Water - vital for cows and robot

Compressed air, power and water are basic requirements for a properly functioning Astronaut milking robot. Compressed air is generated by the internal oil-free air compressor. Obviously, power should meet the standard voltage and ampere; otherwise the robot could not function. Cows need sufficient fresh and clean water to ensure their optimal well-being and yield, so the use of good quality water in and around the robot is of great importance.

Management, Cow health


For the use of water, certain standards have been defined. The quality of the water that is used in and on the robot may impact the lifetime of certain components (e.g. the boiler and the Lely Pura steam cleaning system). Water with a pH level above 7.5 may cause excessive scaling (see picture), a phenomenon you may know from — for example — your dishwasher. Depending on aspects such as geographical, soil and logistic conditions, water quality varies largely around the world. Therefore Lely recommends the use of potable, fresh tap water that meets — amongst others — the following criteria.

  • A pH value between 6.5 and 7.5 for internal use on the robot.
  • A conductivity between a minimum of 10μS/cm and a maximum of 50 μS/cm. Therefore, the use of distilled water is discouraged.
  • Besides pH and conductivity parameters, the presence of iron (Fe) is also an important item to keep in mind. Too high an iron level in the water may cause excessive iron depositing within the pipes as well as on the body work. Image 2 shows water with a low iron level on the left, as compared to water with a high iron level on the right. 

Using water that meets the specifications provided by Lely for internal use on the robot will prevent premature and excessive wear. Besides water being used for internal cleaning and disinfecting (Pura), the robot’s exterior needs to be cleaned regularly as well. How this should be done is explained in the SOP ‘Cleaning robot’. Working with a clean robot is not only a matter of hygiene, but also improves your efficiency and pleasure in your work. Often, the question is raised if cleaning the outside of the robot can be done using rain water, water from a well or water that was used for cleaning the robot internally. We do not recommend this for the following reasons.


  • Rain water is most likely stored in a barrel, which is an excellent environment for bacteria to grow. Using this water to clean the exterior of the robot will spread these bacteria via the robot amongst your cows.
  • The same can be said about water from a well. And when this water has a high level of iron, tarnishing is most likely to happen, affecting the performance of your robot.
  • Reusing cleaning water has a very high risk of spreading unwanted bacteria as this water has already been used for cleaning. Would you brush your teeth with water that you first washed your hands with?


Therefore, Lely strongly advises that the water which is used for cleaning the outside of the robot also meets the requirements provided in the manual.

In summary, we can say that it is very important that you use water that meets the requirements provided to prevent unwanted spreading of bacteria as well as premature and excessive wear. In addition, the use of good quality water has a positive effect on the overall life time of the various components of the robot.