Researcher Experiences Rendering Operations Firsthand

By Annel K. Greene, PhD, Center Director, Clemson University Animal Co-Products Research and Education Center

At the invitation of Baker Commodities, Inc., and Darling International, Inc., Dr. Annel Greene (the author), Clemson University Animal Co-Products Research and Education Center (ACREC), toured three California rendering plants prior to the 2009 National Renderers Association/Fats and Proteins Research Foundation (FPRF) annual meetings in San Francisco, CA, in late October. The goal of the tours was to learn more about West Coast operations and the challenges facing the industry in this region. This information will be transmitted to the faculty, staff, and students working on rendering projects at ACREC so the research team will better understand the needs of the industry.

First Stop, Baker Commodities
The first tour began late on a Friday afternoon at the Baker Commodities operation in Hanford, CA. Research and Development Director Doug Smith and Division Controller/Assistant General Manager Jay Pezolt cordially hosted the tour along with Plant Manager Doug Fletcher. The Hanford processing plant location is centered in a major dairy region and processes dead stock collected from local farms and transported to the site where processing operations continue into the evening.

Immediately observed was the labor intensiveness of dead stock cattle operations that clearly distinguishes this type of rendering from poultry rendering. However, the efficiency of the operation was amazing. The speed with which the workers were able to quickly harvest the hides and process the carcasses was impressive. It seems unlikely that any automated system could ever equal the speed with which these workers prepare the carcasses for transport to the cooking facility. After the carcass floor, the tour continued to the hide cleaning/salting area and load-out operations, and wastewater treatment lagoons.

Shrouded in an early morning fog, the tour continued the next morning at the Baker Commodities plant in Kerman, CA. Smith and Plant Manager Steve Dessauer explained the steps involved in their rendering process for transforming dairy cattle carcasses into tallow and meat and bone meal. The recently remodeled office along with beautifully landscaped gardens provided a very professional and elegant reception area for the facility. Including a new lobby and conference room, the office was equipped with the latest in audiovisual equipment.

Across the lot, two silos displaying the Baker Commodities logo stood tall above the processing facility. Inside the plant, three cookers were in operation processing the raw materials being fed into troughs at the rear of the plant. The tour afforded an opportunity to observe dead stock cooking operations in action and to further understand rendering processing procedures. In addition to the material handling and cooking operations, milling and shaker table operations were observed. Extra equipment stored on-site allowed an excellent opportunity to understand the mechanics and operation of the screw press and cooker steam shaft. Load out procedures were explained and rendering material truck design was examined.

The kind invitation and gracious hospitality of James Andreoli for providing the educational tours of his facilities was greatly appreciated. Smith and the many Baker Commodities plant personnel gave a congenial and warm reception, kindly explaining their operations and answering many questions related to the industry. This interaction was extremely helpful in understanding the needs of the industry for research at ACREC. The pride, enthusiasm, and professionalism of the Baker Commodities employees for the rendering industry were quite evident.

Next Stop, Darling International
Traveling north to the Darling International rendering plant in Turlock, CA, Greene met with General Manager James Roth. A preliminary tour of dead stock operations was followed by an informative overview of the control booth for the plant. Plant Manager Dave Bizzanelli and Assistant Plant Manager Richard Bundy explained the computerized systems that control the plant. A climb up the catwalk beside the operating disk cooker offered an opportunity to observe the cooker in use via access windows.

The Turlock plant processes primarily poultry with limited dairy dead stock, and has recently undergone an extensive renovation resulting in an impressive operation. The computer control and video surveillance were fascinating and allowed an overview of all plant operations at a glance. It also was a very useful educational tool for explaining the overall product flow. The ensuing discussions with Darling International personnel allowed new insights into rendering processing operations. A spare cooker steam shaft in storage on-site also allowed an opportunity to ask questions about cooker function/design and to ask for advice on current research projects underway at ACREC.

Research needs were discussed with the perspective of West Coast operations. The visit was extremely helpful for understanding the industry needs for research to be conducted by ACREC personnel. Roth and the Darling International personnel provided a highly educational and professional tour of their facilities. The pride and enthusiasm they had for their operation and the rendering industry in general was apparent.

Clemson University ACREC immensely thanks both companies for the excellent educational opportunities that are sure to provide a wealth of knowledge for future industry research.

ACREC Solutions – December 2009 RENDER | back