The US Food and Drug Administration has told our industry that it is the manufacturers' responsibility to produce Salmonella-free food. “Food safety was at the forefront of product design,” Galen Rokey, process technology manager of Wenger, said about the company's latest upgraded extrusion equipment. “There are a number of trends currently impacting the petfood industry that affected the design process behind each of these new innovations. Among them are higher energy costs, concerns about water availability and the current economic recession, which is impacting consumer buying habits. Consequently, manufacturers desire the ability to react quickly to new market directions.”

And the quickest way to adapt? Making sure your production line is up to date in sanitation, speed and consistency. Here's a roundup of some of the most innovative advances in extrusion, drying and cooling technology to recently emerge on the market. All of them promise to streamline the production of your dry food and treat recipes while saving you money, energy and time.

1. The auto-cleaning blender from TSM Control Systems ( was developed by the company to facilitate the ever increasing demand for quick recipe changes. The “auto-cleaning” integrated feature allows for rapid order and color changes while limiting the machine downtime and eliminating cross-contamination, according to TSM. The blending system uses a uniquely designed five-step control process. The process empties the hopper bins and entirely cleans from the loader down to the mixing chamber. The TSM blender also provides a safer working environment as it is no longer necessary for the operator to climb on top of the machine to clean the system.

2. The Polytwin Twin-Screw Extruder from Buhler/Aeroglide ( or boasts an AeroFlex oscillating feeder that ensures consistent drying by spreading the product evenly across the conveyor bed. Adjustments can also be made to the machine while in operation without interrupting production, the company says. Product tracking also enables the activation of energy saving modes, temperature or moisture control and aids in product change-over.

3. Wenger’s ( new Thermal Twin Screw Extruders are ideal for manufacturers that want to shift their process to more favorable energy sources. Unique in the industry, the Thermal Twin not only provides exceptional performance with a broad range of raw materials but also offers a thermal-to-mechanical energy ratio of 14-to-1, according to the company. Capacities range up to 12 tons per hour. “The ultimate goal in every case is to help our customers meet requirements and regulations while reducing production costs and increasing flexibility,” says Rokey.

4. Extru-Tech Inc. ( now offers the Maxxim series extrusion systems. This line of single screw extruders are capable of 20 to 30% production rate increases over previous models with the same barrel diameter, according to the company. Various models in the series are versatile enough to expand with production demands and grant any company or institution the ability to test different types of formulations, colors, flavors, shapes, textures, densities and cook characteristics.

5. Triple-pass technology is what makes Baker-Rullman's ( Model SD45-12 rotary dryer system unique and easily adaptable, according to the company. The mobile rotary dryer system is mounted on a standard 53-foot trailer to accommodate transportation and ease of setup. The unit accepts up to 1 ton per hour in-feed, and if needed for stickier products, a complete recycle loop may be added.

Research behind the innovations

Explore the science behind extrusion technologies in the online article "Applying polymer science to extrusion and drying of petfoods" by Brian Plattner of Wenger.