5 December 1997

Prepackaged parlour pays

THE cost of milking parlour installation could be reduced by pre-assembling equipment at the factory – rather than leaving the fitter to put together every component and nut and bolt, believes Alfa-Laval Agri.

The first results of this new approach are the Maestro E milking point assembly – a stainless steel cabinet housing the pulsator, automatic cluster removal cylinder and an Alpro monitor/controller – and a milk meter/cluster stand assembly.

"Instead of having to make up mountings for the components individually, all the fitter has to do is mount the Maestro cabinet to the stall work using a versatile bracket, and bolt the meter/stand unit through the pre-drilled kerb plate," explains Andrew Reece of Alfa-Laval Agri.

"What might at present take three to four days of fiddly, repetitive installation to fit, say, eight units, could become a mornings work."

Mr Reece initiated a study into the possible benefits of this approach when installation costs, traditionally pegged at around 10% of the total cost of a new parlour, climbed to between 12% and 15% as parlours became more sophisticated with more individual components.

"At present, we expect installers to be proficient plumbers, electricians and builders," he points out. "Pre-assembly of some component groups will make installation quicker and easier; it should also result in less commissioning work and fewer initial problems, especially from electrical systems, because assemblies can be tested before they leave the factory rather than on-site after installation."

Offsetting costs

This cut in post-installation work, together with simplified packaging and dispatch, could help offset the cost of pre-assembly, Mr Reece adds.

In the meantime, dealers and customers will have to be sure they compare like-with-like when considering a new parlour, balancing the higher equipment cost against potentially lower installation charges.

The Maestro E cabinet is available with Alfa-Lavals standard or 50í herringbone parlours, complete with electrical and air connections. Advantages beyond easier installation include added protection for components against physical and atmospheric damage, easily cleaned surfaces, less clutter, and some reduction in pulsator noise.

Alfa-Laval Agris Andrew Reece with the Maestro E milking point cabinet housing the ACR cylinder, pulsator and controller in a single, pre-assembled unit.