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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

We will be focusing many of our coming topics on aspects of handling granular and powder materials in food processing plants. This is because we are working hard to become the leading solution provider of granular and powder handling systems for food processing plants in Australia. We will publish detailed articles like this to clearly demonstrate our experience and expertise in this sophisticated industry sector.

Granular and powder food processing plants

Let us begin our overview on this topic with definitions of food processing plants and granular and powder ingredients.

What are food processing plants?

Food processing plants are factories that combine raw and processed ingredients to make food products that can be used in further food processing or are ready for consumption.

How do you define granular and powder ingredients?

Granular ingredients are solids made up of tiny grains or small particles. For example, sugar is a typical granular ingredient. The particles can also be extruded pieces, flakes or pellets. Powders are a type of granular ingredient where the particles are very fine. They are a special case because fine particles behave differently to tiny grains and small particles. An example is flour, which is a common powder ingredient. More information on granular and powder materials.

Examples of granular and powder ingredients include:


  • Cacao beans
  • Coffee beans
  • Cracked wheat
  • Gelatin granules
  • Granular spices
  • Mustard seeds
  • Nuts
  • Rolled oats
  • Salt
  • Semolina
  • Shredded cheese
  • Shredded coconut
  • Raw sugar


  • Ascorbic acid
  • Baking agents
  • Casein powder
  • Cocoa powder
  • Coffee creamer
  • Coffee powder
  • Cornstarch
  • Dextrose powder
  • Egg powder
  • Emulsifier
  • Flour
  • Gelatin powder
  • Kaolin
  • Lactose powder
  • Milk powder
  • Potato starch
  • Powdered food fillers
  • Powdered sugar
  • Soy flour
  • Spice powders
  • Wheat powder
  • Wheat starch
  • Whey powder


  • Chocolate flakes
  • Potato flakes
  • Rice flakes
  • Wheat flakes


  • Barley pellets
  • Corn pellets
  • Oat pellets
  • Soybean pellets

Extruded pieces

  • Expanded cereals
  • Extruded snack foods
  • Pasta

What kinds of granular and powder food processing plants are there?

There are many kinds of food processing plants that transform granular and powder ingredients into a vast array of food products. These plants produce common foods such as instant noodles or pastas, dry condiments including spice mixtures and specialised foods like nutrient supplements or baby formula. They manufacture food products that then require further processing before being ready for consumption such as baking ingredients or bread dough. Specialised plants produce animal feeds and dry pet foods.

These food processing plants combine granular and powder ingredients in two major ways. They can blend a number of solids together, or with minor and micro ingredients such as flavorings and enzymes, to make products like spice mixtures or baking ingredients. They can also mix solids with liquids to form semi-solids, making products like bread dough. Read on for more on mixing and blending.

A list of foods covered by these types of food processing plants include:

Bread and cereals

  • Baking ingredient manufacturers
  • Biscuit makers
  • Cake mix producers
  • Cereal producers
  • Ingredient producers for cereal
  • Instant noodles producers
  • Muesli producers
  • Pasta manufacturers
  • Production bakeries

Animals and pets

  • Animal feed producers
  • Dry pet food manufacturers
  • Stock feed producers

Drinks and sweets

  • Coffee powder makers
  • Confectionery makers
  • Hot drink powder manufacturers
  • Milk powder processors
  • Powdered energy drinks
  • Sugar processors
Special foods
  • Baby formula manufacturers
  • Nutrient supplement makers
  • Spice mixture manufacture

Material handling flow and stages

Granular and powder food processing plants are sophisticated and complex. They use advanced engineering and innovative automation technology. To understand how these plants work and what they do, we use a modular structure to break the flow of material handling into several distinct stages, which are connected and follow a typical order. Pneumatic conveying is used to transfer granular and powder ingredients within or between stages.

These stages and their typical order are:

  • Unloading
  • Storage
  • Processing
  • Mixing
  • Blending
  • Packing

Constant quality output is an essential requirement for every stage in the flow. This is achieved with quality systems that are reliable, easy to maintain and which integrate seamlessly within the plant. These systems need to allow for efficient cleaning which maximises hygiene and minimises downtime.

Any granular and powder food processing plant can be represented as one or more stages within this material handling flow. In general, each stage has custom control panels, and suitable dust collection and filter systems. Depending on the situation, some stages may require dehumidifiers and magnetic separator systems.

Transfer via pneumatic conveying

Granular and powder ingredients are transferred within and between stages by use of pneumatic conveying. This type of conveying occurs generally within and between the unloading and processing stages.

