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“We will see IoT-equipped single person controlled flour mills“

13 December 201810 min reading

“When considered the last ten years of the milling sector, companies that invest in the research and development have improved and generated added-value. Almost all companies use energy efficient motors. Machines are being developed that carry out more effective cleaning in unit time while more ergonomic designs are being developed to lessen maintenance time of machines. In the coming period, we will see factories that need no lighting and are equipped with the Internet of Things (IoT), communication networks, sensors, and switches. A single person will control these factories in which devices will check the quality.”

Fatih ÖCAL Torku Flour Factory Manager

For our coverage on “smart solutions and future technologies in milling,” we want to talk with prominent producers of the sector and also professionals that use these machines and technologies while dealing with problems daily. At this point, we apply to Fatih Öcal that has experience in every stage from factory installation to commissioning, from raw material purchase to quality control, and from product development to flour production. He manages the flour factory installed by Torku that Anatolia’s abundance to dinner tables in Çumra. Having more than 15 years of experience in the sector, he graduated from the Flour Production Technologies from Konya-based Selçuk University and completed the Food Engineering at the Atatürk University. He worked at various factories as laboratory technician, R & D engineer, flour process field expert, and quality control chief. We talked with Fatih Öcal on Torku’s plans and the future of milling sector.

Mr. Öcal, can you talk about Torku Un and provide information on the factory you manage? We produce natural and plain flour since Torku’s priority is “customer’s health.” We are one of the most modern technology factories in Turkey. For the first time in Turkey, fire-resistant material is used in building this factory. The main target of our investment is to contribute to the sustainable agriculture in Turkey, primarily the Central Anatolia region.

Beside biscuit, wafer, cake production facilities, the new and technological flour factory, which will turn the wheat of the region farmer into flour, was commissioned in the last months of 2016. In the first stage, the factory produced various types of flour but now it met the raw material’s need for Torku Baked Goods, Biscuit, Cake, and Wafer Production Facilities. Torku Flour Factory that stands in the same place with facilities, which produce snack products of Torku, zeroed the delivery cost of flour. Thus, it contributed positively to other facilities.

The quality control and process control studies that start with raw material input and end with the control of the final product are carried out with meticulously in our state-of-the-art laboratory. All controls and analyzes are carried out with sensitively from wheat to flour transformation. Also, in accredited laboratories, validation analyzes are carried out and the sensitivity of quality control processes is increased.

Our facility produces the highest quality and reliable products as a requirement of “respect for human.” The facility, which has TSE ISO 9001 and 22000 documents, TSE documents in product groups, and brand registration, produces reliable products.

“WE WILL CLOSE AN IMPORTANT GAP IN THE INDUSTRIAL FLOUR PRODUCTION” Torku Flour Factory produces flour for biscuits and wafers, cake flour, and the whole wheat flour. The closed area of the factory, which is planned to be seven-storeyed, is 1585 square meters. The factory has 10 pieces of 250-ton wheat storage silos. 200 tons of wheat is processed daily. This factory was built with the logic of an integrated facility suitable for growth, and the capacity of the factory will be increased gradually. In addition to flour, bran, razmol, red, and wheat germ are produced as a by-product. The factory carries out special products based on product variety and produces the most quality product with minimum energy consumption.

The factory will close an important gap in the production of industrial flour and will sell its products to the market beside meeting the raw material need for Torku. Torku Flour Factory will also contribute to the supply of raw materials for biscuit factories in cities.

As far as I know, Imas has built the production line in the factor. Can you tell us about the advantages that this modern facility brings to you and the Torku Group? First of all, all technologies related to milling were investigated during the establishment of this facility. All details are discussed, and we reached the decision. In order to contribute to the domestic and national capital, we preferred domestic companies. Thus, we wanted to proceed with Konya-based Imas Machinery. In a short period of time, the machine assembly was begun while the factor was building, and the factory is put to use very quickly.

“NEW FACILITY PROVIDE SUSTAINABLE QUALITY TO US” The most important contribution of this modern facility is to provide Torku - a growing company - the sustainable quality that is one of the most important factors for growth. In other words, the most important input for products like biscuit, cake, and wafer is flour. If the standard and quality criteria of flour are not consistent, there will be a serious difference in the customer’s taste. For this, our priorities are the quality and the sustainability of the quality. One of the biggest advantages of this facility is that we can produce flour with different characteristics for each product. In addition to this, the flour factory zeroed the delivery cost of flour used in Torku’s integrated plant, and the flour factory contributed positively to other facilities’ management productivity.

One of the biggest contributions of Imas is that the company responds quickly for the service requests, and also it is open to the research and development studies with its customers.

