At the Alltech production facility in Springfield, KY, five American bison graze serenely in the large, rolling pasture adjacent to the plant, oblivious to the state-of-the-art production going on inside. The pond in the field provides a reflected glimpse of the new 60-foot ethanol distillation tower that hints at the new technology installed during a recent expansion. The Springfield plant produces a number of Alltech’s natural animal health and nutrition products for shipment throughout North America and more than 20 countries around the world.
As part of the Springfield expansion, the company has recently invested more than $4 million dollars in new yeast-production technology, which is at the core of many of Alltech’s natural animal nutrition products. Alltech teamed up with SPX, a global leader in manufacturing, to design and build a new system to process yeast. The new system is capable of processing 52,000 lbs of liquid yeast each day and producing up to 20,000 gallons of ethanol per week.
The production process creates yeast and yeast components that are then used in Alltech’s natural animal health products. The process also supports Alltech’s commitment to environmental responsibility, and any alcohol removed from the yeast by the state of the art equipment is siphoned into a distillation column to produce ethanol. The same system will be installed in Alltech’s new Thomasville, GA production facility when construction is completed by the end of 2012.
The plant also adheres to Alltech’s stringent quality-control efforts, and each batch of product that leaves the plant is tested in the onsite laboratory to ensure quality and viability. New investments in scientific research equipment at the facility will continue to expand that testing capability, including a new NIR machine, installed earlier this month, that detects protein and alcohol levels in 30 seconds.
Keith Gribbins, operations manager for Alltech Springfield, said, “We are really focusing on efficient solutions for production, engineering and technology to ensure that we deliver top quality products to the market.”
Technology developed in Springfield has a significant impact on Alltech operations worldwide. Alltech engineers at the Springfield facility developed the production system for Optigen, an encapsulated slow-release form of nitrogen. The Optigen production system is capable of producing 1900 metric tons of the product per month. Based on that system, Alltech has established similar production in Brazil, Venezuela, China and Belgium, and shortly, Argentina. The Springfield facility also pioneered a revolutionary technique to produce its Yea-Sacc product that maximizes the viability and longevity of yeast.
Their success has also translated into the grown of local employment. The 80,000 square-foot facility in Springfield has grown from employing 16 people in 2008 to 60 for 2012.
“The workers here are fantastic. I am a very lucky individual to work with these people every day. This is a hard-working, top-notch team, and with Alltech’s growth, these are incredible opportunities for people to gain experience,” Gribbins said.
Alltech, a global company that is based in Nicholasville, Ky., continues to make major investments in its Kentucky operations, and these investments often generate new employment opportunites. In 2010, the company purchased an algae production facility in Winchester, Ky. Alltech Algae is one of the largest algae production sites in the world, and the research and production there is becoming increasingly important to the company’s plans for the future.
The company is also expanding operations in downtown Lexington at the Alltech Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co., with a new distillery scheduled for completion in September of 2012.