More with less

Limited natural resources make sustainable feed production increasingly important. Nutreco´s solutions are at the origins of food for millions of consumers worldwide. The leading animal nutrition and fish feed company is constantly seeking for new raw materials and investing in R&D to produce more feed with less resources, to improve animal health, and to reduce feed waste.

Having roots in family-owned businesses since 1899, grown by mergers and investments, Nutreco N.V. is today a global giant with net sales of EUR 5,6 billion, over 100 factories across five continents, and more than 11,000 employees in 37 countries.

In addition to fish feed and animal feed, Nutreco is also a significant producer of premixes, collections of vitamins and minerals, ingredients used in animal and fish feed.

Track and trace

“Nutreco has two global company brands: Skretting for aqua feed and Trouw Nutrition for animal nutrition. Their products are sold in over 90 countries”, says ‎Kurt Fjellanger, program manager for Nutreco´s laboratory information management system (LIMS) implementation and development.

“Our raw materials are sourced from manufacturers and suppliers around the world. By law, we must be able to document which raw material lots we have used, and which customers have received which products. We have strict control over it.”

One common LIMS in Nutreco makes it possible to manage the usage of correct test methods across the businesses. “Consistent use of internationally standardized test methods, from R&D and product development to manufacturing and quality control, is crucial to ensure our customers receive correct product quality. Controlling the test methods, we know that we compare apples to apples and not apples to pears.”

Another important LIMS feature is the automatic comparison between test results and specifications, and the tool visualizing non-conforming samples. “If the results are out of specifications, it pops up straight away in LIMS. Our operators and quality staff would immediately discover it and act as required. Should there be any issue, the link to our ERP system ensures we know exactly which raw material lots have been involved and which customers it potentially concerns.”

All-in-one solution

All Nutreco factories perform quality control of raw materials and products. Most of the laboratories are quality control labs with 6-8 employees or less, while some are medium size laboratories, often with commercial activities and typically around 25 employees. A few of the laboratories are also involved in R&D and product development. Nutreco’s largest laboratory is MasterLab in the Netherlands, with around 65 employees.

As early as 2004, Nutreco´s aquaculture research center in Stavanger, Norway started to use LabVantage LIMS provided by Software Point, LabVantage Nordics. “The following years we implemented this LIMS version in 25 fish feed and shrimp feed laboratories around the globe. In 2013, Nutreco started a selection process for extending the LIMS also to the agribusiness, and the choice was LabVantage LIMS”, Fjellanger relates.

The need for a common LIMS platform across the aqua feed and animal feed businesses came along as a part of the updated quality strategy in 2015. “The newly formed Nutreco quality team with representatives from all business units saw the necessity of one LIMS solution in whole Nutreco. So last year we started, together with Software Point, to create a new LabVantage LIMS platform that we internally call NutrecoLIMS.”

“In line with our strategy, we have started the journey to roll out NutrecoLIMS in 55 laboratories during the next three years. In addition, the 25 aqua sites will be upgraded to use the new NutrecoLIMS as well. Parallel to these implementations, further development of the LIMS platform is made in cooperation with Software Point.

This means that all 80 laboratories in Nutreco will be using the same efficient LIMS system when the implementation is done.”

Installing LIMS in a laboratory previously having no LIMS requires training and good preparations.

“Starting up LIMS in these laboratories is usually not complicated but local routines often need to be changed. Moreover, we also have laboratories which have been using other, locally customized LIMS applications over many years. Thus, the expectations of LabVantage is that it must be equally good or better than all existing solutions.”

“As an example, one of our laboratories may get up to 500-600 samples in front of their door every morning. All samples must be registered, analyzed and reported the same day. This has created me grey hair”, Kurt Fjellanger laughs.

“How do we cope with this situation and register up to 600 samples a day? Our solution in LabVantage LIMS is using so-called sample templates. As we know what the customers usually order, we can prepare analysis packages. When samples arrive, our laboratory specialist selects the right customer and sample template, and by filling in a minimum information to LIMS, all other data required – such as test methods, customer name, reporting language, report template, e-mail address, etc. – are automatically registered. It is a quick way of logging samples. This is an exciting and a good solution for different laboratories.”

Advance and trust

Kurt Fjellanger says the main reason for choosing the web-based LabVantage Enterprise LIMS was its functionality, flexibility, scalability and the system´s fit to Nutreco’s IT infrastructure. "LabVantage LIMS saves time and gives quicker responses."

“Another thing our business is looking forward to, is that samples and results can be shared between laboratories, which means we don´t have to register the samples and results more than once. We continuously work on improving and harmonizing our quality control and work processes, which is easier when we can develop and configure one system to meet these needs.”

”Finally, we wanted Software Point, LabVantage Nordics to be Nutreco’s LIMS provider because of the good work you have done over more than ten years with LabVantage. With an excellent and service-oriented team, you have earned this trust from Nutreco.”

Sustainable growth

Quality, innovation and sustainability are among Nutreco´s corporate principles.

“It is important that the feed industry runs sustainable business, and that we, for instance, do not use fishmeal or fish oil from species that are suitable for human consumption. In fact, we use LIMS for mapping and documenting the origin of fish species used in these raw materials”, Kurt Fjellanger remarks.

“There is a limit to how much wild-catch fishery we can harvest from the ocean. As we need to run sustainable, we can´t take more out of the sea. At the same time, the feed industry and especially the farmed fish industry, is growing and contributes to feed the world’s increasing population.”

"Are there plants or animal material which could be utilized for fish feed, as replacements for marine protein and marine fat? Nutreco has been in the lead of research hunting for good substitutes for both fishmeal and fish oil, and now we use these raw materials far less than before in our products. On top of that, the feed is nutritionally better balanced, which means that we can grow more fish and animal meat with less feed.” 


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Text:                                 Software Point
Photos:                            Nutreco