Southern States Cooperative’s Roanoke Feed Mill in Vinton, Virginia has won the 2012 Feed Mill of the Year title, which is sponsored by the American Feed Industry Association and Feedstuffs. Kent Nutrition Group in Rockford, Illinois, is the runner-up.
By Dick Ziggers
The Southern States’ Roanoke feed mill, whose origins date back to 1935, was built in 1982 and manufactures 94,750 tonnes of feed every year. Safety is of utmost concern for Roanoke and its 34 employees. Asked for his thoughts of winning the 2012 Feed Mill of the Year title, plant manager Dave Jones exclaimed, “For years we have danced around being the winner. Finally, we got the brass ring from the old fashioned Merry Go Round!”The Roanoke feed mill is third-party HACCP certified, is Safe Feed/Safe Food certified and is in compliance with the Bio-Terrorism Act. The US Food and Drug Administration inspected the mill as did the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) within the last year, and its Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) plan is certified by a professional engineer.
Safety is key
Roanoke has a written safety programme, which includes self-inspection for Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compliance, as well as a written emergency plan. Its safety committee has four rotating members, comprised of both managing and non-managing employees. Minutes are taken at safety committee meetings and are posted in the mill. Scales are calibrated on a quarterly basis and truck scales are checked every other month by an outside service. Rail weights are verified by comparing inventory by bin measurement to book. The mill has a buried storage tank and is in compliance with EPA regulations and has a predictive maintenance programme in place.
On average, workers are for more than 15 years. “Our dedicated people are very customer centric, driven to do the best they can for our loyal customers,” said Jones.
Roanoke takes pride in its programmes to minimise waste. For starters, all usable paper including cardboard and office paper is baled for recycling. Wooden pallets are reused when possible or returned to the supplier for repair or to ground for boiler fuel along with any other plant wood scraps. Plastic mini pallets are reused, sold to others as nearly new or recycled along with any other plant plastic scraps including used elevator buckets.
Aluminium cans are sold along with other plant scrap metal and used drive oil is sold for boiler fuel. Liquid product totes are returned to their supplier for reuse and tote sacks are given to others for bulk storage. At Roanoke, very little outside of stretch wrap and glass bottles go into their waste stream along with mixed floor sweepings.
Non-medicated feeds including fines are reworked, while medicated feeds are reworked back into themselves. Ingredients from bin clean-outs are sent to a composter.
Runner up Kent Nutrition Group
Kent Nutrition Group in Rockford, Illinois, was named runner-up for the 2012 Feed Mill of the Year programme. “The key to our success are the people. The employees at the Rockford plant have taken to heart what is required to be considered a top notch Feed Mill,” Tom Smolen, plant manager of Rockford, explained. “The people make an organisation and this is a strong and dedicated group of personnel. They are always ready to show off their feed mill and demonstrate what they do at any time,” said Smolen.
The plant, which manufactures 13,150 tonnes of feed annually, was constructed in 1964. The current receiving capacity of the mill is 33 tonnes per hour. Several aspects of Rockford’s operations are automated, including receiving and routing. The plant weighs all incoming truck ingredients, double-checking ingredient setup prior to unloading. Truck scales are checked twice a year by an outside service and micro scales are checked monthly.
Production management of the Rockford plant also makes it a habit to visit customers and solicit feedback.Over 80 feed facilities competed for this year’s award. According to Rich Sladic, of previous winner Southern States, it “is the only programme out there that allows a third-party to give you an unbiased assessment on your facility. Being acknowledged by AFIA is about as high of an honour one can get in this profession.”
Source: AllAboutFeed 20.09