10 years of Vector, thanks to our test and validation customers!
Lely installed the first Vector system on a number of dairy farms back in 2011. The Overbeek family in Benschop run such a farm, (NL), where they had already shown an interest in automatic milking and feeding when building a new barn for their dairy cows. The family initially started using the Astronaut A3 Next for automatic milking, then also switched to the Lely Vector for automatic feeding. Kees and Sjors Overbeek had already used automatic feeding at their old farm, but it was a rail system. The Vector offered them much more flexibility.
April 12, 2021
“Test and validation farms are an important sparring partner for us in terms of product improvements,” says Teus de Jong, Senior Barn & Feeding Product Manager at Lely.
It’s not enough to test our products in the workshop; it’s essential to test and validate them in practice. That isn’t always a simple process, as there are often quite a few start-up problems in the first phase. Every dairy farm has its own specific situation which the robots have to adapt to. De Jong says, “Our Lely test customers deserve respect and appreciation. They have to be patient, and be able to deal with setbacks. Sometimes, processes come to a standstill, or we ask the farmer to go the extra mile.”
We learned a lot from the Overbeek family, thanks to the situation in their barn and the feed they use. For example, the barn has electric doors, a narrow feeding alley, and an even narrower crossing of the feeding alley. The Vector Mixing and Feeding Robot had to be able to do short runs, and navigate reliably and safely in this situation. At the same time, we had to prevent feed from getting under the skirt, and cows making the system stop. Together, this meant some new challenges, which we solved by making the software even smarter.
The silage blocks were also pretty compact, and the grass silage sometimes very dry. At the beginning, it was difficult for the feed grabber to get hold of the feed, and the scissor system broke down regularly. This was an important motive for us to develop a new feed grab with a completely revamped pull-up system.
The dry silage also caused problems with mixing, so it was necessary to add liquid by-products to the ration at the time to get a good result. Our Farm Management team also learned a lot in this respect. Adding liquid by-products was completely new, and had never been used at other test farms, but is now applied worldwide. All in all, we learnt an incredible amount during this first testing period with the Overbeek family. The Overbeek family was a Lely test customer at Lely from 2011 to 2013, following on,they have also been validating products for Lely. Validation is the last step in the development process before improvements are included in standard products, in which we test whether our developments continue to work well in various situations. For example, we also successfully validated the faster auger motor at the Overbeek family.
Over the past 10 years, the Overbeek family has made an enormous contribution to the development of the concept. The cooperation has always been very pleasant, and the family has also acted as an important ambassador for automatic feeding with the Lely Vector. In this respect, the Overbeek family is a good example of farming innovators, and has undoubtedly helped us deliver more than 1,000 Vector systems worldwide.
Kees, Sjors and the family therefore deserve a huge compliment, as do all other Lely test and validation farms.