Animix LLC, a manufacturer of vitamin and mineral premixes and supplements oriented to custom production and marketing, is the winner of the Feed Facility of the Year Premix Manufacturing Category, conducted by the American Feed Industry Assn. and Feedstuffs.
The 23-year-old company has a strong dedication to biosecurity and customer trust and strives to achieve both through established research and nutrition experience, verified production and operating procedures as well as highly personalized selling relationships.
Established in 1994 to capitalize on an underserved need for water-dispersible premixes in the veal industry, Animix now not only provides the milk replacer industry with premixes, supplements and milk replacer ingredients, but it also leverages this water-dispersible expertise and the associated attention to detail necessary to supply custom-manufactured, private-label products to companies that serve producers of all farm species.
Animix is continuously looking for new technologically advanced niche products to enhance and expand its product line and improve service to customers, according to Ronelle Blome, executive vice president.
Animix markets its products to milk replacer and veal feed manufacturers, calf supplement marketing companies and distribution and manufacturing companies that serve producers of all farm species both in North America and overseas. All products are sold FOB from its headquarters in Juneau, Wis. Delivery is arranged by either Animix or the customer using independent carriers or the customer's trucks.
Flexibility is at the core of Animix's business model. Customers value the ability to purchase in almost any batch size, with packaging that varies from foil pouches and pails to bags of nearly any size and with product forms that vary from dispersible powders and direct-fed microbials to liquids.
The annual tonnage of the company's main facility is 4,240 tons, all of it carrying customer brand names. While the Animix name is not on the products in the marketplace, the company's expertise and commitment to researching new technologically advanced products is more than evident in the vast array of product lines and services provided to customers, Blome said.
Dedication to biosecurity
All Animix employees are qualified individual (QI) trained upon hire, according to Sherry Jones, vice president, customer support and administration, purchasing. She explained that quality is part of the company's everyday mission statement and is reflected by all employees as they complete their jobs daily.
Some specific policies in place include: work boots never leave Animix, uniforms are provided, daily walk-around checks are conducted, an approved supplier list is used, receiving and quality control checks are run on all incoming and outgoing products before they are released, ingredients — both raw and finished — are barcoded for efficient traceability and weekly inventory by lot number is done on all ingredients and finished goods.
Mock recalls on finished and raw ingredients and packaging also are conducted regularly. In 2017, the company initiated lot coding of packaging.
The barcoding and accounting system are tied together to prevent products from entering the Animix system from unapproved suppliers, to prevent products from being used prior to quality control approval and to prevent the shipping of finished products without being released. The barcode scanning eliminates the use of a wrong ingredient, plant manager Randy Boldt said.
Animix's highly diversified product line requires a heavy emphasis on quality control to assure customers of the highest-quality product possible, quality control manager Erin Brewer explained. Brewer noted that water-dispersible products (premixes and supplements used in milk replacers or drinking water), in general, require very rigid quality control procedures and methods. Likewise, special knowledge and skills are required to select and procure proper raw materials, as well as to ensure that the finished product meets the customer's specific demands. Animix is in the process of significantly expanding its quality laboratory.
Customers know Animix as a responsive and reliable supplier of consistently high-quality products, said Janusz Sowinski, president and owner of Animix. He further explained that the company prides itself on helping its customers understand and keep up with changing state and federal regulations. “It's a value-added service we provide that our customers appreciate,” he said.
Animix does not import, transport, store or utilize any animal protein sources prohibited by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. The company is approved for the production of medicated products and takes great care, through a systematic quality control system, to ensure that both its medicated and non-medicated ingredients are properly formulated and that all product is accounted for throughout the process.
Animix owns and operates two facilities: one that manufactures and floor stocks several popular calf antimicrobials, and a second that is a medicated free facility and also does not contain antimicrobials.
The Animix facility is hazard analysis critical control point certified as well as Safe Feed/Safe Food certified and meets all Food Safety Modernization Act requirements.
All things measured
Animix has 20 production employees, one maintenance person, three clerical employees and three supervisory employees. The company leases one truck that it uses to haul products back and forth between its two facilities in Juneau.
Metrics tracked at Animix include: man-hours per ton by mixer line, pounds produced per day by mixer line, setup man-hours per ton and mixer utilization. In the manufacturing area specifically, each individual bag of product is hand weighed to assure accuracy.
“We don't have the fastest line speed, but I'd argue we offer the highest quality when it comes to delivering what the customer orders,” Blome said.
The company's latest capital commitment was the 2016 installation of a 6,500 cfm Scientific Pulse Jet dust collector, positioned outside the production area with ducting to the various mixers. By replacing seven dust collectors in the production area with one, Animix was able to cut its maintenance costs in half. On average, 215 lb. of dust are recovered from the production area per week, Boldt said.
Jones added that the improvement paid for itself in just 61 months.
In the area of safety, Animix has a committee made up six employees who meet on a monthly basis. In addition to the meetings, Jones said representatives from the committee walk the facility monthly to look for safety concerns and improvements. She noted that they have been instrumental in obtaining automated external defibrillator units, public address systems for emergency announcements, powerful radios for communication and hazard analysis on all jobs.
Safety training is ongoing at the plant. Jones said every employee, at all levels, is involved in safety.
Specific standard operating procedures are discussed in monthly staff meetings, followed by a test. Often, games like Jeopardy are used, and prizes are given to keep employees engaged and learning. Jones said their motto is, “Say what you do, do what you say ... and prove it!”