As the Delta variant continues to surge across the world, it has created severe economic and social disruption this summer. In Yangzhou of China, where integrated solution provider Famsun is headquartered, the city had to impose a strict lockdown in August due to rising cases. How did this wave of pandemics affect the company's operating results and outlook this year?

After the city announced resumption on September 3, 2021, a company representitive had the chance to talk with Famsun Vice President Ms Liu Ping about the company's operation and her perspectives on the importance of R&D innovation in growing business in pandemic volatility. Liu Ping currently leads Famsun's brand, communication, public relations and government affairs. She is the first female member of Famsun's executive board.    

First of all, would you like to share something about FAMSUN's operating performance this year?
Liu: No problem. At Famsun, we continue to hold steady growth despite the pandemic volatility. The sale revenue in the first eight months as of August 31 was up 30 percent over the same period of 2020. And throughout the year, we expect an increase of 50 percent in sales with a growing new order volume and a resilient supply and delivery system.

What do you think the pandemic will change the global agri-food industry? 
Liu: I'm sure it will accelerate the resilience capacity building in the agri-food value chain. Leading technologies and innovations will be applied in more farms, feed mills, processing plants, and associated enterprises to enable them to address challenges and uncertainties, get to survive in risks, and create new development opportunities. Even with a complete and resilient supply chain in China, the outstanding businesses are always those high-tech users or transformers during this pandemic.   

And lucky for Famsun, as a technology partner and a solution provider, we deeply know about the power of technologies and innovations. Famsun has given priority to the R&D of our products, solutions, and services to provide resilience to customers for years. We also encourage our employees to leverage advanced technologies to build capacity in their work all the way. I think this is why Famsun can successfully innovate operating and business modes to rapidly adapt to the pandemic disruptions, hold steady growth, and strengthen our market position in volatility. 

Could you please tell us more about how Famsun builds capacity in R&D and innovation?
Liu: One of the first and the most important is that Famsun keeps investing five percent of revenue in R&D every year. The increasing budget as a good result of the growing business performance ensures that our experts can accelerate the research, development, and innovation plans and turn their ideas into advanced solutions in feed milling, oil & fat processing, grain storage and handling, food processing, and industrial automation fields. It also ensures that Famsun is a competitive integrated solution provider in the farm-to-table industry chain.

We have over 300 best R&D talents from different nations and different professional fields with great knowledge, experience, wisdom, innovative skills, and motivation for success. They spark new ideas and solutions by closely working with our engineering and service experts, and by collaborating with feed producers, as well as by partnering with industrial partners, universities, research institutes, and academics.

This is the best collaborative and circular innovation mode. With 16 products recognised as China-national high and new technologies, eight China-national Key development new products, and four innovation programs that won the Second Prize of China National Scientific and Technological Progress Awards, Famsun is sharing and scaling its innovations and leading technologies in the agri-food industry to create advanced food production systems worldwide. 

Is there any successful application story of Famsun's collaborative innovation achievements? 
Liu: We have plenty of such success stories. For example, the R&D and industrialisation of large-scale intelligent aquafeed processing equipment and technology program, which won the first prize of the 2020 China Machinery Industry Science and Technology Awards, is incorporating the latest intelligent, automation, and digital technologies into aquafeed processing machines, systems, and production lines.

It is the collective achievement of our R&D Institutes in China, the US, and Demark, and with the local expertise of our aquafeed mill customers in China and Asia. Famsun Intelligent Dryer and Vacuum Coater that developed in this R&D project are creating productivity, efficiency, and profitability in a state-of-the-art aquafeed mill of Sao Mai Group in Vietnam. The feed mill is built with 36 steel silos, each can store soybean meal for 300 tonnes, and can supply 360,000 tonnes of high-quality feed for Basa catfish farming in Vietnam every year. The feed mill is the largest of its kind in Vietnam and Southeast Asia.

