Upgrading your Process Control System

Marcel Benes (Inteqnion) & Hennie Pieterse (hp dezign)

A new breath of Life

Many feed mills have been built before modern-day electronics changed the scene on process control level.  Upgrading your Process Control System might beScreen Shot 2014-09-25 at 6.55.44 pm one of the best investments you can make.  Better control of feed manufacturing operations offers an existing mill a second breath of life resulting in benefits such as:

  1. Higher Output as a result of Optimised Production
  2. In many cases, Energy Consumption Decrease
  3. Reduction in Wear Part Cost
  4. Increased Quality
  5. Increased Profit
  6. Decreased Human Error
  7. Feed Safety (Track & Trace Options)
  8. Extensive Reporting for Attention Directing purposes

Process Control solutions have been developed for plants ranging from

  1. Feed Mills (Mash; Pellet Press and Extrusion Plants)
  2. Premix & Micro Dosing Plants
  3. Petfood & Aquatic Feed Plants
  4. Grain Handling Installations
  5. Bulk Handling Installations
  6. Flour Mills
  7. Oil Processing Plants

DSCN4269How do we do it?

The first step is to understand what the customer has in place.  An analysis of the existing control system will point out the advantages and disadvantages, keeping into account the customer’s management style and market expectations in terms of end product characteristics.  This information is vital in designing a Process Control Solution that will meet the requirements of both customer and the market served.

We would normally do this by visiting the Feed Mill to examine existing MCC’s (Motor Control Centres) and determine how and if we can re-use some of the existing installation and cabling.

Development and design a of a proper Process Control System could generally be outlined as follows:

  1. Analysing the Process and understanding the Operational Parameters (Process Control Variables) that effect
    • how the Plant is operated (from Drawings and Process Flow & Instrumentation Diagrams)
    • the Quantity of Output from the Plant
    • the Quality of Output from the Plant
    • a visit to the feed mill is vital
  2. Analyse and quantify all Instrumentation & Sensing Devices (field components) sensing the process operational parameters (these output signals become the input signals for the automation system) such as:
    • Temperature
    • Pressure
    • Moisture Content
    • Flow Rates
    • Motor Loads
    • Motor Speed
    • Weight readings from Load Cells
    • Other Signals
  3. Analyse and quantify the Current Electrical Control System
    • especially the MCC’s including all it motor groups, frequency converters and all connected cabling
    • Look which MCC / motor groups can be reused (or leave in place)
    • View if there is enough space to place Remote I/O for connecting signals to the automation
    • Consider if some motors should be more effective when RPM is controlled by a frequency converter
    • Survey the cabling system
    • Position Touch Panels near important machines like pellet presses and extruders
    • Signals from Instrumentation and Sensing Devices are sent to Process Control Hardware 
      • Signal Conversion and Automation via PLC’s
      • MCC’s (Motor Control Centres), Distribution Panels and Touch Panels
      • Cabling & Cable Trays
      • Feed Mill Computer(s)
  4. Design the Process Control System & Software
    • The automation system is built up of the following:
      • PLC’s (Programmable Logic Controllers) PLC’s are used for the direct control of Electric Motors, Slides, valves, etc.  Main operational tasks are given to the PLC which makes PLC’s responsible for the actual of the process and its parameters.
      • SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition).  the SCADA system full fills two main functions:
        1. It gives a Visual Overview of the Feed Mill; all the processing equipment; equipment status (running or not) as well as the actual and required parameters to alarms.
        2. It forms the link between the PLC and the Feed mill Server / PC
      • Process Control Software (Batch Explorer) for overall control of the Plant and includes functions such as:
        1. Administration such as raw material & bin management and inventory control
        2. Formulation management of all products produced
        3. Product orders for fully automated production
        4. Reports covering inventory, production, out loading
        5. Tracking & Tracing from raw material / supplier to finished product / customer (and vice versa)
        6. ‘Batch Explorer’ is a Manufacturing Execution Software (MES) by Inteqnion especially developed for feed mills. More than 50 installations are successfully used by Feed Mills around the world.
        7. Optional interfaces to ERP or formulation software such as Bestmix is possible.
        8. ‘Batch Explorer’ sends its orders through SCADA to the PLC, which will do the actual control of the processing equipment.
  5. Implementation of the Automation Steps above
    • It is our goal to switch from a manual or existing control system to a fully automated system with minimum disruption of operational activities and production output from the plant.

Online Support

The internet changed the world!  It also makes it possible to remotely assist and support an automated Process Control System 24 hours per day and 7 days per week.

Need an improved Process Control System?  Contact us today to learn how Inteqnion can help getting a new breath of life into your existing Plant.

