Bühler unveils latest bakery innovation with new UK site Whitworth Bros
Industrial equipment and systems group Bühler has delivered ‘a moment of transformation’ in flour milling for the UK bakery market, opening a state-of-the-art facility for Whitworth Bros, operating the Swiss company’s latest digital systems, writes Neill Barston.
The newly installed E3 mill includes over 15,000 data points collecting information on all aspects of the production process. It is the volume of data analyzed, as well as the application of blockchain technology, that will allow the most efficient, transparent and consistent production possible, and therefore the product of the highest quality.
The new factory (pictured below), built for the UK’s largest miller, Whitworth Bros, is located in the north of England at Whitley Bridge in Yorkshire. The opening of the first Mill E3 is a key step in the journey towards the SmartMill. The data generated and analyzed at the Whitley Bridge plant will lead to the evolution of grinding technology from the current data-assisted plant to a plant capable of using its own closed-loop process parameters to optimize production. This development of the self-adjusting mill will be the precursor of the SmartMill.
According to Roman Sonderegger, Head of the Wheat & Rye Business Unit at Bühler, the Mill E3 has now gone from a vision to a reality. The Whitworth Bros. plant is expected to impact the entire flour industry by redefining future digital services.
“This is a very important project for Bühler which allows us, for the first time, to collect so much new data on the milling process, while also giving us the opportunity to collaborate with Whitworth Bros. as we get closer to creating the SmartMill, ”says Sonderegger. “It is also critical to achieving our corporate goal of reducing energy, water and food waste in our customer value chains by 50% by 2025.”
The opening of Mill E3 is the culmination of nearly two decades of close cooperation between Bühler and Whitworth Bros. “We can report observations under real-time conditions in which we face customer expectations and production pressures. Operating and maintaining a factory is very different from building a factory.
An advanced concept
The concept of the Mill E3 is based on the idea of using a modular “plug and play” installation of milling equipment to reduce installation time by up to 30%. It also helps reduce construction costs by reducing the volume of the crusher. Factories can significantly reduce their operating costs with energy efficient equipment and full use of digital services.
The fully integrated Arrius grinding system, a key component of the Mill E3, offers reduced energy consumption, faster installation, as well as the highest food safety standards, reliability and optimum grinding performance. At the Whitley Bridge plant, Arrius grinding technology was used on a large scale for the first time.
“The wheat entering the mill is first checked by online sensors to establish its key parameters,” says Andrew Thomson, technical miller for Whitworth Bros. “But then the sensors in the Arrius recheck and control the feed distribution, allowing the grinding system to adapt again to the changing characteristics of the wheat at the time of milling. It is this unique use of sensor technology that ensures that the optimum grinding parameters are achieved at all times.
The layout of the crusher is designed for optimum performance with easy accessibility of equipment for maintenance. The pre-assembled and tested blower modules are designed for quick “plug and play” installation. They are housed in containers outside the building allowing the most efficient pneumatic transfer of product throughout the plant.