Customer Story: Van Zutven Feed Processing
From food to feed with Van Zutven's new mixing line
Van Zutven Feed Processing was founded in the 1980s by Frans van Zutven. Today he is leading the company together with his son Niels van Zutven. During this period, Van Zutven has experienced tremendous growth in feed and food processing and now it’s processing residual products from the world's largest dairy producers. Crucial in this was the unique positioning, as a pivot between food and feed.
In this interview with Frans van Zutven you will read:
- How Van Zutven has won the trust of the world's largest food companies
- How residual streams from the dairy industry are processed into high-quality feed
- How the partnership with Dinnissen was established
- How mutual communication leads to the best solution and partnership
- Why, despite some challenges, Van Zutven is very satisfied with Dinnissen
"DINNISSEN'S REPRESENTATIVES STRIVE FOR THE BEST SOLUTIONS. THEY ARE ENGINEERS FIRST AND SALESPEOPLE SECOND."
Frans AND Niels van Zutven on the collaboration:
"In 2000 we started to focus entirely on the processing and repackaging of feed products. In those years we invested in new installations like filling lines, unpacking installations, and grinding mills. Nowadays, we process residual streams from large dairy producers into high-quality feed products. We have been working with Dinnissen since we have been operating in feed and food markets. A fire that destroyed our plant in 2017 was the immediate cause for this. We had to start all over again. Nevertheless, we decided to see this incident as an opportunity to set up our processes even more efficiently and to automate them even further. And we decided to start processing food.
For years, I had seen a gap in the market: large dairy companies preferred to take their rejected products to the incinerator themselves, rather than sell them. Because they could not be 100% sure what would happen to their products. And these multinationals want to prevent at all costs that a rejected product with their name on it still ends up with people. A great pity, of course, because these residual products that may no longer be sold are often still of very high quality and perfectly suitable for consumption by animals. My son Niels and I saw this as a win-win situation: if we could guarantee these food companies that we would process their products safely and responsibly into high-quality feed products, we could then offer these products to feed companies at a good price-quality ratio."
Frans (left) & Niels (right) van Zutven.
“I don't mind things going wrong every now and then. It's all about how you solve your mistakes.”
Van Zutven as the pivot between food and feed
"We decided to go for it, and since we have grown into the world market leader in the processing of high-quality residual products from the dairy industry. For example, we purchase baby food or milk powder and process it into raw materials for calf milk production. We work for the largest food producers in the world because we can guarantee that their products are processed safely and responsibly. With smart and strictly controlled product intake and handling processes (such as tracking and tracing and live insight into our processes through camera systems) we ensure that not a single rejected product from our customers ends up in human food. We have the DNA of dairy companies, but also speak the language of feed companies. This allows us to act as a pivot between food and feed. A powerful combination."
The design process of the new factory and mixing line
"We started from scratch with the design of a completely new factory. This had to include a food processing line for hygienically processing and mixing residual products from the dairy industry. Years before, I visited Dinnissen. They said: "If you ever go mixing, come talk to us". I remembered that and we did that in 2017.
From the beginning of the design process, we brought all the expertise to the table right away. I think you should always strive for the best. Even if you have knowledge in-house, if someone can do it better, you should choose them. The groundwork is the most important thing: mistakes are easier to correct at the beginning of the process than when most of it has already been installed.
The cooperation with Dinnissen started with two stainless steel mixing silos for homogenizing/mixing milk powder batches of +/-26 tons per mixing. After that, we bought one Pegasus® paddle mixer to be able to dose and mix micro components very accurately. We also devised various other smart systems for our product intake and grinding processes, among other things. Together with Dinnissen, among others, we built two complete mixing installations from scratch. These lines now work perfectly. We produce 26 tons per hour and the mixing results are very good.
However, the process was not without difficulties. Because, when you start designing together, problems also arise. Fortunately, Dinnissen took responsibility for working with us to solve the problems quickly and competently."
The mixing silos with a Pegasus mixer.
Mixing problems identified early on and solved at Dinnissen test center
"During the development of our mixing lines, we were faced with a challenge in achieving good mixing results with the mixing silos. We came up with a possible solution and to test it with our milk powders, Dinnissen built a test setup in its D-innocenter. The solution turned out to work in the test setup, and later also in our production line.
Only when mistakes are made, you know what your partners are truly made of. Dinnissen takes responsibility, is proactive, listens to our suggestions, and thinks along in solutions. Sometimes companies withdraw when they are faced with problems. Dinnissen is not like that. If a Dinnissen machine doesn't do what it's supposed to do, then Dinnissen sees that as their problem. And then they solve it themselves. Just as it should be."
Mutual communication leads to the best solution
"What I can appreciate about Dinnissen is that their employees actually open themselves up to the expertise of others. That sounds logical, but it's not the case with many other companies. They close themselves off, keep their knowledge to themselves, and want to do everything themselves. You get the feeling that your own expertise is taken less seriously. For me, a collaboration only becomes a partnership when everyone's expertise is equal. I am convinced that mutual communication always leads to the best solutions and to the best relationship. After all, the goal is the same: achieving the best possible production line.
Dinnissen has a lot of know-how in the field of process technology and mixing, and we know most about the properties of our products. If you work together well and value each other's expertise, you will come up with the best solution much faster. And of course, speed is crucial in our market. The sooner that line is running, the sooner you can start earning back your investment."
Dinnissen's representatives are not salespeople, but technicians
"Dinnissen's representatives strive for the best solutions. They are technicians with practical experience, who have moved on to sales. You can already notice that in the first conversations. They showed interest in our company and asked, among other things, about our goals, products, desired capacities, and whether we wanted to produce 24/7. They analyzed our situation, mapped out our needs and then came up with a proposed solution. With some other machine builders, I got the feeling that I had to choose a machine from their range. A completely different approach.
Every machine is different, every process is different, every adjustment is different, and every powder is different. And in advance, you never know exactly how and whether something will work. That's why I don't mind things going wrong every now and then. That can't be avoided in our line of business. It's all about how you solve your mistakes.
To achieve the best results, you must work together intensively, make yourself vulnerable, listen well, and value each other's expertise. For me, that is what Dinnissen excels in. That's why I am very satisfied with the collaboration with Dinnissen. That includes both the solutions created and the process towards those solutions."
Frans van Zutven
Founder and director, Van Zutven Feed Processing