There are four types of pneumatic conveying used, and which method is used depends on many factors. The methods used are lean phase pressure conveying  (DPPC), lean phase vacuum conveying (LPVC), dense phase pressure conveying  (DPP) and dense phase vacuum conveying (DPVC). Note that other terms are used including:

  • "Dilute" instead of "lean"
  • "Positive" instead of "pressure"
  • "Negative" instead of "vacuum"

Granular and powder food process plant development

Food processor companies will generally operate a combination of old and new plants of varying production capacities. They will consider refurbishing or extending an existing food processing plant when they need to:

  • Increase capacity
  • Add automation
  • Improve efficiency

They will also consider building a new plant to relocate or expand operations if the new location offers strategic benefits.

Plant requirements and modular structure

Granular and powder food processing plants are typically configured to operate in one of two types. In one type the plant is focused on delivering a high throughput on a single product. The other type of plant has the flexibility to vary production capacities on a set of different products. All plants have numerous requirements to which they operate, including aspects such as:

  • Hourly throughput
  • Product integrity
  • Product composition
  • Particle size

Plants follow a modular structure, which allows them to be broken down into one or more material flow stages. The systems and accessories within each stage can be documented. The conveying methods used to transfer materials between and within stages can also be detailed. This modular structure is an effective way to represent any granular and powder food processing plant and gives a clear picture of how it operates.

Industry systems integrator

The combination of plant requirements and modular structure is what an industry systems integrator needs in order to develop an ideal solution for the food processing company. The industry systems integrator would draw on its commercial experience in material handling of granular and powder ingredients and specialised resources to provide complete solutions that include:

  • Design, manufacture and supply
  • Control and testing
  • Training and commissioning
  • Support and maintenance

It would be considered best practice to involve the industry systems integrator in the development and documentation of the plant requirements. This is so their expertise can be used to ensure design decisions are made correctly from the start. Their experience can also help uncover concealed factors that may affect production or have undesired effects on or within the stages of the food processing plant.

Another important best practice consideration is to involve an industry systems integrator with the ability to interpret, design and supply the plant's control panels. This expertise is valuable in streamlining solution delivery and maximising integration.

Examples of plant development solutions

An ideal industry systems integrator suited to granular and powder food processing would have successfully delivered many different types of plants in various configurations. This broad range of plants would include:

Simple examples

These are examples where the plant development is only one or two stages:

  • Addition of outdoor and flexible silos
  • Cocoa cake silo storage with automatic control
  • Capacity increase for a blending plant
  • Installing bulk flour tanker loading capability from storage silos
  • Pneumatic conveying of powdered sugar
  • Silo storage with pneumatic conveying and weight batching for:
    • Flour and water
    • Sugar and flour
  • Storage, conveying and batching of sugar for biscuit line

Complex examples

These are example where the plant development is more than two stages:

  • Fine sugar processing that includes:
    • Bulk bag unloading system for raw sugar
    • Grinding of raw sugar
    • Conveying and batch weighing for ground sugar
  • Flour storage silos, sugar grinding, conveying and weighing system
  • Mixing flour and minor ingredients and water plants from storage to make:
    • Bakery products
    • Bread and buns
    • Cream rolls

Systems within a granular and powder food processing plant

Systems within a granular and powder food processing plant

Pneuvay becomes an industry system integrator

Our recent join with Pneu Powder Systems (the Asia-Pacific industry leader) provides a greatly expanded base of knowledge, expertise and experience in the material handling of granular and powder ingredients in the food processing industry. We now offer specialisation in food processing to the same level we provide in aviation, mining, manufacturing and transport. As an industry system integrator, Pneuvay can now provide complete solutions and deliver:

  • Plant and system proposals for budgeting or tendering
  • Complete plant and system design, supply and installation
  • Integrated contract control and supervision
  • Electrical and pneumatic control system design
  • Research and development for new processes
  • Custom equipment design and fabrication
  • Plant and system maintenance and servicing
  • Operator training and manuals

We have a combined portfolio of many large to multinational companies including:


  • Coffico and Dimattina
  • Nestle Manufacturing
  • Mars Incorporated

Asia-Pacific and Middle East

  • Aryzta Asia Pacific
  • Acecook JS Companies
  • Gardenia Bakeries
  • Jollibee / Zenith Foods Corporation
  • Mondelez International
  • Nestle Manufacturing
  • Olam International
  • PT Indofood
  • Puratos
  • Wilmar

Contact us for assistance

Our head office is in Australia but we now have access to offices in Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines. Our coverage area for providing system integration for material handling of granular and powder ingredients in the food processing industry has increased to cover Asia-Pacific and Middle East as well as Australia.

If you would like assistance in the development of granular and powder food processing plant, feel free to call on 1300721458 or contact us.

Expanded coverage area for system integration in the food processing industry

Expanded coverage area for system integration
in the food processing industry

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Read up on Pneuvay Engineering is now officially the sole agent in Australia for Vortex

Pneuvay Engineering is proud to announce we are the official sole agent for Vortex Australia.

This is a great development for the Australian pneumatic conveying industry.
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