Robots and oil free air – changing the game for dairy farming.


Our client is Lely Australia, an international family business in the agricultural sector producing innovative milking solutions and tailored services for dairy farms. Lely has been providing robotic milking solutions to farmers around the world for 30 years and it is imperative they partner with reliable suppliers; not just for compressors, dryers, accessories and parts, but also for dependable service and support with every unit that is shipped to their customers.

Lely’s robotic milking system revolutionises traditional dairy farming, making milking more efficient, more hygienic, more productive, more cost effective and most importantly – more relaxing for the cow. Traditionally farmers need to milk their cows twice a day which involves coordinating the animals, making sure the cows’ teats are thoroughly cleaned, and that equipment is manually hooked up to the correct positions on teats and bottles. This is time consuming and labour intensive at best. Those timings are most commonly dictated by the farmer and the herd and can be impacted by a range of things including weather, illness, equipment failure, and so on.

Lely’s robotic milking system is more cow-centric, with the robot operational 24 hours a day. Its automated simplicity allows the cows to make their own choices about when to be milked, along with grazing, drinking, sleeping and so on. Once the cow has entered the stall of the machine, Lely’s milking robot cleans each teat, then the cups attach themselves one by one to the teats. Milk flows into the machine and on completion of the process the cow exits. All the cows are tagged to enable them to be monitored for frequency of milking, stress, and other factors. This data all feeds into the robot for purposes of reporting, measurements, and overall productivity assessments.

Because milk is a food product it is of course essential that it is hygienically produced to be food grade, and oil free. Cows are highly sensitive by nature too, so any equipment associated with their milking must have low noise and vibration settings.


Jean-Philippe Leclercq is the Sullair oil free specialist who worked closely to help Lely secure their compressor package solution. “Because the milking is done 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, this robotic machinery works constantly. The compressed air therefore has to be high quality and a consistent supply”, explains Leclercq. “Lely requires one compressor on duty and one on standby at all times for each milking robot. They also need very low moisture in the compressed air, to avoid any possibility of bacteria development that may contaminate the end product. A desiccant dryer is also needed for each unit”.

The robots are powered by scroll compressors, which are quiet and generate low vibrations by design (more so than a piston or screw compressor). They are also of course oil free. These are key considerations, because if the cow is stressed at all, it moves around more, making it more difficult to milk effectively and therefore potentially disrupting production. Oil contamination can also be disastrous to the supply chain and the brand, so oil free compressors can offer peace of mind.

Sullair worked closely with Lely to customise their ideal compressor package solution. When a robotic milking unit is sold, the necessary Sullair package is shipped to Lely to accompany it, with everything delivered in one turnkey solution to their client – the end user.


Daniel McGrath is Customer Solutions Manager at Lely Australia and along with the service manager, worked closely with Jean-Philippe Leclercq to ensure the right solution was found for Lely.

“Our global company has structured design criteria for all their installations, so we had to follow a set of global guidelines for each install”, explains McGrath. “It was up to Sullair to meet Lely’s expectations and requirements. We needed air and temperatures delivered and controlled in specific formats which they then had to ensure the equipment could meet. Sullair had to go away and design something that fit those criteria – and they did.”

The reach and reliability were also key factors for Lely Australia. “We went with Sullair because they’re local to every region for the support function, as well as having spare parts readily available. They stock the equipment, the spares and have the trained techs to support it.” Lely also values their expertise as it brings another level of efficiency into their company. “We are trying to reduce our workload here and as an OEM, we want to focus on the product we make. We make milking machines – we don’t want to focus on compressors. We’re happy to invest with Sullair because we don’t have to hold parts, we make a call, and someone is there. We can’t fault them on that front.”

With the successful delivery and install of the first units to a dairy farm in South Australia in 2021, Lely Australia and Sullair are now able to work together to develop similar packages for other Lely customers.

“Being able to produce this result for Lely so seamlessly means they can now feel confident to order similar packages through us for their other clients”, says Oil free specialist, Jean-Phillippe Leclercq.

Interested in finding out more?

To learn more about Sullair’s oil-free solutions, call Sullair today on 1300 266 773 or contact us here.

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