September 12, 2013
September 12, 2013
A Shizuoka Keizairen (Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations of Shizuoka) recently replaced machinery in its facility, Fukuroi Pearl Rice Mill. The quality of rice and the efficiency of the mill have been greatly improved by introducing state-of-the-art rice milling machinery and expanding its milling capacity.
|Exterior of Pearl Rice Mill Fukuroi|
Fukuroi Pearl Rice Mill is located in Fukuroi City, in the western region of Shizuoka Prefecture. This area is comparatively calm and annual sunshine in hours is relatively long on a national basis. The main agricultural production is rice along with melons, tea and strawberries. Major rice varieties in this area include Koshihikari followed by Kitahikari and Hinohikari.
Fukuroi Pearl Rice Mill was built nearby Fukuroi Interchange on Tomei Expressway in April 1992. At that time, JA Shizuoka Keizairen held 4 rice mills which they consolidated into Fukuroi Pearl Rice Mill. Fukuroi Pearl Rice Mill is equipped with a 150HP rice milling line and has been the sole mill in this area. JA Shizuoka Keizairen has carried out a study to determine the best way to manage the rice mill in the future since 2008.
A person in charge in JA Shizuoka Keizairen said “We deeply deliberated how the rice mill should be considering the tough circumstances surrounding rice”. It is not easy to develop the concept of a perfect rice mill, accounting for change in the environment currently and in the future. As a measure, they asked Satake to survey their rice mill. As a result of the survey, Satake suggested a diagnosis and improvement plan. JA Shizuoka Keizairen established the “Project to Consider the Future of the Rice Mill” in September 2011.
The project made held discussions to decide the way that they would go. He retraces and says “We discussed every possibility from renewing Fukuroi Pearl Rice Mill (partly or totally) to outsourcing rice milling, under the unclear situation of Japan having not decided if she will participate in TPP negotiations.”
As a result of thorough discussion, the project came to the conclusion to keep their rice mill operating, because JA Shizuoka Keizairen is independent of the Prefectural Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations and Fukuroi Pearl Rice Mill is the only rice mill they have. The project decided on the minimum upgrade to improve rice quality and mill efficiency, and it was approved by the board of directors in November 2012.
|The latest Rice Milling Unit introduced first in Japan|
They set 5 goals of upgrading.(1)To improve milled rice quality(2)To install multiple rice milling lines(3)To use existing space effectively(4)To improve working efficiency(5)To have flexibility for future mill remodeling.
In December 2012, they decided to appoint Satake as the supplier. Satake suggested the latest rice milling unit consisting of a vertical rice milling machine, grading equipment and a full-color optical sorter. The biggest reason JA Shizuoka Keizairen appointed Satake as the supplier was (1) Satake can also supply FA system, (2) Satake can install two rice milling units (5 tons per hour and 2.5tons per hour) in one floor, while others require multiple floor layouts.
A Groundbreaking ceremony was held on January 23, 2013 and the installation started on February 1. Completion test, trial operation and commissioning were all fine and a completion ceremony was held on May 31, 2013.
|The New 5 tons per hour rice milling unit|
There are 3 major improvements in this project.
The first improvement is the new rice milling unit. They used to have single line with a 150HP rice milling unit (consisting of 3 individual machines, 9 tons per hour), and replaced it with the latest 5 tons per hour vertical rice milling unit. They also installed a full-color optical sorter with 6.2 tons per hour throughput capacity next to this rice milling unit.
The second improvement was adding another rice milling unit. The unit consists of 2.5 tons per hour rice milling unit, a new grading machine and a full-color optical sorter, all of which is connected on a base.
The third improvement was to renew the packing and delivery section. They introduced an automatic packer which can pack 16 bags of 5kg rice per minute and a robot to stack rice bags on palettes.
They say “The old rice milling line had problem. 1st unit milled unevenly and 2nd unit milled too much. It made the texture of cooked rice soft and loose. The new rice milling unit can mill rice evenly and the quality of rice is improved. We received good evaluations from clients.” The mill manager also said, about the merit of the upgrade, “Obviously, the new unit is superior not only in quality but also in its yield. High reject concentration of full-color optical sorter also helps.”
The advantage is not just the above. The new machinery also contributes to improved worker efficiency. It used to take 8 minutes to discharge rice remaining inside machinery at the end of a production lot. Now it takes only 1 minute. If they mill 5 varieties of rice in one day, they can save almost 2 hours. “We used to operate mills until 22:00 so we would work in two shifts. Now, we can finish milling around 19:00 and we do not have a two shift operation.”
* Please note descriptions in news releases are accurate as of the date of release and may differ from the most up-to-date information.