The Manabotix feed truck auto-delivery system can be retrofitted onto modern commercial feed trucks to assist human operators.
In-feedlot testing of a prototype feed truck auto-delivery system has demonstrated it can deliver feed into bunks accurately, evenly and efficiently to assist feedlot staff.
The technology, which is suitable for retrofitting on existing feed trucks, was subjected to eight weeks of testing on a Roto-Mix feed truck at Bindaree Beef Group’s Myola Feedlot at North Star, NSW.
Automation and robotics solution company Manabotix developed the technology as part of a joint project between MLA and Bindaree Beef Group to address productivity, staff training and safety issues in commercial feedlots.
Manabotix Managing Director Dr Stuart McCarthy said the in-feedlot testing demonstrated that when normalised to the same operating speed of 3km/hour, the system discharged feed in pens 19% faster than manual operation.
“The experiment results showed the prototype auto-delivery system enabled more robust and reliable feed deliveries under normal operating conditions, including all rations, all masses, to all pen lengths, with minimal reversing,” Dr McCarthy said.
“The prototype resulted in less reversing and therefore less distance travelled, and achieved higher accuracy in meeting total delivery allocation for target pens.
“In the short-term, our results suggest that even inexperienced or unskilled operators should be able to deliver feed with high performances. The prototype system may also assist or complement future autonomous feed truck possibilities.
“Based on the results of the extended testing campaign, we suggest that the prototype system is fit-for-purpose and provides appropriate performances to meet the rigorous requirements of the industry.
“While the refinement process for the prototype system will continue, results demonstrate that a commercially viable product should be available to lot feeders in the near-term.
“The technology will also be appropriate for alternate delivery arrangements such as mixer/delivery wagons and ration delivery boxes, and will be very transferrable when required.”
Attendees at the Australian Lot Feeders’ Association SMARTBEEF 2019 event at Dalby in October will be able to see a full review of the auto-delivery project results.
It will be among the technology to feature at the From Research to Reality session on Thursday 3 October, to be presented by Dr McCarthy and MLA Feedlot Project Manager, Dr Joe McMeniman.