Costs over the Lifetime of a Feed Mill

Investing in a new feed mill or upgrading an existing one may ask for a substantial investment.  It is therefore understandable that feed mill owners and operators take care minimising investment cost.  However, Costs over the Lifetime of a Feed Mill should be the total concern, and not the cost of the initial investment only.

Engineering & design : is it worth it?

Few feed mills find it cost effective employing full-time staff of Mechanical, Electrical and Structural Engineers looking after their need for plant expansion or building a new feed mill.  It is therefore not uncommon outsourcing these services when time comes to expand or build a new feed mill.

Naturally it seems difficult for new or existing feed millers to accept that allocating part of theirCosts over the Lifetime of a Feed Mill investment to the initial engineering & design of their new feed plant or existing feed plant expansion, is worth it. Engineering & design services could be classified as an intangible product.   However, the effect of engineering & design results in a very tangible outcome.  An outcome that may result in acceptable operational costs after installation, or an outcome where excessive operational & maintenance costs constraints the main purpose of the feed mill.

Costs factors

The chart “Costs over the Lifetime of a Feed Mill” was produced by the American Feed Industry Association and applies in many countries around the world.  Engineering & design contribute for only around 1% of the investment over a feed mill’s lifetime.  Even Equipment & Installation cost of the processing equipment and plant totals around 15% of the total cost over the lifetime of the feed mill.  Operational and Maintenance cost on the other hand, could be as high as 50% or more, depending on Engineering, Design and Equipment quality.

A direct relationship exists between operational & maintenance cost and the initial engineering & design (and associated costs) of the new feed mill or feed mill expansion.  We may appear to save money by investing in low cost equipment or a poorly designed feed plant, but sadly the savings turn into costs when unnecessary maintenance and operational costs start occupying daily feed mill life.

Proper Engineering & design

Engineering & design affects a feed processing plant in at least the following ways:

  1. Functionality : the plant must be and should be designed to fulfil a very specific function – meeting and exceeding the expectations of the feed mill’s customers in terms of physical and nutritional product quality.  Failure to create a design that meets functional requirements may make it useless.  Even if the cost of such a design is low.  And let’s face it, even a relatively “cheap” design could turn out to be “expensive” if it fails to do the job!
  2. Downtime : Inferior plant design and inferior equipment may result in unnecessary operational constraints, failures and downtime.  It negatively effects operational and maintenance cost and has the potential to disappoint feed mill customers and even drive them to competition.
  3. Cost : The above chart confirms that initial investment cost is only one cost factor, and that ongoing operational and maintenance costs not only exceed the initial investment cost but continues into the future.

An industry colleague used the expression : “The bitterness of poor quality (includes Engineering & Design of Plant & Equipment) remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”.  Investing into a new feed mill or a feed mill upgrade is a fine balance between saving on the one end but investing on the right end.

We can help you making sure you get this balance just right – Contact us today!

What is Extrusion and why Extruding?

What is Extrusion?Screws & Choke Plates

What is Extrusion and why Extruding?  A question I am sure many would ask.  Several definitions for extrusion exist – from the traditional “forcing material through a die or hole” to definitions focussing on other aspects of extrusion as well.

Extrusion, as it is applied in the animal feed industry, could not be discussed without focussing on extrusion as a Thermal Process.  By extruding feed ingredients and formulations, we involve heat energy as part of the extrusion process.

Therefore, a more descriptive definition in terms of animal feed manufacturing could be :

  1. Extrusion is a Thermal Process,
  2. where we knead and cook starchy and / or protein-based ingredients under specific moisture conditions,
  3. into a plastic-like dough of viscosity we can control during the process.
  4. We achieve primary “thermal cooking” through friction between feedstock (the formulation or ingredients we are extruding) and the internal extruder barrel components.
  5. We can also apply additional heat externally via
    • Barrel Jackets or Heater Bands, or
    • Direct injection of steam into the barrel at appropriate positions.
  6. Apart from creating a thermal effect as discussed above, we also apply shear forces to the dough creating very specific extrusion end results that could be controlled during operation.
  7. The mix of operating conditions as discussed above leads to gelatinisation of starch; denaturing of protein; minimising of anti-nutritional factors and neutralisation of microbial counts in feed ingredients and by-products used in animal feed manufacturing.

A more in-depth discussion of how temperature is generated is discussed in the Extrusion defined page of this website.

A complete Extruder is composed of various parts or zones in order to make it functional as the following diagram shows:What is Extrusion and Why Extruding?

