Milling education ensures competitive edge

By Mark Fowler

- Last updated on GMT

'The milling industry is experiencing much of what the agriculture sector has experienced in recent years; an integration of technology to further improve performance'
'The milling industry is experiencing much of what the agriculture sector has experienced in recent years; an integration of technology to further improve performance'

Related tags: Kansas, Education

A host of changes in the milling industry means education is more important than ever if millers want to sustain a competitive business.

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

-          Benjamin Franklin, U.S. founding father and ambassador to France

This philosophy spoken by Franklin many years ago still holds true today. We are all students of our world and in order to be at the top of our milling profession we must continue to invest in education throughout our career.  

Rising costs of wheat, increased regulations for food safety, employee safety and environmental impact are just a few of the external forces changing the way companies manage their milling operations. 

The milling industry is experiencing much of what the agriculture sector has experienced in recent years; an integration of technology to further improve performance.   Technological advancements in equipment, more automation and product analysis can help improve milling efficiencies, increase profitability and provide a safer end product to the consumer.

It is rare to install new equipment today that doesn’t have a PLC attached.  But, deciding to implement new technology requires an understanding of not only how the technology will improve the milling process, but the economic risks and benefits involved. 

A milling education for competitive edge

With these changes, education is even more important for the industry as a whole.

Milling professionals must have the knowledge to evaluate the capital costs and returns before making new investments.  As the daily activities change, the knowledge on how to manage and make decisions becomes even more important.  If employees are not given the opportunity to participate in continuing education, organizations may lose competitive advantage.    

New milling education program

Kansas State University’s International Grains Program offers professional development trainings that teach participants the latest in research, technique and technology. These educational opportunities are offered on-site as well as via our distance education courses.  Educating adults is an interesting endeavor.  As adults, we each have extensive knowledge and experiences that need to be leveraged.  This can be done by developing materials that build on previous knowledge and through classroom interaction that can occur both in a face-to-face environment as well as virtually. 

A new ‘milling specialist and expert credentials’ program launching in January 2014 at the university provides content that is designed to meet the needs for milling companies seeking better qualified new employees as well as enhancing the training of current employees. It targets young people interested in obtaining jobs in the grain industry along with industry professionals seeking to advance their skills or gain a promotion.

Milling is a time-honored profession.  With our new program, Kansas State is acknowledging the importance of educating the milling professional.

 

Mark Fowler is the associate director of the International Grains Program and milling instructor in the Department of Grain Science and Industry at Kansas State University . His expertise is in technical flour milling, plant operations management including quality control and assurance and food and employee safety programs. He is an active member of the Association of Operative Millers and previously worked for Seaboard Corporation and Cargill.

Related topics: Milling & Grains

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