Staying strong in a recession

by Arvin Donley
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While the economic recession has caused many industries around the world to languish, the wheat milling industry has remained relatively strong as its core product — flour used for production of staple foods such as bread and noodles — has continued to be in high demand.

"Generally speaking, flour being a staple food was to a certain extent less influenced by the recession compared to other segments of the economy, which are still suffering the consequences," a leading milling equipment manufacturer said.

In a World Grain survey sent to milling equipment manufacturers in July, the responders noted that in certain parts of the world earlier this year there was limited access to credit lines by millers for financing new projects. But even in countries that were severely affected by the recession, there was an increasing demand for upgrades to existing facilities.

"In these countries we have seen an increasing trend toward requests of cost-efficient upgrades with implementation of customized process flows and technical approaches in order to meet the customers’ needs and expectations," one company noted.

There was a general consensus among the respondents that Africa, South America, the Middle East and Asia were the "hot spots" for construction activity in the milling sector.

Opinions varied on the most important issues in the milling industry that are impacting how equipment is designed and manufactured.

One company said, "Today’s most important development is to have more capacity and extraction per machine. Also, providing maximum hygiene to prevent micro-bacterial procreation and producing maximum security machines are some of the important issues."

Another company added, "We are seeing an increasing trend toward the demand of energy-efficient plants with the implementation of energy-efficient motors, particular process flow and layouts that allow for savings in energy consumption."

The following are just a few of the major milling construction/expansion projects that have been completed in recent months.


Kuwait Flour Mills and Bakeries Co. recently hired Ocrim, S.p.A of Cremona, Italy to install a new production line in its existing flour mill in Kuwait City, Kuwait.

The project, which was completed in seven months, involved installing a milling unit with a 24-hour production capacity of 750 tonnes. This was a challenge, as the building was originally designed to house a mill with daily capacity of 350 tonnes, and it was achieved by using superimposed roller mills with intermediate sifting. The benefits of this unique set-up, according to Ocrim, include: increased roller mill capacity; lower power consumption; increased roll life; the need for fewer purifiers; and reduced sifter surface.

The intermediate sieve is located between the upper and lower rolls. The drum is designed to act as a feeder roll, presenting the sieve overtails in a centered, even feed manner to promote efficient grinding. The fine material passes through the sieve and bypasses the lower rolls via a purpose-built channel. The fine product may be kept as a separate stream or otherwise mixed back with the stock from the lower rolls.

Equipment supplied by Ocrim in the cleaning section, which has a capacity of 36 tph, includes a loss-in-weight scale, rotary motion and cylinder separators, classifier and vertical aspirators, automatic and semi-automatic intensive dampening systems and horizontal scourers.

The milling section is comprised of 16 superimposed stainless steel RMXQ roller mills, 13 stainless steel RMX roller mills, six SFL sifters, seven SDB double purifiers, six FVA vibro-finishers, 10 FPK polygonal bran finishers and two NIR on-line flour analyzers.

The Kuwait Flour Mills plant produces a wide range of flours, from whole wheat to standard patent and cake flour, with wheat that is imported from international markets.

Aggregate milling capacity at the Kuwait City complex is 2,000 tonnes per 24 hours and grain storage capacity exceeds 200,000 tonnes.


Grande Moinho Cearense (GMC), a privately owned Brazilian company which in 2008 boasted a turnover of $93.3 million and a profit of $12.6 million, recently doubled its milling capacity and expanded its wheat storage capacity by 60% at its flour mill in Fortaleza, Brazil.

Wheat storage increased from 22,000 to 35,000 tonnes, while milling capacity increased from 500 to 1,000 tonnes per 24 hours at the mill. The capacity was increased in an existing building. In one part was a 250-tonne-per-day milling diagram from the 1950s that had not been used since 1997; in the other part was a 500-tonne-per-day mill. The idea was to remove the old diagram and put a new 500-tonne-per-day unit in its place, while still utilizing the old wheat storage, tempering and flour bins.

