NUL incubator ready for market

NUL incubator ready for market

ROMA – THE National University of Lesotho (NUL)’s Robotic Egg Incubator, Pius the XII, is ready to hit the markets.
That’s thanks to the innovation of Seforo Mohlalisi and Thabo Koetje, Electronic Engineers at NUL.

The incubator controls temperature to the finest digits, confines humidity to any required range, automatically turns the eggs and continually pumps water needed in the system during operations. In addition is has an alarm system to that alerts you of dangerous conditions and keeps you on the loop about what’s going on.

With a capacity to produce 600 chicks at a go in a fully automated manner, it is probably the most complex machine ever designed and made in Lesotho.  NUL Engineers say that after developing and testing the incubator over three years, the university is now ready to negotiate with investors who are willing to commercialize it.

“This NUL funded machine is designed to be robotic—that is, it will do everything by itself,” Koetje said.
“We can easily argue that its features help it beat many of its competitors already in the market.”

“When you have it, yours is simple: you put the fertilized eggs in and you will get your chicks after 21 days,” Mohlalisi said.
The machine is dubbed Pius the XII Incubator.  Now, take a tour into what the machine will do for you!

We already know that it controls temperatures accurately.  That is because instead of using a thermostat system, it measures incubator temperatures and controls the amount of electricity going into the heating element.

This puts it on its own league because it uses the modern principles of process control which are hard to master.
But then, it trashes other traditional incubators even further.
Here is why.

In conventional incubators, you just put water in large bowls and HOPE that your humidity would be where you want it to be.
Pius the XII fixes humidity right to the selected range.

Hatching period needs much more humidity, thus most people would pull the eggs after 18 days of incubation to put them in separate hatchers for higher humidity and other relevant conditions.

However, Pius the XII Incubator becomes Pius the XII Hatcher in a split second.
It will increase humidity levels to required ranges in a moment.  To transform from incubator to hatcher, you simply press a button.
Then the egg-turning part.

Pius the XII will turn the eggs every hour of the day, on its own, to maximize nutrition distribution.
And there are daily trips with traditional incubators—to refill water.
Humidity is water in the air.  To maintain humidity within the incubator, one needs to keep adding water into the bowls of most of the traditional incubators several times a day.

You miss this once and you find humidity levels fatally low!
“In our case, we have installed a mechanical means to bring just enough water into the incubator automatically from a large container or tank,” Koetje said.

“The flow of water matches the amount used for humidity, so there is no overfill!”
The incubator can also control the speeds of the fan inside.

If temperatures happen to be too high, the fan speeds go on overdrive, to bring the temperature down before eggs are damaged.
Some parameters are shown on a display—here you can trace the humidity and temperature values.
Also, green lights say the conditions are right and red lights say the conditions are too high.

If, for instance, the temperature becomes alarmingly high, the machine triggers the alarm to alert the farmer.
In the end, all this work is carefully documented.

Mziwakhe Makhaya, a Mechatronics student at the University of Cape Town (UCT) who is a volunteer on the project, documented the entire incubator using Solid Works software.

“I wanted to make sure that anyone can just pick up the generated drawings and easily make a replica during commercialisation,” he said.
The incubator is able to withstand high humidity conditions thanks to a wooden casing built by NUL’s carpenter, Lintle Mafa.

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