La Cité designed a robotic cow-lift prototype


Agriguay Farm

This newly designed prototype is everything but conventional. Set up on tracks and powered by bicycle engines that enable it to move forward, this aluminum lift is mounted on a retractable arm equipped with a winch and a cable which are linked to a harness. It’s with this harness that Alexandre Castonguay from Agriguay Farm can move the cows who are unable to move on their own.

Robotic cow-lift prototype “We visited the client’s farm to take the initial measurements. We started from scratch,” explained Sylvio Méthot, Professor of the Mechanical Engineering Technology program at La Cité. “There were several challenges; the aisle was narrow, and the ceiling was low. It also had a slight slope. We didn’t want to leave anything to chance, we wanted this equipment to be able to move around in any space.”

The project began in June 2018 and required several hours of research, design and adjustments. The lift was ready to use just a few weeks later. The equipment can move around easily, turn on itself and lift a cow weighing up to 1,984 lbs (900 kg).

“It was very interesting to design and deliver a completed project to an actual client,” mentioned Alexis Thibault, a graduate of the Mechanical Engineering Technology program involved in creating the prototype. “It was great to deliver a project that met the client’s expectations. Also, the entire process allowed us to learn new things.”

“This isn’t a job, it’s a passion,” added Mario Giovanni Torlone, a graduate of the program who also worked on the prototype. “When you love what you do, you never feel like you are working even if it involves several hours like this project did.”

The client, Alexandre Castonguay, who is now testing the prototype, added, “It was interesting to work on this project with La Cité. The students are skilled. From the beginning, we could tell that they love what they do.” The project was funded by the Ontario Centres of Excellence and a monetary contribution from the client.