Happy to announce my smoothest brew day yet with the Brewzilla.
I took some time to re-read this thread and look for little changes.
I mixed in rice hulls evenly during dough-in in several small handfulls, and had a much smoother recirculation despite a larger than normal grain bill. I only had to throttle the recirc pipe about halfway, and there was no rise/overflow needed. (I also just left the lid off so it was easier to monitor the liquid level on top).
I put a nylon BIAB under/around the malt pipe, but went back to using the center pipe and top screen. The BIAB is a failsafe in case grains escape the malt pipe somewhere (which didn't happen today), and it stays in place after I remove the malt pipe so that I can just toss hops in without a hop screen (which winds up being simpler/faster for me).
To speed things up, I only left the malt pipe on top for a few minutes after removing, and then just set in it a separate side pot to finish draining (and a small sparge). Then I just dumped the wort from the side pot back into the Brewzilla later during the boil.
I also used the overnight timer to get my water to temp about 30 minutes before I woke up. It meant skipping a lot of my step mashing, but absolutely worth the trade off in time savings.
My efficiency was a bit lower this time. But not by much (70%). I'm guessing it's because my mash was shorter overall.
But overall, it definitely feels like I'm getting closer to getting my process/approach nailed down.
Congratulations! Nothing like a smooth brew day! It's good for the soul!