Delivering customised rice solutions05/08/2013 Ben Deefholts heads sensor development for optical sorting at Bühler's London headquarters. Specialising in rice, he travels widely, speaking to rice processors about their specific requirements and challenges. He told us about a typical experience after a recent visit to Thailand. What knowlege can you share from your travels Ben?
Requirements differ between local markets and export. Even more so in different countries. The best way to make progress is to work in partnership with our customers to resolve their concerns in the most efficient way possible.
Can you give us an example?
Our discussions with millers in Thailand in 2011, revealed that they were facing increasing problems in meeting the more challenging quality requirements of the top export markets.
What were the particular challenges?
As well as changing requirements for the exported rice, the millers were also facing challenges from higher contamination rates and more subtle defects in the input product, effectively squeezing them from both sides.
How were you able to help?
During 2012 we worked closely with one of the leading exporters to understand the problems they were facing, which included purple defects and pale yellow grains. At the same time we developed new lighting configurations and sorting algorithms to optimise sorting performance. Among these was our new Crosshair Targeting technology, specifically designed to maximise rejection of defect grains and minimise rejection of good grains, particularly where the input contamination was high.
We also employed existing features of the sorter - Product Tracking and Auto-calibration - to track changes in the input and the lighting, and re-calibrate itself to maintain consistent output. These features are only available on Bühler sorters.
What impact did this have?
Combining existing capabilities with the new modifications tackled this processor's issues, which were specifically related to Thai rice. Extensive trials, lasting several months, confirmed this. The trial results showed significant, consistent improvements in accept quality, with concentrated reject levels, even at high capacities. As a result, this sorter delivered the right solution for the market and led to several large contracts for Bühler.
How would you summarise the lessons from this project?
This project showed what can be achieved if we work in partnership with our customers. New technologies were developed and improvements confirmed - all supporting the Bühler ethos; Innovations for a Better World.