Top: SAFC's Irvine, Scotland facility uses IBC's to improve
efficiences and create a more flexible operation.
Bottom: The Irvine facility was constructed with extra
rooms to accommodate increases in market demand.
mulation operations such as milling, filling
and weighing but also their packaging capabilities, allowing the company to better
serve the market.
Additionally, at the Irvine facility, SAFC
changed some of the blending concepts to
improve efficiencies and flexibility. They decoupled the packaging activities from the formulation line. Once material comes through
the mill and it is put into an IBC- a portable
blender and is moved out of the formulation
area. Once the product is removed from this
area the mill and blender can be cleaned
and put back into use. The product in the
IBC can then be staged or sent directly to
the packaging area. This process give SAFC a
much shorter cycle time on the mill.
Kelley elaborates, “One might argue that if it
(the product) sits and waits for packaging we
have increased the total cycle time on the pro-
cess – but it allows us to better utilize milling
and decrease our lead times and better serve
our customers. In addition we have moved
away from our small scale equipment such as
our fixed stainless steel blenders and use por-
table IBCs to keep the process moving. This
is a big advantage for customers on smaller
scale projects with less quantity needed.
Reaction time for customers is quicker.”
SAFC also uses the OSIsoft Pi Data
Historian to capture critical data such as
temperature and mill speeds.
“We review this data so that we can hone
in on our process and make sure we are op-
erating in the right parameters,” says Kelley.
“And to look at nuances that need to be
tweaked by the formulators.”
He continues, “We can also send specific
manufacturing data to customers on their
batches, this allows them to analyze the data
and can help us tweak our process as well –
Lenexa and Irvine are capable of this.”
“The more info we can provide the better
it is for our customers.”
While the Irvine facility might be perceived as a newer and more advanced version of the Lenexa, KS facility, Kelley is quick
to point out their missions remain the same.
“Lenexa and Irvine are very redundant. It
doesn’t matter where the product is manufactured because it can be done with the same
quality, with the same materials, exactly as
the customer specified.” ■
go into our approved/qualified vendor program and that approved vendor supports
all of our sites. This helps with consistency
and reliability and reduces cost for our customers – it makes their life easy.”
“Our facilities are supported by a single
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE IRVINE
While the Lenexa, KS facility served as
the template that the Irvine, Scotland facility was based from, experience has led to
changes and improvements reflected in the
One of the most important differences
between the two facilities is that at Irvine
there are several empty rooms. This was
done intentionally. Part of the cost of the
new facility was to design additional space,
so the company could respond quickly to
increases in market demand.
This strategy not only benefits their for-
LENEXA AND IRVINE –
into their bioreactor that it is
going to work every time and
it will come as close as a bio-
logical system can to be being
the same every time.”
Both facilities have very
similar processes – but improvements gained from years
of experience at the Lenexa
facility have been incorporated into the Irvine facility.
The objectives at the Irvine
facility were to mitigate risk,
lower costs, increase flexibility, and get to market first.
One of the first things SAFC did at the
Irvine facility was to settle on pin milling
technology. Pin mill technology allows the
Irvine facility to produce a large amount of
material very consistently.
“One of the beauties of using pin mill tech-
nology is that we use nitrogen to convey the
material and it does multiple things for us,”
says Kelley. “When you put material in a mill
it increases the temperature – some material
more than others – by conveying with nitrogen
it provides cooling so that we can dial in the
temperature we want to mill at and, in addi-
tion, it adds an additional level of safety to pre-
vent dust explosions. We’ve reduced that risk.”
Kelley elaborates on SAFC’s supply chain
and their vendor program
“Our supply chain begins early to identify
the critical parameters of the high risk raw
materials so we can find the right vendor to
supply the material in that very tight range.
Once we have identified the producers they