Animal Feed Manufacturer Uses IoT to Enhance Sustainability

Enterra, which produces insect ingredients for animal feed and pet food companies, wanted to gain real-time visibility into its operations to enable greater sustainability and efficiency. The company tapped Intel® IoT Solution Aggregator Ingram Micro and solution implementer WBM Technologies Inc. to help achieve its goals.

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Image credit: WBM Technologies

According to US census data, there are currently close to eight billion human beings on our planet. The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs estimates that the world population will grow to 9.8 billion by 2050, which could lead to significant food shortages. 

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FA0) estimates that by 2050, we’ll need to produce approximately 60 percent more food to meet the nutritional needs of the world population. The World Resources Institute (WRI) explains that we need to come up with ways to address the shortfall between the amount of food we currently produce and the amount needed to feed a population of nearly 10 billion people. 

As incomes rise, people will consume more resource-intensive, animal-based foods, which leads to higher greenhouse gasses, and clear forests to establish agricultural land.

The Need for Protein

One way to mitigate stress on the food supply is to increase livestock and pasture productivity. WRI says that demand for animal-based foods is projected to grow by 70 percent by 2050, and animals require a significant amount of pastureland for feeding. In fact, pastureland accounts for two-thirds of agricultural land use.

Since animals need ample protein in their diets, providing protein-rich feed can Increase livestock productivity. The FAO notes that soybean is the most important and preferred source of high-quality vegetable protein for animal feed manufacturers. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) says that approximately 76 million acres of soybeans are grown each year, and that just more than 70 percent of the soybeans from the US are used for animal feed. 

The agriculture industry is taking steps to address the need for animal feed that contains high amounts of protein and will not require expanding the use of precious land to cultivate crops. The industry is coming up with innovative and sustainable solutions that meet the animals’ nutritional needs–but not at the expense of other resources.

Insect larvae cultivated by Enterra

Image credit: EMTV

A Bug’s World: Optimizing Efficiency

One of the innovative solutions is the move toward using insects in animal feed. According to the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed (IPIFF), some insects contain up to 82 percent protein. Insects can be a very efficient source of protein in terms of output per area of land. In addition, the insect meal derived from the species commonly used in animal feed production can contain up to 76 percent crude protein and nutritionally valuable amino acids.

Enterra™ Feed Corporation manufactures natural insect-based ingredients for animal feed. Enterra’s manufacturing approach produces protein for animal feed from insect larvae. Compared to cultivating animals for use in feed, the insect larvae Enterra cultivates require very few resources.

The company’s insect ingredients are renewable and sustainable, reducing the impact on the environment than alternatives. The company wanted some real-time insight into its operations, so it could manage them more efficiently. 

Visibility into Manufacturing Processes

Enterra previously used multiple machines, control systems, and protocols that produced data that had to be analyzed by a centralized system. The system helped the company enable sustainability, profitability, and competitiveness.

However, the centralized system was aging, and the company needed a modern digital approach. Enterra worked with Intel® IoT Solution Aggregator Ingram Micro and solution implementer WBM Technologies Inc. to maximize the efficiency and predictability of its manufacturing process. 

The partners leveraged Intel® connectivity technologies to help Enterra avoid expensive machine replacements while helping them achieve near real-time analytics. The partners connected machines, sensors, and other points of data generation throughout Enterra’s facilities, providing efficient networking solutions and helping Enterra achieve near real-time visibility into its critical manufacturing processes.

The solution included Intel Atom® processors and Intel® Core™ processors and an IoT Smart Monitoring Solution Kit developed by IAconnects, a system that packages monitoring systems into one easily implemented kit. 

Also included in the solution are Intel® IoT RFP Ready Kits, which are integrated, commercial-grade technology bundles designed to accelerate time-to-market and reduce complexity. Intel® Ethernet network adapters are also included. At the heart of the solution is Enterra’s on-premises data center, which is powered by Intel® Xeon® processors.

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