being falling away.

It is preferred that the detection and reaction be sufficiently fast to guarantee that very soon after falling off, the sucking action starts in order to guarantee a minimum of spilling. Thus, it is preferred that detection is made within 0,01 - 0, 1 seconds.

On the other hand, it is preferred that the suction should begin not earlier than at the moment when the teatcup has finally left the teatcup, thus avoiding any unpleasant suction feeling at the teat at the moment of liberation. Thus, it must be kept in mind that during normal operation, the teatcups move up and down in a regular sequence, and it is necessary to discriminate against such a movement.

In a preferred embodiment, the suction action is continued until the respective teatcup is brought from the animal and to a teatcup cleaning position.

DRAWING SUMMARY

Fig. 1 shows an animal entering a milking-stall for being milked automatically.. Fig. 2 shows a teatcup mounted on an animal teat. Fig. 3 shows schematically a teatcup under liberation from the teat of an animal. Fig. 4 shows schematically a detector mounted on a robot arm..

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The invention shall now be described by means of a non-limiting example and with the help of the drawings.

In Fig. 1 is shown the principle for voluntary and automatic milking, wherein a stall 1 is approached by a cow 2, which opens a gate 3. The cow voluntarily enters in order to be milked. After milking, the cow will exit through gate 4. In this case, there is equipment 100 comprising a robot arm, which can mount a set 5 of teatcups to the cow.

In Fig. 2 is shown a teatcup 10 mounted on a cow. The tearing is governed by tubing 11, which comprises tubing for leading milk and pulsation tubing, not shown in this figure.

Fig. 3 shows the teatcup 10 more in detail, together with the teat 12, from which it has just separated after milking. As schematically shown, the teatcup comprises an outer, stiff shell and an inner sheath 15, which is elastic and may be of rubber. The space between the sheath and the stiff shell corresponds via tubing 16 with a pulsator device, such that the pressure of the space varies periodically to squeeze and release the teat when milking. The bottom of the sheath 15 is provided with an outlet tube 17 leading to further equipment 200 which does not have to be further described in order to understand the present invention than that it comprises vacuum means and milk collecting means. The outlet tube 17 is provided with a pinhole opening 18 near the teatcup bottom and with a closing valve 19 at the other end.

The milking sequence starts by the mounting of a teatcup, which will fix itself by the vacuum created via the tubing 17, creating a vacuum at a pressure of approximately half atmospheric pressure. Valve 19 is open, and a stream of air through pinhole 18 (normally with a diameter of about 0,6 mm) will assure transport of milk through the tubing 17. This milking action is continued until there is little milk coming. For instance, the milking may be ceased when there is no more that 0,2 kg milk per minute and this low stream has continued for 20 seconds.

The ending of milking is obtained by closing valve 19, and the vacuum will then gradually vanish by leaking through the pinhole 18. The teatcup 10 will then be liberated from the teat 12.

It is at this point that the inventive problem is acute. There will be milk left in the tubing 17, and the teatcup is falling off, as seen in Fig. 3. In the next movement, it will turn with its mouth downward, and this even if it is caught from falling on the floor by drawing in. In the embodiment shown, the teatcups are connected individually to equipment 200, but the problem is much the same when, as is also not uncommon in the prior art, the paired tubings 11 of several teatcups are joined at a short distance from the teatcups, into a collective tubing. Still, the teatcups will normally swing around to turn the mouths downward.

According to the invention, the loss of milk is substantially hindered by resucking as soon as the teatcups are liberated, by reopening in this example of the valve 19. The air stream caused thereby will then be substantially higher than when the size of the pinhole 18 is deterrnining, the whole mouth of the teatcup now being opened to the atmosphere. There will thus be a substantial drag inward felt on any drop of milk in the tubing 17 and at the bottom of inner sheath 15, such that substantially no milk will drop out, as most remaining milk will run off before the teatcup will turn, and what little there remains will be hindered from falling by a combination of streaming air and surface tension. In order to perform this reopening of the valve for returning the vacuum, it is necessary to know when to do it. An object starting a free fall from standstill will fall some 30 cm within % sec, and some 120 cm within 1/2 sec. The uncertainty of the time of liberation of a teatcup from a teat is of the same order, depending on a combination of the teat dimensions and the pinhole size. It is therefore not possible to use a predetermined time interval between closing the vacuum source and reopening for it.

