Total Automation Leads To Reliable Milling

Total Automation Leads To Reliable Milling
Total automation, reliability and flexibility are all areas that can have a dynamic effect on any milling operation. A flour milling company found those three key areas to be critical for their solution to storage capacity and material handling needs.

When Harinas Elizondo, of Mexico City, Mexico began to operate on a larger scale, they were challenged with finding solutions to increase storage capacity and improve material handling, while also maintaining their daily milling production. Their search lead them to partner with Laidig Systems, the leader in custom-engineered automated reclaim systems, to design a complete unloading system for their dry bulk materials.

For Harinas Elizondo, the production process was similar to most major flour milling operations. Raw material such as wheat is brought in, where it undergoes the milling process to become flour, and then it is bagged and stored for eventual retail sale. During the milling process, a byproduct called bran is also produced, which increases the difficulty of material handling, due to the fibrous state of the material.

In Harinas Elizondo’s case, the process included both retail bagging and bulk truck loading of the bran for customers. The need for an automated process solution prompted Harinas Elizondo to contact Laidig Systems. 

Laidig met with Jose Iriso, Harinas Elizondo’s Chief Operating Officer, and his manufacturing team, to review the process constraints and to discuss solutions. Due to consolidations within the Mexican milling industry over the past 10 years, remaining mills needed to grow in scale to remain competitive. Where Harinas Elizondo had once been accustomed to taking care of storage and material handling the “old way,” continuing to do so would not have been cost effective-or the most efficient use of their team.

“We did things differently and the only way we knew how.  We had our people manually load the bran out of the storage bin.  We had a short amount of storage and it could take 24 hours of manpower to bag the bran.  This was not safe, easy or cost-effective for us at all.  We had to have a system/solution that would allow us to have 4 to 5 days of storage so that we could keep producing our flour and still have a place to store and move the byproducts.  We produce flour, and with that, we’re always producing bran.  We have to do it properly or we would be forced to shut down and that just can’t happen,” said Iriso.

Through discussion and long-term projection, the solution was presented. Laidig would provide Harinas Elizondo with three silo storage containers, one with a Model 4345 Cone-Bottom system, and two with Model 8330 Cone-Bottom system; all of which could carry ATEX/CE certification. These storage and material reclaim systems would provide consistent automatic loadout solutions for the bran byproduct, efficiently loading trucks at a faster rate than Harinas Elizondo had previously been able to realize.

With intentional application-specific design engineered into the Laidig Cone-Bottom reclaimers, the issues of silo bridging and facilitation of mass flow were all solved—while also providing true first-in-first out (FIFO) material distribution. This ultimately increased the overall quality of the bran stored. Together with the new silos, the reclaim systems could also resolve potential personnel safety issues, by creating a safe and easy service access point for employees to perform any maintenance. The Cone-Bottom design also decreased the potential for product infestation, which is often associated with flat-bottom silos, due to the access panels that are sometimes left unsecured. 

“This has been a very smooth transition for us. Laidig is a very organized company and everything is very well communicated to us.  We operate 365 days a year and 24 hours a day.  Having a working system is critical to our business and operation, so if a system goes down or if we need assistance, Laidig has field service technicians and people in place to assist us right away,” said Iriso.

“There are really two ways to look at our relationship with Harinas Elizondo and it’s based upon reliability and flexibility. They need to continue to produce flour or they shut down and lose money and jobs.  That can’t happen.  With increased storage and the ability to move the bran out of the silo, they have more flexibility in how they store their materials, how it’s unloaded, bagged and how they sell it,” said John Koorn, International Sales Manager for Laidig Systems.

As a result of the continued successful solution for Harinas Elizondo, the company was happy to partner with Laidig once again during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to expand their production capacity yet again.

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