Bartlett Keeps the Flour Flowing in Wilson's Mills, NC

Bartlett’s Wilson’s Mills, NC flour mill completed a $28 million expansion in May 2023 that included a third 5,000-cwt. milling unit.

When the flour mill at Wilson’s Mills, NC (25 miles southeast of Raleigh) was built in 2000, it was designed to operate at 10,000 cwts. per day, with the space to double processing capacity if needed down the line.

The need for more capacity has been a steady drip since Bartlett, a Savage Company, purchased the mill in 2007.

In 2012, the company added a 5,000-cwt. milling unit, and in 2023, it added another 5,000-cwt. milling unit, bringing its daily processing capacity to 20,000 cwts.

“We felt it was time to expand,” General Manager Andrew Rutter tells Milling Journal. “It enables us to keep up with our customers and the growing market, and our goal is to source as much locally grown soft red winter (SRW) wheat as we can.”

He also notes that several new commercial bakeries entering the market created an opportunity for Bartlett.

Third Milling Unit

To design and build a third milling unit at North Carolina’s largest flour mill, Bartlett selected Todd & Sargent, Inc., Ames, IA, as general contractor. Bühler Inc., Uzwil, Switzerland, was chosen as the primary equipment and technology supplier.

Rutter says that Todd & Sargent and Bühler were selected due to their good work constructing a whole wheat mill and cleaning house for Bartlett in Statesville, NC 10 years ago.

The $28 million Wilson’s Mills project broke ground in July 2021 and was completed in May 2023. “Considering the supply chain constraints of the pandemic,” he explains, “Todd & Sargent and Bühler did well to keep up with the timeline.”

The existing facility and new milling unit are controlled by Bühler’s new Mercury automation system. “We updated to their latest operating system as part of this expansion,” says Rutter, who notes the Wilson’s Mills team has access to more precise traceability data than ever before. “Mill processes are monitored constantly, and each step is saved in a centralized database.”

To accommodate additional processing capacity at Wilson’s Mills, more storage was needed for wheat, flour, and millfeed. Two new GSI 250,000-bushel steel tanks brought the facility’s storage capacity to 1.1 million bushels. The facility receives SRW wheat by truck and hard red winter and hard red spring wheat by rail. 

The new milling unit, which grinds SRW wheat, receives product from the facility’s existing cleaning house.

Before grinding, wheat is held in a tempering bin. Then, it runs through a Bühler scourer-aspirator, six MKLA Bran Duster debranners, and a MKZH Vibro Duster.

The new milling unit is equipped with 10 Bühler MDDR single-high rollstands, as well as two MDDT double-high models, plus a MQRG purifier, two MPAK-10 ten-section sifters, two MPAK-4 four-section sifters, scales, and flow controllers.

Ground flour is enriched by a REPCO additives application system before entering flour storage. Finished flour is pulled from one or more bins to fill the specification for particular customers. Then, Rutter says, product heads through the mill’s dual-loading truck bay.

Bartlett has been pleased with the mill’s performance since it began operating in February. “We hit our production rate and extraction goal right on time,” he notes. “We ironed out all the details in a relatively short time.”

Rutter credits Todd & Sargent and Bühler for the project’s success. “They did the job during a pandemic, and everyone was safe, which was an impressive feat considering the rest of the mill continued to operate during construction.”

He also credits local farmers and Johnston County officials, some of whom attended the mills’ May 2 ribbon-cutting event, for their support of the project.

“We’re excited to be here and be a part of this growing community.”

Tucker Scharfenberg, senior managing editor