Helping World Feeds improve their production process with automated technology
World Feeds is a global manufacturer of specialist aquatic nutrition, supplying professional aquariums, breeders and home aquarists with high quality, nutritious feeding solutions.
Having experienced a period of growth due to a large interest in their product from home fish keepers and large retail firms such as Pets at Home, World Feeds needed to increase productivity to meet their increasing demand.
Their current method of production utilised a manual drum dryer, a rotating drum heated by pressurised steam, used exclusively for manufacturing flake products. Seeking a way to automate their drum, World Feeds reached out to Sheffield Hallam University for a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with the National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering (NCEFE).
World Feeds collaborated with academic experts Andy Rawsthorne and Dr Hongwei Zhang to design a new automated delivery system and process to improve output by five times the current production capacity.
Following project approval from Innovate UK, the project team employed a KTP Associate, Pan Wen, to manage the government- backed collaboration between World Foods and NCEFE. Using sector leading equipment, a real sized drum dryer model was created to test automation ideas. After testing, the Associate was able to utilise their knowledge of complex materials flow, particle separation and the impact of pressure and rotational forces on shear rates, to implement changes to improve the company’s key production processes.
The KTP allowed World Feeds to refine its operations using digital technologies for developing and improving its current manufacturing and packing processes. The introduction of automated technology fulfilled the pressing need for improved efficiency and increased output whilst also addressing the potential for future development.
In addition to developing its production process, World Feeds gained valuable knowledge of engineering and product design, which has been implemented in the company to further improve business practices.
These improved efficiencies allowed for a huge cost reduction in the flake production process resulting in increased profits of £200,000 and an increase in sales volume.
“This project is an example of how a Knowledge Transfer Partnership can provide the strategic support to an SME to make a step change in their engineering capability and to significantly change its manufacturing knowledge, production capability and output levels.”
Hongwei Zhang, Deputy Head, NCEFE