What do you think the biggest problems faced by flour industrialists? If we talk about the biggest problems we faced, two important difficulties are noteworthy. The first one is raw material, and the second is the lack of qualified personnel.

For example, if we will talk about the flour production for a biscuit, unfortunately, the region in which the factory is located does not produce flour for a biscuit. That’s why we cannot use the advantage of being close to the raw material. Additionally, the yield of wheat types cultivated for biscuit ten years ago is too low per decare, and farmers do not cultivate the low-quality wheat because the increase of wheat price is too low; and those who produce this type of wheat act on the rationality that, “It is not worthy of money. I don’t want to spend money on its medicine and fertilizer.” So, we have a lack of raw material.

When we look at qualified personnel issue, there were milling departments at high schools twenty years ago. As a step forward, “Flour Production Technologies’ Department” was opened in universities. Unfortunately, this department at Konya Selçuk University was closed down in 2005, saying that there is no demand. In 2014, this department was reopened with the cooperation of Konya Necmettin Erbakan University and the industry. However, the number of registered students is low. Those who graduated from the department and developed their skills can find a job at the quality department of the flour factories. However, a problem for the production side that needs personnel persists. So, masters who spent years in the sector try to train unskilled people to meet the shortage. However, they do not improve themselves and believe what masters told them is enough.

What are your expectations from the machinery and technology companies that carry out production for the milling industry? In which areas do you need innovative solutions? When considered the last ten years of the milling sector, companies that invest in the research and development have improved and generated added-value. Let me give you few examples: Almost all companies use energy-efficient motors; quality parameters, instant efficiency monitoring, and factory operation are carried out by full automation systems; studies on color distinguishing devices like Sorteks are carried out. Machines are being developed that carry out more effective cleaning in unit time while more ergonomic designs are being developed to lessen maintenance time of machines. Machinery and equipment are manufactured in line with Occupational Health and Safety rules. Additionally, the companies that produce raw materials and end product quality control devices for the mill sector also develop devices such as NIT and NIR with high technology following the instant quality parameters built on lines.

The wheat once ground between two stones at wind or water mills is now produced automatically without human touch. Can you summarize the turning points of milling in this transformation process? In the past, we did not have so many people. So, there had not been a problem with grinding amount in unit time, and unfortunately, people did not have such richness in terms of diversity. They can make food out of ground wheat which mill provided to them. Now, there are factors such as the rapid increase in the population, the diversification of people’s needs, the desire to produce more products per unit time, food safety and hygiene concerns.

What do you think about future mills? What progress can be made in the sector? In this regard, there are studies in foreign countries and Turkey. I think in the coming period, we will see factories that need no lighting and are equipped with the Internet of Things (IoT), communication networks, sensors, and switches. A single person will control these factories in which devices will check the quality.

Where do you supply raw material? What are your criteria for procurement? If we talk about the flour production for a biscuit, Konya - grain silo of Turkey – produces the first class common wheat but does not cultivate the low-quality wheat. That’s why we procure wheat from Denizli, Kütahya, Eskişehir, Kırıkkale, Yozgat, Çorum, Kayseri, and Sivas where there are barren lands. Just like other kinds of wheat, we have quality criteria for wheat-for-biscuit like production type, moisture, hectoliter, protein, and sunn pest and foreign substances.

PLAN TO SELL FLOUR TO FINAL USERS AFTER CAPACITY INCREASE Can you tell us about Torku Un’s goals and plans? It is planned to increase the capacity of the factory, which is made with the logic of an integrated facility suitable for growth, in time. The factory will close an important gap in industrial flour production. Now, it meets the raw material demand of Torku Biscuit, Cake, Cracker, and Wafer Production Facility. But Torku Flour Factory will sell flour to the market and meet the raw material demand for biscuit factories in cities. The second plan is that when the capacity of the existing line is completed, the work for another line will start. So, we will introduce another type of flour to customers.

What can you tell us about Torku’s approach to the innovation and the research and development? As a requirement of “respect for human,” our facility produces the highest quality and reliable products, and the facility that has TSE ISO 9001 and 22000 documents, TSE documents in product groups, and brand registration produces reliable products. “Naturally from us”…

Turkey has accomplished great successes in the flour export. It alone meets one-third of the world’s flour export. What do you attribute the success of Turkey’s flour exports? Do you think this success is sustainable? I attribute this success to the efforts and dedication of those who set their heart into this. It is our greatest desire that this success increases incrementally. It is our greatest dream that Turkey will be a country that produces quality and healthy products to foreign countries and will not be in need. In order to increase this success, we have to work tirelessly, do more, and contribute more to have a country that stands on its feet and not submissive.

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