Feed Mill Equipment Optimization

Two men working on a feed mill using I-Control.

January 17, 2022

A feed mill’s lifeblood is the equipment used to move product from bins to a mixer, control the grinding and pelleting processes, and optimize mix time for wet and dry ingredients. You want to get the most out of your mill by optimizing production. I-Control, a feed mill automation solution from Interstates, does just that. It helps feed mill operators boost production by combining equipment and software-based process control.

I-Control lets you have fine-tuned control of your equipment settings to optimize batch production based on the volume or density of the materials being used. Dr. Charles Stark from the Feed Science program at Kansas State University says, “In a perfect world, the batching time, mixing times (dry mix, liquid addition, and wet mix), and surge/take-away equipment would be in complete harmony or balance. However, this is rarely the case, particularly as densities fluctuate between formulas.” ¹

Different products have various densities and volumes, causing them to perform differently with equipment. For example, salt is known for being very dense, while corn screenings are just the opposite. Salt will require more energy and more time to run a charge, while corn screenings will take less energy and less time. If you run your equipment for the worst-case density scenario, you’re not running as efficiently as possible. Having unchangeable equipment settings sets your plant up for inefficiencies, such as lower than ideal flow speed, excess strain on your motor’s energy draw, and, above all, process inefficiencies. Optimizing your equipment based on ingredient densities and volume allows you to maximize throughput and minimize energy use.

Some of the specific use cases for equipment tuning include:

  1. Tuning bins in batching to reduce equipment jogs, which lowers the charge time and eliminates charge overages to minimize waste and ensure accurate formulation.
  2. Tuning the motors on a mixer so that the batch is only mixed the minimum amount of time needed to mix the product to 100%, ensuring that you don’t mix too long or too short and end up with improperly mixed feed. This allows operators to optimize the timing of downstream processes by the time the mixer is done mixing, which should be done when the scales are done weighing. Having these processes in harmony maximizes output.
  3. Tuning steam control and motor draw on the feeders for pelleting to get the pellet mill up to speed as fast as possible without plugging, achieving optimal pellet consistency.
  4. Tuning the start-up and purge times for equipment to ensure they don’t run too long before being ready, but also not too little to reduce cross-contamination risk.

Tuning a feed mill’s equipment is all about driving increased efficiency in the feed production process so that each system can run as smoothly as possible. Is your feed mill or processing facility not running at its peak output? Interstates can help you navigate these challenges; feel free to give us a call, and we’ll talk through your needs to find the best solution for your facility.