What Is Lab Milling, and Why Is It Important?
Lab Milling, otherwise known as Experimental Milling, is one of the most important steps in wheat and flour quality evaluation. It is a crucial element to wheat quality control, as it heavily determines the technological characteristics of the flour produced.
In essence, the process of lab milling helps provide a benchmark for flour quality through small wheat samples. The lab milling process helps millers:
· Develop better processes for selecting optimal wheat
· Evaluate the quality of wheat mixes on a smaller scale, and apply the findings to a commercial setting
· Obtain a representative flour for rheological studies
The objective for milling is to separate the floury endosperm from the bran and wheat germ, and then reduce the endosperm into flour. Millers develop milling diagrams to make flour that matches a customer’s specification according to the characteristics of wheat they want to receive. These characteristics do vary based on the variety, the location it is grown, and the weather.
Lab milling performance is measured in three parts:
1. Extraction rate: In other words, the maximum amount of flour produced from a given wheat.
2. Flour quality: Naturally, a high extraction rate only makes sense if it is associated with flour quality in compliance with its industrial use. Flour quality is often defined by ash content (which represents its purity) and damaged starch content, but also by its technological characteristics. These characteristics are measured by rheological analysis or bread-making tests.
3. Wheat behavior: Depending on the characteristics of the grain, most flour may be made during the breaking or reduction stage. The industrial mill diagram should therefore be perfectly suited to the type of grain used.
Example diagram for a lab milling process. This diagram is utilized by the LabMill, aKPM Analytics experimental milling system.
Are there Methods to Accurately Streamline the Lab Milling Process?
Yes, there are. But it is important to remember that not all lab milling equipment is created equally. For instance, automated lab milling products from KPM Analytics, such as the CHOPIN LabMill, offer the convenience of an all-in-one turnkey solution with a high-level of performance.
The extraction rates are particularly high with respect to the short milling flow diagram (between 66.2%and 81.5%, depending on the varieties tested), with an average of 77% for hard wheat and 75% for soft wheat.
In terms of flour quality, theLabMill provides flour with ash content, damaged starch content, and rheological properties comparable to industrial flour produced at these extraction rates.
And for wheat behavior, LabMill features a unique and patented milling diagram (two breaking steps, one sizing step, and two-to-three reduction steps), giving operators full access to the different milling fractions.
See the LabMill in Action
As industrial millers, wheat breeders, and ingredients specialists strive to maintain a balance between greater extraction rates while maintaining quality criteria for ash content, lab milling precision is an essential key to their success.