In early 2011 the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) launched its first-ever Information Technology Innovation Award to recognize the AFIA members creating technologies meant to tackle the issues impacting feed, pet food or ingredient manufacturers.
Novus International, Inc. was awarded the honor for its submission of AIMS®, a vendor-managed, remote inventory monitoring system for feed ingredient bulk liquids. The system provides daily inventory management of Novus’s ALIMET® feed supplement and SANTOQUIN® feed preservative bulk liquid ingredients at all customer locations across North America via an advanced telecommunications system.
The selection committee, comprised of representatives from AFIA, AgGateway and Feed & Grain magazine, chose Novus’s AIMS technology as the winner because it is a customer-focused application with the potential for global implementation.
“The award is meant to showcase what the feed industry is doing to address the needs of a growing population — and Novus International is making strides in this direction,” states Joel Newman, president and CEO of the American Feed Industry Association. “With the projections suggesting that 70% of agriculture’s ability to feed the world in 50 years will be based in new technologies, [AIMS] is an example of IT-based technology that will help Novus and its customers continue to grow in the future.”
On behalf of Novus International, AgGateway made a donation to the Global 4-H Knowledge Platform Project. This project develops a system to connect 4-H partners worldwide to promote the 4-H model to create sustainable livelihoods and improve economic security for young people around the world.
“We’re really excited and proud to be recognized for IT innovation,” says Kevin Mowery, Novus International, Inc.’s director of operations. ‘‘It’s key to keep the industry globally competitive — the use of IT is just one example of it — but it speaks to the future sustainability of the feed industry in the United States.”
Mowery adds: “We’re really excited about about receiving this honor, and we appreciate AFIA, AgGateway and Feed & Grain’s sponsorship of the award.”
About AIMS technology
The original AIMS system utilized a network of bulk storage tank sensors at customer locations throughout North America to monitor product levels, forecast customer demand and automatically order product replenishment. The sensors were tied to Novus headquarters via telephone land lines and cellular phone communications networks, but it was limited to receiving just one daily report from each customer location and was hindered by telecommunications problems associated with rural telephone networks that disrupted reporting from customer sites.
“The AIMS System was introduced in 1993, and it has gone through incremental improvements as technology changed,” Mowery explains. “However, over the course of 20 years, electronic measuring and communication technology progressed. We had developed a new combination of sensing devices and RTU that was significant enough to justify the standardization across all customers on the same platform for level management and communication technology.”
Between 2009 and 2010, Novus upgraded the AIMS infrastructure by incorporating the latest satellite communications and remote monitoring technology throughout its bulk liquid product supply chain. The updated system utilizes satellite communication capabilities to connect to a network of customized Remote Telemetry Units (RTUs), featuring submersible differential pressure sensors for automated bulk tank level measurement and reporting at each of more than 500 customer locations across North America.
“The upgraded system has improved the reliability of the Novus supply chain and upgraded the telemetry system to a sustainable technology platform,” Mowery says. “This upgrade has yielded specific and measurable improvements to Novus’s liquid feed ingredients business operations.”