AP Innovations & Technologies: Technology Led Global Grain Revolution

Shashi Kumar Thimmaiah, DirectorBeing widely used across India and finding its way across to other nations, paddy is one of the major cash crops of the nation. Grown in abundance, paddy grains must undergo various processes such as parboiling, ageing and drying in order to enter the consumer space. Unfortunately, the existing technologies available in the Indian market leave a lot to be desired in terms of uniform colour consistency, process broken, quality consistency per batch, and cooking quality. Resolving these acute challenges through implementation of fully automated processes and next gen technology solutions is AP Innovation & Technologies (APIT). An Indo U.S. joint venture, the firm is driving a grain revolution and is known to be one of the premier paddy process specialists across the globe.

Paving the way relying on process, innovation & technology, Bangalore based APIT renders solutions for fully automated parboiled paddy processing & driers, improvised accelerated aged rice processing plants and recipe based rice parboiling along with automation. Ensuring zero error processes, the company specializes in designing, engineering, erection and commissioning of paddy processing plants for clients across the globe. APIT ensures that primary emphasis is given to maintaining hygiene and nutrition in its parboiled rice plants, steamed rice(accelerated aged rice) plants & process engineering for rice processors. Armed with a team of highly skilled and experienced engineers & process experts, the firm provides engineering services with regard to rice processors in parboiled rice and steamed rice(accelerated aged rice)for all varieties. Known for creating bespoke processes to suit the specific requirements of clients, APIT makes use of high quality manufacturing equipment. “With APIT, you can be certain of a complete solution from concept through fabrication and installations for quality global standard rice with hygiene and nutrition, ”explains Shashi Kumar Thimmaiah, Director, APIT.

Batch Wise & Continuous Parboiling Systems
Parboiling, the process zone where the final colour and nutritional value of rice is decided is an integral process of grain processing. Having critical impact on the final quality of the grain, it is pertinent that the right process be established to achieve the desired end product. Considered as one of the best parboiling systems available in the industry, APITs’ parboiling infrastructure is designed keeping in mind the process to be carried out in the plant, the grain, demography and environmental system. Following a three stage infrastructure for the three stage process, APITs parboiling starts with pre hydration, where after cleaning, the paddy is placed in the pre hydration machine and steam is enforced with low pressure to increase the porosity in the husk, and to stepup the strength in the bonding of starch granules. Moving on to hydration, at this step a hot water hydration or soak draws water soluble vitamins and minerals from the bran layers and germ. Once the grain reaches the saturation level of hydration, the process is stopped. Moving to the next step, grains undergo gel cook, where low medium pressure and steam is applied and these water soluble nutrients are pressed into the endosperm where a gel cook treatment locks the nutrient into the grain.

“The future of the parboiling industry is in processing paddy continuously to upgrade from the archaic batchwise process. The trend of continuous parboiling concept is slowly and steadily pickingup its pace to overcome the drawbacks existing in the batchwise processing,” adds Shashi. Many new installations are looking out for solution providers of online paddy parboiling to suit demands of continuous drying machines. Realizing this potential, APIT has developed a continuous parboiling plant which syncs with the demands of a continuous dryer. Known as Bhatta Rice Intelligence System (BRIS), it is a unique system which moves away from conventional batchwise processes and introduces continuous parboiling solutions, thereby moving from operator dependant processes to market dependant solutions. Named as a tribute to the eminent scientist, Dr. K.Bhattacharya, the essence of this system is in providing continuous parboiling, which complements sophisticated continuous dryers. APIT has the required data which helps in establishing an intelligent recipe for producing parboiled rice ranging from white to deep yellow (white, offwhite, cream and yellow).

Innovators in the space, APIT also acknowledges that at present, the continuous parboiling market is in its inception stage and is yet to mature. Therefore, to address the continuous parboiling market is in its inception stage and is yet to mature.
Therefore, to address the remaining majority of the batchwise market the firm offers a module based on recipe driven paddy processing which is proprietary to APIT machines. APIT also provides solutions for the batchwise processing segments complete with batchtype dryers. The company is flexible enough to offer these solutions in manual, semiauto and auto modes of operation based on the customers’ preferences.

