Formula management software for pet food production
We are living in an era where pet humanization is at its highest. Pets are often viewed as being more than animals, they are considered family members. Pet owners care about their pet’s diets and expect high quality and consistency in the food they feed their pets. This demand for quality pet food makes the industry more complex and competitive than ever before. The emphasis on brand consistency and transparency has made automation one of the best allies for the pet food industry.
Automation streamlines the manufacturing process and allows manufacturers to easily monitor and make modifications to the production process from anywhere. Implementing good formula management software gives manufacturers product consistency, lot tracking, and production reports, and it can be easily integrated with ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software for a seamless solution.
Importance of formula management
Implementing the right formula management software is key to maximizing plant performance. This software manages and stores all the formula information for the plant, as well as important process information for lot tracing and production analysis. This includes raw material delivery and storage, final product storage, mapping materials throughout the entire process, and important batch, campaign, and ingredient usage details. It is worth spending time researching formula management software to ensure the package implemented aligns with your business needs.
• Create and store recipes
• Recipe modification
• Ingredient location mapping
• Ingredient parameters
• Lot tracking
• Production records
• Campaign Management
Manufacturers often use several software packages to have these features and encompass all processes within the plant. When looking at a system that can fully handle all production needs, features, additional advanced features are needed.
• Recipe modifications from the HMI
• Ingredient location mapping
• Process variables
• Micro-ingredients and micro-batching management
• Integration with ERP and MES (Manufacturing Execution System) software
• Capability of handling both batching and continuous processes
Formula management software, such as NorthWind's BatchLOGIX®, provides all the common and advanced features in one robust platform. With features such as material mapping, recipe creation, process variables, micro-ingredient tracking, and production reports, it's able to fulfill production demands. NorthWind offers additional integration that connects the plant floor to the rest of the business. By integrating with the plant's ERP system, data continually transfers back and forth from both systems for seamless and high-level business management.
Formulas for pet food production are complex and need a robust piece of software to handle all variables and both batching and continuous processes within the plant. Often recipes only refer to the amount of each material needed, but there is a lot more that goes into establishing product consistency than simply ingredient amounts or weights. To produce a consistent product, formulas should include both ingredient and process variables and the entire production process from micro-ingredients through continuous extrusion.
Ingredient parameters include setpoints, rate tolerances, and upper and lower setpoint trim allowance. Setpoint is the target ingredient rate, tolerance is a percent of error acceptable, and trim allowance is the amount that the setpoint can be adjusted by the operator during production. For example, an ingredient has a setpoint of 100kg/hr, tolerance at 10%, and a trim allowance of 10kg/hr. The operator could adjust the ingredient rate and call for 110kg/hr. The actual rate could potentially be 121kg/hr and still be within the acceptable tolerance.
Process variables are all the mechanical setpoints on the production floor. For example, a few of the extruder's common process variables include Head Temperatures, Die Temperature, and Die Pressure. These variables are critical for complying with quality standards, making them a vital piece of the formula.
Hand-batched micro-ingredients are important and often high-dollar ingredients that play a significant role in the final product. This part of the process is often handled separately from the formula management software. Because this step is not included in the formula management and plant automation system, errors often occur during the weighing and lot tracking of these ingredients. BatchMATE® by NorthWind connects the hand batching step to the rest of the plant by automating the hand batching process and including the steps in the formulas. Once connected, BatchLOGIX can track the lots and produce production reports.
Lot Tracking is one of the most critical aspects of any Formula Management Software. The lot tracking process starts from the receipt of raw materials through the final product. By tracking lot numbers in this way, the system can pull specific lot information for each campaign and batch. This is invaluable when a non-compliant lot or a major fault is detected by the quality department. Using the information provided by the lot tracking feature, production data can be analyzed, and contaminated ingredients and products can be identified, isolated, and pulled from the batch or campaign.
Production Reports are key for any Formula Management Software. The information provided in these reports helps in scheduling production and can be helpful in identifying the cause of missed targets and other inefficiencies. Production reports can also identify when to schedule maintenance and other necessary stops for production. Ingredient usage and run reports are also available to ensure quality and production targets are being hit.
Some of the key benefits of good production reporting are business insights, higher customer satisfaction, higher efficiency, and better data-driven decisions.
Integrating the plant floor with the rest of the business allows for production data to be seamlessly used throughout the business. It is common for APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to be written for connecting the plant floor to the ERP system.
Having the ability to share data between the different systems is a huge advantage to companies, with this they can schedule production and analyze production in real-time. When all the data is readily available, business decisions are now easily backed by data.
Whether scaling recipes into a batch or metering ingredients into a continuous system, quality formula management software is key to maximizing plant performance and increasing product consistency. BatchLOGIX® has the scalability to accommodate systems of any size with the flexibility to incorporate all processes within a pet food production facility.
By: Eduardo Martinez - Project Manager - NorthWind Technical Services
Source: All Pet Food Magazine