A trip to a ‘smart’ poultry farm

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A trip to a ‘smart’ poultry farm

I visited Ganong Bio in Pocheon, Gyeonggi, which operates a “smart” poultry farm. I assumed that it wouldn’t be a smelly and noisy conventional farm, but it was far more modern than I had expected. The poultry farm of 600,000 chickens and the egg processing plant were connected to computers and communication devices. The computer system controls farming chores such as feeding chickens, collecting eggs and discarding fowl droppings. More importantly, smart computerization has greatly enhanced productivity at the farm.

The system built by Ganong Bio keeps track of the amount of feed and water consumed by each chicken in addition to the chicken’s weight, as well as the temperature and humidity of each shed and the amount of carbon dioxide and ammonia in the air. The data is analyzed to provide the best conditions to maintain healthy chickens. A chicken lays 280 eggs a year now, and Ganong Bio is working on a project to have each chicken lay 310 eggs. Ganong Bio expects 4.3 billion won ($3.9 million) in additional profit.

The digital system has also cut costs. When each chicken eats 1 gram (0.04 ounces) less feed a day, it saves 200 million won a year. The goal is to reduce feed by 17 grams, and it will add up to 3.4 billion won a year. When IT is integrated into farming, 8 billion won, more than 10 percent of the revenue, is earned additionally. This was made possible by the smart system.

Ganong Bio CEO Yoo Jae-heung said that it was a desperate move to survive. When eggs from China and Russia are imported, domestic farms cannot compete unless they enhance productivity and cut costs. The smart farm is a fruit of his endeavor.

The example of Ganong Bio can be applied to the Korean manufacturing industry. The labor productivity of Korea is 24th among the 34 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The smart factory is a great effort to boost productivity. As the government promotes the “Manufacturing Industry Innovation Strategy 3.0,” it set the right direction to make production processes digital and smart. However, a smart factory is not so easy. Korea is a late starter compared with China, not to mention the United States and Germany. While Korea is a leader in information technology, the technology related to smart factories is still behind. But the government plans to invest 1 trillion won to make 10,000 smart factories by 2020 without proper preparation. Companies may compete to get government and half-hearted smart factories may be created.

Let’s go back to Ganong Bio. The company did not build the smart factory because of the government direction. It was a voluntary choice to survive. Thanks to the skills and know-how accumulated from being in the business for 40 years, they know exactly what smart technologies are needed in the poultry farm. This is how a real smart factory is created. We should not be impatient, and the administration needs to rid itself of greed to see results within the term. We don’t have a lot of chances to waste.

*The author is a business news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo. JoongAng Ilbo, April 1, Page 30

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