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Automation Aids Traceability

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Automation in feed manufacturing is a game-changer, ensuring quality control. By integrating cutting-edge automated systems, facilities can effectively monitor and manage every stage of production. Automation aids traceability of feed ingredients and ensures quality standards are upheld. Dive into how automation is shaping precision, efficiency, and accountability in feed manufacturing, guaranteeing that every batch produced is consistent, safe, and fully traceable.

How Automation Aids Traceability – The Example of Diamond V, Company That Specializes in Fermentation Products

It has been rumored for nearly a decade that the Food & Drug Administration is going to require feed manufacturing facilities to be able to trace back ingredients in four hours. Adding to the pressure is customers’ desire to know where their products came from in case of a recall, which requires more from today’s manufacturers.

Diamond V kept traceback in mind with its new plant that came online in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The company specializes in fermentation products that optimize digestive function and nutrition, which are key to animal and aquaculture health, productivity, efficiency, and profitability. 

The Goal Is to Create a Consistent Product 

Fermentation-based technology requires a level of precision. When Diamond V vice president of operations Mike Goble joined the company, he asked his employees what their goal was. They said it was to make the best feed ingredient product. Instead, Goble challenged them to make the most consistent product. “You can’t make things better until everyone is doing it the same way,” he explained. 

Once a level of consistency is reached, controls and automation provide a standardized method using historical data to determine random variation and, ultimately, reduce the overall variation, Goble noted. There will always be an “art” to growing living organisms, but the company’s goal was to increase the degree of science in the formula from 20-25% to 90-95%. 

Automation Advantages That Come With Installing Cablevey’s Industrial Conveyor Systems

Diamond V installed Cablevey’s tubular conveyor to allow a complete cleanout of one product without any changeover time. Rather than adding more people, Diamond V (just like many other plants) is adding automation to reduce the potential for human error. Many automation systems rely on human input to maintain system controls, Goble said, but Diamond V has gone one step further, allowing automation to input information.

Each ingredient load received is scanned at arrival and instantly entered into the computer system rather than requiring employees to enter the information. At Diamond V, automated controls talk to the operators at every level of operation. Unless the entered command meets certain parameters, it will not continue.

Why Is Automation the Key to Traceability

Fred Olson, software engineer for Beta Raven, a subsidiary of CPM, explained that automation is key to traceability. Without it, the only way to track and trace products is for the operator to write down whatever lot is used to make each batch. In addition, faster computers allow programmable logic controllers to be integrated to turn on augers, turn heads, etc., Olson said. More and more of the plant can be automated. Each and every step along the way requires traceability. “One day, the plant manager will fill in schedules and turn on a switch, and the plant will just do it. We’re not there yet, but that’s the goal,” he said.

Automation Makes Production More Efficient, Reduces Unnecessary Work, and Saves Money

Automation and computer advancements have allowed more support to be done online. Olson said the number of service trips the company makes today is one-tenth as many as just five years ago due to the ability to connect directly to customers and make needed changes to hardware and software. Furthermore, this online capability lets mill managers remotely conduct track-and-trace investigations.

Given constant demands to be faster, cheaper, and more controlled, lost production is costly, Olson added. Diamond V does periodic mock recalls at its Cedar Rapids facility to help prepare employees. Customer audits also require the company to go through the steps of tracking products. Prior to the automated system, it took six people three hours to find maybe around 98% of the product. Now, it takes one person 20 minutes to find 100% of what is in each bag that leaves the facility.

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New Diamond V’s Facility Features That Improved Production Process

The new Diamond V facility was designed with traceability in mind. For instance, Goble noted that the facility has 32 storage bins instead of 8-10, and each holds only one truckload of ingredient material. This allows management to confidently know which lot is for which load. “It added additional capital upfront but provided a higher integrity for traceability and tracking,” Goble said.