The newly installed portion of the mill features equipment from Uzwil, Switzerland-based Buhler AG. The cleaning section has a capacity of 24 tph and is equipped with dosing machines like the automatic flow balancers for wheat blending positioned below the wheat bins as well as the tempering bins. To remove all wheat impurities, a combi-cleaner, an intended separator and a scouring machine are used in combination with an aspiration channel. A wheat sterilizator is also used to prevent insect development.

The milling section is equipped with Antares roller mills, Sirius sifters, Novapur sieves and Puromat purifiers, all manufactured by Buhler. The GMC facility is the first South American mill with a complete Antares roller mill grinding process and Sirius sifting process.

Product is transported pneumatically through the mill by airlocks, cyclones and top-removal filters, with all flour passing through control sifters, magnets, scales and a flour sterilizator. Flour is bagged with the help of a packing carousel which has a capacity of 800 bags per hour (50 kg bags). The bran is packed by a double auger packer with a capacity of 600 bags per hour (40 kg bags).

All engineering work and mechanical and electrical installation at the plant, which features a Buhler WinCos control system, was done by Buhler South America.

GMC mainly mills imported wheat from Argentina, the United States and Canada. It makes flour for pasta and biscuit production, for commercial bakeries and for domestic use (1 kg bags). GMC is the only flour mill in northeastern Brazil authorized to supply flour to Nestle.


Middle & West Delta Flour Milling recently expanded its 24-hour production capacity at its flour mill in Damanhour, Egypt from 200 tonnes to 600 tonnes.

The company contracted Hiroshima, Japan-based Satake Corp. to oversee the expansion project. The mill building was originally constructed to house a 200-tonne-per-day mill, but with the use of new high-capacity process technology, the existing building now houses a mill three times the original size with no additional staffing.

As part of the 100-tph intake system, Satake supplied double-deck SFI Intake Separators to remove the coarse and fine impurities; SCA Closed Circuit Aspirators then remove light impurities. New materials handling equipment and modern dust control complete the system, which also includes SGA Gravity Selectors, SHS Scourers and a SWMC Automatic Feedback Grain Dampening System. To accommodate the use of locally grown wheat, the system also features two tempering (conditioning) systems and an intensive second cleaning system.

The clean wheat then feeds the mill to produce high-quality flour for local consumption. The facility features the selective use of two high roller mills in combination with single high roller mills. High-capacity SPSB-G Plansifters and an SPU Purifier in conjunction with pin mills, bran finishers and disrupters complete the milling diagram.

All products from the mill are blended and rebolted before being packed into 50-kg bags.

In addition to supplying the process equipment, Satake was also contracted to supply the electrical control system, installation supervision, commissioning and training services. The contract was managed from Satake’s United Kingdom regional office.


Groupe Cristanol Union is operating a new soft wheat milling facility with flour production capacity of 2,000 tonnes per day in Bazancourt, France.

Also installed within the same complex was a new wheat ethanol plant.

There are two milling lines with capacities of 1,000 tonnes per day each at the facility, which produces one type of flour with 0.65% ash content. Grain storage bins with an overall capacity of 50,000 tonnes were also installed.

GBS of Padova, Italy supplied the milling equipment for the mill, which features a short flow with high-capacity milling machinery.

The plant was designed by GBS along with Agro Bio Sucre Group, which specializes in ethanol plant engineering and design. The building was erected in three months and it took six months to install the equipment for the project.


Modern Mills, which has supplied flour and other wheat products to the Lebanese market for more than 25 years, recently expanded its milling facility in Al Zawia, Libya.

The five-month expansion project, which involved the installation of equipment from Konya, Turkey-based IMAS, increased 24-hour milling capacity at the facility to 500 tonnes. The existing grain storage capacity is currently 12,000 tonnes, but the company is planning to add 50,000 tonnes more.

