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Space focusses on improving working conditions

The ‘Espace for the Future’ has become an important stage in the SPACE visit. This year, following on from the robotics theme highlighted in 2017, the elected representatives of the Chambers, with support from SPACE, were keen to focus on ‘innovation to improve working conditions’. A field of great importance for both workers and employers.

Heavy workloads and repetitive tasks cannot be avoided when raising large numbers of chickens. With bedding maintenance, weighing or cleaning during the farm empty period, there are still too many tasks considered arduous and repetitive. In this context, in the last few years, the problem is increasingly taken into account by the profession and solutions are appearing to improve working conditions both of farmers and their employees.

Making cleaning poultry houses a one man job, with the remotely controlled Lavicole. Photo: Fabian Brockötter
Making cleaning poultry houses a one man job, with the remotely controlled Lavicole. Photo: Fabian Brockötter

For the exhibitioners at SPACE in Rennes this is an opportunity to draw attention to tools, organisations and expertise which improve farmers’ comfort and the appeal of jobs. The exhibition highlighted a new remotely controlled cleaning machine for poultry houses, which was awarded the prestigious 3-star Innov‘Space award.

The so called Lavicole from Rabaud is a high-pressure washing robot for cleaning poultry houses. In order to reduce the tediousness of the cleaning work, the machine is track-mounted and fully radio-controlled. Three washing devices enable a quality and complete washing of the building: A directional ramp mounted on an articulated arm, and equipped with five rotating nozzles, that can reach 4.50m high for washing the ceiling and walls, a washing system dedicated to lifelines and feeders, a manual high-pressure cleaning lance for a fine finish and a foam gun to apply the detergent. All these functions are provided on the track machine that is fitted with a petrol engine and with hydrostatic drive.

‘New generation’ farms

In the ‘Espace for the Future’, the mission entrusted by SPACE organisers to the experts from the Chambers of Agriculture with backup from different partners is to present tomorrow’s farms to visitors integrating the three pillars of sustainable development: economic, environmental and social.

Based on beef cattle, pig and poultry farms, this year ingenious and new equipment will be proposed such as the ‘piglet lift’, intelligent silo unloader, hen house cleaning robot and 3D imaging of the physiology of the workers themselves, also in-depth discussions involving farmers and their employees to explore ways of working better and less. By sharing expertise with innovative equipment and new practices, the ‘Espace for the Future’ will highlight the fact that farmers carry out a highly varied, fulfilling job which requires a combination of a whole range of knowledge and skills. Continuous improvement is key, instead of acceptance of current working conditions.

Fabian Brockötter

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