2012 IAOM Conference & Expo

by Arvin Donley
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The latest milling technology was on display at the 116th annual International Association of Operative Millers (IAOM) Conference and Expo held May 7-11 at the Spokane Convention Center in Spokane, Washington, U.S.

More than 700 attendees, including a large contingent from companies in the Pacific Northwest such as Canada-based Rogers Foods, viewed the newest milling equipment and listened to experts discuss the industry’s most important issues during the five-day event.

Educational programming focused on issues such as employee safety, product safety and sanitation and regulatory updates. The keynote speaker, U.S. Wheat Associates Chairman Randy Suess, gave a presentation on soft white wheat production in the Pacific Northwest and how the crop is marketed globally.

In taking the gavel from outgoing IAOM President Joe Woodard, ADM Milling Co., Aaron Black, director of operations at Wilkins-Rogers, Inc., Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, U.S., became the 108th president of the association. He borrowed the IAOM motto “Proficiency, Fellowship and Cooperation,” as the theme for his presidency.

“It is my hope that we teach, empower and set an example for those that follow us in this industry by navigating a changing world through IAOM membership,” Black said.

“We should continue building for the future and look forward, nurture and give back by enhancing our proficiency, growing our fellowship, and strengthening our cooperation.”

Black said completing the revision of the IAOM Correspondence Course during the past year and the reintroduction of the Mill Maintenance short courses are both major accomplishments that will serve the educational needs of IAOM members worldwide.

“We will also expand our educational initiative by providing pre-conference workshops at district meetings with customized training to members in their respective districts,” he said. “This will be expanded to provide stand-alone workshops and short courses around the globe that provide opportunities for the IAOM to bring value added to our membership with educational opportunities that can be customized to suit the demands of our members.”

Black urged members to make donations to the International Milling Education Foundation (IMEF), the philanthropic partner of the 1,800-member IAOM. IMEF solicits, manages and distributes funds for educational programs related to the grain milling industry.

More than $500,000 has been donated to the IMEF since it was established in 2003. Live and silent auctions at this year’s event raised $85,000.

“The support for the foundation and the auctions in particular has been tremendous,” said Black.

Expo and Product Showcase

The IAOM Expo featured 172 exhibit booths — the largest number since the 2001 conference in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. — with suppliers from all over the world showcasing their products and services.

Making presentations at the “Product Showcase” portion of the expo program were:
•Anthony Leali, Electro-Sensors, Inc., who discussed Electro-Sentry 1, a rugged, easy-to-install and use hazard monitor for bucket elevators or conveyors.
•Roy Green, Powell Fabrication & Manufacturing, who discussed the E-Pro Electric Valve Closure System which provides immediate closure of chlorine valves in less than two seconds without human intervention.
•Simon Godby, F.P Spomax (Jaymark Division of BDI Canada, Inc.), who discussed the Futura HP Series of Optical Sorters which features up to five channels, Optional Mono (black and white) and bichromatic cameras, and an Inggaas NIR camera for removal of vomitoxin-infested wheat.
•Greg Vander Vorste, Premier Tech Chronos, who discussed the Visionary Robotic Bag Placer, which improves reliability by combining vision with precise movements. Using vision technology, the bag is automatically adjusted for perfect placement on the spout.
•Chris Goulart, RCI Safety, discussed the Cultural Assessment Regarding Employee Safety (CARES) Survey, an evaluation which provides organizations with a thorough profile of their safety process.
•Dominique Kull, Bühler, Inc., who discussed the Sanimix Mixer (Model MRMA), which features high blending accuracy paired with state-of-the-art hygienic design. The mixer is designed to create a homogenous blend of powder, flakes and granular products in a very short mix time.
•Tyson Marlowe, Cold Jet, LLC, who discussed Dry Ice Blasting, which can clean processing and packaging equipment without the need for scrubbing, water clean-up or use of harmful chemicals.

Milling Operative of the Year

Ken Ball, plant superintendent at Star of the West Milling in Quincy, Michigan, U.S., was the recipient of the 27th annual Milling Operative of the Year Award sponsored by Milling & Baking News, sister publication of World Grain.

An aversion to flying prevented Ball from attending the IAOM Conference, but Charles Sosland, chairman of Sosland Publishing Co., which publishes World Grain and Milling & Baking News, surprised Ball on May 18 by visiting the Star of the West mill in Frankenmuth to present him with the honor. Recipients of the Milling Operative of the Year award are typically surprised by the announcement at the IAOM event, but since Ball was not present at the ceremony, Sosland asked those in attendance to keep it a secret until he could present the award in person.

Ball began his career in milling nearly 40 years ago, working part-time in the Quincy flour mill as he went to school to earn his bachelor’s degree. In 1974, after completing college, Ball began working at the flour mill full time and has been there ever since, including remaining on board as an instrumental leader when the mill changed ownership in 1980.

“I became acquainted with him when our company purchased the soft wheat mill he worked at in 1980,” said Star of the West Corporate Milling Superintendent Gary Pickelmann. “Knowing immediately that we had someone special here made it a great joy to work closely with him and also to grow a very close personal relationship and friendship.

“Ken is a very dedicated employee both for the company as well as for his fellow employees. Employee safety is very high on his priority list and he makes sure, as superintendent, that all employees have a safe working environment, at his location as well as at our other milling locations.”

