A three days Practical Short Course on Extruded Pet Foods and Treats will be presented July 10-13, 2017 at Texas A&M University by staff, industry representatives, and consultants. The program will cover information on material handling, preconditioning, extrusion of pet foods, extruded and non-extruded treats, raw material, extrusion hardware, automation, product analysis, meat handling in pet food, drying, cooling and enrobing, food safety, pet food and treat shelf life, and trouble shooting.

Practical demonstrations of pet food and treats on single and twin screw extruders will be conducted. Reservations are accepted on a first-come-first-served basis.

Why pet food extruder maintenance saves time, money

From Mexico to Turkey, pet food manufacturers’ most common problem with extruder machines is lack of maintenance, said Gary Lierz, Extru-Tech service technician during Petfood Technology Workshop Mexico, held in Ensenada, Mexico on December 6. Reducing employee turn-over to keep a trained, experienced maintenance staff can help pet food manufacturers increase efficiency and reduce costs, Lierz said.

Pet food extruder maintenance issues can reduce cat and dog food quality while degrading the lifespan and efficiency of machinery, said Lierz. Especially in the international market, a broken part can mean long, costly delivery times for specialized parts.

“Plant managers and workers can get complacent with the ‘go-go’ production mentality,” Lierz told Petfood Industry. “Sometimes they need to go back and look at maintenance.”

Pet food extruder maintenance staff valuable

Making dry dog and cat food in an extruder is like baking a cake, Lierz said. Not only do the right ingredients need to be added, they need to be added at the right time, blended properly and cooked under the correct conditions. However, when pet food extruder maintenance is neglected, those factors can go wrong although a manufacturer may not realize that lack of cleaning and adjustment is the culprit.

Catching these costly production problems can be difficult if the maintenance staff isn’t experienced. However, since pet food extruder maintenance crews often work late hours for relatively lower pay, the staff frequently experiences high turn-over, John Menold, Extru-tech Field Service Manager, told Petfood Industry.

“Maintenance teams get burned out,” Menold said. “Training new crews takes time and energy, but is hugely important.”