Thursday, 05 August 2021 08:55

Kiwi company known for excellence in dairy

Written by  Staff Reporters
Waikato Milking Systems head office in Horotiu, Hamilton. Waikato Milking Systems head office in Horotiu, Hamilton.

Made in New Zealand is a feature that looks at the wealth of design and manufacturing ability we have in New Zealand, producing productive and cost-effective products for the agricultural sector. This week we take a closer look at Waikato Milking Systems, catching up with Jane Burton, head of global marketing.

Q: When was the company founded, by whom and why (was it to solve a problem or market a product)?

Our story began as far back as 1967 as a division of the Alex Harvey Industries plastics moulding company. By 1988, Carter Holt Harvey had bought the company, formed an agricultural division, then collaborated with the Ruakura Research Centre, developing products like the Ruakara Milk Harvester, that separated milk and air between the cow and the milk vat. By the late 1980’s the focus had shifted to the manufacture of rotary and loop-line milking systems. Waikato Milking Systems was launched in 1992, transitioned through a management buyout, before being acquired by its current owners of Tainui Group Holdings, Ngai Tahu Capital and Pioneer Capital in 2014.

Q: Where are you located - is it single or multiple sites - and how many people are employed?

Head office is based at Horotiu, Hamilton, with warehouses and offices in Australia, UK, Ireland, China and USA. The business has around 100 employees based in New Zealand, with approximately 30 international employees and services global markets with 109 international dealers.

Q: What are your key products and which markets do they serve?

High performing milking solutions and dairy technology including rotary milking systems, herringbone and parallel systems, dairy automation, milk yield recording, cow identification, animal heat and health systems, sorting and animal management, dairy management systems and milk cooling.

Q: Are your products unique and, if so, what are the four key benefits? If not, what are the four unique selling points?

We are a NZ-based company, known for its excellence in the dairy sector, that supplies all the dairying markets/ regions around the world. Primarily, all our products are manufactured at our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Horotiu. We take pride in being at the forefront of new dairy-related technology, while also ensuring that precise quality control is one of our guiding principles – a position we achieve by manufacturing in-house whenever possible.

Q: Looking at an ever-evolving market, what changes have you made over the last few years, or what will you have to do in the future?

Today’s dairy farmers are hungry for data to monitor their herds more accurately, enabling them to make informed decisions on productivity, even down to individual mobs.

Labour shortages means more farmers are looking for greater efficiencies, so saving labour units in the dairy allows other farm jobs to be carried out between milkings. More automation during the milking process has led to greater efficiency and more profitability within the operation.

We have a strong focus on innovation through research and development, releasing new products that enable farmers to utilise data-driven technology to increase their efficiency, productivity, and profitability, while at the same time, protecting the environment.

Our increased use of new technology has been recognised in the Technology Investment Network Annual Ag Tech Insights Report that looks at 200 companies in NZ. In 2020 we were ranked 42nd, but in the space of one year, we jumped to 7th position.

Q: What has been the company's greatest success since its formation?

The Centrus Composite Rotary Milking System is heralded as the most significant evolution in rotary platform design in 50 years. The Centrus platform is 75% lighter and stronger than concrete alternatives making them the choice of farmers across the spectrum of global dairying, from family-owned to intensive 24/7 operations.

Q: Where do you see the company in the next three, five and ten years? What changes do you foresee to keep relevant and grow your business?

We are continually looking at ways to improve on our high-performance milking solutions, to ensure maximum milk is harvested per hour, while also expanding into other rapidly growing dairy segments including sheep and goat milking.

By continuing to grow our international business partnerships, leading the way with our technical knowledge and production supply chains, we can provide high performance milking systems and unique solutions, with low cost of ownership, to progressive farmers worldwide.

We want to ensure we provide service excellence, mainly by growing our global network of dealers, working with people who are committe to delivering quality solutions and service.

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