Training opportunities

by Meyer Sosland
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If the grain and feed processing industries are to improve and expand, they must provide continuing education opportunities for their students and employees. While there is much to be learned at trade shows and conferences, there is no substitute for learning about the art and science of milling in an environment designed specifically for intense training. In this article, World Grain reviews some of the most prominent flour and feed milling training programs around the world — from the Swiss School of Milling to Kansas State University’s International Grains Program.

The following is information on history, specialties and future course offerings of these programs.

The Swiss School of Milling (SMS), St. Gallen, Switzerland, is a prominent international training facility in the field of grain milling. People from around the world receive training at SMS to become milling specialists. Since 1957, more than 1,100 students have graduated from SMS, which holds 10-month courses alternately in German and in English (a five-month correspondence course followed by the five-month main course in St. Gallen).

One of the school’s strengths is its hands-on training. Students’ theoretical knowledge is developed into practical skills in the modern training center, technological laboratory and newly constructed mill.

To fully understand the grain milling process and quality management of raw materials and end products, students need core knowledge of science. The basics of cereal grain science, chemistry, nutritional science, hygiene, math and physics are a part of the curriculum.

Emphasis is also placed on flow sheet design and equipment knowledge. Because the control center is becoming increasingly important and complex, SMS thoroughly covers control engineering, pneumatic conveying and aspiration.

In the laboratory, students learn how to test milled products and to interpret the results. With these skills, SMS graduates can determine the quality of milled products and take appropriate action, when necessary, for improvement.

Since milling specialists must know their customers’ current and future needs, the baking trade is also covered. Modern flour processing methods and uses are taught, from extrusion and heattreated flours to functional foods and new products, to keep up with changes in consumer eating habits and new processing techniques. The applications and processing of various other grains such as maize, rice and oats are also covered.

The school fosters long-lasting friendships and business relationships. Most important, the open interaction between students and faculty contributes much to the success of the training.

Specific information regarding background on the training program, upcoming course schedules and contact information can be found on the school’s homepage (

The next course in English starts on Jan. 7, 2008.

The National Association of British and Irish Millers (nabim) is committed to the development of millers and places a high priority on milling education and training. While its most famous courses are distance-learning modules that are studied worldwide each year by hundreds of mill employees and others, it can also make available a craft skills certificate, a vocational training scheme for millers with a syllabus of practical competence. Nabim’s Advanced Milling Diploma (in which both Campden Chorleywood Food Research Association and Buhler Training Centre are partners) is currently in its first year of operation, helping develop 10 U.K. millers into future leaders of the industry.

For more than 70 years, nabim has run correspondence courses for students across the world. The last two course sessions have seen students enrolled from six continents. These distance learning courses are studied in seven modules, providing a complete overview of flour milling. Offered annually, with the course year running from September to May, the program serves multiple functions — as an introduction to the industry, to build knowledge and understanding of the industry and its processes, or as refresher training. Each module is subject to rolling review, and so a new edition of each module textbook is issued approximately every five years, keeping it fresh and up to date. This material is supplemented by additional information circulated with the year’s lessons.

Module One covers health and safety, including fire and dust explosions and hygiene, including an introduction to pests and the prevention of infestation.

Wheat is the focus of Module Two, which looks at its structure, growth and production before moving on to the intake, cleaning and preparation of wheat in the screen room.

Module Three addresses the modern flour milling operation, its machinery and processes, and the importance of achieving mill balance and improving mill performance.

Module Four looks at various aspects of materials handling, storage and distribution, from wheat storage to flour blending, packing, warehousing and distribution, plus infestation control.

Flour itself is the subject of Module Five, discussing functionality and types of flour commonly milled, flour treatments, quality measurement and control, laboratory tests and flour uses.

Power and automation is the focus of Module Six, covering a range of topics from mechanical and pneumatic conveying to instrumentation and process control.

In the seventh and final module, mill management is addressed, including a background to the global flour milling industry and market, commercial and operations management, and the miller’s responsibility to protect the product, environment and people.

For each module, the student is allocated one tutor who is an expert in their field and will provide guidance and advice on the coursework. Assessment is by written examination at the end of the course year. When students have successfully completed all seven modules, they are awarded nabim’s Advanced Certificate in Flour Milling. See for further details, including course fees.

The International Association of Operative Millers provides continuing education courses in milling and mill maintenance.

IAOM is devoted to the advancement of the flour milling, cereal grain and seed processing industries. To this end, it annually offers two training courses that focus on the operation of a milling facility, traditionally held in June, and two courses that focus on mill maintenance, usually held in October. It also offers a correspondence course in flour milling on a rolling basis, year-round.

The Introduction to Flour Milling Short Course is a one-week program held in the spring at the Department of Grain Science and Industry on the Kansas State University (KSU) campus. This course covers milling principles and is designed for newly hired mill personnel, mill administrative staff, quality control personnel and allied trade company representatives.

Shortly following the introductory course each spring is the Advanced Flour Milling Short Course — a oneweek course held at KSU. It is designed for those with at least one year of milling experience who aspire to become a milling operative. Applicants must have current knowledge of basic milling procedures and equipment. As a prerequisite to this course, students must complete the first three units of IAOM’s Correspondence Course in Flour Milling.

To supplement the processing training, the Milling Maintenance Short Course I provides three days of training for mill maintenance personnel who need to be familiar with the maintenance of milling equipment. Up to 24 attendees will receive an overview of mill and preventative maintenance, including various tours, instruction in electrical maintenance, sanitation and safety. The course is traditionally held in the fall of evennumbered years.

