Is moisture content in feed synonymous with profit margin? Talk to a feed producer and you’re likely to see a head nodding in agreement.
How valuable would it be to have a continuous read-out of the moisture content of your feed at points along the process where you can still adjust your process to reach a moisture target? Sounds like money in the bank, and BUCHI near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy is a proven tool for the job. It’s also possible to monitor other critical feed parameters, like protein and fat, simultaneously.
Check out this short note showing how a BUCHI NIR-Online® process analyzer was used to monitor fat, protein, moisture and crude fiber after the mixing step in a feed operation. Or, read below for a case study at the German RKW mill that produces 75,000K tons of mixed feed annually and uses BUCHI IR-Online® to improve profitability.
The production process
At the RKW Kehl production facility the process begins with a check of raw materials for upcoming orders. The feed is predominately composed of soy and maize cereals, with minerals, vitamins and amino-acid supplementation. Feed composition is obtained by the required moisture, fat, protein, crude fiber and starch of each recipe. Due to the inherent variability of these nutrients in the incoming raw materials, the ratio of raw components needed to fulfill the nutrient profile of each recipe must be recalculated daily.
Mixtures under scrutiny
Raw materials are selected, scaled and mixed according to ordered batch recipes using the process control system. The quality control group determines whether a feed mixture falls below a required protein or fat content, or if moisture needs adjusted to meet specifications. Prior to the installation of the NIR-Online® process analyzers, the answers to these questions came from traditional laboratory analysis with long wait times. Now, the answers are streaming in real-time using the NIR-Online® device at the end of the mixing unit.
Near-infrared (NIR) light emitted from the sensors illuminates product through an installed window resulting in absorption by the sample, which is characteristic of its composition. These readings are visualized in process charts by personnel in the switch room. If preset parameters are over- or under-run, corrective adjustments can be made immediately. Integration of the NIR-Online® products with the existing process control system provides the opportunity for automatically generated, highly detailed process documentation.
“[Because the process can be stopped or adjusted early in production if specifications are not met] the utilization of NIR-Online® has minimized expensive rejects and complaints,” said Mr. Lühr, as he described the financial advantages of the NIR-Online® solution. “This benefit is further increased with the possibility of adjusting moisture content in real time.”
The NIR-Online® process software calculates the difference between the in-line property measurement and the batch set point without stopping production, ensuring moisture addition is precisely controlled for each batch.
“If we are able to converge within 0.5% of the moisture set point of a batch, we can sell more than 375 tons of additional mixed feed per year – a substantial benefit. “The investment in NIR-Online® technology will be paid for in a few months”, Mr. Lühr stated.
Find out more
Use the BUCHI Application Finder to explore additional application notes related to NIR in the feed industry. Or, Contact Us to get details on the broad array of feed materials and properties that can be measured by NIR.
Looking for a different technology? Click here to see results that include applications for all of the BUCHI product solutions for the feed industry, including: Kjeldahl, Dumas, extraction and spray-drying.