‘Different, better’ principle guides equipment development
Choretime’s Tom Lippi discusses manufacturing and industry consolidation.
Tom Lippi’s interest in manufacturing was stimulated by early exposure to the plant of the A.R. Wood brooder
company in Minnesota where his father
was president. He earned a BME, followed by a Masters in Industrial
the University of
service in the U. S.
Army, and a stint
as an engineer at
was persuaded to
join his father in
1973. From 1981
through 2001, he served as director of engineering research and development, V.P.
of international sales and V.P. of marketing for Big Dutchman with an intervening
short spell with the Brower Company.
Since 2002 he has been associated with
CTB’s Chore-Time brand, and since 2005
as vice president and general manager of
the Chore-Time Egg Production Systems
Business Unit. In July he became vice
president of business and technology development for the corporation.
Egg Industry: How do U.S. equipment
manufacturers interact with the industry?
Tom Lippi: It is a collaborative process. At Chore-Time we continually consult with egg producers regarding their
requirements. We are guided by the principle of “What does the customer need?”
After internal development and testing,
new modules are installed at selected
clients for further ;eld evaluation.
When we are happy that installations
or equipment is ready for full release we
invite potential customers to visit these
operations. We also unveil innovations
at tradeshows such as the IPE and the
Midwest Exhibition, but new releases
do not always coincide with the show
calendar. Our sales team has developed
close relationships with our client base
and they also make use of videos, farm
tours, advertising and our web site to appraise the industry of new products.
EI: How have producers worldwide bene;ted from innovations from the advances
made by equipment manufacturers?
TL: The ;rst area which comes to
mind is the durability of equipment. In
the 1980s cages were expected to have
a life of 15 years or less. Current installations may last as long as 25 years with
good care. I attribute this primarily to
improved ventilation since there have
been no major changes in galvanizing,
welding or assembly.
The second area is reliability, achieved
through upgrading the design of mechanical components and control systems. Breakdowns impact production,
disrupt operations and lead to increased
repair costs. Through applying constant
improvements we hope to contribute to
customer pro;tability. Chore-Time believes that we should, where possible,
“make equipment different and make
it better.” This principle guides our development engineers and manufacturing
EI: What have been the major trends in
design of egg production equipment over
the past 20 years?
TL: Manufacturers have adapted cages
to accommodate to a reduction in density
dictated by welfare regulations. We believe
that current systems allow optimal expression of genetic potential with regard to egg
production, livability and feed conversion.
Most systems today take into account the
popularity of in-line complexes which demand gentle handling of eggs through elevators and along conveyors.
There have been remarkable strides in
environmental control systems. The introduction of manure belt batteries has enabled many producers to retro;t high-rise
houses with new cages to increase production. Manure belt batteries virtually eliminate ;ies and rodents, suppress salmonella
infection and yield a potentially valuable
EI: Can you provide an example?
TL: The impact of inappropriate design
was clear when the ;rst manure belt batteries were imported from Europe. Those
installations which were designed for
relatively small houses frequently failed
in units of over 350 feet in length. Many
of those early installations had to be upgraded and reinforced.
Chore-Time entered the market a little
later than our overseas competitors but
with the bene;t of experience which was
incorporated in our designs and manufacturing.
EI: From your perspective do you perceive any advantages or disadvantages associated with acquisitions and consolidation within the U.S. egg industry?
TL: The structural changes within our
industry are driven by economic factors
and changes and are inevitable following
the trends in many other sectors of the
economy. It is obvious that consolidation creates a measure of market stability.
Consolidation re;ects the pattern inherent
to food distribution which now comprises
relatively few major supermarket chains.
From the perspective of an equipment
manufacturer we are now able to in;uence
a wider segment of the market through
fewer decision makers. There appears to
be a convergence of needs which obviously contributes to the ef;ciency of our
research and development and the speed
at which we can deliver new systems.
The situation in the U.S. is contrasted to
Canada which has many more farms but