The Ultraplex 250 UPZ fine impact mill is a reliable partner in such cases where the consistency of thematerial varies. Especially in grinding products with natural fibers such as vanilla beans, different grinders and sieve inserts are required and have to be changed quickly. The Hamburg family business Aust & Hachmann oHG therefore relies on the high-quality solutions from Hosokawa Alpine to continue its history rich in tradition.
It is hard to imagine a cake or dessertwithout the use of vanilla. Whether inthe form of pods, powder, extract oras an addition to sugar: the fruits ofthe tropical orchid genus vanilla areprecious and in great demand. Fromthe cultivation areas in Madagascar,Uganda and Papua New Guinea, thepods are exported all over the worldfor further processing – as well asto Hamburg. There, for 140 years,the company Aust & Hachmannhas specialized in the trade andproduction of high-quality naturalvanilla products for 140 years. Fora long time, the Hamburg-basedcompany acted exclusively as anintermediary, but now, as part of acooperation with Hosokawa Alpine,they have been able to decisivelyexpand the product range: by usingthe Ultraplex 250 UPZ fine impactmill, the family-owned company isnow able to produce the finest vanillapowder.
A sophisticated solution for a demanding product
Grinding vanilla brings with itseveral challenges. After harvesting,the vanilla beans are dried andfermented, producing vanillin, themain flavoring substance. The podsare then bundled and transportedonwards for grinding. The productis dosed into the mill via a rotary airlock and enters the inside of the millvia the mill door. There, the vanillameets the UPZ beaters and is groundinto the desired fineness. As naturalproducts, however, the vanilla piecesare not homogeneous and havedifferent properties depending on thebatch. For this reason, the mill needsa possibility for flexible adjustment.The process engineering solutionof the Hosokawa Alpine Ultraplexfine impact mill stands for versatilegrinding. This versatility is due to thehigh variability of the grinders andscreens: “It is important that thereare no fibrous pieces in the finalproduct, only powder. The finenesscan be adjusted by changing thesieve. With the help of the frequencyconverter, the speed of the grindingmill can be changed and thus quicklyadapted to the conditions of the feedproduct,” explains Barbara Kästl,Key Account Manager at HosokawaAlpine. The high air flow of the UPZgrinding discs cools oily products andprevents clogging or smearing of thescreens used. In addition, there arevarious sieve inserts with which thecustomer can influence the textureof the vanilla.
All customer requirements taken into account
As a food processing company, Aust& Hachmann oHG is certified to thehighest hygiene and health standards.The fine impact mills must meet thesestrict requirements – an aspect thatthe Food Division at Hosokawa Alpinecontrols and takes into account inthe design of the mills. The Ultraplexsystems are easily accessible toguarantee thorough cleaning. Thebearings are protected against dustby air flushing. To prevent powderexplosions and ensure the best fireprotection, the mills are designedto be pressure-shock resistant andcertified to ATEX standards. Fromtime to time, the process engineersalso have to improvise in terms ofinstallation space: “The rooms of ourproduction facility in Hamburg arerelatively low, which was a challenge.Fortunately, the mills could then bedesigned very compactly withoutcompromising functionality andoperating safety,” says ChristopherSchmidt, authorized signatoryand technical manager at Aust &Hachmann oHG. The technology isconvincing in demanding everydayproduction: The Hamburg companyhas been working with the HosokawaAlpine fine impact mills since 2015 andthere was recently the commissioningthe third Ultraplex 250 UPZ. Here,process optimizations such as alarger rotary valve and fluidization toprevent product build-up have beencarried out on an ongoing basis. Inaddition, a 28/40 Rotoplex granulatoris used for cutting the vanilla beans
and for pre-breaking larger lumpsafter sterilisation. To ensure thatthe vanilla powder is always of thesame high quality and particle sizedistribution, the Alpine e200 LS airjet sieve is also used for finenessanalysis, thus completing the overallsystem.
Living corporate responsibilityThe fine impact mills are designedand used exclusively for vanillaproduction. Allergens, foreignflavors and cross-contamination canthus be excluded. However, Aust& Hachmann oHG not only takesresponsibility for the quality of thehigh-quality end products such asvanilla cut, vanilla powder, vanillaextract or vanilla beans. “We havebeen bringing vanilla to customersfrom all over the world for more than140 years. Therefore, we know thevalue chain of this special plant verywell and see where there is a needfor improvement and help,” explainChristopher Schmidt and BerendHachmann, managing director of Aust& Hachmann oHG. Together withthe founding family Hachmann, theyhave therefore set up a foundationthat provides social support tosmall farmers in Madagascar. Dueto the costly cultivation, vanilla hassometimes traded more expensivethan silver in recent years, and crimein the cultivation areas is on the rise.In order to improve the farmers’ livingconditions and ensure sustainability,the foundation works to ensurethat all steps from cultivation tothe fermented vanilla bean can takeplace locally. This allows farmers tocharge higher prices – and to growplants that are later used to refineproducts around the world.