Among the many thought-provoking educational sessions at the International Feed Expo, Leland McKinney's presentation "Energy Conservation Tips for Your Feed Mill" stood out above the rest. While McKinney, an associate professor of grain science and industry at Kansas State, offered up very practical advice for maximizing energy consumption and increasing savings within a feed mill, the real message I walked away with had little to do with pipe insulation or the repair of compressed air leaks.
In McKinney's opinion, the root of inefficient operations does not lie with shoddy equipment or unskilled labor, rather these losses can be traced directly back to lackluster management. In efficient mills, he notes, the manager is always on top of things -- able to respond quickly and effectively as situations arise -- and one whose total dedication to every aspect of the operation was never in questions.
"It's all about attitude," says Leland when referring to the difference between a good manager and a bad manager. He suggested that the adoption of a continuous improvement mindset made all the difference in how efficiently a facility is operated.
For example, should a feed mill manager spot a drop of oil on the ground, his first instinct should be to seek out the source of the problem and resolve it. This thinking is in line with any preventative maintenance program, but McKinney's stance pushed it a step further.
The residual effect of poor management was the correlated poor performance of subordinates. Ultimately, the manager should lead by example, and if he has failed to motivate his employees from taking initiative, it is symptomatic of his own leadership shortcomings.
The best ways to control cost is by acknowledging that maintenance is a continuous process. Consequently, solid, two-way communication between management and employees will encourage a proactive stance toward preventing problem from escalating and will motive staff to push themselves to exceed expectations.
In closing, McKinney offered up two key points regarding maintenance: Be observant and don't procrastinate. If you lead by example wide-spread efficiency benefits should follow suit.
Grain, feed and seed facilities are often faced with a dirty situation when designing dust collection for rail car and truck dump pits. Designing a dump pit with good dust collection in mind not only addresses the dirty situation, but can save you operational time and money.
Feed & Grain is proud to announce the winners of its 2014 Harvest Photo Contest. Entries poured in from December 2014 until this February showcasing our readers’ ability to manage a record crop — some with limited access to rail or other shipping options. Congratulations to all the winners and honorable mentions!
The year 2014 ended as a mixed bag on the transportation front. Historically poor railroad performance in the Northern Plains and record-high costs for railcars were detrimental to many grain shippers. But on the bright side, Congress’ passage of the Waterways Resources Reform and Development Act recognized the importance of maintaining vital waterways like the Mississippi River.
Industrial facilities that use rail as a part of their operation move railcars by a variety of motive power types. No matter what type of motive power is used, applicable rail operating safety rules and procedures should be followed. Applying up-to-date rules and procedures to rail operations will enhance employee safety and facility efficiencies.
In comparison to many transactions in the business world, grain and feed ingredient purchase and sale transactions are fairly informal. In many respects, grain and ingredient trades remain relatively straightforward and largely result from casual telephone conversations followed by a short written confirmation.
The introduction and widespread use of the smartphone is just another step in the ongoing process of automation for both feed and grain businesses, a process that has come a long way in a relatively short amount of time.
Do you think the feed industry’s role in the global carbon footprint should matter to you and your company? What if the question was phrased: If your business is required to install costly new equipment and/or alter its current processes due to the global carbon footprint, would you take notice?