Vat Cleaner Cuts Farm Energy Costs
Opunake electrician Steve Corkill has invented a milk-vat cleaning device which will save dairy farmers thousands of dollars a year in milk hygiene and heating bills.
Mr Corkill says his vat-cleaning system, Vacars, is expected to be on the market nationwide next dairy season. It promises to be a boon for many dairy farmers who have been struggling to meet current cleaning standards.
The Vat Automatic Cleaning and Recycling System is the result of a three-year project involving Mr Corkill and a team of researchers, designers and electricians. Technology New Zealand - part of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology - helped to fund the project.
Vacars won a prototype award at the National Fieldays at Mystery Creek in June for its unique energy-saving elements.
"We realised that farmers had inefficient cleaning methods for their milk vats," Mr Corkill says. "They faced high water-heating costs to comply with the New Zealand dairy code of practice.
"Consumers are demanding a much better standard of hygiene. There is no doubt that standards are getting tougher for dairy farmers who face increased penalty payments for poor hygiene grades."
The code requires all milk vats to be washed for a minimum of 61/2 minutes at 200 litres a minute and at a temperature of at least 65C.
After working around hundreds of dairy farms in Taranaki, Mr Corkill saw the need for a vat-cleaning system that would make it easier for dairy farmers to meet the new standards.
The first cleaning system model worked well but needed further refinement to reduce the relatively high energy costs.
"It is incredible, but true, that half of a dairy farm's costs are in water heating, so we had to have another look at the vat-cleaning system to combat the costs," Mr Corkill says. "We developed a heat recovery device that can recover half of all waste heat while still keeping the temperature up to the required 65 degrees Celsius."
He believes that farmers installing the new device could recover up to 20 per cent of their total energy costs a year.
Mr Corkill has installed two of the new systems on Taranaki dairy farms to test them "on site".
"We plan to turn the system into a commercial product next year and there is potential for it to be exported, particularly to Victoria and Tasmania in Australia," he says.
* Steve Corkill, Corkill Systems Ltd, Opunake. Ph: (06) 761-7006, fax:
* Tony Hadfeld,, Technology New Zealand at the Foundation for Research,
Science and Technology, (04) 917 7800, or 025 454-095. Website:
behalf of the Foundation for Research, Science
Technology by ID Communications. Contact: Ian Carson (04) 477-2525,