Pork Expo Thoughts

As I prepare this week for several presentations to various foreign visitors coming to the US for the World Pork Expo, I’m thinking about Expo. I think most people attend Expo for 2 reasons. The primary reason – it is THE place to meet and greet those involved in the US pork industry. This includes suppliers (the obvious reason for Expo), slaughter plant buyers (they have a huge interest in production trends), producers, advisors, lenders, etc. I’ve already arranged several meetings with clients and others for the 2 days I will be attending.

The second reason many have for attending expo is to see/touch ‘new’ technology. It is always interesting to me to what it being offered by vendors as the latest and greatest technology. While I don’t have specific insights as to what might be offered by vendors, one technology I’m following with interest is the evolution of the ventilation controllers used in US production facilities.

Our industry has moved from mechanical thermostats (where you ‘turned the dial’ to hear it click to verify calibration) to electronic controllers that are really sophisticated computers. Increasingly the ventilation controller is becoming the communication hub for the production facility. The next generation of controllers not only controls heating and ventilation but now has capabilities to monitor water use, link to feed bin load cells and make this and other data available in a graphic format on your smart phone.

The challenge I’ve seen with this technology is that to get the benefit of the technology, you need to understand the underlying processes. This means you need to understand the controller’s ventilation control logic, the errors associated with feed bin load cells and how the controller corrects for these errors, the limits of water meters (and water medicators), etc.

In the end, the proper question to ask regarding any of the new technologies on display in Des Moines next week is – If I use this technology will it improve the growth and well being of the pigs in the facility in a manner that justifies the expense?

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