MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA, US — Close to 1,100 members of the milling industry descended on Mill City for the International Association of Operative Millers’ 127th Annual Conference and Expo.

The event, April 17-21 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, US, included educational sessions, keynote speakers, awards, an expo showcasing the latest technology and the swearing in of new IAOM officers.

“We have been busy virtually the whole show, which is really gratifying,” said Paul Van Camp, director of sales and marketing for Great Western Manufacturing. Along with five representatives from Great Western, team members from partners Ugur and Gazel were in the booth.

With its partnership with Ugur, announced in May 2021, Great Western has the ability to equip a complete mill. The company also has a full range of spare parts on hand, Van Camp said.

“When you buy this piece of equipment, if something does happen, we have it on the shelf,” he said.  

Great Western Manufacturing_IAOM_©SOSLAND PUBLISHING CO._e.jpgGreat Western Manufacturing highlighted its partnerships with Ugur and Gazel at its IAOM booth. Credit: SOSLAND PUBLISHING CO.

Ugur and Gazel have been open to making modifications to equipment to meet customers’ needs. For example, Ugur created a roller mill adaptor, so the greasing mechanism is outside the machine, allowing for maintenance without shutting down the machine.

“Mills are so busy they want to minimize the shut down,” Van Camp said. “Doing some PM work without shutting the machine off is big.”

The partnership of Alapala and Satake was highlighting its new advanced sensor technology available on its Henry Simon line of equipment that also improves maintenance and efficiency. The technology is available on its HSPU Purifier, which was on display at its booth, as well as roller mills and plansifters.

The sensors can measure air pressure, machine stroke, motor load and vibration. The data is collected and displayed on an HDMI screen on the machine and also reported back to the control room. An emergency system will also alert the operator if the machine goes above nominal values in any of those areas.

With the sensors, operators can make any adjustments before parts fail, said Cagdas Ingin, sales director with Alapala. The company is aiming to have the machines communicate with each other and self-adjust.

“Now it is semi-automated. The next feature, we want the mill to operate like Tesla, fully automated,” Ingin said.

BoMill was highlighting for the first time at a trade show its new InSight grain quality sorting machine, which was introduced this January.

The machine uses NIR technology to assess the inner quality of each kernel of grain that passes through. It is modular in design with each unit featuring a 64-channel chute and a capacity of 2 tph. Each frame can hold from one to eight sorting units, for a maximum capacity of 15 tph.

With high accuracy, the machine can sort wheat based on protein content, said Andreas Jeppsson, chief executive officer of BoMill. This is particularly useful for customers in Europe, where protein content has been decreasing over the last decade. That has increased the prices for high protein wheat.

“Instead of sourcing wheat from different parts of Europe, the US or Canada, they are taking grains grown locally and they are sorting out high protein fractions,” Jeppsson said. “From a sustainability point of view, it is spot on.”

Off the expo floor, Meredith Nelson, senior director, field sales and foodservice ingredients with General Mills, gave the keynote address during the IMEF Breakfast. She discussed the importance of empathy and belonging to employee performance and retention.

She noted that if a sense of belonging can be achieved, there is a 50% reduction in turnover, a 56% increase in job performance and 75% fewer sick days. Employees list feeling like they didn’t belong among the top three reasons for leaving a job, while for employers, belonging doesn’t even crack the top 10 factors they consider important.

Nelson listed several solutions employers can use to increase the sense of belonging, and empathy, at their companies. Possible structural solutions include employee resource groups, a change in leave policies, flexibility and special events marking things such as International Women’s Day or Black History Month, where courageous conversations can take place, she said.

Possible grassroots solutions include mentor circles, internal social networks, being conscious of the language that is used and making inclusion contacts.

The conference concluded with the passing of the gavel to new IAOM president Steve Matson, director of manufacturing, milling operations, at Bay State Milling.

Next year’s event is planned for April 15-19 in Salt Lake City, Utah, US.