GEA Group AG, a technology supplier for the food processing and other industries that’s based in Düsseldorf, Germany, has opened its new GEA Pet Food Experience Center (PEX) in Galliera Veneta, Italy. The center is expected to drive innovation and function as a resource for sharing the latest information and technology in the pet food industry. The 1,000-square-meter facility offers a pilot plant where new products can be developed and tested and has a laboratory equipped with instruments for chemical, chemical-physical, rheological analysis, and nutritional testing. The facility employs 30 workers, including process technicians, analysts, and mechanics.

The PEX Center offers a mixing and milling section equipped with a flour mixer, hammermill, and plansifter, allowing customers to test new recipes; the extrusion and inserts area offers a preconditioner and twin cooking extruder; the preparation section includes equipment to prepare emulsions in batches; the drying zone includes a static and continuous dryer for achieving specific flavor characteristics requiring temperature-specific handling; and other related equipment such as molds and dies are also available. PEX is based near the GEA Pavan Pasta & Snack Tech Center where the company manufactures dry pasta, snacks, breakfast cereals, extruded products, and pet food.

The PEX Center will also be used for training purposes for customer’s employees to learn about efficient processing and best practices. Workshops held at the facility introduce participants to the basics of extrusion-cooking technology focused on preconditioning, energy consumption, and the importance of moisture and mass-flow balance. The primary aim is to help attendees learn how to be efficient at every step of the dry pet food production process, which includes the selection of raw materials, raw material intake, handling, weighing and dosing, mixing, grinding, conditioning, extrusion-cooking, forming, drying, coating, and storage and packaging.