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Ridley Block opens tech center

Ridley Block opens tech center

- Center includes research lab and pilot plant.

- Co-location to enable rapid implementation of new technologies.

- Center to support needs of RBO's eight U.S. plants.

THE livestock feed industry is under constant pressure from ingredient scarcity, increasing costs and, often, a limited supply of conventional feedstocks.

Ridley Block Operations (RBO), a division of Ridley Inc., announced that it has recently invested significant resources to help better manage the ever-changing ingredient landscape by opening the RBO Technology Center at its Worthington, Minn., manufacturing plant this past winter.

The RBO Technology Center includes a research and development laboratory and a pilot plant facility. The center provides RBO with a reliable testing environment for all of its product forms, the company said. RBO is now able to perform tests from the laboratory bench all the way to production scale.

The pilot plant facility is furnished with new and restored equipment that is capable of modifying and testing existing and acquired technology before going into full-scale production.

RBO has made several acquisitions during the last decade. From these acquisitions, RBO has gained access to and experience working with several new technologies, the company said. The underlying goal is to merge the acquired expertise with existing manufacturing knowledge and equipment in order to realize "the best of the best" in new technologies.

Research and development associated with modifying and improving acquired know-how to suit current demands is a major priority of the newly formed technology center.

The manufacturing facility at Worthington was a perfect location for the technology center since it produces most forms of block products marketed by RBO, according to the company.

Having the technology center adjacent to the Worthington manufacturing plant also will allow for prompt feedback in both directions and provides a production environment for rapid implementation of new technologies.

The mission of the center is to: provide technical support for RBO's production facilities to evaluate new feed ingredients across the wide variety of block forms manufactured, introduce new processes that may help bring down production costs, improve existing processes that support employee well-being and safety, develop new products and improve the quality of existing products.

The RBO Technology Center will support the research and testing needs of RBO's eight plants nationwide by developing a practical environment and research protocols to fully evaluate ingredients and finished products.

RBO's main products include self-fed animal feed blocks such as low-moisture, poured, composite, pressed and compressed blocks. Manufacturing facilities can send samples of new potential ingredients (or non-conforming products from a production line) and request that the RBO Technology Center conduct analyses or feasibility studies.

The suitability of new ingredients can be determined to help reduce the time needed on production lines for successful implementation into production. The center will also routinely verify new batches of current feed ingredients and finished products while providing recommendations for any adjustments.

The center has already achieved significant accomplishments for increasing the use of new ingredients as well as reducing non-conforming products, the company said. Also, it has contributed to a number of patent applications based on the information gained from research and experimentation generated within the facilities as well as in conjunction with other locations.

Further expansion of the center will help grow its future research capabilities by collaborating with major agricultural, engineering and research universities as well as independent facilities across North America.

The final goal of establishing the RBO Technology Center is to provide high-quality animal nutrition products and services for Ridley's customers. Ridley said it believes that the new center is another big step forward in its growth strategy to become the industry's leader in delivering self-fed nutritional supplements for production livestock, wildlife and companion animals.

Ridley Inc., with headquarters in Mankato, Minn., and Winnipeg, Man., is one of North America's leading commercial animal nutrition companies.

Volume:85 Issue:21

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