The application of a preconditioner simplifies the process and cuts costs
Changes in consumer needs call for adjustments to the associated production processes. But finding the most suitable solution is not always immediately possible. The specialists from the Buhler Extrusion business unit have substantially streamlined the previous process for making Multigrain Flakes and improved its cost.
Compared with the production of “standard” breakfast cereals, the production of Multigrain Flakes requires a special process. The processing of flours, whole grains, rice, and other ingredients is not possible in a single process operation.
Expanded process with drawbacks
To meet consumers’ needs for Multigrain Flakes, the possibility of including rice has been added to the breakfast cereals production process over the past years. But because the grains have to be precooked for this purpose, a batch cooker has been included in the process. It precooks individual batches of grains in an extended process before they are intermixed in the extruder with the flours and other ingredients. However, this expanded process was found to have a number of drawbacks. Especially the separate cooking of the grains takes a very long time and cannot be interrupted or be controlled with high precision. The cooking process therefore dictates the entire production process. Other disadvantages include the high moisture degree during cooking, which necessitates energy-intensive intermediate drying, and the high capital cost of the batch cooker.
Combination with conditioner
In close cooperation with customers, the specialists from the Buhler Extrusion business unit have now found a way of substantially streamlining the grain precooking process. Instead of applying a drum precooker, an existing Buhler preconditioner was modified and integrated in the Multigrain process. In the conditioner, the grains are not precooked in batches, but continuously. This allows direct and continuous feed of the material to the final mixing stage inside the extruder. It takes only a few minutes for the material to pass through the machine, which is much less time than required by batch cooking. Moreover, the precooking process can be interrupted and modified whenever necessary. And finally, conditioning is done with a lower moisture content, reducing the energy requirement for drying. The entire precooking process is integrated in the fully automatic overall production process. This eliminates the need for separate operator attendance and reduces the associated costs. Together with the lower capital investment – a conditioner costs about half as much as a batch cooker – and the drastically reduced process costs, the new Buhler Multigrain process cuts costs significantly.
Excellent field results
The new Buhler Multigrain process was launched in 2004. Existing flaking systems can easily be upgraded to the new technology. Several producers in Europe are already operating different Multigrain systems. Customers’ responses are positive throughout. Christopher Rubin: “It has been worth the time and the patience for developing the new Multigrain process in our extrusion laboratory. Customers, who were initially very reluctant to believe in the benefits of the new process, are now enthusiastic about their new installations.” But Rubin also stresses the point that Buhler will, of course, also “continue to offer systems based on the traditional process using the batch cooker.” (bos)
Cornflakes have been part of the breakfast diet of nutritionally conscious consumers for decades. As the “Wellness” movement gains momentum, demand has also been rising over the past few years for breakfast cereals made from several grain varieties but including less sugar. Cereals producers have responded to this need by offering so-called “Multigrain Flakes”. The collective term “Multigrain Flakes” covers all combinations of different grain varieties. One important component of wholesome “Multigrain Flakes” is rice. It has a larger particle size than the other ingredients and is therefore easy to detect, documenting the “Multigrain Character”. (bos)
Flours, grains, sugar, and other ingredients are processed into Multigrain Flakes
For more information on the “Multigrain Process”, please contact:
Christopher Rubin, Market Segment Manager Cereals and Snacks,
Buhler AG, CH-9240 Uzwil, T +41 71 955 13 17, F +41 71 955 24 81
Further information for editors:
Detlef Janssen, Head of Corporate Communications, Bühler AG,
CH- 9240 Uzwil, T +41 71 955 33 99, F +41 71 955 38 51,