Soybean Oil Extractor Case Study


A local manufacturer of oil seed processing equipment had developed a new line of deep-bed soybean oil extraction machines. The client was seeking help with the structural design of the larger models, since their proportions exceeded the size with which the in-house engineering staff was comfortable.

The initial support effort from the AMG team was critical. The first, critical item that the client needed literally overnight was an accurate estimate of the weight of the extractor, before the design process was even started. This weight was needed to negotiate the contract with the fabricator, and the accuracy was critical as the price per pound of fabrication was going to be double above the estimated weight.


First, the AMG team generated a drawing list and allocated weights to each component, which allowed us to deliver an accurate estimate of 220,000 lbs which ultimately was within 200 pounds of the actual weight.

Configurations: The configurations of the machines were established by the client to serve the purpose of the process, which was deep-bed, counter-current extraction.

Sub-Assemblies: There were many sub assemblies that required design, detailing and shop-drawing preparation. The sub assemblies requiring these preparations were the feed screw, the roof structure, the top bearing support, the central spindle, the segment support trusses, the segment divider panels, the rack gear support, the motor mount, the discharge hopper, the discharge screw, the tank shell structure, the screen support structure, the macilla stage divider baffles, the bottom cone structure, the thrust bearing support, the extractor support structure, and the thrust bearing access platform.

Multi-Language: The project documents were produced in English, and Spanish to facilitate the fabrication and installation process.


The original project was for a 61 ft diameter by 25 ft tall machine to be built and installed in Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina. A second, smaller model, with a 44 diameter and a 25 ft height was designed to be built in the U.S. and installed in Iowa. The rotating basket was connected to central vertical shaft, with the shaft supported by a single horizontal bearing. The required quality test was that a single person had to be able to push and make the empty basket rotate. The project passed the test. The lesson learned from these projects is that optimizing material costs in Latin America while optimizing labor costs in the U.S will produce the most economic solution. Consequently, the Argentine machine was designed using trusses for the large support members, which are economical from the steel tonnage perspective but require a lot of shop labor to fabricate. The U.S. manufactured machine used heavy rolled sections for the same purpose. These weighed considerably more than trusses would have, but required a minimum amount of shop labor to fabricate.