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Near Infra-Red (NIR): Controlled Manufacturing of Feed Compounds

For fifteen years, the NIR (Near Infra-Red) has shaken up methods of analysis in animal nutrition. Who imagined a day that we could know the nutritional value of raw materials as soon as receiving them? In addition to the assurance and precision it provides, the NIR is a source of profits and time saving for its users. What is the added value of this device, and how to choose it?

Why does the NIR allow better knowledge of nutrients?

In cattle feed mills, the “Near Infra-Red”, or “near infrared spectroscopy” is a method which can quickly predict the main chemical parameters of a sample of raw materials or feed. While traditional analysis equipment allowed only a partial reading of the sample spectrum, progress has resulted in instruments capable of instantly reading the near infra-red region (750-2500 nm). These new instruments are linked to software containing powerful mathematical treatments. They can decipher the spectral information in order to predict or estimate the various nutrients: protein, moisture, fats, etc.

Six good reasons to acquire NIR

The advantage of implementing NIR in animal feed plants can be summarised in 6 points:

  • Speed of analysis : NIR provides the values of several nutrients in record time (45 seconds)
  • The economic issue is crucial. The volatility of the cost of raw materials requires a permanent adjustment of their nutritional value in formulation. The new allowance grid of wheat proteins is one more argument on the financial scale.
  • A decision-making tool : this device also gives the opportunity to accept or refuse a batch of raw materials as they are received at the factory.
  • A sorting tool : the function of sorting raw materials is a major asset, for example giving the possibility to separate soya meal according to protein levels.
  • A warning forecast : better management of the matrix is possible. The prediction of the nutritional values of raw materials allows adjustment of the formulation matrices, avoiding waste and decreases in zootechnical performance.
  • Active monitoring: monitoring real-time production is another privilege. Prompt acquisition of batch production certificates is a security. It allows to anticipate the next production, and to quickly isolate non-conforming batches.

How to become equipped with NIR?

There are numerous equipment suppliers on the market (Bruker, Foss). The new generation instruments are very efficient, more accessible, and more resistant to the environmental constraints of feed mills.  We choose robust devices requiring no or little maintenance, as certain devices may be sensitive to dust, vibrations, and air currents.
It must also provide calibrations allowing the prediction of various nutrients by questioning the following aspects : accurate analysis, speed in sorting, batch acceptance, etc. Is it the amount of predicted nutrients that is important, or the quality of the prediction of these nutrients? How is the reliability of the calibration verified? The acquisition of NIR will provide satisfaction providing the operating parameters have been carefully established.

Making the choice to become equipped with NIR is not always easy. This is why we assist our customers in finding the best solutions for their needs. Experts from the TECHNA Group address these issues with the eye of conscious professionals to make you achieve a profitable investment.  For more information, do not hesitate to contact us!

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