Digital Re-print

September | October 2014
Irish Flour Milling and the German connection
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he resurrection of the Irish milling
industry throughout the 1930’s
would not have been possible
without the German company Miag,
acquired by Bühler in 1972. Delving back
through the past, a clear connection
emerges between Irish flour milling and
German engineering.
Although it seemed to catapult Britain
into a new, advanced age, Ireland remained
relatively untouched by the Industrial
Revolution. By the early twentieth century,
Ireland had a population of 4,192,000 most
of which had by then migrated abroad in
search of employment due to the lack of
manufacturing industries in towns.
Milling industries were rare as most of
the flour was imported - around 3,000,000
sacks of flour were imported from various
countries, mainly Great Britain, Canada and
the United States.
However, by around 1934, the Irish gov-
ernment granted fewer licences for import-
ing flour as their interest in restarting the
mills grew. With that, the import of flour into
Ireland ceased almost entirely.
Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford,
four major Irish cities, were prime places to
begin reconstructing the Irish milling industry
due to the available access that came with
being close to water - this made it both
easier and quicker for ships to load and
unload their products.
The Merchants Warehousing Co. Ltd.
of Dublin had MIAG build ‘extensive and
modern grain discharging and storage plants’.
Close to a quay that ships frequented, grain
was unloaded safely and efficiently via con-
veyors that travelled from the quay to the
plant’s silos and back. The unloading towers
that transported the goods were built high
up so as not to impede with the other prod-
ucts that were unloaded by cranes - this was
where practically all of the imported grain for
the Dublin mills arrived.
In 1933, the reconstruction of the Dublin
North City Milling Co. Ltd. was ordered.
Once finished, the mill was considered a
‘testimonial of the German milling engineer-
ing art’ and, thanks to MIAG, had a daily
capacity of 70,000 kg of wheat.
Messrs. Byrne, Nahony & Co. Ltd., previ-
ous flour importers, closed after the govern-
ment restricted the number of people with a
licence to partake in the trade. However, as
the renewed Irish milling industry grew, they
were forced to start manufacturing the flour
themselves, resulting in them ordering milling
equipment from MIAG in May 1934.
By 1935, the plant was in operation using
the ‘most modern flour milling equipment’.
This included ‘model H roller mills with
Servo regulation’, producing the highest
yields of flour with the lowest ash content.
By 1936, MIAG had supplied Dublin with
two mills and was in the process of building
a third; the industry’s reputation was only
getting more and more impressive.
As livestock export began to noticeably
decline, less money was being spent on
wheat and grain import. Resultantly, home-
grown wheat was on the increase in order
to support the milling industry. Originally,
approximately 25 per cent of wheat in
Ireland was home-grown; due to the export
reduction, it was the government’s intention
to increase the production to at least 50 per
cent. Irish weather allowed a moist climate
and fertile soil that made up good crop con-
ditions. However, the frequent rains made
ripening difficult and a dry harvest rare-on
average Irish-grown wheat had a moisture
content of around 18 per cent, sometimes
even as high as 22 per cent.
Storage space was required as well as
drying equipment to improve the quality of
the wheat. MIAG supplied ‘10 drying plants
with a capacity of 50 tonnes per hour,
extracting 5 per cent of water’ as well as
silos and new, dry containers for the wheat
to be deposited in. The Dublin Port Milling
Co. Ltd. was built housing three Special
MIAG Dryers, which were made of ‘Duro-
Aluminium’ to avoid rusting, the dryers were
19.35m tall with radiators found on top for
‘warming and sweating the wheat’.
The design of the MIAG Special Dryers
enabled it to work automatically, allow-
ing the wheat to dry at a secured, set
temperature. This concluded in moisture
content of around 14 per cent, significantly
lower than the previous figures. MIAG, as a
result of such positive feedback, built each
Mill a steel silo plant with a drying plant in
1936. The company’s esteemed reputation
further encouraged the mill at Maryborough
to extend the plant there by 9 steel bins,
increasing its capacity to around 300,000 kg.
In 1939, World War Two began, altering
the milling industries. Many factories had
to begin the production of weaponry and
warcraft to facilitate their country’s army.
MIAG, Brunswick, was one of these factories
that resulted in the manufacture of the Mark
3 Panzer armoured assault gun - a medium
sized tank.
After recovering from the war, MIAG
returned to the milling industry until it
was taken over by Bühler in the 1970s.
