Wheat mills in Bangladesh typically produce one or two grades of atta flour that is commonly used to make flat breads such as chapati and paratha. But with the expansion of fast-food restaurants and the growing export-oriented food processing sector, Bangladesh is an emerging market in terms of wheat and wheat-based products with higher protein and fiber.
City Group decided a CombiMill solution from Uzwil, Switzerland-based Bühler would give it flexibility in supplying market demands for both atta and bakery flours. With the 600-tpd expansion that was completed this July, City Group introduced a new atta flour brand that is more hygienic compared to products from traditional stone mills, but offers the same taste and texture. The Dhaka-based company is now one of the largest flour millers in Bangladesh, said Fazlur Rahman, City Group chairman and owner.
Food industry standout
City Group is a prominent name in Bangladesh’s food industry, Rahman said. It has more than 44 years of experience in the edible oil industry, gradually expanding production into various food-related areas. The company now has 23 sister concerns, each specializing in different areas of production, including edible oil, flour, sugar, daal, feed, pp woven bags, seed crushing and drinking water.
It is one of the biggest grain traders in Bangladesh and has more than 15,000 employees. City Group’s mills, factories and establishments are spread over 330 acres of land.
City Group opened its first flour mill namely Hasan Flour Mill in 1998 with a capacity of 200 tpd. It followed with the Shampa Flour Mill in 2007 with a capacity of 550 tpd. The demand for flour in Bangladesh is constantly increasing, and it is becoming one of the company’s most important segments, Rahman said.
The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics estimates that wheat and wheat flour purchases account for 1.5% of total food expenditures. While this is low compared to rice, wheat is the second most essential food in Bangladesh, accounting for almost 12% of grain consumption. In the last 10 years, the nation has nearly tripled its wheat imports to 4.7 million tonnes, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service.
In addition to its flour mills, City Group has the world’s second largest stand-alone sugar refinery plant with capacity of 5,000 tpd, a 3,000-tpd seed crushing plant, two poultry 20-tph feed lines and a 10-tph aqua feed plant. The company is in the process of building one of the largest rice/red lentil complexes in South Asia with a capacity of 72-tpd for paddy, 8-tpd for raw white rice and 200-tpd for red lentils, along with a 32,000-tonne silo storage system.
“Equipment quality and long-term investment is an irrevocable obligation,” Rahman said. “Therefore we have requested all the equipment be sourced from Europe. Even the interface processes such as the parboiling system and husk firing for energy recuperation are provided by top European suppliers.”
City Group’s premium brand is TEER, which includes a wide a range of products: refined sugar, whole wheat atta, white atta, maida (flour), suji (semolina), refined soybean oil, canola oil, mustard oil, soymeal and rapeseed cake, poultry feed, cattle and fish feed. TEER is one of the leading brands in the consumer food industry in Bangladesh, with market share of about 40%, Rahman said.
In order to produce the best quality flour, Rahman said wheat is imported, including semi-hard varieties from Australia and Russia and hard wheat from Canada. City Group is one of the largest grain traders in Bangladesh and has its own vessels. The Shampa flour mill has 32,000 tonnes of grain storage available.
Atta and maida brands are packaged in 1-kg, 2-kg, 10-kg and 50-kg bags, while suji is available in 250-gm and 500-gm packs.
Along with using the highest quality wheat, it was important to City Group to have modern equipment that met strict safety standards to produce its TEER flours.
“We house the finest and the best machines in our manufacturing units, which ensure the best quality of atta that we produce,” Rahman said.
For its expansion at the Shampa flour mill, City Group requested all the equipment be made in Switzerland or Europe. Bühler’s high-compression PesaMills added in the expansion were specially developed to meet the requirements of atta production, he said. With the CombiMill,
City Group is able to produce standard bakery flour (white flour) for any bread/toast/pastry well as atta flour (whole wheat) for traditional flatbread such as paratha or chapati.
It is one of the first CombiMills to be built in South Asia, he said. Just one PesaMill can replace as many as 20 traditional stone mills, and provide several other advantages. The facility’s four 150-tpd PesaMills can produce several types of flour qualities and combine high throughput with energy-efficient operations. Using one PesaMill rather than several isolated traditional stone mills results in energy savings of up to 10%, Rahman said.
Unlike traditional stone mills where millstones need to be redressed or replaced frequently, downtime with the PesaMill is minimal and it can operate 24/7. Hygiene standards are improved with the use of steel rollers rather than stones.
The system has achieved atta flour extraction rates of 97%, bakery flour extraction of 77% and semolina from flour extraction of 5%, Rahman said. There is room at the six-story facility for an additional 550-tonne expansion.
From the grain silos the pre-cleaned wheat comes into the first and second cleaning process. The cleaning is equipped with a sophisticated process to assure the optimal quality for grinding. The new 30-tph Vega High Performance Grain Classifier with its smart sieve concept is efficient in separation and grading.
With the new Moisture Control Unit and Water Proportioning, water may be added with accuracy to ensure efficient grinding and consistent end-product moisture. The second cleaning is divided into four single lines to feed the grinding lines independently. The grinding process includes Antares roller mills, Sirius plansifters, Polaris purifiers and AirEco sifters.
For atta flour production following the break passages, the reduction passages are replaced through the PesaMill. The mill grinds the semolina and medium/fine bran with high pressure to produce the atta flour. Through the high pressure, the starch damage may be increased to allow for high water absorption needed for atta flour. The specific roller length may be significantly reduced. It is important to grind wheat with less moisture (no higher than 12.5%) in order to get finer bran and to increase the shelf life.
To reduce the ash during bakery flour production, purifiers and AirEco sifters are used to extract the semolina and fine bran particles. Clean semolina is sent to the PesaMill for grinding into flour. The pressure of the PesaMill needs to be reduced compared to the Atta production. The settings of the PesaMill are switched between the Atta flour and the bakery flour production.
The flour is pneumatically conveyed into the flour silos and will be directly packed by carousel into the 50-kg bags, and with a small packer into the 5- to 10-kg bags.