IntroductionThe research literature relating to the organisational issues of
implementing automatic milking systems is reviewed in the following text. The
major themes this review highlights are the challenges in implementing new
technology, the profitability of the technology, and the animal welfare. These
issues have serious implications for how the automatic milking systems can be
used in New Zealand and impact various stakeholders relating to the farming
industry. The research findings are reported below; the following results are
based on empirical findings – not theoretical debates.Challenge in Implementing Technology:A recurring
theme in the literature is that it is still unclear how the wide variety of
organisational and management methods of implementing new technology may be
incorporated effectively within every organisation so it leads to the desired
competitive results (Säfsten & Winroth, 2002). (Sturdy & Grey, 2003) state that
organisational change is seen to be desirable and inevitable, and as it is a
normal occurrence it can be easily managed. This is supported by (Schmenner & Swink, 1998) who says that initiating
new programmes is a competitive advantage as businesses are constantly trying
to set new goals and boundaries in order to become the leader of their
respective market. There
is an ever-growing list of this generic literature emphasising the importance
of change and suggesting ways to approach it, however, very little empirical
evidence has been provided in support of the different theories and approaches
suggested (Guimaraes and Armstrong, 1998): “to date, there has been limited research to
identify the opportunities
of milking robotics efficiency through strategic management” (Rodenburg, 2017). A survey carried out by (Skvortcov, Skvortcova,
Nabokov, & Krivonogov, 2017) revealed that
the main reasons for the introduction of milking robotics, was the farmers
desire to reduce the risks of personnel loss (45.5 %) and for staff shortages
(18.2 %) – it is these desires that drive the need for change; in many cases
this is not a beneficial reason for implanting new technology.On the contrary, multiple studies show that
there has been no challenge in implementing the AMS technology. For instance, the overall productivity of the
dairy sector (measured in milk production) has quadrupled in less than 50
years; this is due to the implementation of specific scientific technology (Labatut, Aggeri, &
Girard, 2012).
This highlights the overall success of this change; it has been found in the
dairy industry that implementing change has been a challenging, but successful
process. Moreover, taking into account similar mass agriculture change, i.e. enhanced
breeding technology (such as artificial insemination), the overall success has
been varied; “these breeding technologies have had different outcomes and have
not enjoyed the same institutional success in every local setting where they
have been introduced” (Labatut, Aggeri, & Girard, 2012). Farmers are often
continuously challenged by new developments/technologies and they need to
always evaluate the success of implementing them (Dekkers). These studies could
highlight the potential challenges to come in the introduction of AMS to
individual farms. Another
field experiencing similar fast paced change is the sugar cane farms in China; The improvement in sugarcane production and productivity is mainly
attributed to the success is from the development of appropriate farming
technologies The implementation of wide spread technological farming in this
area has proved to be successful, although challenging, and the sugar cane industry can now keep up with the
ever increasing demand (Li, et al., 2016). The robotic farming community should take note of this success.The general lack of knowledge would be of
concern for the farm managers, as implementing change without the experience
could be a significant risk. This could be an area that farming consultants
capitalize on in order to create products that make implementing this kind of
change viable.Profitability of Technology:Another important theme in the literature is the profitability of
implementing automatic milking systems, which would be of particular interest
to farm managers. (Davis, et al., 2005) conducted a study in New Zealand and reported that one
single robot used on a farm could cater for an average of 75 cows, and would
contribute 96 milking’s per robot a day and would only need to operate for
slightly more than 14 hours/day; this is an increase from normal farming
practices. This increase in cows being milked would lead to an increased overall
profit for farms on a yearly basis. In light of this initial research an
Australian study found that there is still potential to increase the number of
milking’s on AMS farms, by a maximum of 
approximately 60% – these findings are in agreement with those of (Davis, et al., 2005) who had
previously highlighted that AMS in New Zealand had the potential to perform
additional milking’s (Lyons & Kerrisk, 2017). Moreover,  the study of 107 AMS farms in Germany, Belgium
and Denmark, carried out by (Mathijs, 2004) and (Bijl, Kooistra, &
Hogeveen, 2007)
found these robotic milking farms to have labour savings of 20% on average and
that found farms using AMS had more cows and could produce more milk per
full-time employee than farms with regular/traditional milking systems. Several researchers have also reported that AMS
can lead to an increase in milking production of 2 to 12% when cows are milked
2+ times per day when compared with cows being milked twice per day in
conventional milking farms (Jacobs & Seigford, 2012). Although there is potential
to see significant profit, a study carried out by (Skvortcov, Skvortcova,
Nabokov, & Krivonogov, 2017) found that there was a decrease of capital productivity after the
introduction of milking robots for
15–60% (or more) on the farms, and it was also found that there was reduction
in the profit rate in 9 out of 11 of the analysed organizations because of the
high capital investment to initiate robotics projects in the dairy industry.
This is supported by (Lyons & Kerrisk, 2017) who found that given
the high capital cost of the milking equipment, farmers need to be organised
and prepared to optimise its utilisation in order to have the highest return
for that particular investment. Consultancy firms have already planned robotic
farm initiation schemes.Animal Welfare:The final theme in the
literature was the welfare of the animals; in this particular instance, cows. (Driessen & Heutinck,
2015) found that “with the modern high yielding dairy cow it is hard to say where
technology stops and the animal begins” and this made “assessing the ethical implications of the introduction of the milking
robot appeared to be a complicated matter, as both the farmers and the cows go
through a process of change following the introduction of a robot”. A key concern in this area is in the way farmers have to entice cows
into the milking stations. It has become apparent through rigorous studies by
various groups, (Prescott, Mottram, & Webster,
1998) and (John, Clark, Freeman,
Kerrisk, & Rawnsley, 2013), that when AMS are present farmers need to
starve or manipulate feed times to get cows to move. This unnatural movement raises
questions around the freedom of the animals.Although there are
concerns on animal welfare there have also been some considerably positive
outcomes; manufacturers in particular put emphasis on these positives (Holloway, Bear, &
Wilkinson, 2014).
In most cases, cows must voluntarily present
themselves to be milked, which provides the animal a chance to make their own
decision and this would create an ethical norm of (individual) freedom for cows
(Driessen & Heutinck,
2015). One
robot producer, Delaval, uses an alternative name for the automated milking
system: “The Voluntary
Milking System”. Furthermore, dedicated software installed in each system stores operational data, milking reports (i.e. daily average per cow, amount
of milk, interval between milking’s) and milk quality parameters (de Koning & Rodenburg,
2004). The cows that do show abnormalities or have not visited the robot for more
than a set period are identified and placed on a so-called attention
list. These cows require to be
checked by the farmer, and can then be put into an enclosed waiting
area that they can only leave
by visiting the robot.Studies also found that
by using ASM udder infections are reduced as the teat cleaning by the robots is more substantial than
what occurs on a normal farm, thus, any problems with the animal welfare (i.e. general hygiene, cow health, and herd management) has nothing
to do with the robot per se (Svennersten-Sjaunja & Petterson, 2008) (Dohmen, Neijenhuis, &
Hogeveen, 2010).Although there are
many positives, many animal activist groups only view this process as being
inhumane and go on to challenge the assumptions about AMS farming. If farm
managers are to implement this new technology they have to take into account
these activist groups in order for them to achieve optimal transition. Conclusion

This research
literature review relating to the organisational issues of implementing
automatic milking has highlighted three major themes in relation to the
management and organisational issues in implementing automatic milking systems,
these being: the challenges in implementing new technology, the profitability
of the technology, and the animal welfare. From the research, it is clear that there
are mixed and conflicting findings. Before implementing AMS it is important to
take all these concerns into account.

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