Information online states that:
Following on, Bühler AG of Uzwil
Switzerland took control and utilised the site
for producing milling machinery. As outlined
in Buhler: 150 Years of Innovation for a
better world, 1972 marked the ‘Acquisition
of MIAG, Mühlenbau and Industrie GmbH,
Braunschweig, Germany, including 11 of its
subsidiaries. MIAG was created in 1925 by
the merger of the five largest German mill
manufacturers and was one of the Bühler
Company’s biggest competitors.’
Concluding this, it is clear that Bühler
were savvy millers doing wonders for the
future that stands well today and sustainably
for the future.
Summertime experiencing
premier German milling expertise
The London and South East Millers
Society (LSEMS) hosted a great annual sum-
mer field trip to Muehle Rüningen at the end
of June 2014. The purpose of visiting one of
Germany’s oldest flour mills and a Bühler
Irish Flour
Milling and
the German
by Ruby Bircher and Tom
46 | September - October 2014
factory was to understand what added effi-
ciency, skill, and consistency could produce.
On arrival, all donned the white hats and
coats and made the short walk up to a labo-
ratory and test bakery. Here a short video
documentary in German gave information
about the mill’s beginnings, heritage and large
service to the community. Our German
tour leaders Ernst and Arnold from Bühler
were not familiar with the mill, as Area Sales
Managers of Great Britain and Ireland they
were also learning about this mill.
The 702 year old mill near the city
of Braunschweig takes its wheat from a
surrounding radius of 200km to produce
flour, and some animal feed. There are five
separate mill lines running all from a central
control station, milling 50 varieties of grain,
with most crop being wheat, rye, semolina
or durum. Their customers are large and
made up of names such as Cargill. This mill
was different from mills I have visited in
the past with individual control stations for
each of a mill’s section. I was able to wit-
ness the fully automated processes from a
central bank of screens of CCTV cameras in
one room. NIR in-line monitoring data and
performance recordings in real-time were
undoubtedly impressive.
To see the full journey of a grain around
the mill from the full delivery-process was
very impressive. Technical advice was also
given as each floor and section of the mill
was explored in groups. The various millers
and staff from manufacturers all gave differ-
ent and varied observations about the mill as
we toured. On the day, unfortunately there
was no possibility of being able to ride the
vertical paternoster-style lift! Beyond these
were typical sewing and bagging lines and
also more lines for loading into articulated
As we toured the mill and met the
‘master miller’ of Muehle Rüningen, the lines
were operating smoothly and efficiently
grinding the respective grades of flour milling.
Further on, the mill’s main colour sorting
machines were the Bühler Sortex ‘A’ models
and were fascinating to watch operate. The
extrusion machine is rarely used by the mill-
ers, and only is required on demand as and
when it is required for animal feed milling.
The LSEMS group was keen to ask rel-
evant questions to the head miller, staff and
assistants. Once we had made it all the way
down from the eighth floor again, the tour
was complete and we travelled on to the
Bühler factory.
Bühler factory visit
Arriving through the gates at Bühler in
Braunschweig, we were greeted outside
by Alexander Schnelle, Christian Tietz and
Peter-Kenneth Grenner. Alexander gave
an introductory talk and welcomed us all.
Christian and Peter-Kenneth then split the
group into two and made sure we got a
clear and thorough guided tour. We saw
all staff areas, the pleasant green spaces and
extensive site.
One constant feature of the factory
generally is a ‘lean manufacturing’ principle. It
drives everything in their work and products,
and binds all staff in one central mission. For
myself, it was surprisingly inspiring and gave
a deep understanding of all the reasons why
Bühler are just so successful. The total area
of the site is 10km square.
We did enter different production facilities
for all stages of the grain milling equipment.
There were experienced old hands, young
apprentices and all kinds of operators busy
working away. The factory houses 650 staff
in total. Automated plansifter sieve gluing
and manufacturing was a notable part of the
digitisation and robotic parts of the modern
set-up in such a factory today. There were also
areas not dedicated to grain milling – but other
food production like sugar, beer and chocolate
industries are all covered at this plant.
Later on during the tour, I was able to ask
Christian about the steel used at the factory,
and I received a very interesting answer;
stainless steel is from all around the world
but mostly from the domestic market of
Germany. Four to five years ago, steel from
India and China was found to be potentially
radioactive. Due to the pursuit of quality and
striving for serving their customers well, the
purchasing decision was made to choose
other stainless steels.
Overall, the tour was greatly interesting
for all and all left with a greater understand-
ing than before about Buhler and their
respective success.
48 | September - October 2014
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r - O
r 2
first published in 1891
In this issue:
Silo design &
• Weighbridges
factors and
• Irish Flour
Milling and
the German
• Bagging systems
chosing the right
one for your needs
• Burundi’s
women of war
turn to rice
• A new dawn for
Our history and
our future!
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