Digital revolution transforms flour mills

03 May 20244 min reading

The future of milling was the focus of the 5th International TABADER Summit at IDMA Expo. During the summit, experts offered insights into the transformative impact of digitalization and artificial intelligence on the milling industry. Fabien Varagnac, a prominent consultant in the milling industry, emphasized, “Digitalization is imperative for mill management, whether adopting AI or not”

IDMA Istanbul, the vibrant hub of the milling industry, played host to a significant summit. The Grain and Pulses Processing Technologies, Storage, and Analysis Systems Association (TABADER), bringing together stakeholders from the Turkish milling industry, organized the 5th International TABADER Summit at the IDMA Expo. Taking place in Hall 3 on the inaugural day of the expo, the summit centered on innovation, technology, and the future of the milling industry.

The inaugural panel of the summit was the ‘New Technologies’ session, moderated by Namik Kemal Parlak, Editor-in-Chief of Miller Magazine. The distinguished panelists of this session, which delved into the latest advancements, innovations, and production technologies within the milling sector, included Fabien Varagnac, an esteemed independent milling sector consultant; Mr. Igor Sviridenko, President of the Russian Union of Flour Mills and Cereal Plants; Assoc. Prof. Necla Küçükçolak, Deputy General Manager of the Turkish Commodity Exchange (TMEX); and Onur Disanlı, Group Manager of Data Science, Big Data, and IoT at Innova, one of Turkey’s premier IT solutions companies.

Offering his insights on the influence of digitalization and artificial intelligence on the milling industry, Varagnac stated, “Digitalization is imperative for mill management, whether adopting AI or not.” Despite acknowledging some advancements, the French expert noted the sector’s slower pace in embracing digitalization, providing the following assessment:  “While data management is integrated into milling processes, deeper insights into quality are lacking. AI offers the opportunity to connect all aspects of production for optimal outcomes. Currently, departments prioritize individual KPIs, leading to inefficiencies. AI’s holistic approach could reconcile these conflicts, but implementation is complex, requiring big data integration and ensuring data quality. While production data is objective, assessing wheat and flour parameters poses challenges. Standardization and control are necessary, especially in evaluating baking performance. Early adopters of AI will gain a competitive edge, necessitating staff training in technical expertise and systematization. Resistance to change is high, requiring comprehensive staff involvement in digitalization efforts. Future mills will be highly connected, utilizing weather forecasts to optimize production and resource use, reducing waste and costs while fostering innovation. This vision supports the role of millers in global food supply.”

TÜRİB Deputy General Manager Küçükçolak explained the mission of the institution and the role of digitalization in increasing transparency and market efficiency in grain trade. Stating that the digital economy is driving innovations that are revolutionizing the finance and agriculture sectors, Küçükçolak said, “For the agricultural market, TÜRİB is at the very center of digitalization. By its very nature, stock exchange creates inclusive solutions on a digital infrastructure and provides trade on fair terms. For this reason, the solutions it offers must be adapted to the constantly developing technology and manage a process that feeds and develops itself. TÜRİB uses artificial intelligence technologies effectively in the field of market monitoring and supervision. In particular, it is implementing an artificial intelligence-supported supervision system developed using domestic resources to detect and prevent market distorting actions.”

Disanlı, the Group Manager of Data Science, Big Data, and IoT at Innova, highlighted that the swift advancement and widespread integration of digital technologies have fundamentally altered the landscape of the business world. He emphasized, “In the food industry, where conventional business practices are still prevalent, the adoption of innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence, digitalization, and big data analysis offers companies a significant competitive edge and bolsters their standing within the sector. To attain success through these technologies, it is crucial to accurately define your objectives, precisely determine your requirements, and then select the technological solutions that are deemed most effective. Without a proper strategy in place, there is always a risk of falling short of expected outcomes. Hence, I strongly recommend seeking consultancy from technology firms like Innova, renowned for their expertise, adept at accurately discerning your needs, and capable of implementing the most suitable solutions in a customized manner.”

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