by So Komori, International Business Division, Satake Corporation, Japan

 

World rice production has continued to grow over the past years, approaching near 770 million tonnes in 2017, according to the latest Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) report. This growth is not only in regards toproduction for traditional rice usage, such as paella in Spain or sushi in Japan, but alsofrom increases in new usage areas such as rice bread, even in regions where rice is not considered as a staple food.

Regardless of the final product, all rice producedmust be processed before hitting the market, whether it be husked for brown rice, milled for white rice, etc.

Many rice processingbusiness ownerswho place importance on both their product quality such as taste, moisture content, appearance to satisfy their customers, processing efficiency orvolume for profitability, put enormouseffort into the design of their processing facilities.

They realisethat,along withthe selectionof equipment in the process line, the auxiliary equipment such as holding bins and conveyors also dramatically affect their production flow and product yield. In other words, optimising thedesign of the total processing line is key to the success of the final result.

In 2019, Satake launched a new product - REACH System 7.0. REACH definesa pre-assembled rice processing line, from receiving to packing and isdesigned to provide several key qualities of a well-designedrice milling facility.

First, it providesastonishingly short machine installation time of two weeks when compared to the usual three-to-four months. Pre-assembled in Satake's manufacturing facility in Thailand, it provides hassle-free installation and better final product output.

In a typical rice milling plant, designers oftenface difficultiesdesigning the flow due to combinations of equipment and accessories from multiple companies. Unmatchedmachinesand pipes are often forcibly assembled, resulting in unnecessarydamage to the product, resulting in a deteriorationof product quality.An increase in broken rice levels is one example of this, another being asacrifice in product flow rate.

REACH System 7.0 is completely engineered at Satake by thoroughly reviewing plant design from scratch. As a result, the number of components are reduced, such as pipework, tanks/hoppers, product handling equipment, and pedestals.The load on the rice is therefore also reduced, resulting in a more compact production line in terms of sizeand an improvement in rice quality.

Second, the REACH System 7.0 provides for a more stable operation with reduced control requirements. Operatorsof different skill or experience level are able to process rice to a specification.

This allows for easier and more accurate calculation of product yield, which greatly benefits the facility and business management. This stable operation inherent in the REACH system is provided by the following two features:

1) efficiency improvement by thorough review of plant design

2) the tank-less system.

In a typical rice milling plant, the flow rate continues to change due to the processing conditions before and after the rice milling machine processes, and the provision of a tank above the rice milling machine. Therefore, the operator is forced tocheck the appearance of the rice and adjust the load of the rice milling machine to match the flow rate.

Since the flow rate and whiteness vary greatly, depending on the skill of the operator, a highly skilled operator is needed in the rice mill. This is even truer in a plant where rice is milled multiple times a day.

The REACH tank-less system solves this issue. REACH both removes the tanks of the rice milling sections and stabilisesthe rice milling flow without independent of the operator's skill level.

In order to stabilise the whiteness, it is necessary to maintain the internal pressure of the rice milling machine to certain level. To keep the pressure constant, it is necessary to keep the flow rate constant. To facilitatethe constant flow rate, The REACH system removes the requirement for tanks/hoppers, and a rotary valve is attached after each weighing machine prior to any rice milling machinery for a constant rice flow.

As a result, a certain level of brown rice is maintained inside each rice milling machine, making it possible to apply a certain pressure to stabilise the whiteness. Instead of adjustingthe process by looking at the polished white rice, the operators' main task now becomes the following:

1. Decide the flow rate and set the load of the milling machine

2. Maintain the flow rate of raw materials

In accomplishing these two tasks, the flow rate and the product whiteness are maintained and the need for constant re-adjustment is eliminated.

Since the various methods of milling differ from country to country and from factory to factory, the operating system proposed by REACH may not apply to every rice milling facility. However, REACH is one of the most feasible solution for those looking for stable operation with constant product quality. Satake also plans to introduce both three and 14-tonne-per-hour systems in the near future, and also continues to expand the applicationsinto non-rice materials.

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