“Pellet quality is not only made in the pellet mill. The saying “the chain is as strong as the weakest link” applies also here. Every process stepadds to the achieved pellet quality. The finer the particle size after grinding the better the pellet quality, the higher the capacity and the lower the energy consumption at the pellet mill.”
Today, animal breeders and feed producers have to deal with business realities such as efficiency and performance, while facing contemporary challenges such as sustainable production, food safety and environmental footprint. Although it is extremely difficult to meet all these requirements, making the right choices can also make a significant difference. For example, choosing the feed form or technology to be used in animal nutrition. While choosing the right feed form has a significant effect on the performance of the animals, choosing the right technology can also have an impact on the performance of the enterprise.
We discussed these two extremely important topics of choice for animal breeders and feed manufacturers with Arthur vom Hofe, CPM Europe’s Segment Manager Feed & Oilseeds: pellet/mash feed form and feed technologies.
What about pellet feed or mash feed? Which one is better to choose? There is no definitive answer to this question that applies to everyone. This choice can be determined by many factors such as animal’s type, physiology, age and nutritional needs. Even the cost/performance balance is a determining factor.
According to Arthur vom Hofe, pellet feed production costs are higher compared to mash feed due to the diversity in the production processes. Therefore, vom Hofe emphasizes that it should be carefully considered whether the yield from pellet feed compensates the increased cost, and that the weight of the elements on the scale can change over time with the influence of market conditions.
Also, with the climate targets in mind there is an ongoing development to a more sustainable feed industry with a drive to use less raw materials and less energy to process them. And there is yet still so much to learn before being able to answer the question for each animal in full detail: “what is the best way to process feed to have the best yield with use of lowest amount of energy and lowest amount of raw materials”.
We sought answers to many other questions with CPM Europe’s Segment Manager Feed & Oilseeds, Arthur vom Hofe.
What are the advantages of pellet feed? Why are pellet feeds preferred more than powder/mash feeds?
In the early days people learned quickly that feeding animals with pellets instead of mash provided great benefits. Such as the absence of feed separation, reduced feed wastage, increased feed intake, improved feed hygiene and possibility to use low cost ingredients. In short, an improved growth rate and increased feed efficiency. However, on the other side, pelleting means increased energy and processing costs in the animal feed production plant. So there is always a balance to be made: are the benefits of pelleting compensating the increased costs. Interesting enough, the elements on the scale can chane in ”weight” over time. Depending on the always dynamic market conditions the outcome can be different.
“FEED INDUSTRY HAS DEVELOPED A LONG WAY”
What is the difference between pellet feed production facility and mash feed production facility in terms of production process and the technologies used?
Of course, the feed manufacturer needs to adapt the used production process and used technologies in his plant for pellets or mash. Where feed milling started with just a hammer mill grinding process and a mixer to prepare a mixture of soya and some grains, the feed industry has developed a long way. With the introduction of the pellet mill, the steam conditioning was introduced and also more different raw materials were used where possible. These typically lower cost materials were replacing usually the higher cost grains and came as residues from oilseed industries or exotic ingredients from far away countries. The introduction of these (low cost) materials usually had a negative influence on pellet quality.
PELLET DURABILITY AS QUALITY STANDARD…
What is the meaning of good quality pellet? What physical or sensory properties can be considered as quality indicators of a pellet?
The amount of fines in the pellets has a very negative effect on growth rate and feed efficiency. It is therefore an absolute must to produce good quality feed pellets, when pellets are preferred.
To be able to define the physical pellet quality, standards need to be set. In the past, people were measuring the hardness but over time pellet durability was seen as a better measure.
An early method was the Kansas State University tumbling test but because the pellet quality standard increased there was a need for a more aggressive pneumatic method like the (new) Holmen test. With this test, 100 g of pellets is placed in a chamber, blown about 60 to 120 seconds by a jet of air, and then weighed, giving a direct read of pellet durability. Fines are removed during the blowing process.
What is the importance of technology in producing good quality pellets? Can technology be a determining factor in pellet quality?
The pellet quality is determined by the product characteristics and used technology to process them.
The used feed ingredients are maybe the most determining parameter for the pellet quality; however they are determining the cost of the feed in an even larger ratio. Therefore, the feed miller needs to look into his process and used technology to optimize pellet quality and not into his formulations.
“THE CHAIN IS AS STRONG AS THE WEAKEST LINK”
What are the ways to produce quality feed pellets? What factors depend on pellet quality and durability?
Pellet quality is not only made in the pellet mill. The saying “the chain is as strong as the weakest link” applies also here. Every process step adds to the achieved pellet quality. The finer the particle size after grinding, the better the pellet quality, the higher the capacity and the lower the energy consumption at the pellet mill.
After mixing the material is going through a conditioning process before going to the pellet mill. The conditioning process, where usually steam and sometimes other liquids are added, is one of the most determining parameters for the pellet mill performance. Moisture, temperature, time and sometimes even pressure play a role in the conditioning process. In the pellet mill, the rollers are pushing the material through the die holes where the pellet is formed. Logically, the design of the die and rollers as well as the used pelleting techniques do have an extreme influence on pellet quality but if the pellet is not properly cooled and conveyed afterwards the potential great pellet can lose its class again. Even the sifting and storage of the pellets contribute to the final quality of the pellet.
