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Global food and mobility industries attend the Bühler Networking Days

Governed by the motto “Creating tomorrow together,” more than 800 decision-makers and partners of the global food and mobility industries are meeting to attend the second Bühler Networking Days in Uzwil

networking daysAn enormous need for action exists to build sustainable value chains in food and feed production and mobility. (Image source: Bühler)

The focus of the two-day event is on the question of how it will be possible in 2050 to feed a global population of almost 10 billion people sustainably and healthily and how to ensure their mobility.

“Climate change and the demands of our growing population are huge challenges. At the same time, we live in the best world in history. And never have we had such powerful technologies at our disposal,” said Stefan Scheiber, CEO of Bühler Group. 

“Our aim is to reduce energy requirements, water consumption and waste by 50 per cent in our customers’ value chains,” added Scheiber. Another important point for him is a change of perception: “Industry must become part of the solution.”

The companies represented nourish around four billion people every day and help fulfil their mobility needs. “The fact that so many manufacturers, scientists, industry partners and start-ups are coming together here today shows that the industrial community is prepared to bear its responsibility and to become part of the solution,” noted Scheiber. 

Bühler has invited distinguished speakers to the Networking Days, including Gro Harlem Brundtland, the former Norwegian prime minister and a decades-long important voice on climate change; Stefan Palzer, chief technology officer of Nestlé; Patrick Dupin, CEO of Saint Gobain Northern Europe, Francois Pienaar, who led South Africa to victory in the 1995 Rugby World Cup; Sunny Verghese, co-founder and CEO of Olam International and chair of the World Business Council for sustainable development and John Harthorne, the founder of the start-up accelerator MassChallenge.

Dramatically deteriorated situation

An enormous need for action exists to build sustainable value chains in food and feed production and mobility. 

“Since our first Networking Days, the challenge has increased. It is urgent now,” said Ian Roberts, chief technology officer of Bühler. Just a few figures demonstrate this: Whereas three years ago it was assumed that the global population would rise to around nine billion by 2050, it is now growing much faster. Now we expect almost 10 billion.

At the same time, global warming is increasing. The chances are dwindling that it can be limited to below 1.5 degrees centigrade. Agriculture accounts for 25 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions and 71 per cent of all fresh-water consumption. Food production accounts for 30 per cent of global energy consumption, with 30 per cent of all food being wasted or discarded. Despite this, 800 million people are still going hungry. Of eight million animal and plant species, roughly one million are in acute danger of extinction because of climate change and the destruction of their habitats.

The decision is being made

Bühler has therefore decided to increase its sustainability goals and to add water as a new aspect. Bühler’s next-generation process solutions are to become 50 per cent more efficient. In other words, they are to use 50 per cent less energy, consume 50 per cent less water and produce 50 per cent less waste.

“We have not changed our targets because we have achieved our original goal of 30 per cent but because we have concluded that they are simply not high enough,” said Roberts.

In order to achieve these goals, Bühler is exploiting the possibilities of digitalisation and partnering with customers, suppliers and start-ups – to develop solutions meeting or even exceeding these goals. “We are focusing our research and development spending and our partnerships on these new 50-per cent targets. And we are convinced that this will produce good business models,” said Roberts.

Sustainable solutions

At the Networking Days, Bühler is presenting solutions to contribute to its sustainability targets:

· Mill E3 and digital Yield Management System: With Mill E3, Bühler is yet again redefining industrial grain milling. Due to a completely new mill design, new technologies and systematic digitalisation, mills of the future will take up 30 per cent less space, use 10 per cent less energy and boost yields by several percentage points, depending on the specific application.

· Energy-efficient wafer baking oven SWAKT-ECO: A novel heating concept slashes gas consumption by as much as 25 per cent and emissions by up to 90 per cent.

· Safe foods with Laatu, the completely new technology for microbial reduction: Safe low energy electrons destroy 99.999 per cent of all salmonellae in dry products such as spices. In comparison to steam treatment, Laatu cuts energy usage by as much as 80 per cent, while water requirement and the application of chemicals is reduced to zero.

· Digital die-casting cell: Bühler has developed the digital die-casting cell for manufacturing aluminium and magnesium components. The vision is to produce castings with a reject rate of zero per cent, a 40 per cent shorter cycle time, and 24/7 uptime. The new die-casting machine Fusion is part of the digital cell. It lowers energy consumption by as much as 40 per cent.

· QuaLiB: Bühler has developed a quality verification process for mixing the electrode slurries used in lithium-ion batteries that applies data-based algorithms in order to ensure that only the very best slurry quality will make it to the next production stage. QuaLiB is capable of preventing over 1000 kilograms of waste per week (based on an output of 1000 kilograms per hour).

· Industrial-scale insect processing: In June 2019, Bühler and the Dutch producer Protix opened the world's first and at the same time largest insect protein plant. The larvae of the black soldier fly transform low-grade food residues quickly and sustainably into body mass, thereby returning the waste to the food cycle.

· Meat alternatives: Bühler has developed a special extrusion technology allowing meat food substitutes to be produced which have delicious taste, for instance from environmentally beneficial protein sources such as legumes.