In a preferred embodiment, therefore, detection means are arranged for detecting the fall-through of a teatcup at a level L (Fig. 3) after the liberation from the teat. This level must be sufficiently distant from the level within which the teatcup moves in an up-and-down movement when milking.

In a particular embodiment of the invention as of Fig. 4, there is used a TV camera 40, which is mounted on a robot arm 6 and is also used for the control of automatic mounting of the teatcups one by one successively by means of a gripper 41. After mounting, the robot arm is then brought forward toward the head of the animal and under it, keeping order of the tubings and directed to view a field of view below the teatcups. The image analysis used in the automatic mounting of the teatcups is then used for sensing the falling down of teatcups, which can be made very exactly, down to within a TV halfframe (0,02 sec. with standard TV frame frequency). As with free fall, the falling length of 5 cm corresponds to about 0, 1 sec, it would be advantageous to return the vacuum after about such time or earlier.

In a second type of embodiment, the detection of liberation of a teatcup is made by means of an accelerometer 20 fixed to the teatcup (Fig. 3). Such an accelerometer will in a still-standing state give a signal corresponding to 1 g. During milking, the teatcup will be moving up and down, making an overlaid variation around 1 g. However, when in free fall (or nearly, as there is the influence of the tubings), the signal will be nearly zero, and such a signal may be ascertained for a predetermined time and then be made to reopen valve 19. In a third type of embodiment, a pressure meter 21 (Fig. 3) is used for sensing the fall of a teatcup. Thus, when the vacuum to the teatcup is severed by closing valve 19, the pressure in the tubing 17 will gradually rise, until it is insufficient to hold the teatcup to the teat 12, when it will suddenly fall off, creating an almost instantaneous rise of pressure up to atmospheric. This rise and/or this high pressure may be used for signaling the fall-off and for reactivating the opening of valve 19, thus obtaining the inventive result. A particularly advantageous form of this embodiment is to use a pressure sensor 21 which is roughly linear and insert an integrating circuit, thus obtaining a well-distinguishable fall-off signal. Although it may be mounted at any place between or in the teatcup and the valve 19, it is preferred to mount it very near to the teatcup. A first advantage of this is that the pressure rise is not delayed in the tubing, making for faster and clearer pressure change. A second advantage is that the pressure sensor may be cleaned with the teatcup between animal milkings.

The present invention has been exemplified for the use on cows as a species of milking animals. The invention can be used also for equimpment used for other milking animals like buffaloes, sheep, goats, horses, etc. It is also clear that the exemplary description cannot be exhaustive and that the man of the art will immediately be able to envisage a host of variations and modifications. Therefore, it should be understood that the invention is not limited to the described examples but must be considered by studying the appended claims.

