nlm feeding system development project

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Engineering project at the Robert-Bosch-Schule in Zuffenhausen, Germany

Automated feeding system

As part of his advanced training to become a mechanical engineer, student Alik L. from Böblingen designed an automated feeding system for the children's farm in Böblingen.
When it came to choosing a subject for his final project, the dedicated student made a conscious decision to pick a topic from the social sector. At the children's farm in Böblingen, a non-for-profit, registered association, children get to learn all about life on the farm and how to handle animals.
All the animals are fed by hand twice a day at the children's farm. Feeding duties are carried out by the manager, volunteers and children who visit the farm regularly. Due to a shortage of staff, it seemed a good idea to introduce an automated feeding system that would reduce the workload for everyone involved. The feeding system also increases the number of feeds, which is good for the digestion of the horses.
During the project, the budding mechanical engineer had to comply with the following specific requirements:

• System to cover at least 2 feeds
• Financed by donations
• Able to be filled by children
• No reduction in space for the horses in the stables
• Quiet
• Able to adjust the feed quantity at will
Roughage system
The system for roughage (hay) has two compartments that are filled by hand, allowing the amount of feed to be regulated. The feeding times are controlled at will using a PLC (programmable logic controller). When a compartment is empty, this can be seen through a window. The children and handlers at the children's farm replenish the system at lunchtime. Filling the system provides enough for two automated feeds. Manual feeding is also carried out when the system is filled. The hay lies on “trapdoors”. As soon as the feeding time is reached, the PLC sends a signal to a switch, which opens the trapdoor and allows the hay to fall into the stable. Rubber buffers on the stop of the trapdoors means that noise is kept to a low level.
Concentrated feed system
The concentrated feed, known as pellets, consists of compressed whole grain. Automatic feeding takes place three times a day. The system has a supply container that holds 36 kg of pellets for around 60 feeds. A mark on the window indicates when it needs to be replenished. The feeding times can be varied via the PLC and the amount of feed can be manually regulated via a 3-stage rotary switch. This allows those working at the farm to define the amount of feed without having to access the PLC. Once the feeding time has been reached, an electric motor starts running. This supplies the pellets to the feed extraction point.
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