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Faulty pulsators - doubled our milking time!

September 8, 2008
Pulsator controller board

Just when we were feeling good about starting milking 30 minutes earlier today things took a turn for the worse; A third of the way into milking the milking plant suddenly went much quieter than normal - the rhythmic clicking sound of the pulsators wasn't what it should be and it didn't take long to realise that 18 of the 36 milking clusters didn't have any milk passing through them.

We climbed into the middle of the rotary platform up to the electronic control panel to have a look at what might be wrong and discovered that one of the two pulsator control boards wasn't working - the (normally flashing) red LEDs weren't flashing and refused to work even after pressing the reset buttons, powering off/on, and changing fuses, etc. Actually the panel did start up again for a brief couple of minutes but then died completely.

Great... we still over 150 cows to milk and now there were only 18 usable sets of milking cups.

We called the technical service contrators and they advised us that they'd send someone out within a couple of hours but in the meantine we just had to perservere and continue milking the cows at a slower rate.

When the contractor did arrive to look at the plant he told us that the control panel would have to be repaired or replaced but that would take a few days since it is an old one and there are insufficient spare parts on stock locally. Luckily though he did have a replacement unit which was vacuum powered rather than electronic and he had it set up for us later in the evening (i.e. all ready for tomorrow morning's milking).

Obviously this problem was a big inconvienience but I guess we were lucky in some ways - if the plant had been designed to have only one pulsator control panel for all pulsators then we would have been completely stuck if it had failed. At least we were able to finsih milking today even if it did take twice as long!

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