‘Taking a holistic view of operations can generate environmental gains’

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Blue Planet Studio
© GettyImages/Blue Planet Studio

Related tags Bühler moisture level pelleting retrofit dosing

Bühler sees higher demand for consultancy services in relation to reducing energy consumption at feed plants in European markets, particularly over the past few months.

Its pelleting companion service is designed to improve that key processing step, which is costly in terms of energy. “Feed millers can increase yield by up to 1% by controlling the final pellet moisture level, and by having stable production conditions at constant moisture levels, throughput can increase by 20%, while specific mechanical energy consumption can be significantly reduced,”​ said Christian Hilber, head of product management and marketing, Bühler Group, told us.

It is not about making significant investments, it is about capitalizing on approaches that can optimize the performance of the feed plant, improving the operation of currently installed equipment, he said.

Increased accuracy of the dosing scale leads to a reduction in wasted ingredients, for example, said the Bühler representative.


Another digital service run by the Swiss technology group is designed to provide data insights about the plant operation, and thereby improve feed processing efficiency.

The combination of continuous data analytics and regular interaction with its experts via the plant companion service should generate sustainability improvements, according to Hilber. It is based on smart data analytics of billions of data points, and on-site feed mill performance analysis is part of that: “Getting an audit done by a third-party expert will bring a much-needed external eye, a new perspective on how the plant is running.”

The audit might reveal the need for a plant to focus more on maintenance or to consider retrofit services to renovate the installed base.

Broad collaboration is another critical element, said Hilber. To address all aspects of feed processing, including raw material optimization, it may be necessary to bring in other suppliers, nutritional experts, to ensure production efficiency, and environmental gains, he explained. “It is about taking a holistic view of operations.”

Net zero by 2030

In terms of feed compounders getting to net zero by 2030, new ways of producing steam could help. Heat pumps are a potential new solution as well. They could be an efficient alternative technology for supplying heat while improving the overall efficiency and shifting to potentially carbon neutral electricity, he remarked.

Bühler recognizes its responsibility to explore novels technologies and incorporate them into both food and feed factories, said Hilber.

But reaching net zero, he said, may likely depend as well on where the processing site is located, the affordability and the availability of alternative energy sources within certain markets, for instance.

New plant design

“I strongly believe that the design of future plants will have a significant impact on energy consumption.”

Today, all feed plants are very high, with some reaching 50 meters in scale, noted Hilber. Bühler’s new mill design concept, he continued, looks to alternative ways of developing greenfield processing sites. And just by designing plants differently, energy consumption can be reduced massively.

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