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What's Cookin' In The Kitchen?

Kitchen Fill mode seems to have a reputation for being slow, awkward and inconvenient. However, using it saves you time and avoids incidents.

Many farms wait until the critical alarm, “Kitchen Empty” to load up the kitchen. Others take the feed grabber out of operation via the tablet before filling the kitchen, sometimes triggering extra alarms. Still others ‘sneak’ into the kitchen to slide a block in place or re-arrange older feed while the system is running.

Waiting for the kitchen empty alarm might seem sensible and convenient, this often results in unnecessary downtime. You might not be on the farm when the call comes, and this results in downtime until you return to fill the kitchen. It does not save time, because rather than planning when to manage your kitchen, the alarm interrupts another task you were in the middle of. Either you must put off filling the kitchen (causing downtime) or you drop what you are doing. Either way, it isn’t convenient or time efficient.

Slightly better is the routine of manually taking devices out of operation in order to fill the kitchen. This usually involves logging into the grabber to manually drive it out of the way. If the MFR calls for a mix it will alarm when the grabber doesn’t respond. Now your phone is ringing while you are trying to do a routine task. Once the alarms are sorted out, did you mark the blocks as filled? Better log in again to double-check.

Worst of all is trying to hurry a block or two in—or even load the entire kitchen—in between grabs. This has all the flaws of the above methods with the added risk (and WCR gets the calls) of equipment collisions that result in downtime, callouts and bills.

There is a simple way to take the grabber out of operation, have it park and at a convenient place away from equipment, and fill every block. It is called Kitchen Fill mode.

At any time, press the “Play” button on the console. The grabber will finish the current task, then drive to the parking location and shut down. The traffic light will show a flashing green light when this is done and you can fill your kitchen. When finished, press “Play” to do a system self-check where the button flashes. Once the “Play” button is solid, press it again and the system will go back in operation. All kitchen blocks automatically get marked as full.

This is the best way to fill your kitchen, even if you only fill it partially. The grabber will mark a block empty after a quick scan, there is no need to manually mark the blocks you placed as filled. Doing it manually may seem faster, since the grabber won’t go to that block at all, but human error is common. If you forget to mark filled or mark the wrong blocks, a “Kitchen Empty” alarm will occur, causing downtime and a phone call.

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