Way Forward in Feed Milling

As the world is gearing up to face the challenges of 2030 & 2050, it is high time to revisit the approach or strategies of feed milling. The compound feed manufacturing is not only capital intensive process, but it is also energy intensive. At present, most of the feed mills focus on Tons Per Day (TPD), that is the production output and compared against the designed capacity of the plant. While focus on productivity of feed mill (TPH Tons Per Hour), it is equally important to focus the pellet quality of feed, which is measured as Pellet Durability Index (PDI). Both are interconnected. It is recommended to optimize both production and pellet quality.
The way forward to meet the future challenges are focusing below areas
• Effective Process control
• Established Maintenance programs
• Energy Management
• Cost of production, that is INR/Ton or $/Ton
Process Control
There are Critical-To-Process (CTPs) and Critical-To-Quality (CTQs) parameters in every step of feed milling process. Those CTPs and CTQs are to be monitored and controlled. The controlled process produces consistency in feed quality. In addition, the controlled process minimizes the variations in CTPs. This leads to smooth operation of machines, which maximizes the machine and spares life.
In conventional feed mills, the control systems is called open loop control system. It only measure the CTPs & CTQs and the control of process is done by manual intervention which creates abnormal variations in the process. The modern instrumentation technology offer solutions for on-line measurement of CTPs and CTQs. The close loop control systems will further process the data and control feed milling process in a real time. This eliminates human error and reduces variations in the process. The Statistical Process Control (SPC) tools can be applied to the milling process. The modern mill equipment manufacturers are incorporating these features in the control system. These tools are powerful in controlling the variations in the process. Also gives information to take proactive decisions which helps to control the cost of operation.
Maintenance Programs
Most of the feed mills use reactive approach towards maintenance of machines. This means Breakdown maintenance. Whenever breakdown occurs, problem is resolved by doing the corrective actions. This affects the feed mill operation in following ways
• Increases machine downtime
• Reduces machine output
• Affects the quality of product
• Reduces the production output
• Reduces the machine/ equipment life
Some of the feed mills are implementing Scheduled Maintenance program. While its serves the purpose of operation, but it is not enough to meet the challenges of future demands.
The objective of maintenance program should be “Zero breakdown”. To achieve this high level goal, the next level of maintenance programs like Preventive Maintenance program, Predictive maintenance programs are to be implemented. The Condition Based Monitoring (CBM) of machine is the key strategy in Predictive maintenance. The modern sensors collect and record the data in real time. CBMs objectives are
• To monitor the reliability of machine
• To monitor the reliability of spares like pellet dies, rolls, hammers and screen etc.
• To make the purchase decision of new machines or spares based on the performance
Some of the CBM techniques are
• Vibration analysis
• Oil analysis
• Infra-red thermography
• Motor current analysis
• Acoustic emission analysis
In a nut shell, CBM helps to predicts the “next potential machine failure”.
Energy Management
The global energy consumption is forecasted to increase 815 Quadrillion Btu in 2040 from 530 Quadrillion Btu in 2013. All form of energy cost are in increasing trend. Effective energy utilization in every business is a big challenge.
Pellet feed milling process is energy intensive process compared with mash feed. It is because, the pellet press used high electrical capacity motors. It also uses steam to gelatinize the feed particles. So it is very important to consume these energies effectively for better profitability. Also energy conservation is national and global interest. Typically, in a feed mill the below mentioned energies are consumed to run the feed mill
• Electrical energy
• Boiler fuel
• Fuel to run the vehicles
Feed mill management can develop an Energy Policy. It should set energy efficiency benchmark. The benchmark allows the feed mill operation to compare their energy efficiency results to national and global standards. Every feed mill should track the energy performance of the feed mill. The feed mill can be segregated as different energy zones like
1. Intake Batching Zone
2. Grinding Mixing Zone
3. Pelleting Packing Zone
4. Office Zone
5. Silos/ Warehouse Zone
The energy consumptions of different zones can be measured and monitored individually. The energy targets for individual zones arrived and assigned to respective zone champions. The champions will be accountable for conservation of energy of their own zones. Rewards and recognition can be considered for those champions who meet and exceed the targets. The team will come up with NEW ideas to reduce the energy consumption. The modern tools and technologies can be considered to further improvement in energy conservation. This will create a culture of conservation of energy in feed mill operation.
Feed Manufacturing Cost (FMC) (INR/Ton or $/Ton)
Nutritionist around the globe always works to control cost of feed formulation by introducing newer raw materials and technologies. The plant operation should keep monitoring the cost of production and find ways to optimize the cost. The cost can be categorized in separate silos.
1. Personal cost
2. Property cost
3. Operating cost
4. Shrinkage cost
These cost needs to be measured periodically and compared against previous period. The technologies can be used to optimize the cost. This exercise will leverage the profitability of the organization.
Feed mills should be approached as a Profit center instead of Production center. Even though the top management wish to operate feed mill as a Profit center, the operation team in most of feed mills runs the plant as Production center. This shift in approach will bring Continuous Improvement in feed milling in Quality, Productivity and Profitability. That’s the way towards 2030 and beyond.

M Kanagaraj, Catalyst Techvisor Private Limited