Visiting an Oilseed Crushing Plant…a Valuable Opportunity?
If a business person is interested in processing oilseeds such as soybeans, cottonseed, or canola seed, they should arrange for a visit to one or two oilseed facilities. This can give them a better knowledge base of what one should expect and to learn the advantages and disadvantages of various processes.
Below are the steps in the overall process that you would see when you visit an oilseed mechanical crushing plant. There is an opportunity to learn from each step in the process.
- Unloading, sampling for moisture/foreign material, and cleaning/de-stoning of oilseeds.
- If the operation de-hulls the soybean or de-lints the cottonseed, you would see the conditioning prior to cracking the bean and/or mechanically collecting the cotton lint.
- The next step in oilseed processing would be the cooking (dry extrusion), followed by a vented conveyor that moves the hot oilseed meal to the oil expeller (mechanical oil press).
- After cooking and mechanically pressing the oilseed it is very important to move the oilseed cake to a protein meal cooler. Immediately cooling the meal helps protect the quality of the protein in the cooked meal. Some of the oilseed operations will use a tumbler cooler or a “counter-flow” cooler. After cooling, the meal cake is hammer-milled prior to bulk load-out or bagging.
- The extracted crude oil can be gravity settled or many operations are immediately decanting the oil in order to remove the particulates within the oil.
In addition, there are opportunities to visit with the production, maintenance people, oilseed buyers, and perhaps the company’s sales personnel. People that have visited operating plants walk away with a much better understanding of a very dynamic business. They now have a much better perspective to compare technologies and to build their business plan.
All it takes is to coordinate with the manufacturer of the oilseed processing equipment. If that manufacturer has good equipment, there should be a number of sites to visit.