The tower malthouse situated in Vitry, France features malting units capable of holding up to 600 metric tons of barley. The idea is to minimise production costs and increase sales.
Barley malt, which contains natural sugars, can be found in a wide range of foods, including breakfast cereals, beverages and bakery goods. It is the basic, fermentable ingredient in beer.
The ingredient is increasingly being used to add nutritional value to products, such as cereal bars. According to Mintel, US sales alone topped $2.2 billion in 2004, excluding sales through Wal-Mart and natural food stores. The market grew at a compound annual growth rate of 13.4 per cent between 1999 and 2004.
The category is now one of the fastest growing food categories, one that more food makers would no doubt like to tap into.
Malteurop therefore wanted to create the largest possible processing unit while minimising the manpower requirement. Engineer Buhler found that the largest possible processing unit would be one capable of handling 600 metric tons.
In addition, the large-scale facility was to be operated with the same number of employees as before.
In malt production, the process building and the equipment form a single unit. In this case, the design of the mechanical equipment had to give special consideration to the building, if only for the enormous dimensions and the resulting structural loads acting on the building.
The patented Buhler circular distributor feeds the material to be steeped or green malt to the machine. The twelve steep tanks are of proven conical design.
They achieve a good turnover ratio thanks to their shallow cylindrical part and their very tall conical section. The steep tanks are loaded with wet material after the dry barley has been mixed with water in tanks and pumped at a rate of around 200 metric tons per hour to the steeping system.
The steeping tanks are equipped with a central pipe to ensure thorough barley turnover.
After steeping, the barley is transferred to the germination units. The germination unit floors are supported by radial steel beams. An automatic high-pressure cleaning system is installed underneath each floor.
Malteurop is headquartered in the French city of Reims in the heart of the Champagne region. The company is part of the Champagne Ciriales Group and is the third-largest malting operation in the world, with an annual output of about 1.2 million metric tons of malt.
Malteurop operates a total of 14 plants in France, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Ukraine, and China. The malting business for Malteurop starts in the process as barley breeding, seed treatment, and barley growing. One of the group's largest malting units is located in Vitry-le-Frangois.