After overcoming the initial impacts of COVID-19, the milling industry quickly realized the importance of food security during a pandemic and started investing again in expansions and new projects.

“2020 was most certainly an extraordinary year and we have seen investor hesitation due to COVID-19,” said one supplier who participated in World Grain’s annual survey of the international milling industry’s equipment and service providers. “The world was in deep shock but soon we all came to realize the importance of food security. We have started to discuss the investment opportunities for different regions.”

The food industry, including wheat mills in general, were not as affected as other sectors by COVID-19, said another supplier.

 “In many cases the production and demand for their products actually increased, so demand for our equipment and services increased to an extent,” the supplier said.

Travel restrictions have impacted project commissioning teams, another supplier said. But the company still has 50 projects in the pipeline on four continents.

“Amidst lockdowns, travel restrictions, and significant health risks worldwide, we not only kept our ongoing projects on track but also undertook new projects and ultimately managed to complete them all as promised,” the supplier said.

More customers, because of the pandemic, wanted remote monitoring and support. The pandemic also has affected the supply chain, including the availability of semi-conductors, the skyrocketing price of steel and increasing costs of shipping rates.

Concerns remain over safety, with requirements getting stricter and equipment being designed to provide the highest safety parameters, eliminate any possible infestation points and a change in materials.

For example, Sangati Berga constructed its GBF model plansifter frame and sieves with sheet molding compound. There are no connecting elements, seals, nails or screws. Construction with rounded edges and smooth surfaces avoids retention of products, facilitating the cleaning and sanitizing process. The raw material and manufacturing chosen for the new frames and sieves produces a lower environmental impact, with low energy consumption along its lifecycle and recyclability.

Expansion and modernization projects are popular as millers look to meet increasing demand but are somewhat hesitant to make the full investment in a greenfield project, suppliers said. While demand for flour is rising, the available resources are not.

“The world needs more productivity and efficiency,” one supplier said. “Milling plants are expected to be more productive to meet this rising demand. This ask will be combined with maintenance efforts and it will play a key role for reducing operational costs with predictive maintenance services.”

Suppliers said they are seeing increasing demand from Brazil, where several big projects are under development as well as North America, West Africa, Australia and India.

Coopavel adds milling line

Coopavel Cooperativa Agroindustrial will soon complete an expansion of its mill in Cascavel, Parana, Brazil. Assembly of the project started in June and is expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of this year. 

The original mill has a production capacity of 480 tonnes per day. The expansion will add an additional line with a 200-tpd capacity. Total flour extraction is 78% based on first break.

The facility (cleaning, milling and finished products) covers a total area of 3,000 square meters while the mill itself is six stories tall. There is additional room for expansion. 

Coopavel added the line to meet increased demand and also to increase exposure to potential new markets that require extra clean flour and low ash. Wheat is sourced from the south region of Brazil, with some from Argentina and Paraguay. 

The project was designed to optimize energy efficiency and space, with maximum flexibility between the existing line and the new one. Automation between the two lines is fully integrated. 

Sangati Berga, based in Fortaleza, Brazil, supplied all the main equipment, mechanical accessories, electrical and automation for the expansion. The cleaning section was upgraded to absorb the added capacity from both mills for a total capacity of 36 tph. It includes magnetics, VIBROBLOCK separator, air separators, SGS-T destoner, optical sorter and ACQUA RATE automatic dampening system. The second cleaning includes the TPA intensive scourer.

In the milling section, Sangati Berga supplied PRIME roller mills, FORTRESS plansifters, CLASS purifiers and all supplementary equipment such as bran finishers, vibrating turbo-sifters, detachers, pneumatic conveying and aspiration.

Sangati Berga also supplied the system to transport finished flour to storage silos via pneumatic lines, passing through rebolt plansifters, magnetics, electronic scales and infestation destroyers. 

Flour from the facility is mostly destined for industrial clients for dry and fresh pasta, biscuits and baked foods. 

Molinos Miraflores builds new mill 

Molinos Miraflores SA in Ambato, Ecuador, completed in May 2021 a greenfield flour mill with finished products for domestic distribution. The company has more than 100 years of experience in the industry and is one of the most preferred flour brands in Ecuador. 

