Buhler provides tools for Thai flour milling expansion

by Teresa Acklin
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   Flour milling in Thailand is booming, propelled by the growing popularity of wheat-based foods among young and affluent Thais, a vibrant tourist industry and increased demand for wheat flour from the aquaculture sector.

   Buhler Ltd., Uzwil, Switzerland, has strong ties with flour and feed millers in Thailand. Urs Baumann reviewed Buhler's activities in the flour milling sector in Thailand in a recent issue of Diagram, a Buhler publication. These activities include mill startups or expansions for the following companies:

   Laemthong Corp. Ltd., Bangkok. Buhler completed the largest flour milling unit in Thailand for Laemthong in August 1990. The unit has a capacity to grind 400 tonnes of wheat into flour during a 24-hour day. Buhler supplied all equipment for precleaning, cleaning, grinding, flour storage and handling, flour bagging and the electrical control system.

   After the new unit was opened, Buhler began work on upgrading Laemthong's initial mill, increasing its capacity to 300 tonnes a day. This renovation included supplying roller mills, plansifters and a pneumatic conveying system. In addition, the renovation included an entire bulk loadout section. The renovated mill resumed operation in February 1991.

   Thai Flour Mill Industry Co. Ltd., Bangkok. In October 1989, T.F.M. opened its new 150-tonne-per-day mill, built by Buhler, which supplied cleaning, grinding and flour packaging equipment as well as PLC controls to permit automatic operation. An air classifier for producing low-protein flours was included.

   Siam Flour Trading Co. Ltd., Bangkok. Buhler personnel have supervised the erection of a 265-tonne-per-day flour mill ordered by Siam Flour Trading. The facility is integrated in the area between the company's existing mill and grain elevator. Buhler is supplying the equipment for raw material reception, cleaning, grinding, flour storage and handling, flour packaging, bran packing and PLC controls.

   United Flour Mill Co. Ltd., Bangkok. Thailand's first flour miller is still its largest. In May 1991, U.F.M. commissioned Buhler to supply two new units each with a capacity of 265 tonnes per day, plus a large-capacity flour storage and handling facility with a capacity to hold more than 10,000 tonnes. Buhler will supply the following equipment and services: all equipment for receiving materials; cleaning and grinding sections; an air classification unit for producing low-protein flour; rebuilding the existing flour storage and handling installation; a new block of finished product bins with a state-of-the-art batch mixing system; and the flour and bran packing section. The new installations are PLC controlled.

   U.F.M. is nearly 30 years old and its relationship with Buhler is long-standing. In 1964, U.F.M. took delivery of a plant supplied by the then MIAG/Germany. This mill unit is still in operation. Buhler supplied a second unit with a capacity of 150 tonnes per day in 1980.

   In 1989, U.F.M. commissioned Buhler to expand the latter unit to 300 tonnes a day. The upgrade included the additional cleaning and milling machinery and an expansion of the existing electrical control system originally supplied in 1980. Installation of the new equipment started in June 1990. The unit was shut down for four weeks to allow the old and new sections to be connected. It was important not to exceed four weeks because U.F.M. had obligations to its customers. The expanded mill was successfully put into operation in September 1990.

   Nisshin-S.T.C. Flour Milling Co. Ltd., Bangkok. Nisshin-S.T.C. was established in July 1991 as a joint venture between the Japanese companies Nisshin Flour and Mitsubishi and the Thai S.T.C. Group in order to erect a flour mill. In November 1991, Buhler was awarded the contract for supplying a 240-tonne-per-day mill. The project includes all equipment for wheat handling, cleaning, grinding, scalpings grinding, flour and bran storage and packing. A PLC system will be supplied for controlling the mill. The mill is scheduled to go into operation in 1993.

   Charoen Pokphand Group, Bangkok. Charoen Pokphand is the largest shrimp breeder in Thailand, and its shrimp feed factory at Mahachai, northeast of Bangkok, is the largest of its kind in the world. Shrimp feed contains a high proportion of wheat flour, so CP signed a contract with Buhler in early 1992 for supplying equipment for a 240-tonne-per-day wheat mill to produce flour for use in shrimp feed. The facility will be located next to the existing shrimp feed manufacturing plant. Buhler is supplying equipment for cleaning, grinding, flour handling and bran bagging. The plant is controlled by a modern PLC system supplied by Buhler. This is the first installation in Thailand to be equipped with the new MDDL eight-roller mills of Buhler.