Times have changed: The mill goes to the wheat to make flour

22 April 201913 min reading

The Mill Truck that was launched in IDMA Exhibition became the outstanding product. The Mill Truck has been designed by Intermilling and Kastenmüller. A German and a Turkish company invested in long R&D efforts to design The Mill Truck. “Visitors showed a great deal of attention to our mobile mill and it was sold to an African country, Zambia in the first day of the fair. The Mill Truck can be mounted on a trailer and have a production capacity of 24 tons of flour. We have received three orders from Turkey and abroad. The Mill Truck can be easily deployed and operated in war or disaster regions in order to prevent food insecurity. It can meet bread need of 65 thousand people. We used to take the wheat to the mill in order to obtain flour but The Mill Truck makes just the opposite,” says Rıdvan Karaküçük, Co-founder of Intermilling.

Rıdvan Karaküçük
Hitit Makina-İntermilling Co-founder

Hitit Makina and Intermilling represent ambition and success of two young entrepreneurs who entered this industry as employees in 1992. Rıdvan Karaküçük and Ali Avcu started their business in 1995 in Corum, a Central Anatolian city with Hitit Makine. They started operations in the milling industry with plansifter manufacturing. Their ultimate goal was to have an internationally known brand and they focused on the European market. Rıdvan Karaküçük, one of the co-founders of Intermilling introduced innovations to the industry in a short time. Karaküçük gave an interview to the Miller Magazine and talked about their journey from plansifter manufacturing to turn-key facilities in Turkey and abroad. He says that the company also plays role in capacity increase projects, roller manufacturing, factory maintenance, spare part supply and automation applications. As a result, they made their way to the German market as one of the most preferred brands. Karaküçük stressed that they continue to develop high quality and cost effective machinery and equipment for millers in order to accompany them during their taste journey for flour and bakery products.

Rıdvan Karaküçük also highlighted the importance of their new products; The Mill Truck and Vario Mill-S. According to Karaküçük, those products which were designed by Intermilling and Kastenmülller jointly, will give great impetus to the industry. Here are questions of our editors and Karaküçük’s responses:

Mr. Karaküçük, kindly please give us brief information about Hitit Makine and Intermilling. First of all, I would like to thank you for this interview. Hitit Makine started its operations in 1995 with plansifter manufacturing. This machine is the vital equipment for production of wheat flour which is among the main staples of humankind. We concentrated on domestic market between 1995 and 2001. But our goal has been penetrating into the world markets since the very first day. We followed latest technology and know-how in the world and achieved higher standards of production. Our first export operation was realized in 2001 from Hitit Makina. In early years, we were manufacturing plansifters. Now we realize capacity increase projects in Turkey and abroad and we are also active in roller manufacturing, factory maintenance, spare part supply and automation applications.

Our most challenging target was the European market which is hard to penetrate but it helped us much to grow our business. The European market’s competition is not so harsh but is demanding in terms product quality and standards.On the other hand, these years were difficult for Turkish companies to export their products. And Turkish firms were like closed books in the eyes of foreign investors. They were no-name companies. Despite this, we achieved successful exports until 2011. But a Turkish name and brand has a disadvantage to be remembered easily in the European market. We created Intermilling brand with Germany based Kastenmüller company. We had a years’ long partnership with this company. Kastenmüller does not have a manufacturing unit. Therefore our production center is in Turkey while management offices and R&D center are in Germany.

We introduced Intermilling in the international arena in 4 or 5 years via events and innovations. We realized university-industry partnership in Germany with German Milling School (Deutsche Müllerschule Braunschweig) with Kastenmüller’s contribution. In Turkey, this kind of partnership is also on the agenda but remains unfulfilled. But in Germany, it gave its fruits as Mill Truck which is a successful example of university-industry partnership in Europe.

