by Andrew Wilkinson, Milling and Grain Magazine

 

With the aim of contributing to both the commercial success of its customers and to a healthy planet, the Virtual World by Bühler opened its digital doors to the public from March 22-26, 2021.

With no less than two billion people enjoying food produced on Bühler equipment each day, and one billion people traveling in vehicles with parts manufactured with its machinery, Bühler has achieved an unprecedented level of global manufacturing relevance.

In order to sustain this, it continues to work in close collaboration with customers, academia and start-ups, enabling them to turn today's global challenges into sound, successful and sustainable business solutions.

An online platform like no other, the Bühler Virtual World integrates 3D visualisations of solutions and technologies, with a virtual event complete with keynote speakers and a conference zone that boasts breakout rooms for both presentations and individual online meetings.

Originally formulated as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Bühler hosted its first Virtual World in May 2020 in order to engage with customers and partners.

Encouraged by its initial success, Bühler has expanded the approach to building a 3D landscape world featuring all of Bühler's multitude of businesses.

In essence, the Bühler Virtual World showcases a series of new solutions and product launches designed to delight consumers, strengthen competitiveness, and increase sustainability.

Prioritising effectiveness and efficiency

Continuing a seemingly ubiquitous thread of success, March 2021 saw Bühler once again inviting food, feed, and mobility industry players to its second Virtual World, with the key aim of this event being to switch Bühler's focus from crisis management to a more optimistic mindset; one of building a better future.

at a pre-launch event prior this edition of the Bühler Virtual World, Bühler CEO Stefan Scheiber reveals that the firm's key research and development investment, totalling CHF 450 million (US$ 479 million) over the past three years, is continuing to influence major technology breakthroughs and the delivery of sustainable industry solutions, 'Even in these challenging times, we see multi-fold opportunities for our customers,' says Mr Scheiber.

'The food, feed, and mobility industries have never been more dynamic, embracing new, more sustainable and at the same time more economical products and solutions.'

Bühler's Covid-19 recovery objectives are based around the creation of completely new industrial solutions that combine both physical and digital applications. The design and manufacturing stages of these innovations have both effectiveness and efficiency as the key priorities throughout every stage.

According to Mr Scheiber, the most crucial aspect of this process is that these systems must also address climate change and sustainability issues surrounding food production across all market segments. This will then enable Bühler to meet its energy, waste and water reduction goals; targets that will only be if all of the world's industry works closely together, states Mr Scheiber.

He also notes that there had been considerable supply chain disruption over the past twelve months, which has triggered the creation of a collection of unique global challenges.

'We need to realise that covid-19 has been a gamechanger, sometimes an accelerator of trends, but have now been magnified,' states Mr Scheiber.

'One huge aspect of that is the unbelievable drive for digitalisation in all aspects of our lives, making innovation cycles faster, for instance in education and learning for the future,' he continues.

Consumer trends are transforming faster than ever

Remaining with the topic of innovation, the focus of the latest virtual world sessions remained keenly on the major areas of Bühler's business portfolio, that Ian Roberts - Bühler's chief technology officer, believes will be most influential in the years ahead.

'Delighting consumers is very important – consumer trends are transforming faster than ever. In terms of competitiveness, we need to use services and whole digital capability and assets more efficiently, reduced waste, increase yield and upturn, that will also bring massive sustainability benefits,' says Mr Roberts.

'If we are going to mitigate climate change by less than two percent by 2030, we are not going to do it with a capital investment cycle in the next three-to-four years, there will be step changes, it goes against sustainability to replace perfectly good machines with new ones. We have to get those perfectly good machines operating much more efficiently, which is where services come in,' he adds.

Mr Roberts also notes that the potential impact of its services portfolio including smart mills, yield management systems linked to its insights platform could also have a big influence on Bühler's ability to meet these targets, adding that the business was uniquely positioned to assist industry with its end-to-end processing capabilities.

Among the highlights of the virtual world sessions, Roberts noted a key confectionery development with the recently created ChocoX chocolate processing line, which is among the systems being showcased this week.

'In 25 the years that I've worked with chocolate, this really is the coolest chocolate technology innovation that I have seen in that time – it unlocks massive innovation capability with customers,' states Mr Roberts.

'Now you cannot talk about delighting customers without talking about chocolate, it's that emotional link that people have. Was it your relationship with your grandparents, something that they gave you when you came home from school, or the gift asking forgiveness for your partner? There are so many emotional aspects wrapped around chocolate.'

As well as developments in the world of chocolate this virtual event also included visits to Bühler's other areas of business including coffee, inks, biomass and thermal energy.

Sustainable solutions and increased profits

According to a Bühler source, the company is experiencing an increase in demand for low-emission coffee production plants. In order to satisfy this apparent uptick, Bühler has developed the first very low-emission coffee plant by working with Norwegian coffee producer Joh. Johannson Kaffe.

With regards to inks, Bühler offers manufacturers of inks and coatings an unbeatable duo of solutions that includes the high-performance bead mill MicroMedia Invicta, and the pre-dispersing unit MacroMedia. This combination saves the equivalent of 200 kilograms of CO2 per ton of ink produced compared to today's standard processes.

In March 2021 Bühler also entered a strategic partnership with Vyncke. Together, the two companies offer integrated solutions to convert biomass side streams into clean process energy while reducing customers' carbon footprints.

Bühler is also involved with the first joint malting project for Uruguay's Malteria Oriental SA, which is fully operational with a 30 percent smaller energy system.

The recovery of thermal energy saves 35,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions per year compared to standard operating procedures in Uruguay, and this at the same time turns into a massive economic profit.

Services are the game changer

For all these solutions and opportunities, the most effective weapon in Bühler's arsenal is arguably their comprehensive array of services, which focuses on increasing uptime, capacity, and sustainability. As reflected in the Bühler Virtual World, digital also plays a crucial role, with all of its digital services found on the platforms Bühler Insights and myBühler.

Bühler customers can also rely on Bühler services such as TotalCare for inspection and maintenance, RemoteCare for remote support, upgrades to extend the lifetime of customers' equipment, or CO2 assessment services.

Bühler's responses to long Covid-19 in the business world

The coronavirus pandemic and its economic consequences will keep the world busy for a long time to come. During the past year, Bühler has still been able to offer its customers worldwide, physical and digital services that have made their solutions more energy efficient and cost effective.

Register to get connected

Although the Virtual World has now finished, Bühler is still inviting you to talk business opportunities - because there are so many! Connect to Bühler to discover and seize the chances of today. For further information regarding the Bühler Virtual World, visit: virtualworld.buhlergroup.com

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