Next generation rice processing

Lead Research Organisation: Sheffield Hallam University


The UK team has engineering innovators at Koolmill, Siemens and Cox & Plant, food scientists and process innovators at
New Food Innovation. Academics at Sheffield Hallam University developing AI based control systems with IOT capability &
particle separation scientists and business modellers at SHU and Aston Business School. The Chinese team has a rice
equipment manufacturer Quzhou, rice processing expertise at China Grain Wuhan Scientific and academics at JiangNan
The project duration is 24 months with Project Management and Dissemination led by SHU. Established milling equipment
by Satake & Buhler has reached a limit. Based on old designs, this rice processing machinery has very limited scope for
Project description:
WP1 Leadership & Project Management Lead: SHU in UK and Quzhou in China. Provision of overall project management
with technical programme, budget, risk and compliance management, to deliver on time and to budget.
WP2 Digital Milling Lead: Koolmill with SHU, Quzhou and Wuhan, will transform Koolmills existing "analogue" system,
creating smart milling and the world's first digital fully connected rice mill. A pilot mill will be established at the Quzhou
facility. Performance, connectivity, remote data capture and data analytics will be validated by Wuhan & Jiangnan.
WP3 Transport and separation Lead: Cox & Plant. Delivers novel, low damage method for conveying rice, simultaneously
separating rice, fines, brokens, bran, and husk. New efficient vertical conveyor will reduce damage & raise reliability.
Controllable vibration technology offers on demand feeding to machines avoiding the need for large storage. Cox & Plant
are leaders in vibration technology and will work with academics at SHU to develop new advanced systems for rice
WP4 Scenario Testing Lead: Jiangnan University. Evaluation of process variants (removal of Mycotoxins, temperature
monitoring, equipment failure, milling adjustments). Jiangnan have wide expertise in processing cereal and Mycotoxins.
Supported by Koolmill and Quzhou, this WP will exploit the enhanced controllability of these variants to inform AI systems,
to apply diagnostic processes to multiple crop variants and support technology transfer.
WP5 IoT Platform Lead: Siemens - who bring global excellence & expertise in data capture and AI in engineering
processes. Supported by Koolmill and SHU researchers, machine and mill data from the Koolmill demonstrator will be
captured and connect to a secure cloud based platform. With data analytics, AI, machine learning, auto-tuning and digital
twins make real time management decision tools to operators, to optimise mill management and production.
WP6 Process Implementation and Training Lead: New Food Innovation. NFI have expertise in communicating new
products in challenging markets. They will utilise a multi-platform approach, including "gamification," milling data, training,
demonstrations, piloting, 3D Models, simulations and augmented reality to shift this embedded culture.
WP7 Economic Analysis and Development of the Chinese Market Lead: Aston. Make the technology accessible, from
conventional sales to Advanced Manufacturing Services (AMS) business model. Aston is globally recognised as a leader
in AMS and Wuhan has unrivaled expertise of Chinese rice. The development of AMS, "pay as you mill" business model
mitigates two major barriers to adoption of the technology (1) the perceived technology risk - the technology risk passes to
Quzhou and (2) the perceived Capex Cost - moving the cost from capex to opex. This WP is linked to WP5 and the ability
to remotely control machines. WP8 Exploitation & Dissemination Lead: SHU. This WP reports the key outcomes from the
project and maximises the dissemination and IP from the project outcomes through national networks.

