Automation could be the way of the future for shearing sheds

Friday, 03 August 2018

Automation could be the way of the future for shearing sheds

Automated shearing could be the way of the future for shearing sheds around Australia following the launch of an Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) funded research project to automate wool harvesting from sheep.

In partnership with Ranken Research and Robo Shear, the four-year project is a practical engineering research and development project that aims to design, construct, field test and evaluate a proof of concept prototype machine for fully automated end to end wool harvesting.

Australian Wool Innovation General Manager Research, Jane Littlejohn said the research aim of full automation of the whole wool harvesting process is innovative and future focused to support the future sustainability of the sheep and wool industry.

“This research is a long-term project that is seeking to develop a prototype machine to fill the shearer shortage gap,” Ms. Littlejohn outlined.

“AWI invests in research into alternative wool harvesting technology to improve the efficiency organising and conducting shearing.”

Robo Shear Project Director Richard Lyons said the final product envisaged is a modular, portable, reliable machine that can fully automatically harvest traditional fleece wool from a sheep.

“Our long-term aim is to develop a readily available and capable automated alternative to manual shearing that will provide a range of benefits including ensuring the welfare of the sheep and reduces the risk of both human and animal injury,” Mr. Lyons explained.

“It is critical the end product of our project ensures the quality of the fleece with a target rate of 1,500 de-fleeced sheep in a continuous 10-hour period.”

Established in 2001, AWI is a not-for-profit company owned by more than 24,000 Australian wool levy payers who have registered as AWI shareholders.

The company invests in research and development, marketing and promotion to enhance the profitability, international competitiveness and sustainability of the Australian wool industry and to increase the demand and market access for Australian wool.