Big Data, Automation and Cows Who Decide When they want to be Milked

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I came across this interesting read on Quartz.com. The post is about a farm in Iceland where the entire barn is automated.

Here are some quotes from the article.

When one of their cows wants to be milked, she walks to the center of the barn to one of the three self-milking Lely machines. She enters the machine—a gated, cow-size booth—and first has her teats inspected and cleaned. Next, the robot attaches its equipment to extract her milk while the cow chows down on some cow candy: tasty corn pellets supplemented with various vitamins and minerals. The whole process takes 10 minutes or less.

Looks like we humans are not very different from the cows. We are also happier if we have control on our schedule and decide our tasks ourselves. We are also happier if we are given the opportunity to be self-regulated and self-appraised.  

The cows free to wander outside to graze in the pasture. If they’d rather, they can relax on their 2-inch-thick foam mattresses, which are lined up in a tidy row along one side of the barn.

There’s a massage machine when they want to scratch that itch on their back, and fresh grass or hay is always available, delivered via an automatic feeding system. Robots scurry around cleaning the barn, with cow poop dispatched through slats in the floor to be automatically gathered as manure for the farm.

An AC system, controlled by a weather station on the roof, automatically opens and closes the windows, ensuring fresh air (which is very important to the operation, says Einar). Another computer-commanded machine feeds milk to the baby calves.

Research has proved that just like these cows, our productivity also increases when we are in nature. We could also benefit from a mid-day nap in a comfortable couch and we like a clean work environment as well.  

As word of the farm’s robots spread, visitors started showing up to see the Icelandic cow shed. To accommodate the foot traffic, in 2011 Einar and his wife, Sesselja, decided to take the plunge together and open a restaurant. – Kaffi Ku

Entrepreneurs recognise opportunities all around us. Just like this farmer did. They created a business that not only is contextual but also leverages on something that happens organically. They now have two businesses instead of one and each feeds the other in a positive upward loop. 

All that equipment gathers reams of data on each cow—what time they were milked, the quality of milk from each teet, what vitamins or minerals they’re missing, how much milk they’re producing—arming their owners with a lot more intel on their herd. Einar says this allows them to get to know their cows far better.

Big data and analytics can be extremely useful and insightful if used well and in context to where the data is generated. You need someone who understands the context of the data to ask the right questions and the data will give the right answers. 

The cows have more fun, too. “They’re not tied up in the same stall for months on end. They interact with each other, have friends, a clear pecking order. You get to know their personalities and behaviour.”
The robots’ success does mean there are fewer jobs for farmers. Einar estimates their current herd size of 150 would have required six farmhands before, but now needs only two.

We like to have more fun as well. We are more productive when we bring our full personalities to work and have fun with our colleagues as this creates a relaxed environment where trust among colleagues reigns. 

So, we are not all that different from cows, after all 🙂

PS: You can read the entire original post on Quartz.com here

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