Buhler in Brazil

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Posted in: , on 14. Feb. 2007 - 12:57

“ GRANDE MOINHO ARATU project ” Simply complete!

Once again, Buhler engineers have proved their high level of performance: They designed the Grande Moinho Aratu, a new, advanced, and fully automated food complex with port terminal, flour mill, cookie factory, and pasta plant in the northeast of Brazil.

Buhler engineers are accustomed to a lot of things when it comes to the design and construction of complex large-scale plants. But the order received from the Brazilian food group M. Dias Branco in the summer of 2002 was a particularly ambitious project: The contract provided for the construction of a turnkey production plant in the bay of Aratu, a suburb of the port city of Salvador in the state of Bahia. It includes a port terminal and flour mill as well as a pasta and a cookie (biscuit) factory. A total surface area of 344,000 square meters was available for building the “Great Mill of Aratu” (Grande Moinho Aratu).

Challenges galore

The project team from Buhler So Paulo faced special challenges in this venture. On the one hand, they had to cope with the unusual scope of the order. On the other hand, the project required complex coordination between the Buhler Milling, Grain Handling, and Pasta business units plus the ABB company, which were each responsible for their own plant sections. ABB was a consortium partner in charge of energy transformation and distribution. The contract also stipulated that Buhler be responsible for coordination of the entire vast construction site. As a result, the project team also kept an eye on the local companies involved in constructing the building shell. The new “Grande Moinho Aratu” facility was commissioned at the end of 2005 after step-by-step start-up of the various production processes and handed over to the Dias Branco family. Design and engineering of the entire food complex had taken 12 months, and construction and start-up another 28. The project team from Buhler included three project managers, eight milling plant engineers, electrical engineers, and four programmers. The two chief installation engineers supervised up to 110 people during installation work.

From port to port terminal

On the company’s own pier stands a Portalino 300. This mechanical ship unloader is capable of retrieving up to 300 metric tons of wheat per hour from ships with a size up to 40,000 DWT. From the Portalino, the wheat is transferred directly by a belt conveyor to the concrete bulk storage bins, which hold a total of 80,000 metric tons. Some of the wheat is also transferred through a loading pipe onto road vehicles.The flour milling section of the Grande Moinho Aratu facility consists of two independent cleaning systems with a capacity of 24 metric tons per hour each plus two flour milling systems with a capacity of 550 metric tons in 24 hours. The process flow charts of the two mills have been purpose-designed for making fine flour and achieving a maximum yield of bright flour for the company’s pasta production line. Inside the building, sufficient space is still available for accommodating a third mill.

Flour and bran bins

After grinding, the flours undergo final sifting on a plansifter. They are checked online and automatically blended on the basis of their ash values. The flours are then transferred to the flour storage bins. Following intermediate storage, three batch mixing systems produce customized flour blends tailored to specific products. This may also include – as required – the addition of microingredients and liquids. A pneumatic conveying system directs the appropriate raw materials to the pasta lines and the cookie factory. Products are packed by a six-spout bagging carousel and a high-speed bagging system for 1,250-kilogram Big Bags and then transferred by belt conveyors for loadout onto trucks. In addition, Grande Moinho Aratu is also equipped for bulk loadout of products and for packaging products into smaller-size bags. The byproducts are ground on a hammer mill. Fine and coarse bran are stored separately, bagged by a bagging scale and an auger packer, and loaded onto road vehicles.

Cookies and pasta

The new factory of M. Dias Branco in Aratu also includes a cookie (biscuit) factory and a pasta production plant. For cookie production, small storage bins are available for holding additives such as starch, specialty flours, sugar, oils, lecithin, and microingredients such as powdered milk, salt, flour improvers, chocolate powder, and emulsifiers. The processes of recipe formulation, supply of the dry solids to the kneader, and addition of invert sugar, water, lecithin, and malt are fully automated. Pasta in the northeast of Brazil is made mainly from bright soft wheat flours and egg powder. The pasta section of the Grande Moinho Aratu facility is also fully automated. Batch mixers prepare the flours. Actual pasta production is accomplished on two Turbothermatik systems with capacities of 3,500 kilograms per hour for long goods and 2,000 kilograms per hour for short goods. A special grinding system allows pasta scrap to be returned to the production line.

Centralized brain

The new Grande Moinho Aratu plant is special not only in terms of size and because of its combination of various processes. It is distinguished especially by its complete automation featuring process monitoring and retracing of materials. All process streams are monitored by scales in four interlinked control rooms located in the port terminal, the flour mill, the cookie factory, and the pasta production plant. The entire complex is controlled from a centralized location. The Buhler WinCos process control system controls and monitors the production processes, keeps statistics of bin contents, and guarantees process retraceability. The cookie dough fermentation times and the timely callup of the next kneading batch are also automatically monitored. The entire plant in Aratu can be remotely monitored from the corporate headquarters in Fortaleza. In the event of a power failure, an emergency power generating set will automatically cut in.

Follow-up order

The smooth handling of this large-scale contract prompted CEO Ivens Dias Branco to entrust the Buhler Grain Handling business unit with the expansion of the Aratu port terminal. The new contract comprises the equipment for the new soybeans export terminal with a receiving capacity of 1,000 metric tons per hour, a flat store holding 100,000 tons, and a mobile ship loader with a throughput of 2,000 tons per hour. The new port facility is to go into service as early as in May 2006.

M. Dias Branco

The M. Dias Branco group of companies is one of Brazil’s very large corporations and is considered to be the country’s largest pasta and cookie producer. The two group sections Adria and M. Dias Branco include a total of ten large production facilities in the eastern states of Brazil on the Atlantic coast plus a company for the construction of industrial and residential buildings and a hotel chain. Today, the group has a total payroll of about 6,000. The company was set up in 1927 by Manuel Dias Branco in Fortaleza. It is still privately owned by the Dias Branco family and is headed by President Ivens Dias Branco.

Buhler is a global Technology Group and a system partner for the supply of plant, equipment, and process know-how in the fields of Food Processing, Chemical Engineering, and Die Casting, with some 6,200 employees worldwide.

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