The equipment installed by IMAS included 13 single and eight doublehigh roller mills, four units of sixby-30 jumbo quadro plansifters, two units of 4-by-30 jumbo quadro plansifters, and six semolina purifers.

The mill processes wheat from Germany, Russia and Libya. Modern Mills makes a variety of products, including white flour, whole wheat flour and bran. Its products can be delivered in bulk sacks of 25, 50 and 100 kg as well as 1-kg consumer packages.


Barilla Gida A.S., a subsidiary of Italian-based pasta manufacturer Barilla, was formed in Turkey in 1994 when Barilla merged with Filiz Gida. The company in 2008 expanded its 24-hour semolina production capacity at its durum wheat mill in Bolu, Turkey from 190 tonnes to 300 tonnes.

After the old milling equipment was removed, equipment manufacturer Alapala, of Corum, Turkey, installed 14 roller mills, including two double-high milling units, 18 purifiers and six double and three quadro plansifters. The roller mills included rolls of 1,000 and 1,250 millimeters (mm) in length.

The installation was completed by Alapala in 3 ½ months, with the start-up and delivery process taking only 10 days.


Ordabasi-NAN completed the erection of a new $3.2 million flour mill in Shymkent City, Kazakhstan in August 2008. Flour production capacity at the fully automated mill is 200 tonnes per 24 hours.

The project involved installing wheat milling equipment from Konya, Turkeybased Genc Degirmen as well as four flatbase steel silo bins, each with a storage capacity of 2,000 tonnes. One 250-tonnecapacity conic-base steel silo is also used for the feeding depot of the mill in the plant. The flat-base storage bins loading and discharge system has a capacity of 100 tph, while wheat cleaning capacity in the pre-cleaning unit is also 100 tph.

The 240-tph cleaning unit includes an automatic blending system and flow balancers which are used under the resting bins, all of which is PLC-controlled. A complete PLC regulated flow controlled wheat moisture measuring and dampening system is used in the dampening unit to measure the output, moisuture, hectoliter and temperature of the incoming wheat. The control of the parameters and operation details are integrated in the main computer.

Comprising the grinding and reduction section of the mill are 12 roller mills, three square plansifters with eight passages, and three purifier units. The cylinder diameter used with the roller mills is 250 mm and the cylinder length is 1,000 mm.

A level control system controls the feeding unit, adjusting the product flow rate constantly, and gives information through a panel screen. The feeding cylinders of the roller mills distribute the product homogeneously to the rolls at the same amount continuously.

The finished products in the mill are conveyed to the silos via a pneumatic conveying system.

A 15-tph automatic bagging system, which is fully PLC controlled, is used for two types of flour in the plant. It monitors the number of bags that are filled between the 25 and 50 kg weighing ranges. The fully automatic flour filling machine fills and packs the flour in 1, 2, 4 and 5 kg constant plastic bags. The filling capacity is 18-22 bags per minute, depending on the size of the bag.

Two 80-tonne-capacity conic-base steel silos for bran storage and two 35-tonne-capacity silos for waste product storage are used in the plant. Bran and waste products are dispatched from the plant in bulk by truck.

Two types of flour and two types of bran are produced at the mill using three types of domestic soft wheat. Flour extraction at the mill ranges between 76% and 78%, and total bran extraction is between 22% and 24%.


Bartmühle recently installed new plansifters manufactured by Hille-Nordhemmern, Germany-based Reinhard Rüeter Maschinenbau at its wheat and rye mill near Bavaria, Germany.

Two four-compartment plansifters with a compartment size of 1,000 millimeters were installed in the plant, which has a 24-hour milling capacity of 35 tonnes per day for wheat and 18 tonnes per day for rye. Barthmühle, which produces white flour of German standard types, installed the new sifters in preparation for a milling capacity increase in the future.

During the sifter installation, Reinhard Rüeter also installed new stainless steel spouting in the mill. Due to the lack of space between the sifter and roller mills and the ceilings, achieving the correct spout angle was a challenge during the installation.

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