Phoenix arises from the ashes

08.05.2007 Fire destroys, but fire also creates the breeding ground for new life. Thus arose a state-of-the-art flour mill with a capacity of 150 metric tons per 24 hours from the ruins left after a fire devastated the Minoterie du Château flour mill in the French town of Ernée. Fire alert in Ernée, a small town in the French Département Mayenne! A fire had broken out in the historical Minoterie du Château flour mill on the night from February 26 to 27, 2005. The fire fighters of the town, located just 300 kilometers west of Paris in the Pays de la Loire region, were powerless. The flour mill, over a century old, was completely destroyed. On the day after the disaster, all that had been left were charred walls and a few parts of the once proud flour mill. The town with a population of just under 6000 was shocked, since the Minoterie du Château was one of the few local industries.

Reconstruction study
The owners quickly regained their composure: Thierry Vallée, Managing Director and representative from the Vallée family, and the representatives from the Coopérative CAPL did not hesitate. The Vallée family have owned the mill for several generations, and CAPL holds a stake majority in the mill. A few days after the conflagration, they commissioned a study to define the technology and profitability of a completely reconstructed facility to replace the ruined flour mill. The prestudy, created together with the engineering company Bourbon & Martino, was to detail a state­of­the­art flour mill design based on the latest knowledge.

Fast permit granting
The study was available in June 2005, and the owners decided to build an entirely new mill. At its heart is a grinding system with a processing capacity of 150 metric tons of soft wheat per day. Soon, the first agreements were reached between Thierry Vallée, the representatives from Bourbon & Martino, and the milling specialists from Buhler Paris. At the end of December, Buhler was awarded the contract for supplying the new mill. At the same time, the authorities granted all the required permits for putting the project into practice. The unusually short project approval time of merely six months demonstrates the support that the Minoterie du Château enjoys in the region.

Convincing capabilities
The contract was awarded to Buhler on the basis of its excellent track record as a decades­old supplier of flour milling equipment to the Vallée family. Thierry Vallée: “The efficient and dedicated local Buhler organization and the vast engineering and process expertise of its employees were decisive for awarding the contract to Buhler.” Vallée mentions additional reasons for choosing Buhler as a supplier, for example the cutting­edge quality of Buhler’s equipment such as the NEWTRONIC roller mill and the SIRIUS plansifter. After all, he says the family had more than once experienced the reliability of the Buhler staff in Paris as well as its exceptionally fast responses.

The project for the new Minoterie du Château flour mill includes the following plant sections: wheat storage bins, precleaning section, cleaning system with a capacity of 12 metric tons per hour, the grinding system with a capacity of 150 tons per day, plus storage bins for holding the various flour types.

Tight schedule
The mill builders from Buhler had exactly six months’ time to fulfill the high expectations of their customer. This was because the contract, signed at the end of 2005, stipulated that the new flour mill be started up at the end of June 2006.

Special projects call for a special project organization. In order to meet the schedule targets, the people in charge of the project at Buhler drew on all the resources available to them. The engineering team headed by Jacques Urban received procurement support from their colleagues at Buhler Milan, Italy. The individual mill sections were installed on site in cooperation with a local company based a mere 50 kilometers from the construction site. Last, not least, Buhler headquarters in Uzwil delegated a chief erector to supervise the erection and the construction site.

Start­up within record time
The tried­and­tested Group organization enabled Buhler Paris to meet the challenge. All the scheduled dates were observed, installation work was completed without a glitch, and start­up was accomplished within the record time of 48 hours – with the required capacity and quality being achieved right away. This allowed the flour mill to be commissioned on schedule at the end of June.

A mere 16 months after the devastating fire of February 2005, the Minoterie du Château had arisen like the fabled Phoenix from the ashes and was up and running again.

The heart of the new flour mill, the roller mill floor. The heart of the new flour mill, the roller mill floor.