Vortex Gates & Diverters Prove their Longevity at Wheat Montana Farms & Bakery
Published: February 28, 2019
Life is fairly quiet in the state of Montana; but tucked away in the heart of southwestern Montana, a bustling farm and bakery is kneading a national love for fresh, quality and nutritious baked goods.
Wheat Montana was established in the small town of Three Forks, Montana, USA, in 1958. Originally, it was simply a plot of farmland purchased by local farmer Dale Folkvord – but the land’s reputation proceeded it as a textbook for American history and the westward frontier. In 1805, Captain Meriwether Lewis stood atop the cliffs on what was Wheat Montana Farms as he discovered the three forks of the Missouri River.
Upon graduation from college, Dale Folkvord’s son, Dean Folkvord, took over the family business and in 1993, constructed the Wheat Montana Bakery. In 1996, Wheat Montana constructed a flour mill to become a full-scale milling and baking operation.
By 1997, Wheat Montana Farms & Bakery had won two entrepreneurial awards.
Today, Wheat Montana uses only locally sourced grains to produce their fresh, health-conscious baked goods.
Wheat Montana produces several categories of grain-based products, including breads, buns, hoagies, bagels, dinner rolls and more. These fresh-made goods are available throughout Montana, the Pacific Northwest, and the western and southwestern states.
In addition to finished goods, Wheat Montana also packages and sells flour, grains, pancake mixes and cereal, which are available nationwide.
For locals or visitors to Montana, Wheat Montana also operates five delis – each named “Wheat Montana Bakery & Deli.” The restaurants are located in Three Forks, MT; Great Falls, MT; and Kalispell, MT; as well as two locations in Missoula, MT. Click here for restaurant addresses.
At Wheat Montana, emphasis is placed on nutritional quality, ingredient transparency, and a general admiration for the customer. To support these ideals, thorough considerations have been given to Wheat Montana’s milling and baking processes – and as a result, their operations are far from conventional.
Through a full-scale flour mill and bakery, Wheat Montana produces more than 37,000 loaves of baked goods each day. This is accomplished by a small yet dedicated staff of just 200 employees.
One for the Record Books: On September 19, 1995, Wheat Montana set the Guinness World Record for the “Fastest Field-to-Loaf.” Wheat was cut, milled, mixed as dough and baked into 13 loaves of bread using microwave ovens – in just 8 minutes and 13 seconds!
Unlike many specialty grain producers, Wheat Montana utilizes an all-natural milling process. First, the grains go through a standard cleaning and general grain processing system. Then, using a natural steel cut milling process, minimal heat gain is transferred to the wheat – and without tempering. In the grinding process, Wheat Montana utilizes impact milling over traditional roller mills or stone milling. Because impact milling is carried out at temperatures of just 94° F | 34° C, the grain’s vital nutrients, quality and taste can be retained. Otherwise, when subjected to high heat, grain nutrients are destroyed and the grain itself can become rancid. Both of these concerns can negatively impact overall flour quality.
To retain the grain’s natural properties, Wheat Montana does not separate the original wheat kernels, nor do they introduce any additives throughout the milling process.
Wheat Montana products have several distinguishing characteristics, including:
Non-GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms)
Chemical-free wheat varieties
Organic wheat varieties
High yield (per lb of flour)
High water absorption
Excellent protein strength
Superior process tolerances
North Monsen Company & Vortex Assist in the Grinding & Packaging Processes
When Wheat Montana’s flour mill was first constructed in 1996, North Monsen Company was tasked with designing the mill’s bulk material handling system. For the grinding and packaging processes, North Monsen designed the system so that flour could be pneumatically conveyed from four grinding bins toward four packaging lines. Within these processes, North Monsen recommended Vortex slide gates for their longevity and ease of maintenance. At their recommendation, Wheat Montana installed two Vortex Orifice Gates – both of which continue to be in service today.
“We have used these gates every day for the past 22 years, problem-free,” said Wayne Fuller, maintenance engineer at Wheat Montana Farms & Bakery. “In that time, maintenance has been uncommon – and when it has been necessary, it can be easily done while the gate remains in-line.”
In 2006, Wheat Montana installed three Vortex Wye Line Diverters, used to pneumatically convey flour between the grinding and packaging processes. In 2009, an additional six were installed.
“We selected these diverters because we have enjoyed the service life, maintainability and performance of our Orifice Gates – and so far, the Wye Line Diverters have been no exception,” explained Fuller. “The diverters have been in service for 12 years and 9 years, respectively – and just like the Orifice Gates, the Wye Line Diverters have required very little maintenance.”
A common feature to the Orifice Gate and the Wye Line Diverter is that if light dusting comes through the weep holes at the front of the valve, the nuts along the lateral aspects of the valve can be simply loosened to remove shims from each side. This restores the compression load between the blade and the seal plates, which are located directly above and below the blade. After re-tightening the nuts, the valve properly seals again – as if it is brand new. This entire process can be completed in less than 10 minutes, and can be performed while the valve remains in-line.
Since 1956, North Monsen Company has engineered, specified and provided equipment for the manufacture of food, minerals, plastics, chemicals and pharmaceutical products. More specifically, North Monsen specializes in machinery for handling dry bulk powders, pellets, granules and aggregates. Located in Salt Lake City, Utah, North Monsen serves clients throughout Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana.
For more information about North Monsen, or for a complete list of their equipment manufacturing partners, please visit www.northmonsen.com.