ZURICH, SWITZERLAND — When you’re the country’s largest wheat flour producer and don’t have another milling facility that can absorb production during an equipment upgrade, replacing old equipment with new machinery while still satisfying the needs of your customers can be a tremendous challenge.

Since the fall of 2021, Swissmill, the largest flour milling company in Switzerland, has been faced with this difficult challenge of producing about 25{c2963f8d0945e86ebe572bd1bdc8f93a68d66e1652307c5f6b1165e2eb5776e5} and 40{c2963f8d0945e86ebe572bd1bdc8f93a68d66e1652307c5f6b1165e2eb5776e5} of the country’s bread flour and pasta flour, respectively, while simultaneously installing the latest Bühler technology at its flour mill in Zurich.

The mill sits next to a river in an urban area and has limited space available within the plant, thus an expansion is not possible. And with no alternative milling facilities to transfer production during the installation, production interruptions have had to be kept to a minimum, said Simon Künzle, Swissmill’s technology manger.

“This means we have to renew the mills during ongoing production and on a step-by-step basis,” Künzle said. “Production, mechanics, electronics and automation must be in perfect harmony for this to work.”

The transition is nearly complete at the plant, which grinds more than 220,000 tonnes of wheat per year.

A major part of the upgrade consisted of replacing Bühler’s MDDK generation roller mills, which were installed 36 years ago, with its newest line — the Diorit MDDY. The gradual modernization was carried out on milling lines A and B by Swissmill in collaboration with Bühler.

“The seasoned roller mills will be replaced to bring product safety, hygiene and occupational safety in line with the new state of the art,” said Antoine Bolay, production and technology manager at Swissmill.

Upgraded by Bühler in 2019 to focus on user-friendliness, the Diorit’s machine control was completely overhauled and the user interface was graphically redesigned.

With the upgrade, Bühler describes the Diorit, which can be operated remotely, as facilitating “intuitive, simple monitoring and control of the roller mills.” Bühler also noted that modern sensor technology ensures that the rollers always operate in the right position and at the right speed.

Out with the old, in with the new

Prior to the most important step for modernizing the A and B milling lines — replacing the old roller mills with new ones — the 72 drives of both mills were upgraded with energy-efficient motors and specially designed motor suspensions. The new suspensions make it possible to replace defective motors in the shortest possible time and with minimum personnel.

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