Rice mill uses integrated technology to optimise yield
Bühler has announced it will soon finish its integration of technologies that will optimise yield for rice millers.
The food processing equipment manufacturer said that the innovations, which use artificial intelligence and machine learning, can transform standalone technologies into one smart integrated system reducing waste and saving energy while providing a quality product.
The results could have a tangible impact on the entire value chain.
Challenges to overcome
The rice processing industry faces many challenges. Bühler said the growing global population and the rise of the middle class is driving up demand from consumers around the world who are increasingly quality conscious.
At the same time, rice processors must manage huge variations in input with ever fewer skilled operators. Meanwhile, wider society is looking to all industries to become more sustainable.
The company said it hopes to meet these challenges by connecting the optical sorter, whitener and sensors into an integrated system powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Bühler has defined the three quality parameters essential to the rice market: shine, smoothness and whiteness. These, together with the percentage of broken rice, determine the quality and price of the final product.
The RiceLinePro DROA sensor continuously assesses and keeps track of these characteristics in real time using complex machine learning algorithms. This not only standardises the process, minimising error and increasing consistency and reliability, but also reduces reliance on labour.
Bühler’s newest addition to its whitening technology, the Automatic Whitener DRWC, improves whitening performance through self-adapting whitening pressure. It also includes an overload protection mechanism and recipe setting options that can be accessed via a touchscreen.
Bühler’s DS-C Optical Sorter provides real-time product quality alerts that optimise the rice yield and adapt downstream processing technology settings.
Its product live streaming and replay are part of digitalised production reporting. For example, for a typical optical sorter, ejection spikes often result in the loss of good product. Bühler’s integrated digital solutions detect these spikes as they happen, drastically reducing product loss.
The monthly savings from increased visibility could be as high as US$15,000, Bühler said.
Together, the integrated technology provides mill operators with the insights they need to correctly adjust solution settings. Over time, the intelligent system can adjust autonomously.
The system is currently being tested at Riseria Taverne SA, a large rice mill in Switzerland.
Stefania Dolci, Head of Quality Assurance at the Swiss mill, said first results indicate significant cost savings, reduction in energy consumption and increased quality output.
“The new set-up consisting of digitally connected optical sorters, a whitener and RiceLinePro sensors has given us visibility across the entire process.”
In order to fully realise the benefits of integrated digitalised technology, a company must understand the data coming through these processes.
Bühler said it has invested considerably in data science with dedicated data science teams, as well as its in-house data platform, Bühler Insights.
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