Torque Motors: Added Value in Rolling Mills for Edible Flour

OMAS has chosen Technai Team’s torque motor technology for “Leonardo”, its latest generation family of rolling mills for milling edible flour: this important technological turning point has brought about several advantages, first and foremost, a decrease in energy costs and costs linked to maintenance, but that’s not all…

by Silvia Crespi

OMAS, specialized in the flour milling industry, can provide a full range of machines for processing edible flour: grinding, cleaning, warehousing, loading/unloading machines and accessories. Founded in 1966, the company, based in San Giorgio delle Pertiche, near Padua, entered the flour milling industry twenty-five years ago, starting with small industrial plants for the production of edible flour. Later, machines larger in size and with improved performances were introduced, to satisfy the increasing demands of production capacity: from 10-15 tons a day produced with the first plants, to the current 1,000-1,200 tons a day.
Luigi Nalon, CEO and son of the founder, at the helm of the company since 1998, tells us about this evolution. “In this industry we face established concerns: brands well-known on the market and with deep roots in the industrial context, sometimes multinational groups: an awe-inspiring competition which brought me to an important turning point in 2010, based on quality and technology: the decision to face our competitors not from a price standpoint, but on technological bases.”
These are the preconditions which led to the start of a partnership with Technai Team, in 2014. The company, based in Lonate Pozzolo, in the province of Varese, is recognized as one of the leading specialists in the field of Direct Drive technology applied to Machine Tools and Industrial Automation. The product portfolio is divided into two main categories: Components, ie torque motors, and Systems, ie milling heads, roto-tilting tables, linear actuators and integrated functional modules, all with a high degree of customization. “I could no longer accept the idea of adopting an obsolete technology for our machines, such as old-style motorization with conveyor belts and pulleys as adopted by all our competitors – Nalon stated – In other mechanical segments technology has already moved on considerably… This led to the input given to our technical office to develop a new technology capable of getting rid of all transfer mechanisms, using torque motors. Our first objective was simplifying mechanics, but we then discovered that this simplification actually led to a whole set of advantages, first and foremost, the regeneration of energy obtained with the torque motor combined with the inverter. Energy saving in our case is an important asset because these plants use up a great deal of energy. And this was the key to success”.

Torque motors have been installed on a new generation of rolling mills
The technology of torque motors was applied to a family of latest generation rolling mills, called Leonardo. The rolling mill is the main machine used in the production of flour, specifically, to grind the cereal. The mill’s functioning is based on two rolls, which roll in opposite directions with different speeds, grinding the cereal until it is turned into the finished product, that is, edible flour. Traditionally this movement is generated by a typical mechanical transmission and the motorization on its own may take up the whole floor of a building; with a “green field” plant, this factor on its own makes up for the difference in the investment and allows to obtain payback of the whole plant in a very short time especially in countries with high energy costs (1-1.5 years).
The saving in terms of floor space is only one of the many advantages obtained with the technology of torque motors. “Simplifying mechanics – Luigi Nalon continued – leads to a considerable reduction in wear and, as a consequence, even maintenance is reduced by up to 90%. Another advantage is provided by the greater control on speed, which may be adapted to the different kinds of cereal and their properties, and in the field of edible flours variables are infinite. This technology allows the creation of recipes which may then be used again and replicated on other plants.
Besides, the torque motor technology allows electrical energy savings which can reach 70%. But that is not all: also worth noting are the excellent hygiene levels, very important in the food industry, the low noise level and, last but not least, the safety issue: technology has allowed a marked drop in the risk of injury. Finally, the “uniqueness” of the solution with Direct Drive motors in the whole range of Omas’s competitors is protected by two international patents.

Application customized torque motors
In the Leonardo rolling mill, several torque motors have been installed, with a power of up to 37 kW. Fabrizio Parma, sales manager for Technai Team, describes their properties: “The differences in production rate are obtained by varying the height of the rolling packs. These products are customized based on the demands of the application. Customization concerned the architecture of the motor itself. To satisfy the clients’ requests of obtaining heat dispersion without resorting to water cooling, a particular type of configuration of the metal sheets was developed, which allows to obtain a sort of natural dispersion, without any need for a cooling sleeve. Further customization concerned the pack sealing flanges, connections and so on”.
Luigi Nalon concluded: “In a plant which works 330 days a year, 24 hours a day, reliability is a mandatory requirement. Torque motors proved capable of high performances in the long run. Today we may state that customers’ satisfaction levels is very high and we already have about a hundred machines installed the world over”.