The Milling Maintenance Short Course II provides detailed instruction for the maintenance of milling equipment. This two-and-a-half day course, focusing on roller mills and conveying equipment, is traditionally held in the fall of odd-numbered years. Course size is limited to 24 attendees. The next Mill Maintenance Short Course II will be offered Oct. 22-24, in Wichita, Kansas, U.S.

IAOM’s Correspondence Course in Flour Milling, offered in Spanish and English, is one of the Association’s most popular and most flexible training options. The course consists of five units. There is no set time limit for completing a unit or the course; students take the course at their own pace. Upon successful completion of the fifth and final unit, a diploma is issued.

For more information, contact

The Swiss Institute of Feed Technology (SFT) provides professionals from the feed industry and related industries with practice-oriented expertise in the production of animal feeds. In particular, successful completion of the "Specialized Course on Feed Manufacturing Technology" provides graduates with the prerequisites for understanding, operating and efficiently using all modern process technologies and processes in a compound feed plant.

This specialized course, offered alternately in German and English, is the flagship course of the SFT. It was designed to minimize absence from the workplace. It is made up of a preparatory course on a correspondence basis and an intensive training in Uzwil, Switzerland that covers all important aspects of modern compound feed engineering.

Teaching basic knowledge in electrical engineering and automation is also a part of the course program. In addition, an overview of the versatility of the raw materials used and their effects and interconnections in animal nutrition is provided. Participants who successfully complete the course are awarded with a "Diploma as Feed Production Engineer."

In addition to the main course, the SFT offers every year several "total immersion" courses in different languages. Even though these short courses are limited to process technology and the associated machinery, the SFT said it always aims to offer state-of-the-art training that in no way lags behind the high level of that provided in the official specialized course.

The SFT has further set itself the goal of entitling all persons worldwide who have the necessary basic knowledge regarding the operation of a compound feed plant and, as far as possible, practical experience in feed production, to participate in the courses.

The courses available for the upcoming year will be announced on the SFT website ( by the end of September. For more information, send an e-mail to:

Ocrim SpA, Cremony, Italy, established the Milling Technology School in 1965 to provide vocational training in maintaining and operating mills. In 1979, the company moved the Milling Training Centre inside Ocrim headquarters in the outskirts of Cremona. To date, more than 2,000 students have been trained at the school to become chief millers, laboratory analysts, maintenance foremen and skilled bakers.

The training center includes a pilot mill with daily capacity of 24 tonnes, a machinery maintenance shop, an electrical laboratory, a chemical and product analysis laboratory and a pilot bakery. The center provides courses for millers, managers, mechanical operators/technicians, chemical analysts and electrical maintenance operators. Each course lasts five weeks and is offered three times per year.

The milling course provides general milling principles and introduces the latest technologies and methodologies for the field. It is applicable to those even with little experience in milling plants.

The school’s Standard Course for Managers targets management practices and milling technology necessary to run the plant. The Mechanical Operator/ Technician Course offers theoretical and practical notions on plant maintenance operations.

For more information, contact

The Kansas State University (KSU) International Grains Program (IGP) was created in 1978. With technical training and assistance programs, the IGP works with international flour and feed millers, grain buyers, overseas government officials and other public and private-sector parties involved in grain procurement and use.

IGP regularly schedules four short courses every year. Additionally, customdesigned programs can be arranged. Most short courses take place at the IGP Center, located on the KSU campus, where there is access to state-of-the-art classrooms, labs and equipment for hands-on learning. KSU’s Department of Grain Science and Industry also includes a feed mill, a new, state-of-the-art flour mill, baking laboratory, wheat quality laboratory and a value-added biotechnology center.

The Grain Purchasing Short Course is usually held in March and April. This course benefits individuals responsible for buying food and feed grains. It focuses on the mechanics of purchasing raw materials and features detailed discussions on cash and futures markets, financing and ocean transportation.

The Flour Milling Short Course, held in June, is limited to 24 participants. With several facility tours, hands-on experience in KSU’s highly automated Hal Ross flour mill and physical-dough testing laboratory and bakery, this course studies the major principles of modern flour milling and management. In addition to those directly related to mill operations, sales, marketing and financial managers will also benefit from this course.

The Price Analysis and Risk Management Short Course is held each July. The course outlines the role of the futures market in pricing grains and gives an overview of options and grain grading. It is a preparatory course for those who will be attending the Risk Management

Short Course, an advanced course that emphasizes alternative grain procurement strategies, ocean freight contracts and risk, and currency-exchange risks. Participants are encouraged to sign up for both courses.

The Feed Manufacturing Short Course is held each September. The course explores major elements of modern feed manufacturing and examines advances in feed technology. For more information, contact

The Satake Centre for Grain Process Engineering (SCGPE) was established in May 1994 following an initiative from the Satake Corporation of Japan. Based in the School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science at the University of Manchester, in Manchester, U.K., its primary focus is providing education, training and research at the highest academic level.

The SCGPE participates in research in food and non-food applications of grain processing and carries out postgraduate teaching in Cereals Biotechnology. Nonfood applications are taking on increasing importance at the centre as a result of the SCGPE, which has received a number of significant grants from the U.K. research funding councils to develop cereals as the ideal renewable resource for future organic chemicals production. These initiatives provide funding for professional research staff as well as scholarship opportunities for PhD students.

The majority of the Centre’s activities involve postgraduate students registered for higher degrees, including MSc, MPhil, PhD and the recently developed Engineering Doctorate (EngD).

For more information, contact WG