Equipment & Technology

Bühler Virtual World Supports Food Industry Resilience in Covid-19 Crisis

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In just six weeks, Bühler transformed its physical Interpack program into a fully digital experience. The processing and packaging trade show, previously scheduled for May 8-14 in Düsseldorf, Germany, was cancelled due to the lockdown and social distancing protocols imposed to suppress spread of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes the Covid-19 respiratory disease has been attributed to the deaths more than 281,000 people and infections of more than 4,000,000 others while wreaking economic havoc around the world.

But the show must go on – virtually, that is. Preparing for such has been a very steep learning curve for the Bühler team, but one that will give the Uzwil, Switzerland-headquartered company’s partners and customers access to new services for operational efficiency and capacity improvement, new product proposals to appeal to consumers, and inspiration to ensure the long-term sustainability of the global food supply. All of this can be accessed from the safety and convenience of one’s homes or office.

The publicly accessible Bühler Virtual World, featuring a content-rich program, will have its digital doors open from May 12-15 at:

“We see it as our responsibility to ensure the continuity of food supply chains, but also to keep business afloat by enabling close collaboration among industry partners and with our customers,” said Germar Wacker (pictured above), chief executive officer of Bühler Consumer Foods. “With digital capabilities underpinning a service portfolio increasing yield and capacity, ensuring consistent product quality and reducing unplanned downtime, waste and energy consumption, Bühler can contribute to support its customers to deliver the strong demand they experience today while securing their operational results. Our myBühler and Bühler Insights digital platforms will support business resilience by enriching the physical world with the capability of digital solutions.”

Relevant differentiation is the key to unlocking consumer demand and is transforming the food industry at an extraordinary rate. Natural, clean label, on-the-go, regional origin, increasing varieties, bite size, healthy, organic, and local are all trends of importance. Bühler food technologists will present a variety of products that address these trends, including plant-based chicken pieces.

“A combination of flexible assets, higher operational efficiency and differentiated offerings will support our industry to return successfully to the new normal,” said Wacker.

Bühler Group CEO Stefan Scheiber

Addressing the challenge of building a sustainable food industry that will continue to nourish the projected 10 billion people that will occupy the planet in 2050, Bühler Group CEO Stefan Scheiber commented:

“We are convinced that our sustainability goals will produce good business models, and we will make this case at the Bühler Virtual World event. We are focusing all research and development spending on targets of reducing waste, energy, and water consumption in customers’ value chains by 50%.”

Bühler Virtual World Highlights

As a solution provider, Bühler has grouped the innovations of its Virtual World into four key topics:

  • How to capitalize on market trends with high flexibility, fast changeovers, and integrated solutions
  • How to reach the highest efficiency with best Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)
  • How to manufacture products reliably with documented food safety
  • How to improve sustainability with reduced consumption of energy, water, and waste.

Customer Service at Click of a Button
The myBühler portal offers customers 24/7 access to all the information relevant to their technologies and equipment, while streamlining the purchasing process with pricing and material information and online ordering.

Customers operating former Haas solutions will soon be able to connect to myBühler as well. Far more than a standard customer portal, it is promoted as the starting point and the one-stop-shop for all digital solutions, including product information, eMaintenance, e-Training, and eService such as Bühler’s Remote Guidance. Smart glasses enable Bühler’s specialists to instruct professionals at customer sites remotely. And first level support is guaranteed within two hours.

Saving Energy, Water and Reducing Waste
The company is presenting a wide range of innovative product formulations, from chocolate mass to enrobed baked products, from molded products to wafers and biscuits. All of them will be displayed with experts explaining their sustainability and production benefits. Bühler’s aim is to reduce energy use, water consumption, and waste in customers’ value chains by 50% by 2025.

Among the sustainable solutions that will be presented during the virtual fair is the Franz Haas MTA. It can produce eatable and biodegradable packaging made from wafers and helps lower the use of single-use plastic. And, the SWAKT-Eco wafer-baking oven reduces emissions by 90%. It also uses 30% less energy. These are just a few of the innovations to be unveiled.

Food safe designs incorporate new concepts and latest technology such as laser cleaning for SWAKT-Eco or the new batch roaster Solano that combines three process steps in one solution: pasteurizing, roasting, and drying. Bühler guarantees a bacterial reduction of at least 99.999% with the Solano.

Heralding a New Era
Equally innovative as the new solutions and services is the way Bühler will showcase them and communicate with its customers and partners during the Bühler Virtual World. This virtual trade fair combines a live event program, a virtual solution space, and video conferencing features.

“Today, with greater urgency than ever, the world is relying on food industries to run like clockwork,” said Scheiber. “It has to ensure solid production chains and reliable output. The industry also needs to adapt and learn how to innovate together as partners, even when it is physically impossible.”

Bühler developed the Virtual World to deal with these challenges in a collaborative manner and bring important industry stakeholders together.

“We want to show our customers that they can rely on us even in times of crisis, be it for new product developments, for servicing their solutions, or when digitalizing their plants for the new normal we are now learning to live in,” stated Scheiber.

Customers and visitors can look forward to exploring the virtual booth. They are free to attend the livestream program featuring keynotes on digitalization and sustainability and delve deep into service solutions and special application areas that will be presented by expert food technologists.