While milling may be one of the oldest industry’s in the world, there’s still plenty of new technology being introduced to improve the production process.

Milling companies at the International Association of Operative Millers (IAOM) Annual Conference and Expo in Denver, Colorado, U.S., in April highlighted equipment designed to improve quality, efficiency, safety and cost of production. Along with an expo that featured 136 exhibitors, the conference included educational sessions, awards and keynote addresses from industry leaders. Attendance reached about 1,000, the highest it has been in at least a decade, and the number of millers who attended also increased, said Melinda Farris, executive vice-president of the IAOM.

“We always have good turnout when we’re in the middle of the country,” she said. “I think Denver was a big draw. Overall, we were very pleased with everything. All the events were jam-packed with people, which partly was because our numbers were so good.”

On the expo floor, Henry Simon introduced its in-line flow meter, which can measure the flow rate of gravity-fed stock in a downspout. It can be added to various points in the mill flow to allow the miller to monitor what’s happening at a particular point in the process, said Andrew Bailey, with Henry Simon.

“It’s a novel feature and relatively low cost,” he said. “The idea is you can get as many as you want into the mill flow, depending on what passages you think are critical to monitor.”

There is minimal interruption to the milling process and the miller can keep an eye on production without having to stop and take a sample manually. The device can recognize any changes of material and machine conditions as well as prevent trouble such as clogging.

“These days you’ve got bigger mills producing more products with less people so the more tools you can give an operator, the better it is,” Bailey said. “Sometimes all the bells and whistles don’t really add value. What we’re trying to do is automation that genuinely relieves some of the pressure off the miller.”

Solving problems for millers was the key to the development of Ocrim’s titanium-coated rolls for the fluted passages in the grinding process. Marco Bellini explained the benefits of the rolls during a Product Showcase on the Expo floor.

“We’ve been testing them for the last year and the results are amazing,” he said.

The rolls are four times harder than uncoated rolls, which means the fluting lasts longer and maintenance costs are less. He said with the rolls nominal plant yield lasts longer and energy consumption is reduced. During testing, the average granulometry of the outgoing product was 885 microns. After 100,000 tons, the average granulometry shifted to 950 microns, which shows there was insignificant wear of the rolls, he said.

Bühler showcased several of its products, including the MKZK sieving machine, which features hygienic design and easy control. It features stainless steel and a cleaning opening that can be unlocked with a single twist, said Bühler’s Aidin Milani.

A tray underneath the sieve area can catch anything that might fall out during maintenance, preventing it from falling into the product stream.

Bühler also highlighted its MultimpactFine hammer mill, which can produce finer particles from products that are more difficult to grind.

“This is designed to push the product more to the center to make sure that it’s engaged with the hammers, so nothing is trapped on the outside,” Milani said.

Longtime miller and past IAOM president Joe Woodward, with ADM Milling, said he likes to walk the Expo floor looking at products and reconnecting with people.

“It’s good just to brainstorm, see what’s new and talk to new people,” he said. “Millers are a tight-knit group. We’re always communicating and trying to learn.”

New technology in terms of wheat varieties was one point discussed during Alan Tracy’s keynote address, “Wheat Matters,” at the IMEF Breakfast. Tracy, with Tracy Consulting, was president of U.S. Wheat Associates for 20 years. Changes are coming in wheat varieties, and that will increase the volume vs. specification conflict, he said.

“Wheat diversity is about to expand,” he said. “Now that the genome has been mapped and we have gene editing, we can do some things we couldn’t do before.”

He mentioned rust resistance or high amylose wheat that could produce bread with slower absorption and lower glycemic index impact. The changes that are coming will build more niche products and more end-use products, Tracy said.

“All the GMO possibilities were agronomic and helped the farmer but did nothing for the end consumer,” he said. “Gene editing has the opportunity to change that.”

Miller of the year

Vince Kintzle, director of technical milling at Ardent Mills, is the 2019 recipient of the Milling Operative of the Year award. The award was presented April 18 during the Annual Banquet & Awards Ceremony.

Established in 1986 by Milling & Baking News, sister publication of World Grain, the award is given to the practicing milling operative who has made the most significant contribution to the progress of a plant, a company and the industry from an operating point of view

Presenting the award was Kintzle’s colleague at Denver, Colorado, U.S.-based Ardent Mills, Brad Allen, who described Kintzle, in his 30th year with the company, as a “miller’s miller,” having followed his father and grandfather into the milling profession.

“Vince’s knowledge and technical expertise is invaluable in assisting all of our plants’ management teams as they attempt to address the operational issues that they encounter daily,” Allen said.

Allen also described Kintzle as “relentlessly curious” and “an innovator.”

“Year after year, Vince has consistently led improvement projects throughout our organization that have had a significant financial impact. His initiatives have improved yield, equipment operating performance, and product performance. More so, he has expanded capacity, reduced costs, and created more pleasant working conditions for all of our operatives.”

Kintzle also was praised for his work in IAOM, where he currently serves on the Technical Committee.

“Vince has partnered inside and outside our organization in whatever way possible to help drive improvement,” Allen said. “His influence is recognized outside of Ardent Mills by other members of the IAOM whose careers he has helped shape.”

After accepting the award, Kintzle reflected on his career, which was inspired by his first visit to the Bay State Milling plant in Winona, Minnesota, U.S., where his father worked. He recalls his father taking him through every section of the mill, explaining the different functions of each piece of milling equipment.

“That was my introduction to my passion and what I truly believe is such an important part of our lives,” Kintzle said. “I’ve been able to take those simple things that my father taught me and share them with the individuals that I help train.”

Another major honor, the Gold Medal award, given in recognition of exemplary service to the industry, was presented to Jim Schroeder, retired president of Great Western Manufacturing, Leavenworth, Kansas, U.S., and a 49-year member of the IAOM. This was the first year an associate member received the award, the highest given by the IAOM, Farris said.

“I think this is a reflection of the complementary relationship that exists between many of the suppliers and millers in the industry,” she said. “They all strive to work together to improve processes and conditions in the mill. They all try to work together to come up with the best possible solutions. Jim is the personification of this type of collaborative relationship.”

Although Schroeder was unable to attend the banquet, his son, David, accepted the award and tearfully read a letter that his father had penned to show his appreciation for the award.

In the letter, Jim Schroeder wrote that he was “deeply honored,” and that he has “always thought of IAOM members as friends more than customers, and always felt the feeling was mutual.”

Ted Korolchuk, Ardent Mills, received the Thaddeus B. Bownik Outstanding Service Award. Korolchuk, who has worked in the industry for four decades and is a past winner of the Milling Operative of the Year award, expressed gratitude to IAOM for the honor.

“Ted Bownik was a wonderful guy who had a passion for milling and a love for the IAOM,” Korolchuk said. “I am very honored to receive this award in his name.”

Other award winners at the banquet were:

  • Jason Watt, Bühler Instructor of Milling at Kansas State University, who received the Arlin B. Ward Commendation for Excellence in Education.
  • Bob Ricklefs of Great Western Manufacturing, who received the Allied Trades Technology award.

New leadership

Following the awards ceremony, David Jansen of Siemer Milling Co. was inaugurated as the 2019-20 IAOM president with the ceremonial passing of the gavel from 2018-19 president Jeff Hole of Miller Milling.

Jansen, who began his career at Siemer Milling and has worked his way up to assistant vice-president, said one of his objectives as IAOM president is to keep moving the association forward.

“I hope to build on the foundation set by Jeff and other past presidents by focusing on our mission statement and reviewing our strategic plan,” Jansen said.