Case Study: A Hog Operation Automates for Accuracy

A large hog operation needed to meet the challenge of automation so they could fulfill stringent requirements of accuracy and record keeping. The added twist? The customer wanted to start small with one scale, but use a control system that could later be expanded for additional scales. For the solution, they turned to APEC's BatchBox to help them succeed currently as well as far into the future.

This case study lays out their challenge, the solution, and the results they got in the end.

The Challenge for Accuracy

A heavy hitter in the animal feed industry, hog operation decided it was time to manufacture their own feed. Because doing so meant they needed to meet rigorous precision and record-keeping standards, they needed an easy automatic way to introduce micro-ingredients into their process.

In the future, this manufacturer has plans to automate the rest of the feed manufacturing plant, but since doing so first with only micro ingredients represents the best return on their investment and also satisfies their requirements for accuracy and record keeping, they decided to start with this area of focus for now.

The BatchBox Solution

APEC’s, our dynamic BatchBox is an industry-specific, computer-based batch control system that features an open architecture structure. This allows for ease of integration with most brands of scale instruments in processing. It is capable of the following practices:

  • Mixer control
  • Metered liquids
  • Speed control for ingredient feeders
  • Inventory management
  • Formulas
  • On-screen graphics
  • Ethernet communications directly to management computers
  • Hand-add verification

There is no need for custom programming since BatchBox was designed to be intuitive and easily navigated. It was developed to adapt to the future in a way that other systems can’t.

Since the hog operation’s new automatic system would need to control just one scale in the beginning and then be later expanded to control other scales in the future, they selected the APEC BatchBox as the best control system solution for their application.

The BatchBox is designed to allow the hog operation to easily expand the system at a later date. This controller integrates with the hog operation’s existing load cells and scale instrument (in most cases). Upon setup, the controller performs an interview process by asking a series of simple questions. When answered, the screens automatically configure to the hog operation’s system. When the system changes or updates in the future, the interview process is performed again and the system reconfigures itself to match the new changes.

The APEC BatchBox was connected to the hog operation’s micro ingredient scale by a local electrician. Then, with assistance from APEC over the phone, the hog operation’s personnel staff started up the system themselves, without the need for a costly on-sight visit by a technician.

In the future, when the system needs to be changed to add a scale, ingredient feeder, or mixer, the system will already be ready for the added changes.

The Successful Results

The new, automated system gives hog operation the capability to automatically produce and track their formulas, including the unlimited storage of recipes and ingredients. The system is also able to produce production reports for each batch that is time-and-date stamped. This satisfies the hog operation’s need for meeting strict record-keeping requirements.

For more information on how APEC can help to automate your processes, contact us today!

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