TECHNOLOGY CAN HELP FOR THAT
Formulation software is today an essential tool for nutritionist to optimize diets. The first software was proposed to nutritionist around 40 years ago and evolved along the years. In the past 5 years, a new generation of software arrived on the market to provide additional functions. These new functions are enabling both formulators and purchasers to identify new opportunities to adjust the constraint or some new raw materials in order to reduce even further the cost of the diets.
I recall one case where one of our customers had to share the matrix of all the ingredients of a specific diet with an outside research center. To do so in their old formulation software, they had to edit and print on paper the matrices of each ingredient. It was taking one page per ingredient and consume a lot of time at each time. The new generation of formulation software are solving that problem by enabling the edition of a table with the name of ingredients in columns and the nutrient value in lines. They can now simply copy/paste this table on excel and send it by e mail in one page, either under a table or graphic format.
Another day, one of my formulator friends showed to me how he was adjusting several diets to ensure a smooth transition between starter, grower and finisher diets. He wanted to be sure that there was no brutal increase of one ingredient between these diets. When using his old software, he had to close one diet in order to open another one. That was taking a major part of this time. Here again, new technology had already solved that problem. New software enables formulators to open on the same screen several diets simultaneously and optimize them in real time. You can even design some comparative table to visualize difference of either composition and/or nutrients between all these diets.
More recently, in a major feed manufacturer in Vietnam, we attended a meeting where formulators and purchasers were arguing about ingredients availability. Formulators mentioned that purchasers never bought sufficient ingredients and purchasers complained that they were informing each order size but that formulators were not taking into account this information. Purchasers were allocating ingredients quantity to each diet to maximize cost savings but formulators were not respecting these allocations. It is indeed a complex situation to be sure that the allocation made by the purchasing team stay in line with the usage defined by nutritionists. Both had reasons behind their practices but the weak link was the communication between these two departments.
This situation is actually covered by the new generation of software. Purchasers can indeed create one column in the single formulation page to confirm the maximum use per ingredient and per diet as results of the batch allocation. When the formulation opens their formulas, they will visualize the 3 columns; one minimum and one maximum for nutritional reasons and one maximum for purchasing reasons (cf picture below). When they run the optimization, the system will follow the highest minimum and the lowest maximum as constraints to be sure that both information is taken into account. Since that feed manufacturer use their new software, the problems of ingredients shortage have been significantly reduced.
By experience, we all know that it is very difficult to change habits. Users tend to stick to their comfort zone and the change of formulation software creates a lot of frictions and resistance. But the new generation of software brings optimization process to a new level with a lot of money to be saved. Experiences show that beyond initial resistance, formulators and nutritionists enjoy the new way of working. It is therefore necessary to get an objective and long-term projection of what can be improved, both in term of optimization performance and comfort of users.
If you are using old generation of software, it could be very valuable to have a review of the possibility offered by the new generation solutions. Please let me know if you are interested in having more information about this new technology.