The new mill, which took four months to complete, has a capacity of 150 tpd using hard and semi-hard wheat sourced from Canada. It produces high-quality bakery and cake flours for domestic use. 

Molinos Miraflores worked with Alapala, based in Istanbul, Turkey, to supply and install the turnkey facility. Alapala provided project design, manufacturing, project management, installation and commissioning services. This was Alapala’s second turnkey facility in the country. 

The mill includes an advanced automation system combined with Scada software. By enabling centralized monitoring of the entire process from wheat intake to flour processing, the system provides integrated process control and traceability advantages. The system also has an advanced report generation ability for production and yield efficiency data. 

The remote connection feature of the system allows the Alapala after-sales team to access the mill for technical assistance, including inspection, error diagnosis, calibration and troubleshooting. 

Total grain storage capacity is 4,500 tonnes in steel silos integrated with an intake pit and pre-cleaning system. The steel structure of the new flour mill also was provided by Alapala Construction, which specializes in the design, supply and construction of industrial buildings worldwide. 

The mill was designed specifically for further expansion, with space reserved for additional roller mills. 

SMMT builds mill in Togo 

This spring, the Socété des Moulins Modernes du Togo (SMMT) completed a flour milling facility in the West African country of Togo, located in the port area of Lome. The 20,000-square-meter facility produces wheat flour and other wheat-based derivatives, including byproducts for livestock and poultry.

Imas, based in Konya, Turkey, supplied equipment for the greenfield project, which took two years to
 complete. The mill has a capacity of 250 tonnes per day with an extraction rate of 78% and storage capacity of 16,000 tonnes.

The facility started operations in March, but SMMT already is planning to double its production volume with installation of a second automated line soon. All equipment is modern, featuring the latest milling technology, including a laboratory for quality control.

Fortune Rice builds mill in Nigeria

Despite a delay due to COVID-19, Fortune Rice was able to complete a new mill in Kano, Nigeria, by the end of last year. The $2.3 million greenfield project took 15 months to complete because of the pandemic. 

Fortune Rice embarked on the project partly because of a rice import ban introduced by the government and the country’s push for self-sufficiency in rice within five years.

The 16-tonne-per-hour Satake rice mill installed over three floors includes a 10,000-tonne paddy warehouse, with storage in big bags and loose paddy. 

Fortune Rice buys paddy on the open market and then parboils and processes the rice selling to distributors, wholesalers and individuals. The bran is sold for cattle feed and the rice husk is used to power the parboil plant. 

The parboil plant, supplied by SKF Group, feeds into the mill, supplied and installed by Satake Europe Ltd., based in the UK. Parboiled rice is fed into a SFI milling separator, which is an all-purpose separator for the cleaning of cereal grains, and on to the SGA destoner, which separates stones and heavy impurities from the grain using bulk density differences. 

From there, product is transferred to five new-generation HR10 paddy huskers where the husk is removed from the rice kernel. Satake paddy separators ensure only brown rice is fed to the milling section while unhusked paddy is returned to the huskers. 

The mill also includes four passes of VTA 15 vertical rice whiteners, which incorporate the modern Satake design of gentle milling to remove bran with low pressure and minimum rice breakage. 

A further two passes of KB80 rice polishers using fine water mist spray, polish and clean the surface of the grain, enhancing the quality and shine of the finished product.

A combination of Satake length graders and rotary sifters allow the polished rice to be graded by thickness and length before blending to the customer’s specification. The rice is then color sorted and finally packed for sale and distribution under Fortune’s ‘Optimum’ brand.

Golchha expands flour mill

Golchha Flour Mills Pvt. Ltd. completed an expansion this May of its flour mill in Bihar, India. Mill capacity increased to 400 tpd from 275 tpd with equipment supplied by Henry Simon, based in Manchester, England. 

Golchha, founded in 2011, has a strong reputation for product quality. The expansion, which took four months to complete, was necessary to meet the market needs of rising demand for high-quality flour. 

Henry Simon provided equipment, including scourers, roller mills, plansifters and bran finishers. The engineering team provided all necessary engineering support in designing the mill. 

It used the latest design software to provide a detailed 3D modeling for machine installation, spouting and ducting designs with aspiration down to minute details.