MANHATTAN, KANSAS, U.S. — Eleven participants from various grain processing companies explored the general steps of the milling process during the Buhler-Kansas State University (KSU) Executive Milling short course held at the International Grains Program Conference Center, Oct. 25-29.

The course was taught by Tobias Nänny, a milling instructor from the Buhler Training Center in Uzwil, Switzerland. KSU Buhler instructor Chris Miller assisted in the running of the Hal Ross Mill.

According to Miller, the purpose of the executive milling course is to teach the basics of the milling process to executives, who may have no prior milling experience, so that they may better understand the operations for which they oversee.

For John Wiebold, who has worked for General Mills for 10 years, this was something that was important.

“I wanted to have a better understanding of what many of my counterparts working in the mills deal with on a daily basis. I’ve been through wheat mills and seen things quickly on tours,” he said. However, he adds he needed to know more about the milling process in order to understand the challenges facing the mill operators. Weibold is responsible for buying wheat for General Mills’ five regional mills as well as oats and flour.

To help participants like Weibold learn the basics of the milling process the course gives an overview of the entire process, starting with the grain itself. According to Miller, participants learn about the structure and properties of the grain kernel before it is milled. They are also introduced to the cleaning processes that grain goes through before being ground. Participants then are instructed in the other steps of the milling process as well as handling and storage of the finished product, mill performance evaluation and critical control points to check to ensure product safety and quality.

In addition to hearing lectures from milling experts, participants receive training in KSU’s Hal Ross Flour Mill. For Mark Kolkhorst, ADM milling division president, this hands-on training was really important.

“The combination of learning what a piece of equipment does and then actually going out and seeing it in action in the mill is really compelling for this course,” he said.

Kolkhorst is familiar with milling through the mill tours he has taken in his 25-year tenure with ADM; however he said he decided to attend the short course so that he could better understand what he saw happening in the mill.

“I’ve been through a lot of our mills and seen a lot of the process, but I wanted to get a better understanding of what happens in the mill,” Kolkhorst said.

He said that learning more about the flow of the mill and machinery used in the mill will allow him to better understand equipment investment decisions. He is responsible for overseeing the milling operations of ADM in the U.S., Canada, Caribbean and the United Kingdom.

Another participant Bill Cleaver of Kraft Food said he found studying flow sheet design and key performance indicators to be the most beneficial part of the course for him.

“Each of us received different benefits from participation in the course,” he said.

According to Miller, Buhler’s partnership with KSU began when the Hal Ross Mill was built. In keeping with Buhler’s strong emphasis on training, Buhler made two investments at KSU. First they donated equipment for use in the mill, and secondly, they began funding the Buhler faculty position in the Department of Grain Science and Industry, which Miller currently holds.

This is class is just one example of the many short courses offered through IGP. In addition to milling, grain science specialists lead classes in grain purchasing, feed manufacturing, grain elevator management and risk management. For more information, go to the IGP website