Pepper Grinding Process System

BY Edmund Sinnott | April 25, 2023 | Case Study , Process System Chain-Vey Food, Chemical, & Mineral

A large international spice company wanted a new pepper grinding process system to meet growing demand. The goal was grind flexibility and high yield results.

They hired MPE’s Systems Group to design and implement a system comprising Chain-Vey tubular drag disc conveyors, IMD 1042 Gran-U-Lizers, screeners, diverter valves, and bulk bag unloaders—all integrated with controls automation.

Blending, Cleaning, and Bulk Storage

The process system begins with a 4″ (102 mm) diameter Chain-Vey, transporting up to 650 ft3/hr (18 m3/hr) of whole peppercorns without any breakage or degradation from an inlet on the floor upward nearly 40 ft (12 m) to the top of a four-level mezzanine. From the discharge point at the top of the mezzanine, whole peppercorns flow into a blender, cleaner, surge hopper, and into a bulk bag loader for storage.

Precision Peppercorn Size Reduction

From the perspective of other side, opposite of the above photographed perspective.

When the time comes to process the whole peppercorns into ground pepper, a separate pneumatic system brings whole peppercorns to the top of the mezzanine. The whole peppercorns pass through the pneumatic discharge into a 450 Kg surge hopper. Level sensors in the surge hopper send data to the controls panel to ensure flow rate. The first pass of grinding is done with a 2-Stage IMD 1042 (similar to a 1052, but with shorter rolls). This IMD has precision cut rolls with ultralong roll surfaces life for low maintenance. The grinder also has precision servo-motor adjusted roll gap adjustment, allowing for recalling of particular grind yields.

The (first-pass) ground pepper falls from the grinder into a screener that separates the ground pepper particles by mesh size. Once passed through the screener, diverter valves discharge on-target particles into supersacks and oversized particles (called overs) into a Chain-Vey inlet. The overs falling into the Chain-Vey are carried again to the top of the mezzanine to either one of two discharge points (more on this below). Plant operators can also divert on-target pepper to the Chain-Vey inlet for additional grinding if desired (such is the case when grinding for ultrafine).

For reasons of both process flow continuity and flexibility, plant operators can either discharge medium-ground pepper into a second 1-Stage IMD 1042 for additional grinding (e.g., ultrafine) or the overs into the same 2-Stage grinder for enhanced yields.

All ground pepper at the end of its grinding and screening journey end up in supersacks, where they are taken to packaging machines.


The process system intakes and outputs around 800 Kg/Hr of perfectly ground pepper. This system is so successful that a second identical system is being built and is slated for commissioning in 2024.

Operators can achieve mesh sizes of 10×30, 20×60 and even <60 mesh ground pepper with 80%+ yields. Pepper organic volatiles and odorants are preserved and kept inside the process flow. This not only benefits the final product quality as it remains the freshest it can be, but also reduces workers’ eyes, throat and nose irritation as they are exposed to fewer pepper particles. An improvement of 10% more volatiles preserved inside the product over previous systems designs was measured after commissioning.

Easy operation, improved product consistency and quality and performance data is automatically logged. We’re really happy with the System and support provided on this project. MPE’s equipment and designs work perfectly.

We’re really happy with the System and support provided on this project. MPE’s equipment and designs work perfectly.

-Plant Operations Manager

To learn more about MPE’s Systems Group project management and engineering for process applications, contact [email protected] or call +1-773-254-3929.

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