For feed manufacturers, the ultimate imperative is to deliver the right feed to the right animals at the right time and, ideally, at the right price.
But producing animal feed involves a complex matrix of physical resources, information, and activities to be coordinated across the business, and with suppliers, customers and other partners. The efficient delivery of high performing feed is challenging. In an industry that traditionally sees tight margins on the sale of its products, doing this well is critical to success.
Animal nutrition software helps companies of all sizes consolidate formulation information and identify the most cost-effective formulas to produce. It is a key component in streamlining operations, allowing you to manage and automate nutrition processes across the organization.
What is animal nutrition software?
Animal nutrition software, or feed formulation software, manages all essential information required to create feed recipes and provides optimization tools that generate a) the most cost-effective formulas for each product, and b) the most cost-effective use of available resources to produce them. Without reliable formulation software, companies are faced with trying to understand and piece together pertinent information from a variety of sources. Animal nutrition software gives you the power to do more than just formulate – you can report on costs and ingredient usage across your entire business.
Formulation software provides teams with the ability to plan future ingredient purchasing and logistics, assess the impact of price changes in the short and long term, and quickly test alternative scenarios. It can archive and audit data and generate nutritional declaration details all from a single-source solution, as well as integrate with other key business systems such as ERP and MRP to enable informed decision-making.
Because ingredients make up the largest proportion of the total cost of feed production, it is imperative for producers to distribute their resources efficiently. Formulation software is essential for this, otherwise, companies are faced with trying to achieve this cumbersome task manually, using historical assumptions or inadequate sources, such as Excel spreadsheets. Skilled application of the right formulation software can streamline processes and reduce costs, and ensure you are providing high quality products to customers.
Animal nutrition companies face a range of challenges when developing and manufacturing formulations for livestock and pets, including –
- Raw material quality variation: The ingredients used in producing feed products are inherently variable. Best practice quality control procedures and purchasing policies can help to minimize and manage this. Formulation software allows the nutritionist to assess the impact of variability and consider variability against cost to understand the true “value” of an ingredient.
- Market price volatility: The price of ingredients varies over time and is affected by seasonal, climate and geopolitical factors. Recent events have emphasized this, with global effects on price and supply chains. In times of volatility, purchasing decisions become riskier, with the impact of decisions having significant effects on profitability and competitiveness.
- Customer expectations: Feed and pet food companies are expected to produce a wide variety of products to increasingly specific nutritional and physical requirements. The ability to offer only a limited range of standard products has all but disappeared. This increases the number of products to be managed; many not be changeable for periods of time, reducing the ability to respond to unforeseen factors, such as ingredient supply chain issues. From a production perspective, increased numbers of products, combined with increased hygiene and cross-contamination requirements, reduces plant efficiency.
- Regulatory Compliance: Feed companies must comply with a complex array of legislation and regulatory requirements that can differ among various jurisdictions that a company operates in. They affect all areas including designing product specifications, production, declaration and auditing.
Formulation software is a significant part of the solution to these, and other challenges. Whether it is assessing and the impact of variation in ingredient quality or price changes and adjusting formulas accordingly, evaluating short and long-term ingredient purchasing policy, or efficiently managing and optimizing large numbers of products and ensuring compliance with regulatory standards along the way.
Key formulation software functionality and benefits
When considering which animal nutrition software to purchase, be clear on your needs, but be open to new possibilities. To enable today’s feed manufacturer to meet challenges and deliver improvements, animal nutrition software should offer the following functionalities:
- Optimizer tools. Ensure the formulation software provides the right type of Optimization algorithm for your situation. It is important that users have confidence in the tools. Good Optimization tools provide not just the recipe, but present results clearly with extra detail such as sensitivity and cost ranging to give confidence in your decisions.
- Forecasting. The best Formulation systems provide interactive optimization facilities making it easy to evaluate alternative scenarios and improve decision-making. By modelling the business, the purchaser is able to ask questions such as “what is the most cost-effective mix of ingredients for this plant?” or, “this ingredient has increased in price, is there an alternative ingredient I can use instead?” This approach ensures feed companies can plan ahead, identify opportunities and manage challenges in a better way than without this software.
- Collate information by production site and by time. The software should be able to manage data on ingredients, product specifications, recipes, etc., in a way that accurately represents that business, allowing local variation but with appropriate centralized controls. In this way, production sites manufacturing different products at different times of the year, each with different ingredient inventories can be easily managed and the correct recipes created, whilst taking account of overall company standards.
- Convenient data management tools. Formulation systems require a lot of data which needs to be entered and maintained accurately and efficiently. This can be time-consuming and if it is too difficult, users will not maintain the database well. Incorrect data input will cause the wrong, or misleading, output. The best animal nutrition software will be user-friendly and efficient to use. It will provide tools for convenient exchange of data with other systems, such as LIMS or ERP. The benefits of good data management tools are increased accuracy, clarity, rapid distribution of updates and innovations across the company, and the ability to effectively respond to challenges and opportunities.
- Centralized data. There are multiple players and teams that need access to formulation data, each with their role in the process; product developers and nutritionists, formulators, quality control, purchasing. Formulation software provides a centralized hub to host and communicate all relevant data to respective parties, but it must do this in an organized way, allowing access rights according to role. A centralized hub ensures that stakeholders, no matter their physical location, can utilize the right data, conform with business processes and contribute effectively. It allows easy distribution of updates and company innovations.
- Clear reporting. There are many ways that data can be output, everything from “What is the recipe?” to “How many ingredients am I going to use across all plants and across various time spans?” Good formulation software gives flexibility in reporting tools so users can generate customized reports. Effective business reporting and data analysis enhances communication between members of the feed production team and other stakeholders, such as purchasing, production, and the customer and improves decision-making and collaboration.
- Integration. Understanding data flow from all interested parties (purchasing, nutritionist, formulator, manufacturing, customer) to all the destinations of that information is key, and integration tools help the process, which improves accuracy and responsiveness.
- Traceability, auditing, and validation. Generation of product declarations to local legal requirements alongside the ability to archive and audit formulations and other data helps ensure a feed manufacturer is following standard procedures and can prove their processes in the event of a regulatory inspection, as well as facilitate information sharing with customers.
Why Format Solutions?
Format Solutions has deep industry knowledge and expertise from its people and a record of innovation in animal nutrition software development. The team at Format Solutions has brought an understanding of customer needs into software product development enabling businesses to achieve operational efficiency, improved customer satisfaction and increased profits. If you are interested in optimizing animal nutrition through a seamlessly connected software solution, contact us today.