There are no secrets in milling. The basic process is the same for millers in Texas or Trinidad, Mexico or Morocco. But there are always new ideas for improving the milling process.
"Milling may be one of the oldest industries but it's not a stagnant industry," said Roger Gelsinger, director of member services for the Association of Operative Millers, which is based in Leawood, Kansas, U.S. "Things continue to evolve each and every year."
Once a year for the past 104 years, the A.O.M. has provided a forum for operative millers in every corner of the world to come together, exchange information, hear new ideas and see new products that can improve their operations and make their jobs easier. The 2000 A.O.M. conference and trade show will be held May 6-10 at the Marriott Hotel and H. Roe Bartle Hall Convention Center in Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
Millers from nearly 50 countries are expected to attend. "It's the single largest gathering in the world for millers and suppliers," Mr. Gelsinger said.
A Latin American contingent will hold technical sessions in Spanish on May 6, and will sponsor a reception on May 8. The A.O.M. Middle East/North Africa chapter, which holds its own conference in October, also will sponsor a reception May 8.
Harvey McCray, A.O.M. executive vice-president, said the annual conference and trade show is truly an international event, and enhances the good image of the milling industry. "If you're coming for first time, follow the program and get involved in everything," he said. "Do everything you possibly can. Sit in on the Latin American technical sessions to get flavor of what is going on in other parts of the world."
By all accounts, this year's slate of technical sessions, "What's New?" presentations by suppliers and trade show (see story on opposite page) is among the best ever. The technical program is "one of the strongest in years," said Dave Roney, William Bolthouse Farms, Bakersfield, California, U.S. and A.O.M. program committee chairman. The program will lead off with a look at flour production costs at new and older mills, updating a subject first presented at A.O.M. nearly 20 years ago. Other subjects include managing electricity costs, empowering workers and an examination of the industry's potential in the 21st century.
The technical sessions are traditionally well-attended, even by equipment suppliers and manufacturers in the trade show nearby. One exhibitor said he and his colleagues try to attend as many technical sessions as they can. "We want to find out not only what our competition is doing but also what is of interest to our customers, " he said. "It's an opportunity to hear what they are thinking and see where the industry is heading."
But all work and no play makes for a dull conference. Many social events have been planned to offer millers a chance to "network," said Mr. Gelsinger of the A.O.M.
"The conference is a time for friends to come together, to see the professor who taught you or the people you've taken short courses with," he said. "It combines education and social. There's enough time to do everything."