Efficient silo management for smooth process flow

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Jonathan Rattos

In Canada there are over 100 flour mills. In Germany there are more than 260 large flour mills. In Asia the grain market is significantly greater and a very important industry. Around the world, the scenario remains consistent: meticulously planned routes and precise stock levels are crucial for achieving maximum cost optimization in the material delivery process. Unfortunately, these essential aspects are often compromised by the harsh realities of daily operations. Bakeries, the primary clients of flour mills, often place orders late, leading mills to urgently supply materials to prevent production halts at the bakeries. Consequently, this results in unnecessary logistics expenses due to multiple deliveries, ultimately increasing costs for all parties involved - the supplier, the customer, and the intermediary. Clearly, this situation is not beneficial for anyone. So, why do we find ourselves in these "fire-fighting" scenarios, and how can they be averted?

close up of businessman hand working on laptop computer with financial business graph information diagram on wooden desk as concept

Lack of storage management in bakeries

Even bakeries equipped with multiple storage silos often lack an automated level monitoring system to oversee their inventory levels. As a result, manual checks are required regularly, and timely orders must be placed with the flour supplier. Unforeseen fluctuations in demand, or simply overlooking stock levels, can trigger sudden emergencies that necessitate unplanned additional deliveries from the mill.

Merely installing sensors for monitoring levels in the bakery silos could bring about a significant enhancement. However, there is often a reluctance to invest due to the mindset of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," despite the evident inefficiencies and high costs involved. The optimal solution would involve mills taking on the central monitoring responsibility for their customers, offering it as a specialized service. This approach not only streamlines material and delivery management for the mills but also reduces the overall administrative burden. The inevitable question of cost allocation arises - who should bear the expense? Perhaps, in the long run, the investment could prove to be self-sustaining.

Upon closer examination, it becomes evident that the mill's initial investment would quickly pay off, thanks to the significant cost savings resulting from the streamlined supply chain process.


Central-level measuring for mills

UWT considered these difficulties of the grain industry sectors and has provided a made-to-measure solution that is economical and practical: a central level-remote system for flour mills.

On each silo of the bakery the maintenance-free lot system  NivoBob® 4000 is fitted for level monitoring.


For easy mounting, just a standard 1.5 inch threaded socket in the silo roof is necessary. At the bakeries the level signals are bundled by the UWT software NivoTec® combined with a Wago WebController and the information received is passed to the Internet using an Ethernet connection via a routed IP address. The mill can securely access this information (password-protected) via any internet browser at any time of the day over a pre-defined IP address). It is possible to include any number of other customers in the visualization system - without additional hardware or costs for the mill.

To minimize installation requirements at bakeries, a GSM modem can be utilized for remote data access. In this scenario, an Ethernet connection is unnecessary for data transmission; only a SIM card in the WAGO is needed to facilitate the modem. This modem efficiently gathers all level signals, encrypts them into a log, and transmits them via mobile phone over the Internet to the designated controller at the mill. With minimal data being transmitted, a cost-effective SIM contract suffices for this purpose.

The UWT NivoTec® visualization software allows for real-time monitoring of silo levels at the mill control center. This information can be conveniently accessed through any Ethernet PC's internet browser, providing the controller with immediate insight into the status of the silos due to seamless integration with the Ethernet system.

UWT Level Up to the Max with background

Advantages and benefits of the level-remote system:

The benefit of the whole system is the simplification of the material disposition processes leading to a reduction of costs for all parties involved.

  • The installation of the system in the bakery as well as in the mill is straightforward and can usually be carried out by the mills own service engineers
  • Control cabinets only have to be set-up once; afterwards no additional IT support is necessary.
  • All silo levels can be visualized at the same time -> material planning security
  • The system can be dismantled at one customer and installed again at another -> no new costs when customers change

The mill can effectively manage its inventory based on the specific material requirements of each customer, optimizing delivery routes and schedules. By having access to the necessary information, the mill can prevent the need for rush deliveries or wasted trips, significantly reducing administrative burdens. For the bakery, this means no more manual checks on silo levels, eliminating production delays caused by material shortages.

This streamlined material flow not only establishes a standardized process with enhanced planning security but also fosters a more harmonious working relationship. Ultimately, this results in increased satisfaction for both parties, paving the way for a stronger partnership between the customer and supplier.


Need more information?  Just contact Jonathan - jonathan@ratetechnology.com

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Efficient silo management for smooth process flow

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