Surviving in a global marketplace

by Emily Wilson
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Globalization and polarization of the grain, flour and feed industries continues to affect new technology being developed by European-based suppliers.

"Economic globalization is affecting worldwide commercial habits," said a representative of Fundiciones Balaguer, S.A., a manufacturer of mill rolls in Onil, Spain. "The only way to survive is to modernize, investigate and improve quality products, and offer clients excellent treatment and services."

For this year's annual "European Technology Outlook," World Grain asked the companies profiled on the following pages to respond to a questionnaire about products and services, projects completed within the past year and changes in global markets. Those companies that responded unanimously agree that a commitment to research and development is essential to stay competitive in the marketplace.

Several European suppliers to the grain processing industry have developed many new products to improve yield and monitor the production process. Maschinen & Muhlenbau Wittenburg GmbH, of Germany, developed a new milling system, the Challenge 2000 Plus, in 1999 and is currently planning improvements to the system to explore "the further processing of flour for several purposes."

MMW recently installed two wheat mills, each with a capacity of 200 tonnes per day, in Orjol, Russia.

Italian milling engineers with Ocrim S.p.A. have been in a "feverish rush" the past few years to simplify Ocrim's cleaning and mill flow diagrams to obtain good flour extraction and keep building and operating costs at a minimum.

The SRP rotary grain separator was designed for high sifting performance by utilizing the entire surface of both the upper and lower sieves. By combining the separator to the TRC classifier aspirator, product can be classified into heavy grains and light grains. After cleaning, wheat is ready for conditioning. The SCV vertical intensive dampening system tempers grain, removes the first layer of the pericarp and separates and dries the hulls before they reach the filter.

Focusing on mill automation has led to more efficient, reliable and flexible plants with quality handling and technological and economic control of production, Ocrim said.

F.H. Schule Muhlenbau GmbH of Germany recently completed three rice processing centers in Vietnam, one each in Nga Nam, Vi Thanh and Thai Binh, as well as a rice parboiling plant in Greece and several table separators for companies in the U.S.

The company's newest products are the high-capacity Verticone rice whitener with a moveable cone, a modified rubber roll sheller for long-grain paddy and parboiling technology for handling brown rice.

For 2000, Schule is working on parboiling plants with new technology in Europe and will market its Verticone and shellers in Thailand and the United States.

Polish mill manufacturer Spomasz Ostrow Wielkopolski within the past year increased the maximum diameter of its mill rolls to 24 inches and created variations of its FM05A, 6A and MWP-type roller mills for use in the fodder-producing and chemical industries. Several new machines were developed for a bean and pea mill, including a special four-section automatic roller mill, pneumatic slide dampers and a roller crusher.

Spomasz also increased the maximum productivity of its WM-4 magnetic separator and adapted it for use in pneumatic transport lines. Spomasz's line of impact detachers was extended to include semolina detachers, infestation destroyers, impact tube detachers and impact pin detachers. The company also is producing new, smaller units of Root's blowers with sound-absorbing screens in 2000.

Spomasz said it plans to continue expanding each of these product lines.

A mill management and yield control system software recently introduced by Teta Muhendislik of Turkey accurately and continuously controls throughput capacity and product yields in flour, semolina and rice mills.

The new Teta-RKS yield control system was installed at the Cayirli Flour Mill in Biga, Turkey, along with steel flour bins, loading and unloading equipment, and automatic bagging facilities. Other recent projects include a 20-tonne-per-hour continuous maize dryer at the Matli Feed Plant in Karacabey, Turkey, and a loading and unloading system for Bozbag Flour Mill in Bulancak, Turkey. The company currently is working on an 8,000-tonne wheat storage silo for Baser Flour Mill in Akyazi, Turkey.

In 2000, Teta will introduce a continuous level sensor that measures the level of bulk products in silos, and is working on several wheat storage projects.

"We are motivating ourselves for exports to transfer our experience gained in the domestic market for eight years," a company representative said. "We are very open to establish business relations with European turnkey mill suppliers."

An information management system introduced recently by Vibronet for continuous monitoring of the production process uses a central computer unit to measure up to 23 analogue and digital measurement points. A built-in alarm sounds if the measured value rises or falls from defined levels, and can send a message to three mobile telephone numbers.

Vibronet recently installed a built-in, automatic moisture control unit for the Polikorn mill in Barnaul, Russia. Vibronet also plans to provide a mill in Spain with a second vibration dampener with a capacity of 25 tonnes per hour to increase capacity without building new tempering bins.

European mill roll manufacturers also are developing new technology to increase yield and capacity. Fundiciones Balaguer, S.A. of Spain said its most recent product, the K12 fluted milling roll designed for first and second mill breaks, has been a success.

