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Beco Dairy Automation Inc.: Innovating Dairy Equipment and Design
Beco Dairy Automation Inc. (Beco) was founded in 1958 as an equipment dealership offering installation and maintenance services to dairy farmers around central California. Today Beco has grown to an international supplier of high-end equipment for the dairy industry by focusing on customized installations and designing systems around the needs and layouts of customers’ individual facilities.
Through years of installation and service, the team at Beco developed one of the most in-depth familiarities with dairy equipment in the world. Beco's professionals started to recognize both technological trends and manufacturers’ faults. Eventually, the company launched its own line of equipment, focusing on efficiency, ease of use and maintenance, as well as price. According to Stan Brown, president and owner of Beco, the team’s precision allowed the company to remain a leading equipment manufacturer for large-scale dairy operations, sold through both national and international networks of dealers.
Recognizing details is just one of Brown’s assets, the sum of which keeps Beco evolving. The company’s customers include some of the largest commercial dairies in the world. “It just evolved into our own branded product line,” Brown explains. “We have a lot of high-tech products that help farmers manage cows and dairy.”
Detailed Dairy Design
Beco is involved with every aspect of dairy automation from design to maintenance. “Our real niche is filling the needs of large dairies,” says Brown. “Approximately 74 percent of the United States’ national milk supply comes from only 14 percent of the dairies. Obviously, these dairies are much larger than average and have special needs. They literally milk 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, only stopping to wash the facility two or three times a day. In that environment, the equipment must have a much higher standard of sophistication and reliability.”
According to Brown, the basis of Beco’s high-tech systems is to monitor all critical aspects of the milking process. Certain systems monitor equipment performance while other systems monitor operator performance and consistency. “Finally we have systems that monitor how well the cows are doing,” he explains. “All that information flows to a central computer where management has real-time data regarding the critical milking process. If you are going to maximize the production potential of a herd, and maintain good herd health, everything must be done correctly each and every day.”
Beco’s equipment involves a series of sensors that are tied in with RFID tags to track information about cows and monitor milk quality and activity. The systems are highly integrated and can sense conditions like a cow’s overall health, milk output and whether it is in heat.
The monitor tags, dubbed Lactinators, feed information into a database where dairy managers can view and manage records. Additionally, other monitoring systems can detect sick cows. “They detect when a cow is finished milking and it can backwash the system if a cow is sick,” says Brown.
Beco relies on feedback from the company’s representatives and customers to build successful projects and products. Communication helps the team at Beco sort through what works, what doesn’t work, and what could work very well for clients. Each system is made to order, customized to clients to help them run operations smoothly. Working with customers on an intimate level from the beginning increases efficiency while it decreases maintenance and downtime resulting from altering components.
Beco has several new products in the works, which are designed to make milking easier on both farmers and cows. “We’re launching a new high-capacity milking claw,” says Brown. The claw affords a higher capacity as cows’ production rises. According to Brown, test results for this new claw on several dairies throughout the United States led to a five-percent increase in milk production across the board. “Cows got healthier and milk quality improved as well,” he says. “Some people find this hard to believe, but it takes an in depth understanding of the cow-machine relationship works to accept these fact. They are real.”
Several other products are in the design phase, and Brown says he has a few in the works that his clients are eagerly anticipating. Staying ahead of the technology curve is vital to Beco’s business, as Brown’s team maximizes innovation through flexibility.
“We keep it lean,” he explains. “Everything is made to order and we have lots of spare inventory we can draw from.” Brown’s crew includes some of the best in the business, but he says sometimes it can be a challenge to fill positions. “It’s hard to find people who have an in-depth knowledge of an industry,” he says. “Between different service areas and machinery, you have to really know about cows, and that takes years.” Brown requires 10 years of experience for his field team, citing that his customers depend on a deep understanding of how the machines and animals interact with one another.
Despite the challenges, Beco continues to grow as a business in both its product offering and its geographic footprint. “We’re working with a dairy in Saudi Arabia that is the biggest in the world,” says Brown. “This dairy has several facilities, with the largest one milking approximately 25,000 cows. Each cow is milked four times a day, representing 100,000 milkings per day on just one of the facilities. Last we checked, they have enough milking points between all of their facilities that 2,800 cows can be milked at one time. When you run the numbers it represents around 250,000 individual cow milkings in just one day.”
Brown credits Beco’s long-standing reputation in the industry, as well as a rejuvenated marketing plan, in expanding the business worldwide. “We have some good suppliers who have been with us for a long time and an unparalleled engineering team,” adds Brown.
Brown and his team at Beco are among the most experienced dairy automation professionals on earth. Under Brown’s leadership, Beco has grown leaps and bounds in the market, and he continues to do so. Brown’s high-tech approach mixed with a dedicated team that really understands the business allows Beco Dairy Automation Inc. to remain on track for sustained growth and a future of ingenuity in the dairy business.