What are the latest trends in pellet feed production technologies? What innovations/developments can we experience in pellet feed technologies in the future?
In the constant strive to achieve best feed efficiency, the industry has seen many developments in optimizing feed production. Important is to realize that in the end, the animal (health) will indicate what production technology is required. If you look, for instance, to the grinding process, 10-20 years ago the motto was grind basically as fine as you can. As mentioned before, this is increasing pellet quality and reducing pelleting costs. However, in the meantime, we have learned that the particle size has an enormous effect on animal performance, and this is different for different animals. So, what we see is that our customers do want more control of the particle size in the grinding process but still want a good pellet even with courses particles.
When choosing a technology for a feed production facility the most important thing is to realize there is no “one size fits all” solution. A technology perfectly suited for one kind of feed can be a disaster to another type of feed, and undo all the benefits achieved. Therefore, it is absolutely important to make a detailed consideration and define what products are produced, how many lines are required and what technology is most suited for each line.
A more environmental friendly feed industry means that special efforts are made to achieve a most energy efficient pelleting process. An optimized conditioning process is an absolute necessity for this. The newest generation conditioners start up fast, absorb steam optimally and are hygienic.
The pelleting process has seen the introduction of tools that are able to control the amount of energy put in by the pellet mill. Remote roll adjustment, roll speed measurement and special die and roll configurations are giving the pellet mill operator the opportunity to have a reliable and flexible pelleting process, producing optimal pellet quality with the lowest energy usage.
“SMART PELLETING” CONTROL PHILOSOPHY
The latest development currently being introduced is the “smart pelleting” control philosophy where AI data technology is used not only to achieve optimal process conditions at lowest operational costs but also achieve a most reliable process due to monitoring of the machine condition.
With frequent product change overs, the challenge is to maintain the plant efficiency when a feed plant requires high capacity but produces it with a limited amount of pelleting lines. Larger dies, high energy efficient pellet mills with a wide range of features, can bring the solution.
What are the technologies and features that CPM offers for pellet feed plants? What advantages do your technologies promise to feed manufacturers?
Innovation is seen as one of the most important key elements in the CPM organization. We even have a dedicated department focusing continuously on bringing new developments to the market. This is why CPM is playing a leading role in the technology developments which were introduced in the feed industry and described above.
Combining the CPM Roskamp roller mill with the CPM Champion large diameter speed controlled hammermill results in a grinding process where the feed miller can basically produce every desired particle size. From a course mash feed with minimal fines to a very fine grind all from the same high capacity grinding line. And because the material is pre-broken by the roller mill before going to the hammer mill, important savings in energy and wear costs are also achieved.
With the CPM New Technology conditioners a high filling rate is reached in the conditioners. The special paddle shape and configuration provide a better mixing and steam absorption, resulting in lower energy consumption and better pellet quality at the pellet mill. Due to the ”hot-start” technology, it is also possible to run the pelleting line within minutes at full capacity.
The CPM Hygieniser is the leading product for hygienic feed production. It keeps the product guaranteed first in first out for an adjustable retention time at set temperature. This means that all material (even the first kilo) processed by the CPM Hygienic system has reached the required temperature and retention time. This ensures the desired salmonella reduction for even the most demanding breeder applications.
Both the CPM Hygieniser and the NT Conditioners are engineered so that minimum rest product will stay in the machine at product change overs to minimize cross contamination.
The wide range of CPM pellet mills are the most energy efficient and reliable machines available on the market. They can be executed with CPM Lineator remote roll adjustment. Herewith the distance between die and rolls can be adjusted to vary mechanical energy input and control pellet quality. With the CPM Roll speed measurement system the “roll slip” can be measured. This not only provides higher uptime because pellet mill chokes are prevented, it also gives the opportunity to decrease die and roll wear costs because steel to steel contact is prevented. In this way, a die will produce longer with healthy surface achieving higher capacity at lower consumed energy per ton. And this again fits in a “sustainable green industry” mindset.
With the CPM “smart pelleting system”, there is a connection established between the machine, the operator, local controls and CPM process engineering. This provides additional online support opportunities to optimize the pellet production and guarantee optimal performance.
PREPARE FOR THE “UNKNOWN”
Finally, which criteria should be considered when choosing a technology for a pellet feed production facility? What are the tips for building an efficient facility?
When choosing a technology for a feed production facility the most important thing is to realize there is no “one size fits all” solution. A technology perfect suited for one kind of feed can be a disaster to another type of feed, and undo all the benefits achieved. Therefore, it is absolutely important to make a detailed consideration and define what products are produced, how many lines are required and what technology is most suited for each line.
In general, flexibility and space are the factors you most regret saving on during the design of the mill. The industry is always moving and requirements will change. Therefore, preparing yourself for the “unknown” is essential. Minimizing product transport and improved plant logistics are always a key to efficient feed plant performance.
Would you like to add more?
The feed industry will continue to develop itself and new innovations will be introduced. Continuous scientific research will bring new insights. New raw materials will find their way to the protein chain and require adaptions in the currently available production technologies. CPM will continue to play a strong and active role in translating the challenges our customers face into new technology solutions, and introduce them to the market.