We were pleased to get some good angles on the subject of NIR in-line process control for this, our latest nirperformance.com shared perspective. It includes articles and video interviews on whole grain analysis at reception, developments in chemometrics, implementing a process control system and how to make it work in practice.
In general though, it seems that the use of in-line process control is not that widespread in the feed industry.
This is at odds with other industries. In the dairy industry for example, in-line control of processes such as butter or milk powder is becoming increasingly common. Indeed, we have pulled in an interview from an in-line process control user in the dairy industry because the topic covered (assembling the right team) is universal.
Looking at feed production processes compared to dairy, feed has more variables involved in terms of raw materials and type of production (batch vs. continuous). Perhaps this is the reason for the difference in uptake? However, as Ib Haunstrup explains in the video interview ‘Only measure where you can control’, even complex processes can be broken down into steps and points can be identified where a single key parameter such as protein or moisture can be measured. As Ib points out, it only makes sense to measure if you can actually do something. Finding the spot, having a system that can measure at that spot and then being able to control a key parameter can lead to improved process economy.
To conclude, we zoom right out to a broad perspective of the poultry feed integrator in the ‘Getting the big picture’ article. This describes an illuminating case from Brazil where NIR in-line process control contributes to overall broiler feed conversion rates and not just periodic cost savings in feed formula optimisation. After all, an animal needs what an animal needs to grow to maturity regardless of the changing price and quality of feed ingredients.
Small steps it seems combined with a holistic view on the goal of process control is a logical approach to the many variables involved in feed production.
What is your view? If you have experience of using in-line process control for feed production, please get in touch so that we can share your views and experience.