Would you please tell us the story behind the Mill Truck? All started with a brainstorming session. Humankind always carried the wheat into the place where he will grind it. To stone mills, mortars, water mils etc. Then industrial mills came up and wheat were carried there. That’s to say carried element has always been the wheat. We speculated about the possibility of just the opposite and this brainstorming session brought us this innovation. We had electronic drawings of the project made various programs. But when we presented these drawings, everybody asked to see the product itself. So we decided to realize the project as soon as possible. We started to manufacture the prototype in 2018 August. It should be a product with a size and a weight that can be carried by a standard truck on roads that do not require special permissions or escorts. We requested offers from trailer companies but unfortunately we could not get a satisfying offer from Turkish firms. As a result we were forced to turn to Germany.

We made the debut for The Mill Truck at IDMA fair. We made the launching here because IDMA is not only a Turkish fair but it also has established itself as an international marketplace. We are much satisfied with the number and diversity of visitors. This trade fair was much better than we had expected. The Mill Truck was on the spot. The organizer of the exhibition gave us “Project innovation award of IDMA 2019”.

How was the interest to the Mill Truck? It was the star of the trade fair. It created great excitement. In addition to that, various usage purposes came up that we had not thought about.

For example? For example, we started this project for emergency responses for regions of crisis, war or famine. But our visitors showed us other possibilities like hard to reach areas where local wheat farmers can bring their products to mills only with great efforts and costs. This makes impossible for them to compete. This project may help those farmers to return to agricultural activities and may solve the problem to transport the wheat to mills and then the flour back to those hard to reach areas. Now we have various ideas and new marketing areas to search for thanks to IDMA fair. What were other comments from your customers about the Mill Truck? Of course, there were many demands to modify it with specific production needs. We can meet those demands provided that structure of the truck do not change. Now we have some revisions. We started this project to help people in emergency situations and we had decided to do this with high quality flour. Our Mill Truck has a capacity of grinding 1 ton of wheat in an hour. That means, we can produce flour from 24 tons of wheat in a day. Our yield rate is 75% and ash rate is 0,58%. We can also make modifications to produce whole wheat flour and rye flour. Producing corn flour may also possible with tiny modifications. We had only one concept about The Mill Truck but it seems we will have 3 or 4 different versions.

How many people can be served with the Mill Truck in disaster areas? It depends of the consumption. In Turkey, average flour consumption is 300 grams/day. If we make prediction on this figure, a Mill Truck producing 20 tons of flour a day can meet bread demand of a town with 65 thousand people. Our product relies on generator power instead of electrical network. This feature makes it a great choice for emergency. You know, there are mobile bread factories on trucks. If those two trucks are sent to disaster areas, there will be no problem about bread. We do not manufacture for bread making machines but there are companies in Turkey manufacturing those machines.

Is The Mill Truck the first product of its kind? Similar projects were tested before like simple models put on tractors. But what we have done is to compact technologies in a regular industrial facility on a truck. In other words, we mobilized a real industrial mill. We offer a product that cleans, tempers, conditions and grinds the wheat. So it is safe to say that this is really an innovation.

Which markets showed interest in this project? We received requests from Americas after our social media campaign and IDMA fair meetings. Africa also payed great interest. I expect that Africa and Americas will be our main targets for the product. We sold the Truck Mill presented in IDMA to an African country, Zambia, in the first day of the fair.

Are rollers mounted on the truck the same with rollers in a regular mill? Or do you manufacture special rollers for this project? No, they are regular rollers. But we compacted electronic elements. We do have electronic controls but we the number of manual elements are higher. Because it may be difficult to find spare parts and repair-maintenance personnel in disaster areas. In addition to this, electrical and mechanical elements are so robust that breakdowns will be rare. I can assure you that we had a long research and development period for this project. What about energy and oil consumption? Those features are not included in the concept yet. The customer will decide on alternatives like using a generator or producing electricity from the truck or supplying electricity from a source out of The Truck Mill. We can modify the product according to needs of customers. They will decide on the source of the energy.

