4 of 5 dairy processors mulling machine upgrades, survey says

The International Federation of Robotics report on service robots released yesterday showed that demand for milking robots decreased slightly from 2011 to 2012. With 4,750 milking robots sold in 2012, sales were down about 3 percent.

However, another report, from the producers of next week’s Pack Expo in Las Vegas, has good news for the future of dairy industry automation. According to the 2013 edition of “Dairy Industry — A Market Assessment,” 80 percent of dairy processors interviewed say they’re evaluating their machine needs, and 75 percent of that group plan to purchase equipment in the next 12 to 24 months.

The study found that increasing production is priority No. 1.

“The dairy industry is very interested in optimizing production, and with that comes a willingness to adopt new technologies and doing more with less,” according to Jorge Izquierdo, vice president of market development for PMMI, the group that produced the report.

That bodes well for robotics, which is seen as an effective way to increase efficiency — “robotic controls” are one of the wish list items described in the report.

Dairy remains an enormous industry. PMMI, the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, notes that global milk production is expected to reach 827 million tons in 2020 (19 percent higher than in 2010) and dairy product sales are expected to reach $494 billion in 2015. To give an idea of the impact it can have on robot sales, even with milking robot sales down slightly in 2012, they represented about 30 percent of all service robots for professional use sold in the IFR report.

The full market assessment — which was last conducted in 2009 — will be released next week during Pack Expo.

[ photo courtesy of JelleS / Flickr ]