Success with master plan15.10.2008 A jointly created master plan forms the basis for renewing the flour mill of Koopmans Meel B.V. in Leeuwarden in Holland. A plant remodel designed to secure the company’s future: The owners of the Dutch flour mill Koopmans Meel B.V. in Leeuwarden could choose after the turn of the millennium either stagnation or progress, and they opted for a forward strategy. Today, Koopmans is the number two in the flour milling industry of the Netherlands.
The grain milling experts of Buhler Uzwil and the Buhler branch office in Brussels created a master plan together with the customer’s team headed by the new director of Koopmans Meel B.V., Minne Dijkstra. The goal of the plan was to ensure that the Koopmans flour mill would be completely modernized within ten years in order to meet the market requirements in terms of product quality and variety and to ensure the company’s competitiveness. The three existing mills (soft-wheat mill, rye and buckwheat mill, specialty flours mill) are to be modernized by new milling installations. Niek den Oudsten, in charge of the Koopmans project in his capacity as Buhler Benelux area sales manager, remembers: “The goal was clear. We were to develop a plan for the step-by-step construction of a state-of-the-art and largely automated mill on the existing premises in Leeuwarden. In addition, the new facility was to operate with lower energy consumption and with efficient manpower employment.”
Starting with the grain receiving section
The owner families gave the go-ahead in 2003 for executing the jointly created master plan. The implementation stage thus started. In an initial phase, the grain receiving (intake) section was redesigned and its efficiency was increased. First a new ship intake section was built, followed by the grain cleaning system. In addition, the entire grain receiving and storage section was automated by the Buhler WinCos control system. Completion of this first stage ensures that the various grain varieties are optimally received, cleaned before storage, and stored separately on the basis of quality parameters.
Conditioning prior to grinding
The second section to be modernized was the processing stage directly downstream – the dampening and tempering system. Here, the grain stored in the bins is blended exactly as specified by the quality targets and then mixed, dampened, and thus conditioned for the actual grinding process. The conditioned grain is then held in the production or tempering bins before grinding. As in the receiving section, also the equipment here was integrated in the WinCos control system.
Creating ideal conditions for the new mill
With the completion of the second remodeling stage of the main cleaning section, the conditions for the most important part of the rebuild – the construction of a new grinding system – were only partly fulfilled. “As an intermediate stage, we still had to reorganize the special cleaning system for the two existing, smaller grinding lines,” explains Niek den Oudsten. For this purpose, a number of dampening bins had to be moved and were, of course, at the same time overhauled.
Knowing that the new mill with its additional products also meant that these flours would have to be handled, stored, blended according to customer requirements, and shipped, the project team also overhauled and modernized the flour storage and handling section. The patent flour blending system was updated, the capacity of the transfer line to the bulk load-out section was increased, and bottlenecks were eliminated. The special focus here was on ensuring product safety. On the basis of a quality assurance concept, final sifters, metal-detection, and sterilators were incorporated. Den Oudsten: “Updating on the one hand enabled the efficiency and performance targets of the flour storage and handling system to be achieved, and on the other hand also allowed a higher level of flexibility in product variety and product safety.”
New grinding line
In 2006, work started on renewing the heart of the new flour mill. In the space created by numerous preparations, a new mill building was constructed where an old elevator (silo) once stood. It incorporates a state-of-the-art softwheat mill. The heart of the new grinding section is the roller floor with its ten Antares roller mills – four eight-roll stands and six four-roll stands. In order to further reduce the energy consumption of the new mill, the latest pneumatic conveying system was installed and new single-motor drives were selected for the eight-roller mills. In addition, the new grinding system is equipped with Sirius sifters incorporating the new NOVAPUR sieve generation with wood-free sieve frames. The flour quality is continuously controlled by the newly developed Diode-Array MYRBNIR online checking unit. Den Oudsten: “The new Koopmans grinding system complies with the Buhler ‘New Art Of Milling’ standard.” Of course, also this section was integrated in the centralized WinCos control system of Koopmans.
Intermediate goals achieved
Together with the construction of the new soft-wheat mill, the flour storage and homogenizing processes in the flour silo were also reorganized. The plant overhaul was taken as an occasion to switch homogenizing of all flours to the partial homogenizing method in the start-up bins. The bins of the existing mills were rebuilt in the same manner. “In this rebuilding stage, we also realized the automatic building ventilation system with air make-up for the final construction stage. What remains for us to do now is to integrate the reorganized flour bins in the WinCos control system,” says Niek den Oudsten. “Then we will have achieved our intermediate goal.”
Ahead of schedule
As yet, implementation of the master plan for modernizing the Koopmans mill in Leeuwarden still awaits completion. But rather than pausing, the people in charge want to tackle the next steps. “Actually, the master plan has been designed for a period up to 2012,” explains Niek den Oudsten. “But the work that has been done so far has had a very positive impact in the marketplace, allowing Koopmans to increase its sales. Customers’ commercial success has grown along with the modernization of the mill.” The new reality has convinced the management of Koopmans that innovation is the right way to face the future and is looking for further improvements. It is not without pride that Niek den Oudsten adds: “It is an enormous pleasure for my project team to see our customer’s satisfaction with the expanded and remodeled flour milling facility. The new, largely automated mill achieves a higher output and reduced operating costs. And for us, our customer’s success is the most important motivation factor.”