Frequently Asked Questions
to explore how we can help you increase productivity and decrease costs.
The Cargill Optimizing Services team has been developing practical experience and computer-based tools focused on process improvement for over fifteen years. We have conducted projects at well over 250 operating facilities on five continents and across a broad range of food-based processes. Internally, our commitment to strong environmental practices has been in place since 2000, and has allowed us to meet a series of energy consumption reduction goals - our current targets call for further reductions in energy use, carbon footprint, fresh water consumption and renewable energy utiliziation, and we are performing well against those goals. Externally, we've partnered closely with customer teams to identify opportunities for energy reductions of 10-20%, capacity enhancements of 2-5% and yield improvements of 2-10% with highly attractive payback periods.
How long is a typical project?
The duration and cost of a project is extremely depended on the complexity of the process and the type of work that is required to address the customers needs. Having said that, a typical Evaluation is completed in 1-2 weeks, with 1-2 days on site, and a detailed Analysis will require 2-5 months.
What is involved in an Analysis?
An Analysis is always tailored to the needs of a site, and typically will employ tools and approaches identified during the Evaluation phase. Frequently, though, the Analysis will develop a detailed CAL model and include the following steps:
- A 2-day kickoff on site to gather data and process understanding
- Model Development, which occurs off-site until roughly the mid-point of the project. During model development, the Cargill engineer will interact regularly with a customer key-contact, to resolve any misunderstandings and focus on developing a good base-case model. Typical commitments from plant staff are around 5 hours per week.
- A 2-day site review to validate the base-case model (usually 1 day) and to brainstorm potential process modifications / improvements
- Idea Review, which occurs off-site for the majority of the rest of the project. During this time, the base-case model is modified so the the economic and performance impact of process modifications can be quantified. The Cargill engineer will again communicate regularly with the site engineer to review the ideas and develop estimates of the ideas' feasibility from a capital, operational, safety / food safety, plant layout and future plant plan perspective, and plant staff commitment continue at 5-10 hours per week.
- A final site visit to communicate results and get overall project buy-off from the plant team.
What level of commitment does my staff need to make?
For an Evaluation, the typical commitment is up to 4 days from a broad spectrum of process operations staff for the kick-off, model review, idea brainstorming and project close out meeting. In addition to this, the key site contact will typically require 5-10h/wk for review and support activities. One of the key benefits that our customers often derive from the overall model development process is a deeper and broader understanding of the plant's overall performance - the interaction between different pieces (eg boiler house and production) and the detail of where and how energy, water and raw materials are used.
How do you manage intellectual property/trade secrets?
Cargill prides itself on its adherence to high ethical standards and is committed to protecting our customers' intellectual property. For every project we undertake, we ensure that IP protection is clearly outlined and mutually acceptable in a legal document before technical work commences.
What intellectual property does Cargill bring to the table?
In addition to over 100 collective years of process improvement experience in the food industry, the Cargill Optimizing Services team have developed a detailed library of simulation and modelling tools specifically focused on opportunity identification in the Agrifood industry. This Cargill Agrifood Library (CAL) represents a significant development effort by COS's top research engineers, and continues to be an active area of development.
What makes for an attractive process to review?
One of the core advantages of our technology is its ability to consolidate the limited process data available in most food operations with engineering and operations understand of the multiple areas of a typical plant (eg boiler house, compressor room, production, waste handling). It is generally true that the more complex the process and the greater the degree of recycle, the greater the opportunity. Plants that have multiple SKU's or challenges identifying fully loaded cost of production are also well-suited to our approach.
We tend to find that plants with fuel spends over $1,000,000/y or total utility bills over $3,000,000/y present attractive opportunities, and have also found that plants preparing for significant expansion / redesign are attractive as incremental capital requirements to implement process improvements are usually small.
With more than 500 projects completed that have less than one year to payback, Cargill Optimizing Services understands how to decrease costs and increase yields in the food and beverage industry.