Is there much left to innovate in feed technology?
The animal feed industry is full of challenges, especially in the feed technology sector. Lack of trained process operators and little innovation. But is this really true? As editor of AllAboutFeed I am present at Victam Asia - the largest feed equipment show –to find out.
I often hear people say that most innovations in the feed industry are seen within the feed additives business. In the feed equipment sector no major breakthroughs have happened or are expected. But is this really the case? When I look at the feed additive business I do see effort being made in developing new products or finding ingenious ways of making them even more tasty, bio-available or cheaper. For feed equipment this might be a bit more difficult. Machinery –like a pelletisers or grinders- have been used in the feed industry for decades and they work, so why create a totally new machine?
I think the innovation in feed equipment lies in finding ways to deal with the feed mills getting bigger and more automatised. More and more things are measured in the feed mill. Temperature and moisture content of raw materials before and after they go into a conditioner or extruder. But the challenge is how to deal with the data, otherwise it has no value.
At the current Victam Asia show I see many innovations that deal with this – that is: finding quick and easy ways to interpret data. Some of the companies that I spoke to at the Victam Asia agree: feed mills all over the world are getting bigger and include more sensor technology and data gathering tools. It is nice to have large data in the feed mill, but data is useless when you don't know how to interpret it.
At the same time I also see many companies showcasing their existing products at the Victam with slight adaptations or improvements. No big innovations, but it still shows that feed equipment companies are working on optimising current (good working) equipment as well. I see future in people who know how to interpret feed equipment data. To find skilled process operators is becoming a problem. Product innovation goes hand in hand with skilled people who are enthusiastic to start working with these new products.
Luckily I also see many youngsters strolling around Victam Asia and I am sure that this new generation (the digital natives) will be even more innovative than ever.
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