What are the main advantages of the Truck Mill? The Truck Mill provides a high flexibility in crisis or war areas that have unforeseen conditions. It is a plug and play facility. You can make it ready for operation in a short time and it does not require a building or licensing. It is cost effective and efficient. It has a flexible diagram with various grains and it enables good cleaning and planning. It can be controlled and operated easily and it has high energy efficiency.

What is the delivery time after receiving an order? We have already sold our first Truck Mill. We have new orders now. We can deliver this product 45 days after receiving the order. We are in touch with local trailer manufacturers. We hope that we can find a manufacturer in Turkey to obtain the trailer we need. This will help us to shorten the manufacturing period and to decrease costs.

Is it successful enough to meet hygiene standards? It already exceeds Turkish standards of hygiene. Our machinery uses the technology of European standards. We use certified food grade inks.

Turkey is an earthquake-prone country. We are also geographically close to the Middle East where countries are mostly in trouble. Have you had any orders from Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency or international relief agencies? We made some presentations based on electronic drawings but they were not so effective since they had some reservations about realization of this project. When we launched the product at the trade fair, experts from Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency inspected the machine and we updated them. We hope that they will give a positive response. Agriculture and Rural Development Support Institution also came and I can say that there are good signals.

Muhammed Akatay, General Manager of the Parantez Group, gave a plaquet to Intermilling and Kastenmüller, co-producers of the Truck Mill project, which attracted attention with its innovative pattern at IDMA Exhibition. Cuneyt Kalkan, Commercial Director of the Intermilling, received the plaquet on behalf of the company.

Is it possible for an investor novice to the industry to become a miller thanks to The Truck Mill? It is definitely possible. We give a 2-week training for operating personnel for our machinery. The system is extremely simple and easy to use. It is not complicated with electronic circuits. It is mostly a mechanic device so operating is very easy if you follow procedures. The truck driver may even be the miller.

Does the mill continue to work when the truck is on the go? Unfortunately not. We can not produce flour when the truck is moving. Because we do not have a storage for products. And the sifter machine can only work on stable platforms. Production in a moving truck may be possible with a more advanced technology. Our approach is based on carrying the mill to the wheat in this concept.

Do you have other innovations? We designed a system called Vario Mill-S to be used in industrial mills. We have obtained international patent for this product. We developed this system after 5 years’ research and development. We applied this system in more than 20 factories in Germany. We obtained satisfying results which may break grounds in milling industry. Cycle rates are limited with 1/3 in traditional rollers. When you want to increase reduction rates, diameters of gears can not be fit in roller bodies. When you need to change drums, personnel should spend a significant amount of time. Vario Mill-S enables roller balls to be increased or decreased independently from each other so that cycle rates may be changed between different levels from 1/1 to 1/6. We will also present this innovation in the coming period. This innovation is a result of Turkish-German partnership. It will be a system to be used in industrial facilities all over the world. We spent significant amount of sources for research and development. We have not receive any support for this innovation. We have used our own resources. The production is based in Turkey. Product development is being made in Germany. We will launch Vario Mill-S at Turkish Flour Industrialists’ Congress which will take place between 25 and 28 April, 2019 in Antalya.

Herrn Franz Schmid Intermilling- Kastenmüller Sales Manager: Are you happy with the launch of the Truck Mill at IDMA Exhibition?

Sure. There were visitors from approximately 30 countries. Especially, African countries payed a great interest. We will have live presentation in the next event. Our target is war and crisis regions. For example, larger mills in Syria were destroyed because of war. People still grow wheat during armed conflicts but they can not make this wheat into flour. This project is vital for war areas like Syria. We don’t want to see victims of war consuming low-quality flour. They have the right to access high-quality and healthy flour. As a result the Truck Mill is a great innovation in our point of view. Vario Mill-S is also a groundbreaking solution for mills.  
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