Star of the West President Art Loeffler said Ball has been a key employee and tutor for many new employees during his career, particularly in his current role as mill superintendent.

“His knowledge of milling has been a tremendous asset not only to our Quincy mill, but also to our four other flour mills,” Loeffler said. “When it comes to sifters, he is our ‘go to’ person. He has been an integral member of our team during various mill expansion projects and we always look to him for his input.”

Mike Fassezke, vice-president of the Star of the West flour milling division, described Ball as “soft spoken and introspective,” while adding that he was the company’s best internal auditor and was also ready and willing to assist in any facility upgrades and remodels.

“Quincy has the highest capacity utilization and one of the best maintained flour yields over time for all of our milling locations,” Fassezke said. “He has been able to achieve this while still keeping our customers’ needs foremost.”

Ball has been a strong supporter of the many associations involved in promoting the milling industry and has served as chairman and vice-chairman of the Wolverine District of the IAOM.

The award is presented annually to the practicing milling operative who has made the most significant contributions to the progress of his plant, his company and the industry from an operating point of view. A $1,500 scholarship is established in the winner’s name at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, U.S., and will be given to a deserving student in the Department of Grain Science and Industry.

Other Award Winners

For only the 19th time in the 116-year history of the association, the Gold Medal Award was presented. The recipient, Dr. Venkat Reddy, senior technology manager at General Mills, was praised by presenter Ivo Klaric for his “countless hours of work on the revision of the IAOM Correspondence Course.”

The IAOM Correspondence Course, which encompasses all aspects of flour milling, was recently completed and made available online. He said Reddy played an instrumental role in seeing the project to completion, “spending countless hours revising the material and authoring or co-authoring six lessons. Without his individual efforts, we would not be able to celebrate the completion of the correspondence course,” Klaric said.

Also during the awards breakfast, the George B. Wagner award was presented to Larry Ritchie, who recently retired from ADM Milling. The award was created to honor IAOM members for their outstanding contributions to mill sanitation and food safety.

Ritchie is a longtime member of the IAOM Food Protection Committee. “Larry embodies all that a recipient of the George B. Wagner Award should be,” said Tony Petersen, sanitation manager, ConAgra Mills.

There were three recipients of the Thaddeus Bownik Award for outstanding service to the association: Bart Hahlweg, plant manger, ConAgra Mills; Scott Martin, director of technical milling, ConAgra Mills; and Bob Kice, vice-president of Kice Industries Inc. Hahlweg and Martin were recognized for their work on the revision of the correspondence course. Kice, whose family started Kice Industries in 1945, has worked in the company since 1965 and has served the IAOM in many capacities for more than four decades.

The Arlin B. Ward Award for collaboration in milling education was presented to four members who were also cited for their work on the completion of the correspondence course: Royal Denning, retired from Cereal Food Processors; Dr. Jeff Gwirtz, CEO of JAG Services Inc.; Lionel Helweg, Kraft Foods; and Gary Pickelmann, Star of the West Milling.

Officers Elected

Joel Hoffa, corporate milling engineer at The Mennel Milling Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., was unanimously elected 2012-13 IAOM vice-president. Damon Sidles, plant manager at Miller Milling Company, Fresno, California, U.S., was unanimously elected IAOM’s 2012-13 treasurer.

The soft white wheat advantage

With this year’s IAOM Conference and Expo being held in the Pacific Northwest, a region that accounts for 90% of soft white wheat production in the United States, U.S Wheat Associates Chairman Randy Suess during his keynote address discussed this special class of wheat, known for its excellent milling and baking properties.

“For the miller and baker, the unique qualities of soft white wheat — high kernel weight, low moisture, white color and soft gluten — provide important economic advantages that contribute to profitability,” Suess said.

Suess said that compared to other types of wheat, soft white wheat from the Pacific Northwest generally exhibits higher kernel weight scores, with the kernels containing a higher ratio of endosperm to bran — a factor that translates into a significant flour yield advantage.

Most soft white wheat varieties from that region have a moisture content ranging from 7% to 9%. Because they are shipping drier wheat, buyers can generate additional profit and reduce freight costs. Soft white wheat produces a whiter, brighter flour at all extraction levels, Suess said. The endosperm has a soft texture and does not require as much energy to mill as hard wheat.

Another advantage of this class of wheat is reflected in the mellow character of soft white gluten, which allows for shorter milling and mixing times.

Suess said soft white wheat is incorporated into a greater range of products than any other class of wheat. These products include sponge cakes, biscuits, cookies, crackers, pies, flatbreads, steamed breads and snack foods.

The two main types of soft white wheat grown in the region are “Common” and “Club.” Club wheat has more compact heads and exhibits higher milling scores, flour yields and weaker gluten strength than soft white common wheat, he said. Both types are low to moderate protein wheats, ranging from 8% to 12%, depending on production location and seasonal growing conditions.

Common and club wheats are often marketed as a mixture called Western White wheat. The percentage of club wheat in the blend can be specified by the purchaser and usually varies from 10% to 20% or even higher, according to end-use needs.

The Pacific Northwest produces an average of 5.4 million tonnes of soft white wheat each year, with approximately 4.3 million tonnes exported to more than 40 countries around the world.

The top markets for U.S. white wheat are the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Egypt and Yemen.