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Maintenance and servicing are essential for a successful mill operation

09 July 20248 min reading

Olga Korzyuk
Business Development Manager
Milling Solutions
Bühler AG

Modern flour mills are complex plants that operate with great efficiency at a very high technical level – ideally around the clock. If even only one part of the production chain breaks down unexpectedly, the entire production process will be interrupted, which quickly manifests itself in unnecessary costs. Unexpected interruptions can be avoided with planned and professional maintenance. And various services are available for economic optimization of the mill. Bühler is at your side with the range of services it provides.

Efficiency in modern flour mills is driven by advanced technology and meticulous maintenance

Whereas back in the Middle Ages two simple millstones were used for grinding grain, nowadays ultra-modern mill systems are in use. With the change in technology, however, not only have the yield and quality of the flours improved enormously, but the demands on the operators have also increased. In addition, the economic framework conditions require the plants to operate as uninterruptedly and trouble-free as possible. Every unexpected downtime and any even slight reduction in yield costs money.

Comprehensive portfolio of services

This makes it clear that timely maintenance and careful servicing are the cornerstone of stable, reliable, and therefore cost-optimized production. But are the necessary specialists available? Can the miller even afford an unexpected downtime of his mill? How can production costs be optimized? The service specialists at Bühler have the right answer to all these questions. Together with the miller, they put together a customized service package from Bühler’s comprehensive portfolio of services. When you think of “maintenance”, the first things that come to mind are roller overhauls, sieve tensioning or bearing lubrication – but there is considerably more involved! And why wait so long until there is a real “logjam” somewhere? Maintenance that is only reactive, results in longer downtimes, puts the whole team under pressure and costs a lot of money. How can that be avoided?

Maximize yield with RollDetect

Timely roller overhauls can reduce energy costs, reliably maintain product quality, and prevent mechanical damage. But what does “timely” mean here? Each miller will answer this question differently, depending on individual experience and upon how finely that person’s fingers are “tared.” Management, however, expects an objective answer based on facts. This is where RollDetect comes in: The corrugation profile is detected by a small tactile sensor and recorded graphically; the roller wear is then evaluated, and the miller receives a recommendation on the optimum time for roller overhaul. A constantly high yield is thus achieved, while operating costs are reduced. Thanks to this service, the yield can be increased by an average of 0.8 to 1.2%.

rollDetect: roller profile measurement for maximum performance


Product quality begins with the correct sieve tensioning

As every experienced miller knows, the quality of the sieves has a direct influence on the quality of the product. It is often, however, forgotten that the correct tension is an important success factor. A sieve tension that is too low can lead to a reduction in throughput of up to 20% and a loss in yield of up to 4%. It is therefore worthwhile in any case to invest in a regular and quality sieve tensioning service.

Cost reduction thanks to efficient energy optimization

The subject of energy costs is increasingly important nowadays. Every mill operation tries to monitor and reduce its energy consumption. Assistance in optimizing energy consumption is one of the most frequently used services from Bühler. Bühler’s experts understand “efficient energy optimization” to mean not only the replacement of old motors with more energy-efficient ones, but also the optimization of technological processes, the adaptation of automation and much more. The specialists from Bühler have already previously succeeded in reducing the energy consumption of a mill by up to 20% in several cases!

Product quality begins with the correct sieve tensioning

Customized solutions for modern challenges

The “mill doctor”, an experienced head miller who checks the system and helps to get it back into shape, is very well-known in the industry. But nowadays, the “doctor” faces much more complex challenges than he was confronted with just a few years ago. It is not only necessary to check the technical state of the mill. It is also about possible ways to improve performance, or new nutritional trends that represent a new market for innovative milling products. The industry must also deal with increasingly demanding standards regarding personnel, machine, and food safety, in addition to ever stricter laws on sustainability (CO2 emissions) and requires support in doing so. Bühler provides in this situation a customized service package tailored to individual challenges. The mill doctor arrives with a team of experienced and skilled personnel to do a mill assessment.

The environmental evaluation service from Bühler: A step in the direction of sustainability’’

Bühler supports its customers on the path to greater sustainability with its “Environmental Impact Service.” This service not only records the current state in terms of environmental compatibility (company footprint according to the GHG protocol, product footprint according to ISO 14067), but also develops strategies for reducing emissions on this basis. Matthias Karrenbauer, Business Manager for Production/Technology at Roland Mills United GmbH & Co KG, says: “Only if we know our own status quo can we exploit our potential, compare ourselves with suppliers and customers in the value chain and continue to improve.”

Product quality begins with the correct sieve tensioning

ProPlant – all around the maintenance

One hour of unexpected downtime can result in costs of up to CHF 10,000 for a modern flour mill. With planned and timely maintenance, these kinds of unexpected breakdowns can be avoided. But how do we schedule “timely” maintenance? Instead of huge Excel spreadsheets with countless individual tasks, complicated overviews, etc., Bühler’s ProPlant application offers a maintenance and management tool for everyone who performs maintenance work: Before and after photos, description, localization, automatic debiting of used spare parts from stock, reporting of faults, etc. ProPlant is a program for PC and smartphone that supports all those who plan maintenance work, manage the spare parts warehouse or are responsible for quality. ProPlant stores and processes all documents (contracts, invoices, certificates, drawings, instructions, etc.) and enables smooth audits to be carried out. This is comparable with the driving assistant in a car: ProPlant alerts the plant operator in time of all pending maintenance tasks so that nothing is forgotten, and the plant is always in its optimum condition. ProPlant also allows maintenance to be tracked precisely. ProPlant comes pre-installed with the delivery of the plant and relates to all maintenance checklists. This means that maintenance can begin right away. And if desired, a lot more can be integrated into the system in addition to the actual system, such as forklifts, fire extinguishers or laboratory equipment. One milling company in Mexico was able to reduce unexpected downtimes by 0.3% – with new personnel and directly with the right maintenance at the right time – and thus save over CHF 1 million per year.

From traditional to digital: Smart solutions from Bühler

Our everyday lives have become unthinkable without our smartphones. There are applications that support us in numerous life situations: Stop smoking, eat healthier, exercise more, etc. What applies to the body also applies to milling plants. Bühler provides digital solutions for the monitoring of machinery status and energy consumption, a system for quality management, a program for error and downtime analysis and much more. 

An outstanding example is the “Temperature and Vibration Management” (TVM) service for milling rollers. Experienced head millers can tell by the sound that something is not right, and which machine requires particular attention. Their hands are “tared” to recognize temperature deviations. But even the best head miller cannot permanently monitor every single roller mill. Special temperature and vibration sensors can take over this function. The operating state is continuously analyzed, and before a mechanical problem or deviations with respect to product quality or yield can arise, a warning signal is issued as needed. The dashboards with warning functions play a central role here. They visualize the development of the important parameters and warn the miller as soon as the actual value deviates from the setpoint – and does so 24/7/365! This enables the miller to prioritize his tasks, concentrate on what is most important and thus work more efficiently.

Global “All-round service”, thanks to the global network at Bühler

Successful milling production is closely connected with regular maintenance and servicing measures. Modern flour mills work efficiently at a technically high level, but failures can result in considerable costs. Planned maintenance makes it possible to avoid these, and economic efficiency can be improved. With around 700 service engineers at around 105 service stations worldwide on six continents, Bühler provides a comprehensive service offering. Overall, maintenance and servicing are critical for successful mill operation, and Bühler provides solutions for meeting these requirements and increasing productivity.

For more information, visit Bühler's website at 

www.buhlergroup.com.

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