The global flour milling industry, a cornerstone of the food supply chain, is facing a transformative shift. No longer is the milling process solely about grinding wheat into flour; it’s increasingly about optimizing operations, reducing costs, and minimizing environmental impact. One pivotal aspect of this evolution is energy management. As the world grapples with energy challenges and climate concerns, efficient energy use in milling has emerged as a critical area of focus.
Energy is the lifeblood of any milling operation, powering a range of machines and processes. However, it’s also a significant expense, typically accounting for about 4% of a milling plant’s operating costs. With energy prices on the rise, driven by factors like supply disruptions and increased demand, milling companies are taking a hard look at their energy consumption and efficiency.
While sustainability remains a driving force, the financial aspect of energy management has gained prominence. Every kilowatt-hour saved translates directly to cost savings and enhanced profitability. Efficient energy management in the milling industry requires a multifaceted approach. Here are some key strategies that millers are employing to unlock efficiency:
Advanced Machinery: Investing in high-efficiency milling machines can significantly reduce energy consumption. Modern roller mills, sifters, and purifiers are designed with energy efficiency in mind, offering precise control and reduced power requirements.
Renewable Energy: Some mills are turning to renewable energy sources, such as solar panels and wind turbines, to supplement their energy needs. This not only reduces reliance on conventional power sources but also demonstrates a commitment to sustainability.
Process Optimization: Analyzing and optimizing the milling process itself can yield substantial energy savings. Adjustments in roll gap, roll speed, and tempering procedures can reduce energy use during the grinding process.
Efficient Motors and Drives: Electrical motors are a significant energy consumer in mills. Upgrading to high-efficiency motors, variable speed drives, and implementing soft starters can reduce energy losses and enhance efficiency.
Pneumatic Systems: Pneumatic conveying systems are another major energy consumer. Redesigning these systems to optimize air volume, eliminate leaks, and right-size fans can result in substantial energy savings.
Compressed Air System: Efficiently managing compressed air systems by addressing air leaks, avoiding unnecessary usage, and ensuring proper maintenance can reduce energy consumption in this area.
Effective Maintenance: Implementing an effective maintenance management system is crucial. Regular lubrication, monitoring, and upkeep of equipment can minimize friction, improve engine efficiency, and reduce energy consumption.
Energy Management Systems: Real-time energy monitoring and control systems are becoming essential. These systems provide insights into energy use patterns and enable timely adjustments for optimal efficiency.
THE ROAD AHEAD
Efficient energy management is not just a trend; it’s a necessity for the modern milling industry. As energy prices continue to fluctuate, and environmental concerns intensify, mills that proactively embrace energy efficiency will not only reduce their operational costs but also enhance their sustainability credentials.
The path to energy efficiency is multifaceted and requires a commitment to ongoing improvement. By implementing a combination of advanced machinery, renewable energy sources, process optimization, and vigilant maintenance, milling companies can navigate the evolving energy landscape and thrive in an energy-conscious world.
As the milling industry continues to evolve, energy management will remain a pivotal factor in achieving operational excellence, reducing costs, and contributing to a more sustainable future for both businesses and the planet.
In this October issue, we delve into the critical topic of “Energy Management in the Milling Industry,” exploring two insightful articles authored by prominent experts in the field. The first article, authored by Gernot Stoerr, Head of Product Management, Marketing Communications, and Business Development Services at Bühler AG, shines a spotlight on the shifting landscape of energy costs. As we explore Stoerr’s insights, we’ll discover how Bühler, a leader in the milling industry, is proactively addressing this challenge. Bühler’s innovative approach, including the Energy Saving Assessment (ESA), offers mills a comprehensive strategy to identify and implement energy-saving measures, resulting in both economic and environmental benefits.
The second article, penned by Prof. Dr. Farhan Alfin, an independent flour milling consultant, provides an invaluable roadmap for energy conservation in flour mills. Prof. Dr. Alfin explores various strategies, from advanced machinery and renewable energy sources to meticulous maintenance practices, that can enhance a mill’s profit margin and mitigate operating costs.