The cow as a smart factory at a high-tech conference

News | 24 Nov 2014

SHAFTS The cow as smart factory; like a smart walking dairy. When it came to this, participants immediately focused on the working conference on the Northern Netherlands as a high-tech region. The clear story by Anne Gerben Terpstra of Delta Instruments from Drachten was completely appropriate in Assen, where it was about smart applications that can help the manufacturing industry grow again. 

Years ago, milk was analyzed for four properties (such as fat and lactose) and the price for the farmer was determined on the basis of these. Nowadays, almost everything can be measured. All that information is called a data cloud. “It is of no use to the farmer, because he can only influence the feed and living conditions,” says Terpstra. 

But all those measurement data do provide information, which can ensure that a cow is given an antibiotic, for example, if all the data shows that a disease is imminent. The cow is therefore better cared for, which in turn influences the yield. 

Within the Innovatiecluster Drachten, all kinds of companies are now working together in the field of measuring, collecting and analyzing data and processing the results. It is smart use of technology and knowledge, which ensures higher yields. Not just in the dairy industry, by the way. 

There are many more examples and the Taskforce HTSM (HighTech Systems and Materials) Northern Netherlands will ensure that the regional structures are strengthened for this purpose. There are many benefits to be gained from better collaboration and a sharper focus on returns from knowledge and innovation. 

An extensive program had been set up to inform SMEs and knowledge companies of the opportunities. The HTSM top sector has the ambition to more than double its exports by 2020 (from 39 to 83 billion euros), but at the same time the number of employees involved is increasing only slightly: from 520,000 to 530,000. The downside is that without smart applications the manufacturing industry will become ailing, and exports and work will therefore come under pressure.

Led by large companies and organizations (including Philips, Fokker, Astrom and RUG) work is being done on smart factories in the northern region. This mainly concerns smart production processes, but sometimes also remarkable new applications. For example, Professor Fransco Picchioni already announced coffee makers made with sugar beet pulp. 

SOURCE: Dagblad van het Noorden, Bouke Nielsen.