An innovative New Zealand company has embraced Gurit to manufacture what it claims is the world’s first composite rotary platform for the milking industry.
According to Gurit, the composite solution supplied by Gurit in the form of a B3 SmartPac, includes G-PET, a recyclable structural foam core with excellent mechanical properties and suitable for all types of composites processing. Waikato Milking Systems, who manufacture the rotary platforms, expect the composite platform to have a lifespan 25% longer than the concrete platforms.
Waikato Milking Systems, with headquarters in Hamilton, New Zealand, has been providing the dairy industry with milking equipment and technology for over 30 years. Although the company has a 62% share of a burgeoning domestic market, with New Zealand the world’s biggest exporter of cow’s milk, it has recognised that its future growth will come from exporting its technology and equipment, and that it has to find ways of differentiating its offering from others on the global market, as well as address the industry’s increasing focus on sustainability and environmentally-friendly solutions.
Gurit explains that the composite platform, branded Centrus, was first introduced to the market in 2009 and since then 24 composite platforms have been installed at customer sites. Composite materials provide a solution for the deck sections that is lighter, and indeed stronger, than the alternative concrete platforms. By replacing the concrete elements of the platform with composites, Gurit says the weight of a 54 bail platform is reduced by 80%. However, the new design will still sustain rigorous use by 54 cows when fully loaded – a total of around 32.4 tonnes. The lighter weight platform also means there is less friction on the drives and running gear, resulting in reduced wear and tear. And the composite materials offer reduced on-going maintenance as the deck is not corroded by the cleaning chemicals or the cows’ urine.
The deck sections are constructed of a sandwich laminate, which Gurit says comprises G-PET structural foam core, double bias and quadriaxial E-glass fabrics, reinforced with a high strength hybrid aramid/glass woven cloth, and laminated using a resin infusion process.
Gurit supplies its composite materials in a B3 SmartPac format, so each layer of material is CNC-machine cut to the exact shape and size required for the build, clearly labelled and packed in the order to be used. “We decided to use the B3 SmartPac as it eliminated the need for time consuming hand cutting at our own manufacturing facility,” says Josh Janmaat, Composite Division Manager at Waikato Milking Platforms. “The SmartPac design and cutting process is very accurate compared with hand cutting, which allows us to apply more stringent quality controls to the finished product.” The SmartPacs are provided with step-by-step construction guides to save time in the manufacturing process, ensure repeatability and allow efficient training of new staff.
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