Another example is the most advanced feed mill Famsun delivered to Tian Cheng Group in East China. It is the most comprehensive feed mill with a total annual capacity of 600,000 tonnes and 15 processing lines that covering the production of premix, raw material expansion, and feeds for poultry, pig, shrimp, crab, fish, etc. The complex is designed with the latest FAMES system and highlighted by smart card logistics management system, intelligent equipment, full-automatic process control, full-automatic packaging and stacking.  

We are now partnering with one of China's key agri-food integrators - Wen's Food Group - to build an intelligent and green feed mill in Yongqiao, Anhui, China. The most advanced feed mill will have a capacity of 80TPH of high-quality and bio-secure swine feed to meet the feeding demand of one million fattening pigs and one million piglets on Wen's farms nearby.

With Famsun's Farm-Feed IoT platform, the physical production and operations of Wen's feed mill and farms are interactable. The farms can play feed orders online automatically according to their inventory and the daily usage of feed products. It supports automatic procurement plan of feed raw materials, feed production schedule, and distribution and logistics routine optimisation and auto-appointment.

In the intelligent feed mill, with full-plant sensing and data collecting technologies, the removing of foreign matters such as iron blocks, the pre-alert of hammer mill screen brokerage, the calibration of dosing scales, and the control of pelleting and extrusion processes are all automatically without man intervention. It also allows for unmanned receiving, sampling, delivery of raw materials and feed products, etc.    

We have learned that Famsun was authorised to build a key laboratory for the research and development of intelligent and green feed manufacturing equipment and technology in China in 2020. Could you please give a brief about this laboratory?
Liu: The construction of the laboratory is supported by the Sci-Tech Innovation Fund of the Jiangsu Government. It is the only key laboratory in China for feed manufacturing equipment and technology.

It will support the research, development, innovation, and test of basic knowledge, strategic processing equipment, processing technologies, and solutions for promoting the transformation of green facilities and Industry 4.0 in the feed industry. Famsun will construct the laboratory with Famsun feed milling machines, technologies, and solutions.

Our best expert teams will use their expertise in feed milling and cross fields to make a vital contribution to some key research programs. It will also open to university students, researchers, academia, customers, and industry partners to support and drive innovation in feed manufacturing.

We have noticed that Famsun emphasises a lot on the 'Industry-Education-Research' Cooperation mode in past years. How do you operate the mode in China and in other countries to drive innovation?
Liu: At Famsun, we welcome all kinds of open access to collective innovation. The 'Industry-Education-Research' cooperation is the most mature mode that we operate to expand our innovation ecosystem and build new partnerships to improve R&D.

In China, we cooperate with leading agri-related and associate universities, colleges, and research institutes in China including China Agricultural University, Harbin Institute of Technology, Henan University Of Technology, Wuhan University Of Light Technology, Wuhan Institute Of Scientific Research And Design in some key research projects of the many national 'five-year' plans.

Our research results were tested in the production farms, factories, and facilities of our industry partners such as New Hope Liuhe Group, CP Group, Wellhope, Wen's Food Group, etc. to research the best application practices of these new research achievements before using them to boost commercial and industrial production in agri-food sector. 

Though 'Industry-Education-Research', Famsun is also active in co-fostering future talent for the agri-food industry. We participate in the Curriculum Design for Undergraduate of Feed Manufacturing in China. Every year, we provide about 150 training opportunities for university students to work with Famsun experts in real work, learn expertise and experience, develop new skills, and expand knowledge with our Summer Training Camp program. And most of them will join Famsun after graduation. 

Same as in China, we have also developed partnerships with such famous universities as the Kansas State University (the USA) and some famous designing institutes and key players of local agri-food industries through our global-covered R&D institutes, manufacturing bases, and sales & service offices.

I believe, as Famsun accelerates globalisation and localisation pace, and with more and more local talents join our organisation, we will form more win-win local partnerships in R&D and create more innovative solutions to the capacity building of local agri-food production systems.  

For further information, visit the Famsun website, HERE.

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