APIT has developed a continuous parboiling plant which syncs with the demands of a continuous dryers

Bhatta Gel Cook Station
The rice grain is a rich source of starch with 20-23 percent of amylose and the remaining 77-80 percent of amylopectin. The process of parboiling, if carried out in a controlled environment with the proper steaming and nonsteaming zones, results in 40 percent gelatinization, which is a minimum for parboiled paddy. The result can be enhanced further upto the extent of 75-80 percent based on the customer preferences of producing colour. To facilitate the same, APIT has developed a unique gel cook station for producing high quality parboiled paddy. Developed with the inputs from world’s most renowned grain scientist, Dr. Kshirod Bhattacharya, unlike the conventional type of cookers where the body is cylindrical and the steaming process is intense, the state of the art APIT Gel Cook stations have a contoured design interior to facilitate proper mixing of paddy while it is steamed. They comprise intermediary nonsteaming zones to facilitate absorption of steam before steaming again and this alternate steaming and resting while in transit without compromising the FIFO method of grain flow ensures that hydrated paddy gelatinizes completely and the disarray of the amylose is corrected.

A revolutionary concept, it ensures uniformity in colour, texture and quality of rice. The APIT gel cook station is specially designed with alternate steaming and tempering zones of varying intensities of steaming before the paddy gets discharged from the rotary outlet at the bottom. Each and every grain is influenced by the controlled properties of the steam.

The grain processing expert organization has also launched APIT Drying System called indigo mixedflow recirculation, LSU drier that is changing how the industry dries grain. The company’s mixedflow grain dryers deliver even heating while using half the energy of conventional LSU dryers. Larger capacities and longer retention time process grains more evenly and significantly reduces the potential for heat stress cracking, resulting in higher quality grains, higher test weights and higher prices for your grain.

"We are also working on new colour index, which will provide instant cooking time and instant cooking yield information to consumers"

Accelerated Rice Ageing Processes
The process of inducing changes in rice in a short time to obtain cooking properties, which resemble that of naturally aged rice, is referred to as accelerated ageing. However often, during the ageing process, some physiochemical properties of the grain may change owing to changes in lipid, protein, and other substances produced from enzyme activities and oxygen during storage. Although the conventional ageing of rice takes a relatively long time, approximately 4-6 months, this method also requires large space for storage of paddy, thus leading to high operating cost. Furthermore, paddy undergoing ageing is susceptible to damage from insects, microorganism and rodents. It is therefore necessary to explore other techniques that can reduce the ageing time and operating cost, while at the same time, maintaining the properties such as appearance and texture to be similar to those obtained by the conventional ageing process. A complete process based system, APIT’s Accelerated Aged Rice Process (steamed rice) makes use of fully-automated ageing cookers with natural moisture dryer and artificial moisture dryer-based on practical innovation. The process ensures best cooking results, expansion in all geometrical properties, least discoloration of grain, least utility requirements for process, and least process cost.

Automating Processes
While most manufacturers in the grain processing industry largely provide fabricated infrastructure, APIT has developed capabilities to render complete automated solutions that can control the entire process. One of the firm’s primary differentiators, the process oriented infrastructure that every aspect of the process is closely monitored and is thus kept under control. Having developed one of a kind automation software, PROSE, APIT is a true trailblazer in the industry. The software is entirely based on the response of paddy in every step of parboiling and drying. All process parameters are controlled by PROSE, process design software that inturn provides a uniform degree of starch gelatinization controlled for the desired gel consistency to ensure uniform colour consistency. The system is controlled by Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) through which every parameter is monitored online and all errors are rectified instantaneously.

The firm has also developed an IoT solution that leverages field equipment used in rice mills. Designed to monitor, analyse and evaluate the process, APIT’s IoT solution allows users to access the system and data from anywhere in the world. With this software, one can easily identify the source of error to ensure that the entire process need not be disturbed.

Having already launched path breaking solutions, APIT is now working on innovations such as Artificial Intelligence based Chat Bots to help rice millers fix process parameters. The firm is also working on waterless soaking parboiling system which will be the key in South Asian market. “We are also working on new colour index, which will provide instant cooking time and instant cooking yield information to consumers,” says Shashi. Although a young organization, APIT managed to achieve Rs.21.5 crore in revenue in its very first year, and the ambitious firm is now aiming to hit the Rs.150 crore mark in the next three years.

Key Management:
Shashi Kumar Thimmaiah, Director
An innovator in every sense of the word, Shashi Kumar believes Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things(IoT) are the future key influences in rice processing technology. Laying emphasis on maintaining hygiene and nutritional value of grains, he is a key proponent for promoting a global grain revolution.

Offices:Bangalore,India; Arkansas, U.S.

Services:Indigo Batch wise Parboiling System, BRIS Continuous Parboiling System. Bhatta Gel Cook Station, Accelerated Aged Rice System,LSU Dryers and Automation.