How Consulting Closely With Your Toll Processor Brings Greater Value
Alexandar Row, Apr 1, 2021 6:45:00 AM
Many toll processing projects are pretty basic orders: start with a raw feed with predictable initial characteristics and use a prescribed processing method, or series of methods, to achieve a final specification, including:
- Particle size range and distribution
- Moisture content
- Ingredient ratios
- And more
But sometimes, it’s not so simple — and that’s when a close relationship with your trusted toll manufacturer makes a big difference.
It’s obvious that an experienced toll processor delivers access to a deep bench of material science and engineering expertise for pilot runs, research and product development, and process trials.
But opportunities also arise during more run-of-the-mill projects when a candid conversation with your toller’s service team can help you capture optimal value from your materials — and from the business relationship.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the ways our teams at CPS help customers identify and act on those opportunities.
Identify Opportunities to Add Adding Upstream Value
Often customers, especially new ones, approach a toll processor with a single service or process step in mind. For example, they want their product jet-milled, returned to its original packaging, and either returned or sent on to the location of its next processing step.
Concerns about protecting product formulations or market position sometimes discourage customers from sharing comprehensive information about their products or the context of a toll processor’s services in the larger process timeline of raw material to product. But the more insight your toll processor has into your bigger picture, the more likely they can add upstream value to your process.
For example, will your product be dried before your toller receives it for milling? Chances are, your toller can dry your product, too. By eliminating a separate stop for that drying step, you may save time and money.
So, when technical sales engineers and customer service representatives ask probing questions, it’s not all about upselling you on services; it’s about optimizing and simplifying your supply chain.
Focus On Maximizing In-Process Value
Let’s go back to that jet-milling project. Let’s say the customer has a familiar raw feed, and has achieved a specified particle size range solely on a jet mill on their own production equipment. So that’s what they ask for.
A good toll processor can repeat that customer’s identical process and achieve the same specification.
But an experienced toll processor might actually recommend a two-step process that uses a mechanical mill before the product hits the jet mill — if that two-mill process can achieve the same specifications faster and at a lower cost.
That’s one way toll processors’ science and engineering teams identify ways to deliver more value to customers.
In other cases, customers may think they need more time to trial a raw feed before taking it up to production-level equipment. But the material scientists on the team may already have a deep knowledge base that can help reduce the depth of trial data needed to get your material into production faster.
Saving trial time can be significant, since production-level processing schedules typically run much faster than pilots and trials.
Analytical testing can offer customers another time-saving advantage. New customers may hesitate to take advantage of a toll processor’s analytical capabilities — whether out of a sense of duty to use their own equipment, or because they have always used a third-party lab.
But an experienced toll processor not only has the most frequently used analytical equipment; they also have significant experience running it, and the expertise to ensure uniform testing parameters to essentially duplicate your testing procedures.
Testing on-site at your toll processor can eliminate time your sample spends in shipping and queued up at another lab. Quick testing turnaround is essential when you’re waiting to get your material into production, and testing delays at the lab can cause production scheduling problems.
Delivering Value on Tough Projects and Problematic Materials
Sometimes, you just can’t match the depth of experience and combined expertise that a toll processor’s scientists and engineers bring to a project. When you also consider the range of equipment they have — not just on hand, but up and running optimally — it’s easy to understand how an experienced toll processor can achieve what others can’t.
In fact, it makes sense to leverage your toll processor’s close relationship with equipment manufacturers and engineering mastery. Their machinery may be identical to yours, but their expertise means they can do more with it, tweaking parameters to deliver results that exceed even the original equipment manufacturer’s promises.
Don’t believe it? Ask your OEM if they can recommend a tolling partner on the basis of equipment mastery.
Delivering Downstream Value-Adds
Opportunities to get more value from your toll processor extend beyond the production line. Just as they do when first considering receipt of material, your tolling partner’s experts can find ways to do more for you when they know more about the context of your project. Services that can improve efficiency, save time, eliminate logistical steps, and save money can include:
- Shipping directly to your next third-party service provider
- Repacking to sizes or quantities that make handling faster and easier at the next processing step
- Packaging and labeling for final product formats
- And more
Trust Drives Value
Whether you simply need your material turned around in short order to a hard-to-achieve specification or you bring in your toll processor as a hand-in-glove partner, trust always drives the best outcomes.
It’s not uncommon for the relationship between the customer and toll processor to strengthen and grow over time.
As a customer, you promote and build trust every time you provide more information about the context of your toll processor’s work on your projects. And they’ll do their part to consistently meet and exceed your quality expectations, make insightful process recommendations, and find new opportunities to optimize efficiency in ways that benefit your business. The more deeply your toll processor is integrated into your operations, the more responsive they can be to your needs.
Get a better understanding of the details your toll processor needs to do their best work when you download our free Grinding Project Application Checklist. It shows you the most important factors that can influence your project’s scope, timeline, and costs — and we’ve been using it more than two decades, so we know what to cover. Just click the link to get yours.