Feed Ops: Improving the efficiency of feed mills
The business models of animal feed companies are designed on fundamental principles generally based on maximizing sales or optimizing production of meat, milk or eggs. Based on business goals, a plant manager can make key decisions based on plant performance and efficiency, which will increase profitability and productivity, while reducing costs. Understanding the parameters to measure and use for decision-making processes is essential if a plant manager is to be successful in influencing operational efficiency.
To determine the optimal ways to improve plant efficiency, key performance indicators (KPIs) that are most important for a successful operation should be identified. For feed mill operations, key performance indicators can generally be grouped into categories such as productivity, quality and safety. When considering these categories, productivity is the KPI category most closely related to plant efficiency. Productivity includes tonnes per man-hour, tonnes per cycle, changes, energy per tonne, actual run hours versus planned run hours, downtime, tonnes delivered per load, and loading waiting time.
Higher tonnes per cycle improves plant efficiency by minimizing the number of times the operator switches to a different type of feed, whether in the mixing or granulating process. For operations without a granulation line, changes can cost the operator approximately 5 minutes depending on the system design and the time designated to purge the equipment downstream of the mixer. For operations that include granulation, this time is more costly not only because of the changes, but also because of the rise and fall time of the pellet plant. Depending on the configuration of the granulation lines, the operator may lose 20 to 30 minutes with each change of pellet mill. Therefore, reducing the number of pellet mill changes can improve the efficiency of your pellet mill.
Energy consumption audits
While energy consumption audits can be a major headache, identifying areas for improving energy efficiency can offer big economic rewards to feed plant managers. The goal of an energy audit is to examine which cost centers and production practices consume the most energy and offer the most conservation potential. The energy costs of a power plant are usually the combination of electricity and fuel costs. Electrical costs are associated with the cost of running motors, providing heat, and keeping lights on. Therefore, equipment that works with electric motors such as conveyors, bucket elevators, cleaners, dust collectors, pellet mills, crushing equipment and air compressors are the main consumers of electrical energy. The fuels are used for boilers for pelletizing and heating and vehicles for delivery trucks and forklifts. Understanding the shortcomings of an energy audit and how to manage different equipment, such as crushing equipment (hammer or roller mills), boilers, air compressors, etc. can improve efficiency and reduce cost. operation of a food factory.
Electrical energy is also consumed when using hammer or roller mills to grind grain. The energy required to grind cereal grains depends on the size of the target particles, the type of equipment and the ingredient to be ground. The energy required or the cost of grinding increases as the target particle size decreases. Besides the cost of energy, the cost of maintenance should be monitored.
The energy required to run the grinding equipment for its intended life will far outweigh the cost of the machine alone. Therefore, it is important to make sure that your equipment is properly sized and well maintained to reduce energy costs. The diameter and screen area of hammer mills should suitably match the connected power motor. As with roller mills, the motor power should be related to the surface of the roller. Energy costs for milling corn typically range from 15 ¢ to 25 ¢ per tonne, but can increase as high as 70 ¢ to $ 1.40 or more per tonne with fine grinding. It’s important to remember that proper maintenance of grinding equipment can save the power supply crusher around $ 50,000 per year when producing around 500,000 tons of feed, according to a study by the grinding equipment manufacturer, California Pellet Mill.
When feed plants have a pelletizing line, it requires a boiler to provide steam for the packaging process. Boilers need fuel to operate, thus becoming an energy cost. However, maintaining the efficiency of the boiler can help save the amount of energy required. One of the main reasons commonly seen for boiler inefficiencies is having chalky or soot tubes and incorrect burner settings. Monitoring boiler efficiency could lead to potential cost savings. Monitoring boiler flue gas emissions and stack temperature could identify potential problems or inefficiencies. If you are measuring the temperature of the chimney or flue, the goal is to make sure that it does not exceed 100 ° F of the temperature of the vapor. Additionally, energy can be saved by ensuring that the fuel temperature meets the fuel specifications recommended by the burner manufacturer, according to a 2005 article published by the American Feed Industry Association.
Air compressors are another piece of equipment found in the feed mill that can lead to significant electrical costs if not properly maintained. The proper selection and sizing of equipment will help reduce the cost of operation. Oversizing an air compressor system will require a larger motor than what might be needed, which will increase the cost of operation. It is also important to ensure that the intake air is from an outside source at 70 ° F.
Additionally, running an air compressor at a higher pressure than necessary can cost extra money in the operation. For example, a reduction of 2% psi can reduce the cost of the operation by 1.5%. In addition to running air compressors at an ideal setting, maintenance is a key part of keeping equipment running efficiently. It is important to select oils that reduce friction, change filters if necessary, and keep belts tight to prevent slippage. However, the highest energy cost occurs when air compressors leak. An air compressor leak can cost the factory anywhere from $ 5 to $ 134 per day depending on the size of the leak.
Look for planning inefficiencies
One way to assess the overall efficiency of a feed mill is to compare actual and planned hours of operation. If a mill works more hours than expected, then inefficiency occurs which must be corrected. Managers need to identify key areas that are slowing production and preventing the mill from meeting schedule. Typically, these inefficiencies can be attributed to manufacturing difficult-to-granulate feeds due to formulation, demand for additional feed, problems associated with feed distribution, fluidity issues, and low productivity. employees.
Unscheduled downtime can also lead to a differentiation between actual and scheduled operating hours. Unplanned downtime consists of scenarios such as mechanical failure of equipment, lack of ingredients needed to make food, shutdown because finished feed bins are full of food, or the time required to clean decked tanks. These problems can arise from a multitude of places, including shopping, nutritionist, transportation, employees, and establishment. It is important for the manager to understand what is causing these inefficiencies and how to improve them to help operations.
Finally, optimizing the loading and delivery of finished food can improve the efficiency of plant operations. Feed factories should strive to reduce the time it takes for a truck to leave the factory site. The time trucks spend waiting at the site reduces the overall efficiency of bulk delivery. The efficiency of bag feeding loading may be affected by the lack of experienced forklift operators, the location of the product in the warehouse, as well as the overall organization and logistics within the warehouse. . In terms of food delivery, maximizing the amount of food delivered per load relative to legal weight limits can help improve delivery efficiency. The tons per load delivered can be influenced by the weight of the truck and trailer, the planning department, the loading operator and the accuracy of the loading system. Evaluating logistics and the loading and delivery of finished feeds can improve the overall efficiency of feed mills.
Follow-up with collected data
Defining feed plant goals and evaluating the details of day-to-day operations can lead to improvements in plant efficiency and overall economic performance. However, it’s important to remember that you can’t handle what you can’t measure.
Defining the key areas to monitor with the data collected can be beneficial in helping plant managers make important decisions on how to improve plant efficiency.
The feed mill is made up of a team of individuals, such as management, operators and maintenance staff, who must be committed to maximizing the efficiency of the production of quality feed.
Collecting data to monitor the process is a valuable tool not only for determining inefficiencies in the plant, but also for communicating to employees the importance of their work and how their actions affect productivity and operating costs.
Chad Paulk is an assistant professor of animal feed science and management in the Department of Grain Science and Industry at Kansas State University. He can be contacted at [email protected]