Getting a good night’s sleep

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Source: Pas Reform

As a millennial, I grew up with technology, and personally I feel that technology makes life easier. The smartphone in your back pocket connects you to the whole world and the possibilities are endless! Royal Pas Reform has developed hatchery management software that provides you with an overview of the whole hatchery, on your smartphone. One of my favourite features is the hatchery alarm management. If there is an alarm outside normal working hours, this feature calls the person on duty, no matter where they are and what they are doing, and gives a specific alarm message. But for some reason, an alarm always seems to come at the most inconvenient time, such as during the night…

In the past, an alarm would mean that the person on duty had to hurry out of bed, only to get to the machine and realize that this specific alarm could have been dealt with during the day. Or, it was just a temporary hiccup, like a temperature just out of range for a few seconds but meanwhile back under control. There goes your sleep! Nowadays, the person on duty gets an alarm on their smartphone and can log into the hatchery to assess the severity of the alarm and decide whether they need to get out of bed. They can also make an adjustment via the phone or choose to solve the issue later.

When visiting a customer this year, I saw in the alarm history that they did not have many alarms at all. However, I did see some strange climate graphs when comparing them to their corresponding setpoints. Several hatchers had higher CO2 readings than the setpoint after hatch, without giving an alarm. We found the reason for this easily (too little negative pressure in the fluff tunnel), but the fact that the machine was not giving alarms worried me. When investigating the machine settings, I saw that the alarm setpoints were much wider than advised, but the relatively new hatchery manager shrugged his shoulders and said it had ‘always’ been this way.

Asking around, we found the reason for this. In the past, the people who worked night shifts and slept in the hatchery were not happy about the deafening alarms and having to get out of bed, as it was interrupting their sleep. The alarm setpoints were therefore changed; the bandwidths were broadened, they had fewer alarms and they got a nice long sleep.

However, if you increase the alarm setpoints you lose initial warnings of – for instance – high CO2 concentrations. Over time, a high CO2 concentration can impact the hatch percentage, especially if it happens during the critical hatching phase. Increasing the alarm settings means that, if an alarm does go off, you have such a serious issue that you need to run to save the chicks. In fact, this had happened: due to a mechanical failure, a hatcher valve had remained closed, the CO2 concentration in the hatcher increased, and by the time they finally got an alarm they had lost a lot of chicks.

Alarm notifications on your smartphone give you an advantage: you get an alarm, but then you have the option to decide whether you need to get out of bed. If not, you can be back asleep within minutes. So, please don’t broaden your alarm setpoints!