Prof. Farhan Alfin
Most of the innovations during the last decade aimed mainly to face the challenges of the flour milling industry, like lowering production costs, improving working conditions, complete process automation through application industry 4.0, and controlling product quality. Throughout COVID-19 crisis, flour mills had to improve the quality and safety of flour, and equipment suppliers who serve the milling industry had to introduce new technologies that make flour production more safe and efficient.
A good manager is one who can manage a company during a crisis. The global COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to highlighting the safety of flour, has increased the demand for household flour in many parts of the world. Throughout this crisis, flour mills had to improve the quality and safety of flour, and equipment suppliers who serve the milling industry had to introduce new technologies that make flour production more safe and efficient.
Today, companies which do not innovate their products constantly cannot survive in the competition with other companies, cannot proceed in the markets, and their profit will stay at the minimum level. The most essential activities for innovation are investing a significant source and time for research and development (R&D). However, without turning the long and exhaustive R&D into commercial income it may not be called as innovation. Any company that want to be among the leader companies have to has a strong commitment to R&D.
Most of the innovations during the last decade aimed mainly to face the challenges of the flour milling industry, like lowering production costs, improving working conditions, complete process automation through application industry 4.0, and controlling product quality.
Lowering production costs achieved by introducing high-capacity machines to allow the construction of mills with higher capacity and with the same building volume, and equipment require easy and less maintenance to reduce the duration of production stoppages.
Improving working conditions which enjoy the staff is improved by designing easy-to-adjust and safe, less noisy and user-friendly machine.
Complete process automation through application industry 4.0 aims to improve mill management by providing quality and production records using equipment support IoT technology, precise adjustment of machine to assure flour quality consistency, reducing production costs by eliminating worker overtime, and reduce necessary labor.
To assure accurate and constant mixing of different types of wheat, some companies introduced feeders which work on the principle of loss-in-weight feeding (differential dosing scale), accurately feed each wheat according to controlled recipes and register the total weight, this type of feeder can be used below raw wheat silos and tempering bins.
Peeling, debranning equipment have been introduced to increase flour safety by decreasing microbial count, toxin levels, chemical residue in the produced flour, this was achieved by removing great quantity of bran using abrasive elements. Using debranning system in the screen room reduces wheat ash, decreasing tempering time, increase milling section capacity, improve performance of the mill and flour quality. Satake was the first company which introduced this technology for wheat mills. The latest development of debranning technology was by Omas which introduced Dante system.
Most of the innovations were in developing roller mill machine, as examples for recent innovation are, the aerodynamic design of chamber structure which provides air circulation to keeping roller temperature low, Dynamic Angular Positioning System (DAPS) which developed by Selis Machinery, Antares Plus roller mill which is supplied with sensors measuring the temperature of the rolls and roll bearing introduced by Bühler. In Antares Plus roller mill, wear and tear of roll bearing or lack of grease can be identified by monitoring of bearing temperature. Thereby, maintenance stoppage can be minimized and ensures maximum operational safety, particle size measuring sensor made automatic adjustment of grinding gap possible. This system minimizes energy consumption, make the system more stable and IoT machine more useful.
Nowadays, to assure process control and flour quality near-infrared (NIR) instrument can be used to continuously on-line monitor and record protein, moisture content, ash, color value and count of specks. Thereby, closed-loop control systems can be established to control accurate addition of vital gluten or other additives. Multipoint NIR unit is now available with IoT and is essential for intelligent mills.
The latest innovation which helps in mill maintenance management was an instrument that determine the state of roller flutes. Yenar introduced RollCare profile measurement device which utilizes laser technology. Bühler offered rollDetect which can measure flutes state of corrugated roller and roughness of smooth roller (Ra). The measurement result is a report compering states of theoretical profile and measured one. Thereby, determine actual wear on rolls, save energy and help in decision of changing rolls.
Most offered innovations were about improving roller mill machine, mill control and automation. No innovation was introduced about the mill diagram after introducing the compact mill diagram. I explained in a previous article that industry 4.0 has to be applied to achieve Artificial Intelligent Mills, which means automation with data mining. To actualize intelligent with light-off mill, new mill diagram should be innovated. What if one of the roller mills stopes for any reason? Nowadays all of the mill section feeds must turn off till that machine work again. We need a new flexible mill diagram which I can explain as “Dynamically Directed Streams”.
About the author
[box type="shadow" align="" class="" width=""] Prof. Farhan Alfin is working now as a production supervisor at Darıca Flour Mill, Trabzon, Turkey. He obtained his Ph.D. from Ege University in Izmir, Turkey, from the Department of Food Engineering in 2000. He worked at Avrasya University, Trabzon from 2005 to 2019 and hold the position of Head of the Food Engineering Department. He worked at Albaath University in Homs City, Syria at the food engineering department from 2000 to 2015, and he held the position of head of department from 2006 to 2010. During that period, he offered his consultancy and education services to several flour mills in Syria. On another level, he worked as the executive manager of Alakhras Mill in rural Homs from 2009 to 2015. He is also the author of “Cereal Milling Technology” book in written in Arabic language.[/box]