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Finding Solutions in Portugal

Posted on: September 11, 2014 Author:


One of the best parts of my job is getting to travel to interesting places to meet with and assist customers. Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to the beautiful country of Portugal, where my task at hand was to attend to one of our customers who wanted to optimize his defatted soy cake meal by managing the levels of crude oil in the finished product.

His strategy was to bring the crude oil levels down. The customer explained that by doing so, their customers, who were mostly dairy farmers, would realize an increase in milk fat percentage. An interesting reverse effect. The logic supporting this was that “feeding fat to dairy cows may decrease milk fat percentage if ruminal fermentation is adversely affected.”

The customer was looking to make a great product even better. He told me how his company was a trend setter in milk production, having cows that made the news by producing over 100 liters of milk for up to five consecutive days! He further explained that with this honor came the necessity of providing the best products possible, hence his commitment to unceasingly improve production efficiency, product quality and even his overall turnover.

Our first approach was to increase the feed to the extruders and, in turn, to the press. The logic was that since this was mechanical extraction, an increase in the load size would increase pressure, friction and  the amount of crude oil extracted. The first step was to check to be sure that the AMP readings on the control panels were correct, which meant comparing them with the readings on my AMP clamp. If we had received a lower read on my AMP clamp (perhaps 10 AMPs lower) it would have meant that the CTs were not functioning properly and the equipment was not being run at optimal load. This would then translate to reduced oil extraction and poor motor utilization, which is essentially a waste of electricity.

Increasing the feed to the extruders seemed to be working. However we were presented with a new challenge. There was too much “foots” coming out of the cage of the press. “Foots” is the term given for solid gruel-like material that squeezes out of the cage of the press. This problem seemed to be caused by the de-hulling of  beans by the destoner and the hammermill, which was not supposed to be happening.  Adjustments were made to the hammermill screens and the problems were fixed.

Furthermore, the hammermill was not cracking the raw beans into six pieces, which is optimal. Instead, it was breaking some in half or only taking the skin off, while leaving the raw beans whole and we ended up with a much more consistent grind, with less separation and even better results.

Coming up with solutions to make operations run smoothly can be a challenge, but, solving the problems faced and achieving goals set in place are both very gratifying experiences for me and the Insta-Pro Service Team.  Then throwing in all of the excitement that comes along with traveling, this trip to Portugal reminded me how amazing my job can be..

Cheap Becomes Expensive in Product Manufacturing

Posted on: September 4, 2014 Author:


Occasionally, we get into a discussion with small extrusion business owners who seek our advice on using proper nutritional requirements and typical ingredients to be used to manufacture quality products, as well as other operational parameters.

After discussing with these customers, many will stick to the recommendations, while a few will not. Those who don’t follow the recommendations may start modifying the formula or the recipe to include a cheaper ingredient at much higher inclusion rate than recommended, as long as they can manage to extrude and shape the kibble or meet the protein guarantee on the tag.

The reason nutritionists suggest certain ingredients and proportions is based on the known nutrient requirements for a given species, age/growth phase, environmental management conditions, and defined objectives.

Animals utilize nutrients supplied by the ingredients in the recipe to meet their need for maintenance, growth, production and reproduction. Those nutrients need to be readily available and in the correct proportions of each to achieve the objectives.


There can be many consequences of excessive use of a certain ingredient just because it happens to be cheap at the time. An example would be to include very high level of high ash (minerals) meat and bone meal.  High ash is an indication of lower protein quality due to higher inclusion of bones. You may fulfill the minimum required guarantees (maximum percent moisture, minimum percent protein, minimum percent fat, and maximum percent fiber) on your tag, but you need to realize that you are providing higher levels of calcium, phosphorus and other elements that will interfere with the utilization of some minerals and cause deficiencies. It may also impact the function of certain organs, such as the kidney.

Another example is the inclusion of an unusually high level of wheat by-product (wheat middlings). This ingredient (click here) can vary in its nutrients profile and may be used as a filler that provides some protein, phosphorus and fiber. A high inclusion rate may result in a bulky voluminous stool due to the undigested fiber. Its relative low energy level may dictate adding more fat to the kibble to meet the needed energy for growing, active dogs.

Trying to cut corners in the process itself can lead to unpleasant consequences such as losing a customer, ending sales or recalling the product if is proven to be unhealthy or unfit for sale. If a processor decides that he or she can do without a cooler for the kibbles prior to packaging, they may end up with mold growth in the bag. The combination of highly available nutrients in the extruded kibbles, heat, moisture and the presence of oxygen are ideal conditions for the growth of mold, yeast or bacteria. In other words, a recipe for ruining a quality processed product, simply because the processor failed to properly cool the end product.

To achieve success and stay profitable, there is no room for cutting corners. What you may perceive as cost reduction may turn out to be an expensive exercise in maintaining a profitable business.