  1. Mass Flow Surge Bin – making feedstock available for extrusion without flow-interruption.
  2. Volumetric Feeder – extracts feedstock from Surge Bin in “first-in-first-out” manner
  3. Preconditioner – conditions feedstock with steam and / or water or other liquids.  Some Thermal Processing starts taking place in the Preconditioner.
  4. Extruder – extrusion cooking of feedstock.  Primary point of Thermal Processing.
  5. Restriction Head – used for processing Oilseeds or in some cases wet products such as By-Products
  6. Cutter Head – used to produce shaped feeds such as Aquatic Feeds, Petfoods or other shaped animal feeds.

Why should we extrude?

Extrusion, just like any other feed milling process, has to be justified before money is invested into an extrusion line.  At least the following boxes should be ticked before we can justify an investment in extrusion:

  1. To minimise the effect of any “anti-nutritional” factors present in the Feed Ingredients we are using to make feeds with.  Soybeans is a classic example as it contains Anti-Nutritional Factors that prevents farmed animals to utilise the full nutritional value thereof.  Fortunately the majority of anti-nutritional factors are heat sensitive – extrusion is one of the most effective Thermal Processes available.
  2. To fulfil specific Process Requirements.  Do we need to shape final products for application as Petfood or Aquatic Feed?; do we have to sterilise a By-Product? do we have to control product density (as for floating aquatic feeds)?; etc.  Our page Effect of Extrusion outlines such potential process requirements.
  3. To maximise nutritional value of feed.  The main purpose of making animal feeds is to provide nutrition and to ensure safe feeds for farmed animal.  Extrusion processing maximises the digestibility of
    • Protein
    • Fat
    • Fiber

and therefore helps to produce edible meat, milk and eggs at the lowest cost per kilogram.

Remember : the ultimate goal is to maximise cash inflow into and minimise cash outflow from the business.  There is more than one way through which Extrusion can help achieving this goal.  The application opportunities for extrusion is only limited by our imagination and understanding of the opportunities around us.

Contact us today to discuss the extrusion solution that will fit your specific requirements or that will help to make use of locally available ingredients or by-products.

ALMEX joined the Triott Group

Triott Group Logo

ALMEX joined the Triott Group of Companies.  ALMEX is renowned for their innovation in the Expansion and Extrusion Industries.

The Triott Group of Companies is the Parent Company of Ottevanger Milling Engineers, Wynveen International, Inteqnion, TSC, PTN and now also ALMEX.

The daily business of ALMEX will still be driven by Jaap and Robbert Veenendaal, the previous sole owners of ALMEX.  The new structuring of ALMEX within the Triott Group, will lead to new opportunities in serving the animal feed industries with expertise and experience and will further widen the Triott Group’s capabilities as a truly Single-Source-of Supply.  It will also help ALMEX expanding their market focus and further developing their capabilities.

Triott Group of Companies

The Extrusion Wait is History!

We are happy to announce that The Extrusion Wait is History!  Our non-compete agreement with an American Extruder Manufacturer is history.  But the 2 year “quiet time” came in handy as we could attend to issues we know are important to our customers.  The challenge of supplying Extrusion Solutions to a modern-day Food and Feed Extrusion Industry, kept our hearts passionate and our minds working throughout this period. Extruded Products 1

 Our Extrusion Background

  1. During the past 25 years we travelled to and worked in more than 50 countries around the world.  We learned to work across the borders of countries and cultures and in the process learned a lot about what people need and what people want.  A complete Capability Profile is available on our website.
  2. We worked with companies small and large; Research Institutes and Universities; The American Soybean Association and Human Food Relief Programmes.
  3. Our passion has always been understanding the science behind extrusion on the one hand, and the commercial requirements for extruded products on the other hand.  This was the driving force behind our Research and Development work, improving and designing Extruders and Extrusion Process Plants.
  4. Our strengths in Project Management played a key role in helping many customers establishing Extrusion Plants successfully around the world.
  5. We have 25 years experience training Extruder Operators and Commissioning Extrusion Plants around the world.
  6. We assisted numerous customers Trouble Shooting their Extrusion Operations and finding solutions that could fast track their commercial success.
  7. We designed a great number of complete Extrusion Plants for various extrusion applications.
  8. We supplied extrusion equipment carefully to suit application and customer budgets.
  9. During our 25 year involvement, we served the following Extrusion Industry Sectors:
    1. Oilseed Processing
      • “Full Fat” Extruded oilseed meal as well as extruded / mechanically expelled oilseed meal
      • Vegetable oil refining
      • Biodiesel manufacturing
    2. Extruded Petfood Manufacturing
    3. Extruded Aquatic Feed Manufacturing
    4. Extruded By-Product Processing
    5. Extruded Human Foods such as:
      • RTE (Ready-to-Eat) Breakfast Cereals
      • TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) including TSP (Textured Soy Protein)
      • Corn-Soy Blends and other foods of value to Human Food Relief Programs

The Difference We Can Make

There are thousands of Food and Feed Manufacturers around the world using High Shear Extruders (also referred to as “Dry” Extruders or “Low Cost Extruders”) making a range of feed and food products.  We are well aware of your challenges using High Shear Extruders.  We now offer solutions to many of these challenges that will…..

