The Bühler Group, a global leader in rice and pulses processing and optical sorting solutions, has announced a further strengthening of its commitment to excellence in Chinese rice and bean processing with the completion of a turnkey installation at the Hangzhou Wahaha Group’s plant in Haining. Dedicated to the production of historic Chinese eight treasure porridge under the Wahaha brand, the new Bühler cleaning and grading plant has allowed Hangzhou Wahaha, one of China’s largest and most prestigious food and beverage manufacturers, to make dramatic improvements to the quality of its end product and reduce the cost of its eight treasure porridge operations.
Dating back more than 2200 years, to the Han dynasty, when it was consumed on the eighth day of the 12th month in the Chinese lunar calendar, eight treasure porridge is now a popular favourite in China and consumed every day as a convenient, cost effective and nutritious ‘fast food’. It is made with various ingredients, including red beans, cranberry beans, myotonin (Chinese barley) and oats, as well as sticky rice and black glutinous rice to create a rich porridge that can be simply opened and consumed.
With such a frequently consumed and well known product, derived from a wide variety of different raw materials, coupled with the rigours imposed by an increasingly discerning consumer in China, Hangzhou Wahaha’s mission to produce the finest porridge, reflecting its high standards, had been severely challenged in recent years. In order to build on its reputation for quality and drawing on its knowledge of Bühler’s expertise in tailormade engineered solutions, the company trusted Bühler to help automate its operations, create a more hygienic working environment and achieve the high quality production of eight treasure porridge that its customers were demanding.
Replacing the existing, largely manual cleaning and sorting process, the Bühler installation involves two complete, compact and advanced lines, each of which can clean and grade the various raw materials. Currently, one line is dedicated to rice and the other to beans. Each line incorporates Bühler’s MTSD De-stoners, MTRC Vibrosifters, metal detection equipment and SORTEX Z+ sorting machines.
Incoming product is mechanically cleaned to remove impurities that are larger and smaller than the product. Then stones and metals are targeted for removal, as they are passed automatically to de-stoners and magnetic metal detectors. Reinforcing the drive for safety and quality, the produce is then fed through Bühler‘s SORTEX optical sorters, which can identify and remove product defects as well as foreign materials. The sorters effectively eliminate contaminants such as glass, stones, wood, sticks and soil blocks, as well as deformed or discoloured beans, and discoloured or unwanted varieties of rice.
Each machine in Hangzhou Wahaha’s compact cleaning and sorting solution is fitted with an aspiration system that extracts any dust or dirt particles, to create a hygienic working environment that also reduces the risk of fungal growth. By automating the entire process and creating a closed system, human intervention for checking or adjustments is minimised. Bühler has removed the chance for cross contamination and boosted Hangzhou Wahaha’s throughput significantly.
“Our investment in Bühler’s advanced technology and custom-designed solutions has surpassed our expectations. It has drastically reduced our customer complaints about foreign body contamination, which are expensive to handle in terms of both customer service and reputation; reduced our operating costs dramatically; and given us consistent quality in production,” said a spokesperson from Hangzhou Wahaha. “We trusted the Bühler team to deliver and the resulting solution fits our requirements exactly. We look forward to working with Bühler on future projects.”
Bühler’s installation of this successful turnkey solution for Hangzhou Wahaha substantially reinforces the company’s leading position and influence in delivering innovative, customised technology projects in China and underpins its reputation for technology expertise and quality.