Kemin Industries, a global nutritional ingredient company, recently hosted a conference in Europe on improving the efficiency, safety and profitability of feed mill operations. The event was led by a panel of six feed processing experts and was attended by feed mill operators from more than 20 countries, representing the continents of Africa, America, Asia and Europe.
“Few symposia provide in-depth discussion on the actual process of feed production, yet it’s a critical topic for the industry. Feed represents about 75% of the cost of animal production, and feed manufacturing represents about 10%,” said Dr. Chris Nelson, Kemin president and chief executive officer. “This conference equipped attendees with tools they can use to improve efficiencies in their operations.”
The panel provided educational, practical and business-focused insights that can be put in place to optimize the bottom line of feed production. Highlights from the series of expert presentations include:
* Juan Acedo-Rico González of Acedo-Rico & Asociados SL in Spain opened the conference with a discussion on feed technology trends and challenges for efficient manufacturing. He conducted an analysis on the main process involved in feed manufacturing and presented tools to improve feed operation costs while also maximizing feed quality, hygiene and security. He stressed the importance of controlling process weight losses, and to recover moisture losses during feed production. González said overall management and good training of the feed mill operators is key to managing feed production costs.
* Peter De Cneudt of Spirax Sarco in Belgium focused on “Optimal Steam Quality” to improve press performance. He said it is beneficial to use saturated steam or slightly overheated steam. With saturated steam, there is a direct connection between temperature and humidity. This means that if the animal feed's temperature increase after steam injection is known, the humidity of the feed can be calculated. High-quality steam for feed mill applications has a low variance in the dryness fraction. Because steam for conditioning can take up to 20% of energy costs in feed manufacturing, he believes it is important to carefully monitor steam use.
* Diego Clivio of Geelen Counterflow in Argentina focused on the “Optimal Cooling Process” and explained the theory of cooling, describing it as a process of heat and moisture transfer from the product to the air. He noted that air temperature and flow rate are important parameters of cooling. In a feed mill, airflow can be used to achieve evaporative cooling of pellets and to reduce the moisture content of pellets. Airflow rate must be high enough to avoid condensation, and air moisture content can be measured using a relative humidity sensor. Clivio concluded that high airflow rates will give more cooling by heat transfer but less evaporation, whereas longer retention times will remove more water.
* Oriane Guérin of Zetadec in the Netherlands challenged the audience to rethink the role of data in feed manufacturing. Data such as temperature, moisture content, energy use and production times can be collected along the entire processing line. She demonstrated the correlation between data and optimizing the production process to reach production objectives and stressed the importance of monitoring process and data collection for managing a modern feed mill.
* Dr. Luis Conchello of Kemin Animal Nutrition & Health Europe shared how efficient feed preconditioning can result in profitable and safe processing. He explained the fundamentals of the Kemin MillSMART preconditioning program and its role in preparing feedstuffs for optimum steam conditioning, pelleting and cooling. The MillSMART program uses the Opti CURB preconditioning solution, which has powerful surface-active agents to provide uniform dispersion and penetration of the solution. To further optimize the preconditioning process, Kemin has developed an engineering nozzle technology to increase application homogeneity and online control technology to decrease process variability. Conchello described how pelleting under these optimized conditions has a positive impact on hygiene, throughput and energy consumption. It reduces wear on the dies and frictional heat, which is beneficial for pellet quality and durability.
* Raf Snoekx of Kemin Animal Nutrition & Health Europe explained the engineering systems, online monitoring technology, software and hardware Kemin offers to manage process variability in feed mills. These tools can be used across different stages in a feed processing plant to reduce variability and, in turn, improve efficiency. He said the goal of batch processing is to limit moisture variability to ensure uniform quality. He described how feed mill operators using MillSMART can leverage the online monitoring technology to achieve a more consistent process.