Balaguer also is in a joint venture with SB Rolls, Ltda., Sao Paulo, Brazil, to manufacture centrifugal, chilled cast-iron rolls for the flour, feed and oilseed industries and provide maintenance.

Turner Chilled Rolls in the U.K. increased its foundry capacity to manufacture 28-inch diameter rolls, installed equipment to accommodate overhead craneage to 10 tonnes capacity and added roll lathes to increase turning capacity by 25%. Turner said it next plans to complete and launch its website (, increase roll refurbishment and new roll sales in the U.K., and introduce an "economy range" in standard roll sizes.

"Polarization of the flour and feed industries will continue to dictate a competitive supply chain," the company said. "New suppliers and manufacturers from the Far East and Asia will have a major impact on traditional European and Western manufacturers."

Chopin of France has spent the past year developing a process to make bread from Consistograph dough using a modified mixer. The application is still being studied and results should be released in the next few years, the company said.

"Most of the projects initiated in 1999 are still under progress and we hope to be able to provide information either on specific aspects of the Consistograph or some application work for the use of this device in some markets or for specific user needs," the company said.

Chopin said its goals for the upcoming year will be to improve communication with its customers through its Internet site and at exhibitions in Australia, Germany and the United States.

On the grain storage and handling side, growing environmental concerns will focus attention on natural alternatives to grain preservation, such as grain cooling, said German manufacturer Sulzer Escher Wyss. Sulzer said its Granifrigor grain chillers are suitable for bulk storage facilities.

Seven new Granifrigor models were developed in the past year, with a daily cooling capacity up to 550 tonnes. The machines are equipped with a Hygro-therm device to control humidity, and can cool even under rainy and foggy conditions. Some models can be equipped with a frequency converter to control the chilled air flow rate and save energy. All Granfrigor units are operated with the environmentally friendly refrigerant Freon R407C, the company said.

Sulzer's grain chillers also have been used for paddy cooling in silos and for cooling brown and white rice.

Bulk grain vessels also keep getting larger in order to obtain lower freight rates for grain shipments. This, in turn, requires that handling, conveying and silo equipment be able to cope with larger volumes, according to BMH Marine AB.

The company recently developed the DockMaster, a pneumatic ship unloader in capacities from 500 to 600 tph that can be fitted with direct discharge to trucks or with a chain conveyor for discharge to the shore receiving system.

"The vacuum is generated by a positive displacement blower for efficient conveyor and low noise levels, and a highly efficient filter separator guarantees virtually no dust emission." Early last year, a company in Saudi Arabia bought six of the new machines.

BMH Marine also has begun to design and construct complete grain terminals as part of its services, and was hired to complete a facility in Gdansk, Poland.

To meet environmental standards in bulk loading facilities, Fritz Werner Industries GmbH developed a new loading head for dust suppression. Grain or other material is transferred from a bucket elevator or other conveyor into the loading system, where it enters a buffer-hopper equipped with three level indicators and a dedusting aeration system. A maximum-level indicator opens a flap valve to release the material stream out of the loading head at a low velocity. The valve closes once the material level reaches the minimum-level indicator.

The loading process can be controlled from the cabin or by radio control. The length of the spout, telescopic range, loading spout angles and capacity can be adusted to each specific requirement.

For Neuero, dust-free unloading, lower noise emissions and worker safety are key factors and considerations in the design of its ship unloaders. The company agreed that the trend today was toward higher loading and unloading capacities to accommodate post-Panamax vessels seeking to save transport costs and in the development of new waterways at agricultural frontiers in South America.

Recent Neuero products include the Multiport and Combiport M500, a single-line loader/unloader with 500 tph capacity; the Multiport 2000, a 300-tph unloader redesigned for higher capacity and safety; the Flexiport, a feed mill unloader for non-free-flowing materials; and a GSD portable ship unloader. Several pieces of equipment have been delivered to Egypt, Bangladesh, Brazil, Yemen and Austria while companies in Italy, Africa, the Philippines and Libya have placed orders for the upcoming year.

The growth of marine fertilizer terminals in Europe has kept Vigan Engineering busy this past year. "Massive new opportunities with few environmental and traffic constraints exist in the development of fluvial-maritime fertilizers transport and cargo handling along European inland rivers waterways," Vigan said. Equipment has been installed at port facilities along the Rhine, the Seine and the Thames rivers and along canals and ports in France, Belgium, England, Holland, Germany and Poland.

Vigan has installed a loading operation at a bulk and liquid fertilizer terminal at the Port of Gdynia, Poland, and in March was to have completed a 200-tph ship loader at an earthquake-damaged port in Taiwan.