Development

Objective

For too long, the lot of the stock farmer has been to drive up to a gate, get out, open the gate, drive through it, get out, shut the gate and move on to the next. In yard situations where it is necessary to enter a yard for feeding or strawing out, you often need to have a second person on hand to hold the stock back as you pass through. DOFYGATE has been produced to change that by being as secure and reliable as a standard farm gate but allowing automated access.

Timeline

February 2011

First concept based on an electrified flexible grid built, which was eventually replaced by the current design.

February 2012

Oliver Chastney joins project as Design Engineer. First Prototypes of new design built. Development of concept of a fencer that could detect touch.

May 2012

An electronics company was commissioned to develop an efficient fencer unit that only produced a shock when an animal touched it.

June 2012

A second electronics engineer was commissioned to develop an ultra-efficient remote operating system. Purchase of a Solidworks 3D design program and computer.

July 2012

Principals of the mechanical operating system laid down and developed. DOFYGATE Ltd Formed.

September 2012

Application made to Technology Strategy Board for prototype development.

November 2012

Funding approved. Development and manufacture of prototypes, which are tested on farm from April.

October 2013

To move the project forward, the development of the unique energiser and efficient motor control unit were both moved to alternative UK-based electronics engineers.

February 2014

Further testing of upgraded prototypes and development of pre-production model.

March 2014

Development of mobile and keypad opening and initial development of vehicle horn opening.

April 2014

Orders placed for first production run.

Development

dofygate in yard

The original development discovered that a detection / response concept would work and enable our unit to operate at a fraction of the power normally required for an electric fence energizer. There were some problems with our first design in getting a high enough ‘deterrent shock’ if a beef animal pushed its head under the gate or to control sheep. To overcome this, we commissioned a second energizer that is not only more efficient than our first but can produce a shock from 2,000 to 10,000 volts. We now provide the first shock in response to touch that is quite mild and will deter but not frighten. The second and third shocks are set at a higher level so that persistent interference results in a greater deterrent. Since the shock is constantly monitoring its environment, it will reset if an object touches the gate for longer than expected, preventing the battery from running down.

To prevent shocks to the operator the detection and response is turned off when the gate is up.
The motor unit was developed further to overcome the problem of one half of the gate but not the other half receiving the open signal. Now the gates communicate so if either half receives an instruction then both act in the same way. This means that pushing the open or operate button on either side opens or closes the whole gate. We have developed alternative opening methods so that it is possible to work the gate without a fob, including from a mobile telephone or upon hearing the double ‘hoot’ of a vehicle horn. Software can differentiate between this noise and other farm yard noises and it is possible to enable this feature only at certain times of the day, such as when the postman calls or deliveries take place. At other times a secure opening method would be required.

Trials process

Trials have taken place in Shropshire and around Norfolk. In all cases, the gates were placed in position and monitored by us twice a week, generating lots of valuable information. Specific features of the production version that have come out of this process are cabinet dimensions, siting of the operating switch, insulation, range, gate to gate communication, power of the energizer, how the fob is set up and more.

Every comment has been noted and every suggestion acted on in some way. At the same time, trials in and around the farm yard have taken place to ensure that our power use / generation is correct as well as endurance testing in our facility that can take the gate from -20°C to +40°C. We have trialled the gate on farms with cattle (both dairy and beef), sheep and pigs and in both yard and field situations.