Factory and production management

The aim of the animal feed production is to mix, as homogenous as possible, various raw materials and components to provide a balanced nutrition to food producing animals with the best conversion performance. Complexity relates to the use of raw materials and components, to the different technological characteristics, and to various physical aspects.

Most of them require grinding and this need determines the plant types by the positioning of this operation in the process. Thus, there are two main types of process flow diagrams:

  • Pregrinding process flow diagram (see Figure 1). In this case, the raw materials are firstly ground separately and stored before dosing (weighing). Pre-grinding has a reputation to provide good productivity performances of the mill, but it requires, for the same raw material, several bulk silos for the different millings.
  • Predosing process flow diagram. In this case, all the raw materials are weighed, coarsely mixed before being ground together formula by formula.

Predosing allows simplifying feed mills, with fewer raw material silos for multi-species feed mills and a good fit milling and formulation. The drawback will be the division of the grinding step batch by batch, more consumption of energy and the need of servocontrols to automate the processes.

There are different final presentation types for animal feeds :

Either the state: for instance, the feed called “meal”

Either the form : compacted pellets or crumbles, heat treatment by steam injection and compression in dies.

The commercial conditioning also provides differentiation. Animal feed can be delivered in bags or in bulk.

Generally, in Europe, a feed mill has short time of raw materials storage (average 3 days after dosing). Production management is run on a just-in-time production system. The feed orders by breeders trigger the production orders with very short delivery time (2-3 days maximum).

Raw materials purchases, whose prices are volatile and often speculative, will depend on the feed formulation as well as on the estimated consumption. The traceability of supplies and deliveries is facilitated by efficient production software.

Management of feed quality plays an important role in the compound feed industry. It must meet the requirements of specific certification schemes based on good manufacturing practices. In France, specific authorizations are allocated by the government at feed mills according to their production type (use of additives, medicated feed manufacturing, animal feed production salmonella free).