Claims

1. A method for automatic milking, wherein a milking animal (2) is confined and teatcups are applied onto teats of said animal under guidance of detection means for finding teats and controlling mounting of teatcups thereon, characterized in that detection means (40; 20; 21) are arranged to signal a separation between a teatcup (10) and a teat (12), and the said signaling starting a suction action in a separated teatcup before it can spill out milk contained therein.
2. A method according to claim 1, characterized in that the same detection means are used for finding teats and for signaling teatcup separation.
3. A method according to claim 2, characterized in that the said detection means comprise a TV camera (40).
4. A method according to any previous claim, characterized in that said detection means are arranged to sense the falling down of a teatcup to a level (L) watched by the detection means.
5 .A method according to claim 1, characterized in that the detection means for signaling a separation comprise an accelerometer (20) fixed to each teatcup.
6. A method according to claim 1, wherein a milk conduit (17) connected to the teatcup (10) is provided with a pinhole (18) near the teatcup and a closing-valve (19) for ending milking and liberating the teatcup, characterized in that said signaling means for signalizing the falling-off of a teatcup comprises a pressure sensor (21) for sensing a sudden pressure increase at the moment of liberation.
7. A method according to claim 6, characterized in that said pressure sensor (21) is connected to an input of a differentiating circuit for sensing a rapid pressure change and for emitting a well-distinguishing fall-off signal for reactivating said closing- valve (19) into an open state.
8. A device for automatic milking, comprising an animal stall (1), milking machine means including at least one teatcup (10), means (6, 41, 100) for applying said at least one teatcup onto a teat (12) of an animal in the animal stall, and detection means (40) for guiding said at least one teatcup into a mounting position relative to a said teat, characterized by means (40; 20; 21) for emitting a falling-signal at a fall off of a said teatcup (10) and means (19) for providing a vacuum to said teatcup in dependence of said sensing.
9. A device according to claim 8, characterized in that said means for emitting a falling-signal is a sensor-means for sensing the reaching in falling of a said teatcup
(10) of a level (L) which is underneath a level of active milking for the teatcup.
10. A device according to claim 8 or 9, characterized in that said means for emitting said falling-signal comprises the said detection means (40) for guiding said at least one teatcup into a mounting position.
11. A device according to claim 10, characterized in that said detection means (40) comprises a TV camera.
12. A device according to claim 8, whereby said teatcup is provided with a milk conduit connected (17) with one end to the teatcup and with another end to a vacuum source via a closing- valve (19), said conduit being provided with a pinhole (18) for creating an air stream through the milk conduit, and wherein a closing of said closing- valve is arranged to make the said teatcup fall off from a teat, characterized in that said means for providing a said vacuum after a teatcup fall off comprises means for opening said closing-valve in dependence of said falling-signal, said falling-signal being obtained by a pressure sensor (21) mounted in the milk conduit (17) near said teatcup (10)
13. A device according to claim 12, characterized in that said pressure sensor (21) is connected to a differentiating circuit for obtaining a time-differentiating signal characteristic of the falling-off of a teatcup and used as said falling-signal.
PCT/SE1999/001505 1998-09-04 1999-09-01 A method and device for improving milking WO2000013490A1 (en)

Priority Applications (2)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
SE9802995-2 1998-09-04
SE9802995A SE513021C2 (en) 1998-09-04 1998-09-04 A method and apparatus for improving the milking

Applications Claiming Priority (1)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
AU58941/99A AU5894199A (en) 1998-09-04 1999-09-01 A method and device for improving milking

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Cited By (2)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
WO2006084755A1 (en) * 2005-02-14 2006-08-17 Westfaliasurge Gmbh Method and teat cup cluster for milking an animal
NL1032429C2 (en) * 2006-09-05 2008-03-06 Maasland Nv Method for controlling milking device, as well as software program for and device with this method.

Citations (3)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US3814056A (en) * 1972-05-03 1974-06-04 Alfa Laval Ab Apparatus for removing teat cups
DE4113700A1 (en) * 1991-04-26 1992-10-29 Dieter Dipl Ing Schillingmann Automatic milking using milking robot - using stored data to position milking cups for each individual cow
EP0774203A1 (en) * 1995-11-14 1997-05-21 Maasland N.V. A construction including an implement for milking animals

Patent Citations (3)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US3814056A (en) * 1972-05-03 1974-06-04 Alfa Laval Ab Apparatus for removing teat cups
DE4113700A1 (en) * 1991-04-26 1992-10-29 Dieter Dipl Ing Schillingmann Automatic milking using milking robot - using stored data to position milking cups for each individual cow
EP0774203A1 (en) * 1995-11-14 1997-05-21 Maasland N.V. A construction including an implement for milking animals

Cited By (5)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
WO2006084755A1 (en) * 2005-02-14 2006-08-17 Westfaliasurge Gmbh Method and teat cup cluster for milking an animal
NL1032429C2 (en) * 2006-09-05 2008-03-06 Maasland Nv Method for controlling milking device, as well as software program for and device with this method.
WO2008030085A1 (en) * 2006-09-05 2008-03-13 Maasland N.V. Method of controlling a milking implement, a software program for and an implement performing the method
US8286583B2 (en) 2006-09-05 2012-10-16 Maasland N.V. Method of controlling a milking implement, a software program for and an implement performing the method
AU2007293811B2 (en) * 2006-09-05 2013-07-11 Maasland N.V. Method of controlling a milking implement, a software program for and an implement performing the method

Also Published As

Publication number Publication date
SE9802995L (en) 2000-03-05
SE9802995D0 (en) 1998-09-04
AU5894199A (en) 2000-03-27
SE513021C2 (en) 2000-06-19

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