Photos courtesy of Ocrim.
The event was organized by Ocrim S.p.A, a Cremona, Italy-based manufacturer of flour and feed milling equipment, in collaboration with Bonifiche Ferraresi S.p.A., a leading agricultural and agri-food company, and Confederazione Nazionale Coltivatori Diretti (Coldiretti) — Italy’s National Confederation of Active Farmers.
Dr. Federico Vecchioni, managing director of Bonifiche Ferraresi, spoke about the concept of “Italianness.” Referring to the synergy created between Bonifiche Ferraresi and Ocrim, Vecchioni noted that “the two companies got together to establish a production chain that starts from the cultivation, monitoring and respect of raw materials through to processing using cutting-edge machines manufactured in Italy. A 100% Italian product from its conception to final processing.”
The conference was also attended by the General Secretary of Coldiretti, Dr.Vincenzo Gesmundo, and the managing director of Ocrim, Engineer Alberto Antolini, who greeted guests and spoke about the work carried out by Ocrim, which continues to grow by emphasizing the importance of research and expertise.
Gesmundo greeted the audience with a spontaneous and heartfelt speech about the importance of an approach to work focused on constant improvement. He highlighted the role and responsibility of a “true” production chain, which can be defined as such only if the traceability of final products can be certified. He spoke of the “distinctiveness” of Italian culture, through a final product that is considered to be an emblem of high quality, which also expresses respect for the free will of consumers.
Stefano Mazzini, Ocrim sales manager, spoke about the importance of quality but also the related issues in the cereals sector and how they are measured, both upstream and downstream. He noted that for over 70 years Ocrim has been building milling plants for cereal processing, founding its activities and productivity exclusively on the concept of Italianness.
Mazzini introduced the experts who came with him from Cremona, who spoke about quality and issues related to the cereals sector and the measures, both upstream and downstream, which must be taken to obtain a wholesome and properly processed product. The first expert speaker, Dr. Simona Digiuni, an agricultural biotechnologist with international experience in the field of plant research, spoke about management of cereals contamination, which can be caused by several different factors. She listed all the causes of contamination clearly and in detail, and then illustrated the measures that offer solutions to the problem.
She explained that in order to allow cereals to reach the processing stage in optimal condition, they must be monitored from the cultivation phase. It is crucial for heavy metals not to be present in high amounts in soil, since they are usually also present in the water used for irrigation.
She also noted that it is crucial to carry out monitoring based on the restrictions imposed by regulations and/or laws regarding the presence of heavy metals in soil or the use of substances that act as a means of support for crops, which, however, pose a threat to the soil and plants and, consequently, also to human and animal health.
Following Digiuni’s speech, Marco Galli, director of Ocrim’s technology office, continued the discussion on the issues of cereal contamination and provided solutions in response to the challenges illustrated by Digiuni.
Galli noted that “any cereal processing stage must be based on effective and efficient cleaning prior to the following processing stage. This also applies to storage and various special processes.” He explained what strategies should be adopted, as well as all the processes and machinery that should be used in order to obtain wholesome products. He said it was essential to carry out an accurate selection and, most importantly, to separate physical impurities according to size and weight difference, using machinery specifically designed for the pre-cleaning and cleaning line.
“During the selection stage, classification, in the sense of compliance with specific parameterization established in advance, plays a fundamental role. We can thus gather that seeds, in addition to having to be purified as much as possible from contaminants, must also comply with the characteristics established to begin with: weight, size and shape, length and/or diameter, density,” Galli said. He then listed all the machinery required for this kind of operation, explaining their use and functionality.
This included the SRP Precleaning Rotary Separator, which ensures impurities separation, and the SPR Rotary Grain Separator, which cleans grains.
The TRR Air Recirculating Aspirator and the TRV Rectangular Vibrating Aspirator separate physical impurities for weight difference.
The TSV Dry Stoner, CSA Cilynder Separator Unit and TDV Gravity Separator are used to classify cereals, and the Pixel Color Sorter is used to eliminate contaminants.
Scouring and debranning of cereals can be accomplished with the SIG Intensive Horizontal Scourer and DHB Vertical Debranner, while the online-MGA Multifunction Grain Analyzer helps with grain mixing and conditioning.
Galli noted that today’s consumers are increasingly aware and demanding of what they are eating. “One of the key aspects of new trends is the fight against chemical and biological contaminants in cereals, since standards are becoming increasingly stricter throughout the production chain and consumers are more and more attentive to such aspects.”
He stressed that even though technology has come a long way, it is impossible to fully eliminate the problem of contaminants. However, what is essential to accurately manage and monitor the entire production chain is to reduce negative impacts. In this respect, he also showed and illustrated several innovative machines, which, during processing, involve grain “purification” stages.
“The latest estimates indicate that about 20% of the world’s cereal production goes to waste and/or is damaged due to inadequate storage systems,” Galli said.
He noted that in order to avoid such waste, it is important to define in advance the various operation cycles. “The number and size of individual silos is also essential to ensure the segregation of products divided into equal batches,” he said. “It is important to keep temperatures constant and monitored, so that the humidity content does not rise, thus producing microenvironments that may favor an increase in contamination.”
Galli noted that the Ocrim team’s research indicates that a partial solution to this issue could be achieved through several measures: a proper cereal handling method; memorization of cycles for each type of product stored; prevention of emergencies; and real-time management of the quantities contained in each silo and of the simultaneous storage of different products; and historical traceability of the temperatures reached for each cereal batch during its storage.
Galli also discussed several key solutions offered by the automation systems produced by Ocrim, which stems from a study and research on the proper, simplified management of a storage silo.