Bühler and Microsoft Link Up to Enhance Food Value Chain
Bühler is set to unveil ground breaking digital technologies that include minimizing toxic contamination, reducing food waste and increasing end product quality across the entire food value chain as part of a new partnership with Microsoft. The cutting edge digital solutions and services will be presented at the Microsoft booth at the Hannover Messe Industrial Supply Show in Germany, which runs from April 23-27.
“Today’s food value chains are facing tremendous challenges,” said Ian Roberts, chief technology officer for the Uzwil, Switzerland-headquartered Bühler Group. “Digital solutions will allow us to improve food safety and integrity and reduce food losses and waste. They enable us to be more efficient in production. In fact, with intelligent implementation of our digital capabilities we will make a major step towards meeting our goals of lowering waste and energy consumption in the food value chain by 30%.”
For the agriculture industry to meet the global quality demands of the future, sustainability in all aspects of production is key,” said Caglayan Arkan, general manager for manufacturing and resources at Microsoft. “Our mission is to help leaders like Bühler take advantage of its data using our Azure cloud and Azure IoT technologies to accurately forecast trends in agriculture, improve food safety and provide better services for customers.”
The Bühler-Microsoft collaboration comes at a time when the global food industry faces increasing environmental and economic pressure. By 2050, the planet’s population is predicted to grow to nine billion. Providing sufficient nutritious food in a sustainable way is a major challenge that suppliers have only begun to address.
More than 30% of global energy goes into food production. However, around 30% of all food is lost or wasted, while an estimated 800 million people are not getting enough to get. The limits of agricultural systems continue to be challenged, as an additional 265 million tons of plant protein will be needed by 2050.
It is Bühler’s declared aim, through smart partnerships, to create businesses that contribute to solving these challenges. “With the digitalization of the food industry we have a new, unrivalled capability we can bring to bear,” said Bühler CTO Roberts.
The showcases to be presented at the Hannover industry trade show cover the whole value chain from farm to fork, as detailed below.
Gamaya decision support and automation services help farmers optimize their use of water, chemicals, fuel and manual labor, while reducing environmental impact and improving the quantity and quality of produce. Examples of analytics include the mapping and classification of weeds, early diagnostics of plant disease, pests and nutrient deficiencies, as well as prediction of yields. Enabled by a unique combination of technologies including hyperspectral and satellite imaging, data fusion and artificial intelligence, it improves the efficiency and sustainability of farming businesses through smarter decisions.
Breakthrough Sorting Solution
Maize, the world’s main cereal crop, can be affected by aflatoxin, a naturally occurring toxin that is highly carcinogenic. Approximately 500 million people worldwide are at risk of exposure to it. It is estimated to cause up to 150,000 cases of liver cancer a year and contribute to stunting in millions of children. The economic impact on farmers, food processors and the economy is significant. Bühler will be launching a breakthrough sorting technology for maize, making a major contribution to addressing this urgent challenge. It will be presented for the first time at Hannover Messe with a working demonstration.
PreMa – Intelligent Storage, Handling
Roughly 85 million tons of cereal grains are lost in storage and handling every year. Reducing this loss contributes to safeguarding more of the food the world produces. PreMa is an intelligent silo monitoring solution to ensure grain is stored under the correct conditions.
TotalSense Quality Control
TotalSense is a mobile rice analyzer that provides for quick and objective quality control. The customer submits a photo of a rice sample and receives a quality report, including an analysis of broken and discolored rice grains. TotalSense reduces the time for rice quality checks by up to ten times.
Safefood.ai scans thousands of official databases, web pages, news and social media channels for events and rumors related to food safety. It identifies food and feed products affected and provides customized early warnings to food processors, enabling them to stay ahead of food safety risks.
Microsoft Manufacturing & Resources General Manager Caglayan Arkan commented: “Collaborations like the one between Bühler and Microsoft will be essential to feeding our world and fueling a better future for our natural resources and food production. With artificial intelligence and the cloud, we have the technology to address some of the biggest challenges facing the industry.”
Bühler CTO Roberts concluded: “The digital revolution is a huge opportunity for the food manufacturing industry. It has the potential to bring beneficial changes along the entire value chain, improving safety, transparency and efficiency, and reducing energy consumption and waste. We are only scratching the surface of this potential. The partnership between Bühler and Microsoft will equip us with tools to address some of the key challenges the industry and the world faces.”