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Buhler installs automated rice storage system

09-Jun-2004

Buhler has installed a fully automated bulk storage system at a Swiss rice processing plant, a move designed to double the site's capacity.

The new finished-product storage system, which features 25 stainless steel bins, serves for the intermediate storage of the various rice types during ten to twenty days before the rice is packaged. The bins are eleven metres tall and have a diameter of almost three metres and are capable of holding a total of 900 tons of rice.

In order to achieve necessary quality standards, a Buhler pneumatic pressure conveying system was installed for handling the material. Its variable conveying capacity and pressure are automatically matched to the specific material to be handled.

This, claims Buhler , makes the pneumatic pressure conveying system an excellent alternative to elevator legs, belt conveyors, and bucket conveyors as a means for ensuring gentle material handling. The equipment provider believes that the new system with its low space requirement, high ease of maintenance and operating reliability along with its rigorous hygiene standard satisfy the customer's specific needs.

The new facility is characterised by its low maintenance requirement and the virtually unlimited routing flexibility that its pneumatic conveying system offers.

The extension at the Coop cooperative's Brunnen rice mill was achieved by incorporating a concrete partition in the silo building. The newly gained production area of 1,000 square metres offers space within a single room for all the packaging equipment plus the catering section.

The Brunnen rice mill is what is known as a cargo rice mill. It refines the cargo rice - also called brown rice - it receives as a raw material into white rice. The state-of-the-art facility operated by Brunnen processes 55 metric tons of rice a day.

Almost all commercially available rice varieties are whitened andpolished. In the whitening process stage, the aleuron layer and the germ are removed. Then the rice surface is upgraded by polishing it with the aid of a controlled volume of water, resulting in top product quality.

The end product is called white rice or polished rice. With the exception of wild rice, all rice varieties are polished. Polished rice has a longer shelf life, and its taste and fragrance are intensified during the process.

Though Switzerland is not a traditional rice growing country, it does have two domestic rice mills. One of them is the rice mill in Brunnen, which was established in 1956. It is operated by the Coop cooperative,Switzerland's second-largest retailing chain.

Over 45,000 employees work in some 1,600 Coop stores. Coop claims to be highly committed to marketing ecological and fairtrade products.

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