Pellets being produced like clockwork

You may not have given much thought to how the pellets used as food for fish, dogs and cats are produced. It is done like this: firstly the flour is milled, then liquid is added, pellets are formed and dried and then finally filled with oil, in a process requiring a vacuum.

Two problems often occur during this process. One is that the pellets break up and create dust during the process. The second problem is that the pellets, because they receive such rough treatment, break up more easily later on, for example in a feed pipe on its way to the fish.

"We have found the solution, which was actually quite obvious. We have developed a machine that delivers oil to the pellets in a more sensitive way. This method produces less dust during the process and much fewer damaged pellets after the feed has left the factory," explains Olav Fjeld Kraugerud of FôrTek.

Olav Fjeld Kraugerud har ledet arbeidet med å finne frem til den nye maskinen.

Olav Fjeld Kraugerud has led the process of developing the new machine.

Gisle Bjørneby
"To put it differently, we have developed a machine that helps to generate a better product and a more efficient process. As simple as it is ingenious. Like when the ice cream industry wanted to stop the ice cream escaping from the end of the cone: the solution was to fill chocolate into the bottom of the cone. Existing know-how, put together into a new solution," says Kraugerud.

Ismet Nikqi fikk en idé som han ville prøve ut.

Ismet Nikqi fikk en idé som han ville prøve ut.

Håkon Sparre
The centre for animal feed technology (FôrTek) at NMBU (the Norwegian University of Life Sciences) produces a number of types of animal feed using different machines. Over the course of much production, they have observed that the current equipment is far from optimum. Ismet Nikqi, the technical manager, has pondered and welded, tested, and welded some more. Following a lot of testing, the results showed that the new vacuum-coating method (when the air is withdrawn, the resulting vacuum makes it easier to fill the porous pellets with oil) produced better scores on the most important parameters than conventional vacuum coaters.

Bought by a German company
Amandus Kahl is a German machine producer who supplies machines to the animal feed industry. FôrTek has sold the idea to Kahl, who is working to develop it further. The prototype will be presented at Victam International, a large animal feed fair in Cologne in June.

Kahl's researchers and engineers are currently working at detailed level, to enable the machine and the technical solutions to be ready in time and to fit into the company's equipment portfolio.

"I hope this can become something big," says Kraugerud. “FôrTek is - and will continue to be - a neutral area for development of animal feeds. This is why we ended up by selling the technology, and have left the marketing to machine producer Kahl.”

"Perhaps the most important part for us is long-term cooperation with a knowledgeable equipment supplier. Access to good equipment and machine competence is something our researchers and students benefit from," says Kraugerud, who adds: "To work at a university like NMBU is very inspiring. NMBU has an innovation centre that assisted us during the process, both in the building of the prototype and with the agreement we were able to sign with Kahl."

Published 22. April 2015 - 9:03 - Updated 22. April 2015 - 9:07