Bringing the Internet of Things into the farmyard
The job opportunities advertised on the Dairymaster website tell it all. To mention a few: vision and robotics engineers, digital marketing specialists and software engineers for their new 'cloud' and desktop application.
None of these roles existed when Ned Harty started Dairymaster in 1968, importing and installing milking machines to fill a gap in what was then an emerging market.
And what would Ned Harty have made of an employee who told him he loved working with a company that was at the forefront of big-data analytics and the Internet of Things?
His son Dr Edmond Harty, the current CEO, has led to Dairymaster to the leading edge, internationally, of dairy parlour technology, with a range that includes milking equipment, automated feeding systems, manure scrapers and milk cooling tanks.
There is also the famous MooMonitor, a piece of wearable technology for cows and an inspiration of Edmond Harty. A wireless sensor monitors the health and fertility of the herd and feeds the information back to the farmer on an app. It spares a lot of leg work and unnecessary costs and, among its benefits, is providing an accurate picture of when a cow is in heat.
"The MooMonitor is exactly the same type of technology as is coming out the "wearable" companies in Silicon Valley but we do a lot more. It takes three million readings a day from a single cow," he says
Harty says farmers are not slow to embrace technology and sees his role in meeting the needs of an industry facing ongoing change.
At its Kerry headquarters, the company employees 350 staff, including Shane Burns, who has BSc in Experimental Physics and a PhD in Applied Mathematics, both from the NUI, Galway
Burns started with Dairymaster earlier this year and, in his current role, he is working on algorithm development for sensor-data analytics.
"This involves a mixture of time-series analysis, data mining, machine learning, optimization, and algorithm development and evaluation. Typically, people do not associate the agriculture industry with big-data analytics, machine learning and the Internet of Things; however, this is very much the reality of today!"
He believes the farming industry is on the cusp of the next technology revolution, and that Dairymaster is a leader .
"Working at Dairymaster allows me to work on challenging and exciting problems at the forefront of big-data analytics and the Internet of Things," he says,
Harty says what is important at Dairymaster is that everyone works as part of a team and it is not lost on him that local property prices are a lot lower than in the big cities, an attraction in itself for potential staff.