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Bühler’s new milling system set to become industry standard

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Temperature and Vibration Management System detects critical operational conditions early so millers can take timely action.

Bühler announced this week the global release of its Temperature and Vibration Management System (TVM) for milling. The system is connected to the Bühler Insights platform and provides essential information on the grinding process based on Bühler’s proprietary algorithms. TVM detects critical operational conditions early so millers can take timely action. Accurate management of the grinding process helps maintain the best product quality and consistency. Precise settings reduce energy consumption and product wastage. The launch of TVM represents another significant step towards the fully digitalized and automated SmartMill, the company said.

Flour mills today are under great pressure to deliver the best quality product efficiently, consistently, and with a minimum of energy consumption. Over the years, many improvements have been introduced to the industry, but the potential for tangible advances is not exhausted yet.

“Our digital services in combination with our industry expertise lift efficiency to entirely new levels and help millers and plant managers to further improve their mill’s performance. Until now controlling the grinding process has been very demanding and challenging. With Bühler’s Temperature and Vibration Management we know precisely what goes on in this important process,” said Johannes Wick, CEO of Grains & Food at Bühler.

Accurate data analytics replace guesswork

The new technology monitors temperature and vibrations inside the grinding rolls, the most important part of machinery in the milling process. To maintain quality and consistency it is essential to apply the same pressure along the rolls. Any deviation results in reduced quality and consistency of the flour. Up to now millers relied on trained personnel to manually check the rollers on a frequent basis and time-consuming laboratory analysis to prevent any deviation from acceptable operative parameters. With Bühler’s TVM, millers can rely on accurate measurements to adjust any imbalances in the grinding gap.

From sensor to sophisticated algorithm

The system consists of wireless sensors placed inside the rollers that connect to the Bühler IoT sensing device. It acts as the interface to the Bühler Insights gateway, which transfers data to the Bühler Insights platform for analysis. Temperature and vibration are measured at multiple points along the entire length of the rollers showing the temperature distribution and vibration patterns. This provides millers with detailed information on temperature imbalances side to side and middle to side and detects overheating. Imbalances indicate that parameter tolerances have been breached or winding occurs on the rollers. The process can be monitored remotely via a user-friendly interface on any device.

The benefits for operators at a glance are as follows:

  • Millers can detect critical operational conditions very early and take timely action
  • The system helps provide the best product quality and consistency
  • Accurate settings result in lower energy consumption and less wastage of raw materials
  • Precise process knowledge allows for recipe optimization
  • Data transparency makes it easy to compare the efficiency of production lines and entire plants
  • The entire service can be operated remotely via computer and smartphone interfaces
  • Preventing overheating of technology parts helps improve the safety of milling plants
  • Simplifying maintenance means less reliance on scarce skilled personnel

A tested service

The Willi Grüninger AG mill in Switzerland is a third-generation family-owned business employing 75 people. Six of the mill’s 17 passages are equipped with Temperature and Vibration Management provided by Bühler. Before the instalment of the service, every roll in each passage had to be checked by trained personnel in detail, especially after recipe changeovers.

“With TVM in place, it’s much easier to check the process and ensure that all parameters are set correctly. We now have a much deeper insight in the process,” said Philipp Marquart, head of Foodstuff at Willi Grüninger AG. “We were able to increase grinding efficiency, improve product quality and reduce energy consumption. Our staff is present at the mill for eight hours a day, but our machines keep running for another 16 hours. Whenever parameter tolerances are exceeded, personnel are alerted via the remote system and adjustments can be made from the comfort of their home.”

There are significant benefits for operating personnel too. For staff, the digitalization and automation of the plant represents a major simplification of processes and reduces maintenance times required in comparison to conventional systems. “With Bühler Insights I can be certain that the plant runs reliably without any malfunction, leaving me precious time to take care of my customers,” said Marquart.

Accompanying customers on the journey

With over 160 years of experience, Bühler has a deep understanding of the commercial as well as the technical challenges in the industry. Bühler engineers pioneered digital technology in the milling industry early on and this new service represents another step towards the SmartMill.

“As industry specialist, Bühler recognizes the importance of guiding customers so they benefit from cutting edge digital technologies,” said Alexis Noel, product manager at Bühler. With SmartCompanion, an additional service offered by Bühler, customers benefit from expert advice and get the most of the data obtained by TVM. In regular sessions, Bühler’s experienced teams interpret data and provide customers with tailormade advice.

Future developments

The TVM service is continuously developed further to maximize impact. Future features, for example, will include more advanced recommendations up to automatic adjustments based on recipes.

“The TVM service and its features are set to become a standard in the milling industry as the millers will be able to focus on their core activities and hand over the process stability to the algorithms,” said Alexis Noel.

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