  1. lower Wear / Spare Part Cost
  2. give you more flexibility in terms of the Raw Materials you can use and the Extruded Products you can make.

These solutions have a big effect on lowering Operating Cost while increasing Marketing Opportunities (especially Shaped Products) and include:

  1. Replaceable Barrel Liners – greatly reduces Wear Part Cost and Shipping Cost as you do not have to replace the Barrel Housing or Compression Chamber anymore.
  2. Split Barrels – we offer Split Barrel options for Compression Chambers / Barrel Housings that greatly assists in disassembling an extruder barrel.  This minimises the cost of down-time during unwanted blockages.
  3. Complete Medium Shear Barrel Kits – these fit onto your existing High Shear / Dry / Low Cost Extruder (Millbank / MILTENZ / JSC / Insta-Pro) and converts it into a Medium Shear Extruder.  Medium Shear is the required technology should you want to make shaped products successfully (Petfood / Aquatic Feed / some Human Foods).  It will also allow you to make use of a wider range of raw materials (making “least cost formulation” more achievable) thereby cutting raw material costs substantially.

Visit the hp dezign website today to learn more about Wear Parts and Medium Shear Barrel Kits we have on offer.

Please contact us to discuss challenges with you current operation or your requirements for a new operation.

Ottevanger & hp dezign at Australasian Milling Conference 2014

The Australasian Milling Conference 2014 (AMC 2014) is staged in the Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre on the 25th to the 27th of May 2014.  It is the first year Ottevanger Milling Engineers are taking part as an Exhibitor at this event.  Paul Eijmberts (Ottevanger Asia Pacific Sales Manager) and Hennie Pieterse from hp dezign (Authorised Ottevanger Representative for Australia & New Zealand) will be there to meet you and discuss your Feedmilling aspirations and needs with you.  Paul will also present a paper on Containerised Feed Mills on Tuesday the 27th.  Don’t miss this event!  You are invited to come and see us and learn how we can help you realise your Feed Milling plans……..

Australasian Milling Conference 2014

Invitation AMC 2014

Ottevanger & hp dezign at VICTAM Asia 2014

hp dezign will be on the Ottevanger Milling Engineers Stand during the upcoming VICTAM Asia 2014 Trade Fair in Bangkok, Thailand.  We invite all our Customers to visit our Stand and learn more about the capabilities and support Ottevanger and hp dezign can provide.  The Ottevanger Stand number is A099 and the Trade Fair runs from 8 – 10 April 2014.  We look forward to seeing you in Bangkok!

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 2.24.28 pm

Containerised Feed Plant Options in ASEAN Region

Hennie Pieterse, hp dezign

Ottevanger, Inteqnion and the other Sister Companies of the TRIOTT Group (Wynveen, PTN & TSC Silo) are determined to establish a strong presence in Asia-Pacific.  The company has relationships with several Representatives in the Asia Pacific Region of which hp dezign (Australia & New Zealand) is one. Ottevanger built several Feed Plants around the Asia Pacific Region and demand is on the increase.  A News Release in the Sep – Oct 2013 issue of Grain & Feed Milling Technology features a Case Study of Ottevanger in the ASEAN Region.  In the article a discussion follows focussing on Containersied Feed Plants.

Please also see our latest Blog “Does a Containerised Feed Plant make sense for what you have in mind?” for a discussion on Containerised Feed Plants. A Containerised Feed Plant might be the ideal solution for the New Plant or Plant Expansion you are planning.  hp dezign and Ottevanger are ready to help you decide whether a Containerised Feed Plant is the right solution for the application you have in mind.  Contact us today to discuss.

Screen Shot 2013-12-06 at 10.11.03 am

Does a Containerised Feed Plant make sense for what you have in mind?

Hennie Pieterse, hp dezign

Is a Containerised Feed Plant a solution for the application you have in mind?  Containerised feed plants are designed in a modular way, and normally contain all the plant equipment, electrical installation and process control equipment, assembled and installed into support structures the size of one or multiple standard 20 foot shipping containers.

