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12.20.21 | 4 min read

Creative Problem Solving in Production and Logistics

Plastic Injection Molded Components for Poultry Feeding & Watering Systems

Poultry feeding and watering systems are made to automate the process of providing nourishment for birds in commercial farming. They are often composed of hundreds of individual parts that are then assembled at the end customer’s facility. 

Our customer sells these feeding systems among other agricultural products. They approached us about a particular innovation they wanted to bring to life for their chain feeder systems.

Bringing Ideas to Life

Chain feeder systems are used to provide even, low-stress distribution of feed for chickens and turkeys. The chain helps move the grain through the tubing and trough systems so that all birds can have access to feed. To move the grain through their system more effectively and prevent clogging, the customer wanted to find a way to overmold plastic rings onto the metal chains. 

We sourced the chain from a domestic manufacturer that shares our commitment to quality and got to work figuring out how to overmold the plastic rings. Our engineering and production teams worked together to figure out a way to make it happen for the customer when they had been told it was not possible by other companies they talked to. 

Optimizing Production and Lead Times

With the chain overmolding figured out, we turned our attention to the rest of the components. We produce over 150 plastic components for each watering and feeding system, which, if run all at once, would consume production on over half of our equipment. 

These systems are manufactured to order, and in the agricultural industry, there is typically a strong sense of urgency for these products. Usually, our customer will hear from a project manager who is coordinating the construction of a new poultry operation, and they are often surprised to learn that these systems are not typically available off the shelf. Helping our customer provide shorter lead times would give them a competitive advantage. 

While we try our best to forecast upcoming needs, the truth is that we just don’t have much visibility into what’s coming up in new agricultural construction. That’s why our team decided to get proactive about producing the components and inventorying them so we would be ready to respond faster and help our customer make more sales.

Ensuring Quality

Poultry watering systems require very tight tolerances because maintaining a dry floor in a poultry house is absolutely critical. If water collects onto the floor, it creates hazardous and unpleasant conditions for the birds. The plastic nozzles in these systems require a tolerance within about 7 microns, which is about 1/10 the thickness of a human hair. Our team uses pin gauges to verify proper dimensions for these parts.

Flash, plastic burring, and other contaminants must also be eliminated from these parts before they can enter service in the field. Extra plastic material runs the risk of breaking off in the application and finding its way into the birds’ food and water. These products also require a specialized polymer resin because poultry produces a high levels of nitrogen.

Logistics and Kitting

With over 150 parts to a system, organization is everything. More complexity usually means a greater opportunity for error. In order to ensure our systems shipped out complete with the correct components, we began kitting the parts together in our warehouse. This practice also helped our customer make installation easier for the end user of the system. 

A Chicken in Every Pot

We continue to experience success in producing these agricultural systems for our customer, who helps to provide a valuable food source to people across the country. We are grateful to play a role in supporting American agriculture.

If you’re working on a new innovation for your agricultural products, or you just want to find a high-quality supplier, then we want to hear from you. Connect with an LMC Industries expert today to tell us more about what you’re trying to accomplish.

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