Reduce Investment Risk with Process Development Services

This article was co-authored by:

Carrie Carlson
Technical Writer

Craig Peppin
Service & Lab Manager

Reducing investment risk is a central focus for buying committees, but it’s often much easier in theory than in practice. For this reason, many companies choose to work with FEECO, taking advantage of our process development services to minimize risk when purchasing process equipment, establishing a new production line, or improving an existing one. 

The comprehensive services available in the FEECO Innovation Center give producers the opportunity to confirm feasibility (proof of concept), as well as conduct more advanced process development work to establish critical process parameters and equipment design criteria, all while providing the assurance needed to move forward with an equipment or plant investment.  

About the FEECO Innovation Center

The FEECO Innovation Center is a state-of-the-art process development facility offering comprehensive testing services for agitation agglomeration (wet granulation/pelletizing), bulk solids drying, mixing, particle coating, and high-temperature thermal processing objectives such as calcination. 

Producers can test on a single piece of equipment at batch scale, as well as multiple pieces of equipment in a continuous, pilot-scale loop, with numerous equipment options and configurations available.  

The Innovation Center can evaluate and refine a number of particle characteristics throughout the testing process, recording key data points along the way to assist in scale-up.  

Tests can be conducted at every stage of the process development workflow, with each step building on the last. FEECO then uses the data gathered during testing in the design of commercial-scale equipment, giving producers a high level of confidence in their investment.

Reasons for Testing Process Development

The services offered by the Innovation Center can reduce downstream investment risk in a few key settings: 

Capital Equipment Purchases

While the purchase of process equipment can sometimes be straightforward, it often comes with a certain level of risk, particularly when transitioning to a new technology, adding to an existing production line, or replacing outdated equipment. 

Producers know in theory what they need their equipment to accomplish, but finding equipment that can perform exactly as desired is easier said than done. Even when replacing a piece of equipment with the same type of equipment, challenges can arise due to changes in technology, variations in standards and designs across manufacturers, or the consideration of similar or alternative technologies.

To this end, companies looking to purchase FEECO equipment, be it a rotary dryer, disc pelletizer, granulator, or other process equipment, have the opportunity to test a representative sample of their material using the intended equipment prior to purchase.

In one instance, the FEECO Innovation Center worked with a mining company to replace the agglomeration drum in their heap leaching process. While the company had a working heap leaching operation, their existing agglomerator was inadequate for the process; the drum was under-designed for the processing needs, causing the facility to run at only half capacity.

Through testing, FEECO engineered a new, custom agglomerator to fit seamlessly into their process, allowing them to return to full capacity production.

View the project profile: Gold Ore Rotary Drum Agglomerator

New Process Development

New processes come in many shapes and sizes; some companies are looking to produce a new product from a waste or process by-product; others are looking to solve some type of production challenge, be it an economic or a logistics one, and still others are hoping to create a process that will recover a valuable material from a carrier.

Whatever their reason, most customers come to the Innovation Center with an idea. They know what they’d like to accomplish, but they’re not sure if it’s possible, or what it would take to transform their idea into a realized process. In one example of this, the Innovation Center assisted Encap, a company with an idea to convert waste paper sludge into lawn and garden products.

FEECO worked with the company to transform this previously landfilled waste into a line of market-ready products. Once the process was established in the Innovation Center, we built the company a full-scale production facility. 

Founder of Encap, Mike Krysiak, had this to say on the project:

“The idea was there, we just didn’t know how to get from A to B, and FEECO really helped us to take it from idea, to fruition, to a full-scale commercial operation. Now we not only have a successful, marketable product, but we are also taking a waste that would have otherwise been landfilled.”

View the project profile: Waste Paper Sludge Reuse Plant 

Process Optimization

In addition to the development of new processes, many companies are looking to optimize an existing process. This may be to improve product quality, reduce inefficiencies, streamline production, or otherwise. 

In some cases, producers may also be looking at incorporating additional components into their process, changing operating or feedstock conditions, or even increasing capacity. 

One example of this is a drilling mud recovery project FEECO assisted a company with; the company enlisted FEECO to assist in improving their existing recovery operation, which was incurring excessive costs in the form of maintenance work and replacement parts. 

Through test work, FEECO was able to design an indirect rotary kiln that greatly improved upon their recovery process. 

View the project profile: Indirect Rotary Kiln for Drilling Mud

Process Troubleshooting

Producers also rely on the FEECO Innovation Center to assist in process troubleshooting. 

It may be that a process is incapable of running at rated capacity, or that it yields inferior product, or even that it experiences frequent upsets. 

When this happens, the Innovation Center can simulate commercial process conditions to assist in troubleshooting the issue on a smaller scale, without disrupting the live production environment. 

This is often the case in pelletizing plants, where operators struggle due to a lack of training, changes in feedstock or operating parameters, or otherwise. In this setting, producers have the option of testing their material in the Innovation Center or having FEECO conduct a process audit

Process Solutions Equipment Buyers Can Count On

The Innovation Center offers producers a path to minimizing risk in their process investments, whether they are looking to purchase capital equipment, develop a new process, or optimize an existing one. These services are invaluable in allowing buyers to confirm feasibility and establish critical process and equipment data for use on a commercial scale, ultimately reducing investment risk. 

For more information on the process development services available in the Innovation Center, contact us today!

About the Authors . . .

Carrie Carlson is a technical writer and visual designer.

More About Carrie

Craig Peppin is FEECO’s Customer Service Manager and Lab Manager.

More About Craig