Parker Hannifin has supplied a bespoke hydraulic drive system to Fullwood for use with its innovative rotary milking systems that are exported around the world.
Fullwood has been involved with machine milking since the 1930s and currently designs, manufactures and supplies milking machines and milk storage equipment to over 70 countries worldwide. Specialising in tailoring milking systems to the needs of its diverse customer base, Fullwood requires a flexible approach and reliable components from its suppliers, with standardised parts that enable replacements to be quickly sourced anywhere in the world.
Fullwood rotary milking systems offer users visibility of and easy access to the cows' udders, making the equipment considerably easier to use than conventional designs, and enabling 300 or more cows to be milked per hour. This leads to increased productivity with operators able to milk the animals three times a day, rather than twice, which can translate to between 10 and 20 per cent increased daily milk yield.
Unlike traditional methods, where cows are often extremely close to one another while being milked, the rotary system features individual stalls that provide a significantly less stressful and more comfortable environment. As a further benefit, the speed of the rotary units can be adjusted to enable the system to be customised for individual applications, so that both the milk production levels of cows and the operational ability of users can be directly matched by the equipment for the most efficient results.
Standardisation and support
George Rogers, Senior Project Engineer at Fullwood, explains that before using Parker, the company was facing a significant problem in controlling the milking systems: "The previous power packs that we were using prior to the Parker units were supplied with varying valve designs. This made standardisation, and therefore effective support for our international customers, impossible."
In order to overcome this problem, Fullwood approached Parker. After listening to the brief, Parker offered a bespoke design incorporating a complete hydraulic drive system made up of standardised Parker components.
The Parker hydraulic drive system turns the rotary platform via fully floating hydraulic motors, planetary gearboxes and compression drive wheels, and also includes a hydraulic power pack, hoses and fittings, all designed to offer an efficient and simple-to-operate speed control system. The power unit supplied to Fullwood features bespoke specifications including a 75 litre reservoir and two-gear pump capable of providing approximately 22 litres per minute. The pump is connected to a manifold block and a proportional flow control valve that controls precisely how fast the platform rotates.
Using hydraulic power packs as opposed to electric power enables users to drive a complete rotary system on one 3kW motor, as opposed to two or three electric motors of equivalent size, which results in considerable energy savings.
Additionally, Parker's hydraulic power packs can be located remotely from the rotary milking systems, unlike equivalent electric motors and gearboxes that would need to be located under the cow deck where it is extremely damp, especially after each wash-down, making the use of electric power impractical. Variable-speed drives for electric motors can also be expensive and problematic, making hydraulics even more attractive.
George Rogers is impressed: "Parker was able to use its knowledge and experience to create a standardised yet bespoke system that answered our needs perfectly. Its hydraulic drive systems are now being fitted as standard on all of our rotary milking systems."