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FOOD


How will the world feed 10 billion people by 2050 with no new land for agriculture? Greg Blackman speaks to machine builder Bühler about how optical sensing can maximise yield in grain processing


Every grain counts I


n 2018, the USA grew 392.5 million tonnes of maize, roughly a third of the world’s maize production. A lot


is used for animal feed, some for human consumption, and now, increasingly, much is being turned into ethanol for biofuels. Te milling process – to grind maize into


different products – is complex, industrial in scale, and finely tuned to maximise the yield produced from each tonne of maize. An average mill in the US can reach a throughput of 1,000 tonnes of maize per day, Juste Hahne, product manager at Swiss firm Bühler, told Imaging and Machine Vision Europe. Bühler builds machines to sort and


process maize, relying on various optical sensing methods to do so. About 80 per cent of Bühler’s turnover is related to food and grain processing, maize being just one crop with which it works. Two out of three wheat


24 IMAGING AND MACHINE VISION EUROPE JUNE/JULY 2020


grains are processed on Bühler equipment, as is 75 per cent of the world’s barley malt. Grain milling is one of Bühler’s traditional markets, but it also makes machines for processing rice, pasta, chocolate, nuts, and many other foods. Some of the optical sensing techniques


used onboard Bühler sorters and in-line sensor systems include: NIR sensing and spectroscopy, to determine chemical composition such as moisture or protein content; inspection and optical monitoring, to find and remove contaminants such as foreign materials; and also an optical measurement of granulation, to measure how coarse or fine grains or powders are. Granulation of ground maize, be that flour


or grits, is an important metric for mills, because their customers’ processes are strictly set up for an exact particle size of raw material. Te mill’s customer will therefore


@imveurope | www.imveurope.com


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