Mastering the art of milling: A comprehensive look into grain processing education

13 December 20237 min reading

In this article, we delve into the pivotal role of grain processing education, elucidating how comprehensive training equips millers with a spectrum of skills—from fundamental techniques to advanced equipment operation. Spotlighting esteemed global training institutions, we underscore the strategic significance of the milling sector, influencing careers and fostering entrepreneurial ventures within the continually evolving realm of grain processing.

Prof. Dr. Mustafa Bayram
Head of Department of Food Technology at Gaziantep University
TABADER Chairman of the Board

Human beings have developed various techniques for centuries to meet their nutritional needs by processing their food. One of these techniques is milling. Contrary to common belief, the beginning of the industry was not marked by steam engines but, in fact, by mills utilizing wind and water power. Therefore, mills represent Industry 0.0, the dawn of industry.

Milling is the art of processing plant products such as cereals into items like rice, bulgur, flour, semolina, starch, pasta, feed, glucose, pulses, cereals, extruded products, baby and adult products, bread, pastry, and heat-processed goods. This art began with the processing of grain, the fundamental component of the product, and evolved over time into the modern factories of today. Milling or grain processing education equips individuals seeking to understand the intricacies of this art with the necessary knowledge and skills.

Grain processing training is a crucial step for those wishing to enter the milling industry or build a career in this field. This course offers students the opportunity to comprehend and apply each stage of the milling process. Students gain practical experience in milling, sieving, cleaning, and other grain operations. Additionally, they specialize in this field by learning about the technologies and equipment used in modern mills.

Milling training is typically offered by institutions such as associations, private companies, technical schools, vocational high schools, or agricultural universities. These training programs encompass a blend of theoretical and practical courses. Students learn the theoretical foundations of the milling process while gaining hands-on experience in laboratories and fieldwork.

Within milling education, students are typically instructed in the following subjects:
Grain processing techniques: Basic techniques of milling, sieving, cleaning, and other processing of grain are taught. Students learn about different types of mills and which types are more suitable for specific grain types.

Mill equipment: Various equipment used in mills is introduced to students. They learn how mills operate and how to maintain and repair this equipment.

Quality control: Factors affecting product quality and quality control methods are taught. Skills to measure and analyze moisture, protein, and mineral content are developed.

Occupational health and safety: Potential hazards in the milling process and occupational health and safety measures are taught. Students understand and become aware of safe working practices.

Milling education offers graduates a variety of career opportunities. They can work in the milling sector and also find jobs in other sectors related to production. Since flour is a key ingredient in many food products such as bread, pasta, and biscuits, individuals specializing in this sector are consistently in high demand.

Grain processing training provides an important opportunity for those eager to learn the art of milling. Through this training, students gain insights into each stage of the milling process, develop technical skills, and explore career opportunities in the sector. Milling plays a vital role in the production of flour, the foundation of our food, and thus, training in grain processing offers significant value to those wanting to grasp the art behind flour.

These training programs cover topics such as basic milling processes, grain handling, quality control, equipment use, and maintenance. In addition to theoretical courses, students gain practical experience through activities like laboratory work and site visits.

Milling training furnishes students with a comprehensive understanding of each stage of the grain processing process. Basic techniques such as milling, sieving, cleaning, and other processes are taught, along with the types of mills suitable for different types of grain and their operations. Students become familiar with the equipment used in mills and learn how to maintain and repair it. They also gain insights into factors affecting product quality and quality control methods.

Graduates of milling education have various career opportunities. They can work in the milling industry, contributing to flour production. Additionally, they can secure positions in areas like food processing companies, bakery product manufacturers, and flour trading companies. Moreover, milling education can open entrepreneurial opportunities for graduates, guiding them on how to start their own milling business or manage an existing one.

Grain processing training presents a significant opportunity for those eager to understand the milling process. These training programs impart the basics of the art of milling and allow students to specialize in this field. Milling is a sector fundamental to food production, and grain processing training equips individuals with the necessary knowledge and skills to forge a successful career in this field.

The bulgur, flour, pasta, semolina, starch, feed, rice, and pulses sectors within the milling industry remain the largest sectors globally and in Turkey. These products constitute one of the most strategic product groups when considering the quantities grown and transferred globally and calculating the economic value of the sector. Approximately 30-40% of the world’s trade is based on these products.

Milling departments, established in developed countries for many years, also serve as excellent training centers for people from different countries. The opening of a more advanced version of these departments in Turkey, highly demanded by both existing sector personnel and young individuals interested in this sector, has created a highly strategic environment. The proposed department will be more comprehensive, addressing a wider sector than similar departments abroad.

Institutions that provide/ have provided regular education on milling products can be summarized as follows:

TABADER Academy: TABADER has been providing certified training on specified subjects in Turkey and internationally for many years. It particularly uses modules designed to cover special topics needed by the sector through an intensive training model. The Academy is a unit established within the structure of TABADER. It also organizes training sessions on new machines and technologies in collaboration with different machine manufacturers, playing a role in introducing new design and production machines to the sector.

Bühler Milling Academy: This academy is the most popular milling school in Switzerland. It offers a wide range of tailor-made milling training, including electrical, maintenance, hygiene, ATEX, and microbiology. In addition to wheat, it covers pasta, semolina, oats, and corn milling. 

Swiss Institute of Feed Technology: An institute providing education on feed and feed milling. 

Northern Crops Institute-USA (NCI): Students from over 100 different countries come to this institute. The school specializes in the characteristics of high value-added products, offering courses on barley processing, malting, feed processing, durum wheat processing, pasta, pulses, and sunflower processing. Practical training is provided in pilot plants.

Kansas State University (KSU) International Grains Program-USA: Established in 1978, this program teaches milling for grain and feed processing. Courses are also offered to grain traders, public and private sector personnel. Joint studies are conducted with IAOM, and there are also joint courses with Bühler.

UK Flour Millers: Every year, UK Flour Millers’ milling industry conducts seven modular courses to provide millers with an essential understanding and underpinning knowledge of the milling industry. The courses are studied by hundreds of students around the world and lead to the Advanced Certificate in Flour Milling.

Ocrim Milling Technology School: The courses held focus on specific topics and studies on flour, semolina, and cereals production and their chemical and biological peculiarities. Additionally, the general characteristics of a complete plant are analyzed to better understand overall activity. Issues discussed range from ordinary maintenance of a machine, resource management, and energy sustainability study to food safety and traceability.

International Association of Operative Millers (IAOM): It provides training on flour milling, hygiene, quality, HACCP, basic milling, advanced milling, and product transportation.

Grain Processing Academia: SATAKE provides joint training in Japan, the UK, and the USA.

Deutsche Müllerschule Braunschweig (German School of Milling):  One of the world’s leading milling schools. Graduates here receive certification as engineers from the EU.

University departments: Different structures within universities worldwide have milling departments. For example, in Turkey, specialists in this field are trained in universities in cities such as Gaziantep and Konya.

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