Let’s consider the important advantages, features and characteristics of containerised plants in more detail:

1.  Process & Engineering Design and Functionality

Like we pointed out in one of our previous blogs : whether it is equipment or a processing plant, it is and should be designed to fulfil a certain function successfully.  At the same time we need to ensure the engineering design of the entire plant is done the right way.  A containerised feed plant ensures this responsibility is left to the supplier and his team.  Letting them specifying and supplying all the equipment required in the process as a containerised feed plant, leaves the customer with more time for marketing and general business development before the plant is established and commissioned.  A containerised plant also takes away the customer burden of ensuring that all equipment in the plant is a good match and that everything goes together well at the time of Installation.

2.  Environmental Impact, Health & Safety, and Food Safety

Consumer markets increasingly demand that food is manufactured in ways that ensure minimum environmental footprint,   while creating a safe and healthy workplace for people to work in.  A well designed containerised plant ensures all these issues are addressed by the supplier and that the final food or feed product is of highest standard and quality.

3.  Mechanical and Electrical Installation

Sourcing good quality equipment from one or more supplier is one thing.  Making sure that all these items are installed and assembled in a way that optimises plant performance while minimising capital investment and ongoing operational cost, is quite another.  In many countries mechanical and electrical installation expertise is not readily available.  This may leave the customer with a massive challenge installing all equipment in a professional and timely manner.  We have seen so many cases where customers thought they are saving money trying to do major installation tasks themselves, just to learn that there are many hidden costs and start up delays in doing so. A containerised plant eliminates all this uncertainty.   In a well designed containerised plant, all

    1. equipment,
    2. conveyors,
    3. electrical installation and
    4. process control devices

are installed and assembled at the point of manufacture before shipping takes place.

Cont feedmill 30 th ottevanger4.  Tested & Proven at point of manufacture

Many days and even weeks could be wasted as customers are trying to get badly designed conventional plants and equipment tested and fine tuned themselves before start up can take place.  Substandard electrical installation and process control systems normally contribute most to this situation.  All of this could be avoided with containerised plants as the supplier should test mechanical, electrical and process control installations at the point of manufacture.

5.  Reduced Installation Time on site

On site preparations such as foundations, floors and the actual building that will house the Plant are established while the containerised plant is manufactured.  Once the containerised feed plant arrives on site installation can normally happen in record time.  It is not uncommon to cut installation time by 60% to 80% in comparison to conventional plants.  In the case on conventional plants, unnecessary assembly and installation time and problems getting support structures, transitions, ducting, cabling and other mechanical and electrical materials and services concluded, may lead to hidden costs that are difficult to account for during planning of the project.

6.  No Support Structures required

One of the most beautiful features of a containerised feed plant is that no support structures are required.  The container sized structures that already contains the installed equipment, also serves as support structures for the entire plant.  Plant layout could be horizontal or vertical, and the “containers” are designed to be both structurally and functionally sound.

7.  Lower Building Costs

The containerised feed plant is housed inside a building that has to provide enclosure to the plant without the need to supply structural support.  This simplifies both the design and cost of the building required to house a containerised plant substantially.

8.  Lower Freight and Handling Cost

No special crating and shipping materials are required as the individual container modules are cladded with simple and cost effective sheets that meet shipping requirements.  Once onsite these sheets are simple removed during installation of the containerised modules.

9.  Containerised Plants for any Application

Any process could be designed as a containerised feed plant or at least as partly containerised, whether it is a simple cereal processing plant or a sophisticated compound feed plant.  Plants as small as 3 ton/h and up to 45 ton/h are feasible.

Still questioning whether a containerised plant is the right solution for your specific case?  Contact hp dezign today to discuss your specific case.  Together with suppliers such as Ottevanger and Inteqnion, we can ensure we come up with a design and supply solution that meets your specific needs.

Press Release : Intelscan restructured as Tovalia-Intelscan

Intelscan, the hp dezign Online Moisture Control Technology Supplier from Iceland underwent Structural changes.


hp dezign notifies all customers that our Technology Partner Intelscan restructured to form a new Company with greater capabilities serving our Customers.  A Company Spokesman says…..

“Intelscan is closing down operations in Iceland.  The company founder and inventor of the iScan system, Olafur Jonsson, relocated to France and opened a new company, called Tovalia-Intelscan sarl.  The new company will be even better positioned to serve the industry from a base in central Europe.  The product range has been expanded and further improved with additional effort in product development over the last 12 months.  Intelscan customers will be able to seek service from Tovalia-Intelscan sarl.  Please visit www.tovalia.com for further information about products that meet your needs.”