Planned Impact

The outputs of the project will be (i) a "Smart rice milling Chamber" with novel, thermo-detection and vibration technologies
to control & maintain an optimum milling environment and increased head rice yield by 10%; (ii) an AI driven digital
software platform to interpret data analytics in the Smart Chamber to inform real time intuitive process decisions - i.e.
temperature control, milling plate adjustments, husk separation & process speed ; (iii) A business strategy to include: an
optimum business model for China, technology dissemination to the Chinese milling industry; a skill/training model; and
UK/global academic dissemination plan.
The 1st challenge is to increase the quantity and value of the yield and by-products to the farming community to support
socio-economic growth. The business opportunity is to build upon Koolmill's patented milling technologies to produce high
quality rice which maximises the financial return for both the farmer and the rice processor. The aim will be to reduce the
number of 'brokens' and deliver additional high value unbroken rice into the food chain. A modest 10% uptake of the
technology in China would deliver an additional of 3MT of high value unbroken rice with a value of USD 1.2bn.
The global milling machine market potential is worth £11.25bn p/a and the key players are the global market leader Satake
(Japan) and Buhler (Switzerland). Koolmill has patents for its grain separation technology covering 75% of the global rice
market. Koolmill technology is the leading solution in power saving and yield improvement, focussed on small/medium size
mills. In this segment there is no commercial competitive offering. China has thousands of these smaller, traditional
operations, who would be a significant target segment for the milling process technology.
Koolmill will scale up the machine in partnership with Quzhou Koolmill in China. Both companies estimate an increase in
revenues by 10-20% over 5 years. The pilot project will target small to medium mills, and the cost of one machine is circa
£8-10k. Koolmill forecast that a 10% uptake of the milling technology (over 5 years) would generate £142m in future
machine sales. Quzhou Koolmill will further develop the market in China.
The 2nd opportunity is the development of new business models for the rice processing sector. This will provide new
revenue streams for Koolmilll and for Siemens through the use of their IOT platform.
The project is directly aligned to the ODA's recommendations for China: (i) the proposed technologies can increase the
capacity of China's leading agri-food industry, rice, by 10.6MT per year, and reduce sector energy consumption by 80%
and deliver potential reduction in CO2 emissions of 2.02MT per annum (ii) support sustainable and high value rice
processing to create new business benefits for milling companies and resulting in increased job creation in local
communities. (iii) It will lead to training and upskilling the local workforce to operate the new machinery and processes
within new business systems. Higher job creation will encourage women into work in safer environments.


10 25 50
Description High resolution process control is extending the ability of the rice mill technology to be applied to other grains, pulses and cereals. Work has continued to establish enhanced digital capability and remote anaylsis.
Modelling of granular flow ihas been further enhanced and led to Royal SOciety Fellowship for Dr X Cui
Exploitation Route;
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Energy,Environment

Description Milling efficiency has been improved and exploited commercially by Koolmill. The efficiency of reduce rice breakage is adding significant value to the rice grower. Energy consumption of the rice mill is at 25% (or better) reduction on conventional machinery. Applications into rice husking and processing of peas & beans (pulses) is being generated. Understanding of granular flow dynamics and its impact on rice milling eficienecy and capability has beenn extended through futher DEM work and led to Royal Sociaety Fellowship.
First Year Of Impact 2021
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink
Impact Types Economic

Description COVID 19 Grant Extension Allocation Sheffield Hallam University
Amount £235,971 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/V521140/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2020 
End 09/2021
Description Enabling high-fidelity simulation of granular flows for the next generation industrial processing. Royal Society Short Industry Fellowships 2021 Round 2
Amount £28,000 (GBP)
Funding ID SIF\R2\212009 
Organisation The Royal Society 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2022 
End 02/2023
Description Presentation to Appetite for Engineering annual conference 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact A presentation on international partnerships and research into rice processing
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description Presentation to IMechE Manchester annual meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Delivering research and innovation for the food and drink sector
Event Type: Technical lecture
18 February 2020 18:00 to 20:00
Manchester Metropolitan University T0.03 - Manchester
Prof Martin Howarth from Sheffield Hallam University will be talking to us about Food Engineering.
Industry: Process Industries
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
Description Presentation to Sheffield MD's Club 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Delivered review of the international research which the National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering is delivering in its new facility titled "Learning from innovations tackling the global food sustainability challenge". New leads and contacts to work with were established. 12 Feb 2020
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020