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A Novel Double Wheel Rake Machine to provide high quality fodder and high operational speed

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - RA-RAKE (A Novel Double Wheel Rake Machine to provide high quality fodder and high operational speed)

Reporting period: 2016-11-01 to 2017-02-28

A high quality forage is essential for the breeding of cattle, permitting to increase the production of milk and associated products and to decrease the causes of death of animals due to the clostridia, a bacterium feared by all farmers, associated with dirt (especially ground) generally mixed in forages. Clean forage also reduces its loss due to the phenomena of fermentation and mould spores contained in the ground itself. The current raking systems: 1) or are not able to provide a quality forage, 2) or are slow, exposing the farmer to the risk of rain and loss of fodder, besides of increase production costs, 3) or use heavy and extremely expensive machines which are bad investments. RA-RAKE is the genial idea of using a simple, cheap and extremely effective system to solve all the problems related to fodder windrowing. RA-RAKE will be able to produce a much cleaner forage at twice the speed of others rakes, permitting enormous economic benefits to farmers, and allowing a great jump to the whole European agriculture sector, activating the economy and creating new job positions.

In the last four months we have worked to check the technical and commercial feasibility of RA-RAKE project, and, strong of the results achieved during this study, we have made up our mind with the decision to apply for Phase 2 proposal. Indeed, the FS has confirmed the uniqueness of our solution, the technical feasibility of the project and the commercial profitability even in the worst scenario. We have great expectations for RA-RAKE as, since the first steps of the FS, has aroused great enthusiasm in our clients, which expressed their interest on participating in the project development throughout their participation at field tests.
During the last 4 months we have worked hard to analyse the technical and financial feasibility of RA-RAKE project which has highlighted the novelty character of our windrower and the great advantages that it is able to bring to farmers. In addition, during phase 1 execution we have prepared all the boundary conditions in order to be immediately ready for Phase 2 execution: we have found and contacted all the possible stakeholders (technical and commercial) and we have made a market analysis developing a commercial plan to successfully introduce our technology. We have organized the work done in 4 tasks:
The first action of the technical feasibility was an evaluation of the State of the Art on windrowing technologies. We compared it with RA-RAKE, and we have spotted the uniqueness and the advantages of our solutions. Therefore, CAD design and simulations over different star wheel shapes have been realized to find the optimal dimension for the first prototype. A technologic demonstrator (prototype of the raking units) has been manufactured and mounted on a frame to make preliminary tests which have been a complete success. In order to be ready with Phase 2 execution, a detailed technical plan to increase the TRL up to 9 has been carried out, as well as a deep analysis of risks related with the action to be done and a mitigation and contingency plan in case of occurrence.
During this task, fundamental for Phase 2 execution, we have spotted all the stakeholder necessary to efficaciously carry out the project and to launch RA-RAKE on market. We have contacted and made preliminary agreements with 2 types of stakeholders: technical (suppliers of components and subcontractors for some of the planned tasks) and commercial. Some of the latter will support us with the logistic of field tests and with the organization of demo days with farmers.
The business plan includes 3 different subtasks: a) market analysis, b) definition of a commercialization plan and c) definition of an IPR strategy to protect and exploit the findings of RA-RAKE project.
Market analysis. During this task we have analysed the agriculture machine markets. We have subsequently made a market segmentation according to farm dimensions and identified our target end user analysing their needs, according to geographic and climate region, socio economic conditions and farm typology. We search for the main competitors and analysed how they are introduced into the market and their supply chain. This analysis, jointed with an assessment of drivers and restraints, has led to the following task, the definition of a commercialization plan.
Commercialisation plan. The definition of the commercialisation strategy has been a fundamental activity during Phase 1 execution, coming from the result of the market analysis. During this subtask we have identified the most effective way for RA-RAKE market penetration. We analysed Repossi’s strengths and how to maximize our current commercial network. We have planned those activities in order to disseminate awareness on RA-RAKE technology and to communicate project results to be ready for its market launch in 2019.
IPR strategy. During this subtask we made an FTO analysis to guarantee that we will not infringe any related patent and to make a comparison with other technologies. The outcome was the confirmation that RA-RAKE is a unique technology, a lot ahead than our competitors. For this reason, we have already patented in Italy our technology and we want to protect it through an EU patent, for which we have already applied at the European Patent Office, and we are thinking to apply worldwide.
During this task we have demonstrated the capability of Repossi to successfully carry out RA-RAKE project. The coverage of 30% of the project is guaranteed by the profit generated by current sales and company profit. We have done several projections for RA-RAKE sales (3 scenarios evaluated: a pessimist, a conservative and an optimistic scenario). In addition we have made a full analysis of RA-RAKE costs, defined a price policy and assessed the economic benefits for end users that will be used as commercial argument during the meeting with our clients.
RA-RAKE is an innovative windrower that, daughter of an existing technology (the wheel rake), will overcome all the problems currently associated within raking technologies with a product completely unique, simple and requiring low maintenance. It is an evolution of the wheel rake that can provide exceptional performances, decreasing by more than 80% residual dirt in the fodder with respect to the original technology, which was developed in the sixties and was never improved. Improving the windrowing performance will have a huge impact at European level, allowing to increase the production of bovine breeds, by improving the quality of the raw materials (milk) and all derivatives products (cheese, butter, yogurt...). All these benefits will be achieved while reducing the production costs, creating an incredible positive effect on the agricultural sector, generating more profit and therefore new job positions.
With RA-RAKE, Repossi will represent an efficient and cost effective innovation (40% cheaper than other machines) that will offer a solution for improving quality in forage harvesting (-75% less dust & stones), reducing fermentation problems, and allowing very fast performance in the field (> 20 km/h) which increase their productivity (40%-time savings), and reduce the cost associated to energy consumption and maintenance.