Investigation and design of wet-mill equipment and process technology.
need to dry-mill the wheat into flour, and as a result, the total cost of conversion from wheat to bread is reduced. The resulting product has been perceived as being more filling than normal bread and it is also more nutritious and more affordable. The wet-mill concept was developed in a laboratory environment and no process methodology or equipment has existed to enable the technology to be used in a real bakery environment. The focus of this research was to design the particular equipment required for a medium plant-bakery production facility based on the wet-mill technology. Due to severe overcapacity in the bread-making industry, the research focuses on how best to integrate this equipment into an existing production facility. Three broad areas are investigated: • Product Development • Process Design • Machine Design The aim of the Product Development phase was to create a recipe that would withstand the rigours of the plant bakery environment, while at the same time satisfying consumer demand for taste and texture. The Process Design phase ensured that any new equipment had the capacity to match the throughput rate of the rest of the plant bakery, so that wet-mill dough could seamlessly continue downstream. Process control variables were examined to ensure that a consistent quality product was delivered. Inbound material handling was also investigated and designed to ensure safe and uncontaminated delivery of perishable raw material. Since the end product is edible, hygiene design requirements were also considered by completing a HACCP study to ensure a consumer-safe product. The Machine Design phase involves the development and design of a completely new food machine: a vertical wet-mill cutter. Many ideas are evaluated and a prototype machine, based on the optimal design, was built to test the concept. This prototype was then used to define process and design constraints for a scaled, large plantbakery machine. The final detailed design of a plant bakery wet-mill cutter was then completed. It includes drive, belt, bearing and pneumatic cylinder selection, and shaft and blade design. Safety considerations were an important part of the design process and production facility. Conformity to OHS Act regulations required investigation into the safe operation of the designed equipment with particular reference to driven and rotating machinery sub-regulations of the Act. A hazard analYSis and operability study was also undertaken. Lastly, the research calculates a financial valuation of the project to ascertain whether a plant baker should be interested in implementing wet-mill technology. The research concludes with a discussion of the various successes of the three research areas, and states any further investigation that may be required before full implementation.