Another key component of the facility is the food-grade system. Complete segregation from one product to another is needed after changeovers. Goble said the plant was designed to facilitate changeovers by using a Cablevey tubular conveying system instead of traditional mechanical transfer systems. Cablevey’s systems allow for complete cleanout between products and eliminate concerns about carryover.

In Addition to Their Conveyors, Diamond V Focuses on Improvements and Partnering With Its Suppliers

Diamond V doesn’t produce food-grade products but maintains a food-grade status and even invites food inspectors to get ideas on how to improve its facility and set the bar higher. “Our philosophy is steady, continuous improvement. This helped us seek answers on how we can improve value and do a better job overall – not just meet the minimum standard,” Goble said. 

When designing the new facility, the company took into consideration where to store products in the warehouse, particularly how close items were to the walls. It also made lighting considerations to avoid dark corners. On the customer side, Goble noted that Diamond V wants to supply the industry with both products and services. The company has an open-door policy and invites customers to visit as often as they’d like – it also encourages customer audits. 

“We don’t just want to have a customer – we want them to be an extension of us,” Goble said. Diamond V partners with its suppliers as well. Instead of looking for the lowest price, it may end up paying a bit more to get higher quality products and services. As Goble explained, “We expect the best value, which may not always be the lowest price.”

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Looking to Improve Your Production Facility? Contact Cablevey Conveyors and Learn More About Our Conveyor Systems

In your pursuit of elevated efficiency and quality in production, Cablevey Conveyors stands as a partner ready to transform your facility. As one of the top belt conveyor manufacturers, our industrial conveyor systems are tailored to mitigate challenges, optimize processes, and elevate output quality. 

Engineered for precision and durability, they promise a seamless integration into your operations. Contact us and embark on a journey of innovation where excellence in service and technology aligns with your aspirations for operational superiority. Your next chapter of improved production awaits.

FAQ

How Does Automation Enhance Traceability in Feed Manufacturing?

Automation ensures that every ingredient and process in feed manufacturing is meticulously tracked and managed. Through automated systems, facilities can instantaneously log and monitor every stage of production. This real-time data recording reduces human error and ensures that in the event of a recall, every product’s origin and journey through the production line can be traced quickly and accurately, ensuring safety and accountability in the process.

What Improvements Did Diamond V Experience After Integrating Automation?

Diamond V achieved enhanced traceability and consistency in product quality through automation. The Cablevey’s conveyor solutions allowed for complete cleanouts between different products, reducing cross-contamination risks. Automation minimized human error by enabling direct scanning of ingredient loads into the computer system. This enhancement in traceability and quality control led to more efficient, accurate, and faster recall processes, underscoring the pivotal role of automation.

How Does Automation Contribute to Efficient Production and Cost Savings in Feed Manufacturing?

Automation accelerates production and enhances efficiency by reducing manual interventions and human errors. At Diamond V, automation enabled swift, accurate data entry and enhanced communication between machine operations. The ability to conduct track-and-trace investigations remotely and the reduction in service trips due to advancements in automation technology have led to significant time and cost savings, demonstrating the economic benefits of automating feed manufacturing processes.

How Does Cablevey’s Conveyor System Support Cleanliness and Product Segregation in Feed Manufacturing?

Cablevey’s conveyor systems are pivotal in ensuring product purity and minimizing cross-contamination. At Diamond V, these conveyors enabled a thorough cleanout between different product batches, ensuring each product’s integrity. With the integration of such automated conveyors, feed manufacturers can guarantee that each batch produced is consistent, pure, and safe, aligning with quality and safety standards.

How Does Automation Aid in Meeting the FDA’s Traceability Requirements in Feed Manufacturing?

Automation ensures rapid and accurate traceability of ingredients, aligning with the FDA’s stringent standards. At Diamond V, the automated system allowed for swift tracing of products, a capability crucial for recalls and customer audits. With automation, recalling processes became more efficient, as one person could trace 100% of a product in 20 minutes, showcasing automation’s integral role in meeting regulatory requirements.

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