Demand for more transparency in the food chain is increasing. Alarmed by food scandals and in response to an increasing environmental awareness, consumers are demanding uncompromising safety standards in connection with foods as well as a transparent food chain – from field to fork. Legislators around the world are also pressing for the retraceability of feeds and foods. Some years ago, the European Union implemented strict regulations to this end, and laws in the United States have become more stringent with the recently introduced Food Safety Modernization Act (Fsma). But how can foods be retraced? The related food processing data are now readily available thanks to digital solutions rolled out by Bühler. «With digitalization and the Internet of Things, we are in a position to launch entirely new services enabling our customers to gain greater transparency in their production processes,» says Johannes Wick, Ceo Grains & Food at Bühler.
At the Ipack Ima trade fair held in Milan (Italy) from May 29 through June 1 this year, Bühler devoted its exhibits on 1.200 square meters to the new possibilities that digitalization offers to the food production industry.
On the basis of innovations such as its newly developed sensor technology for pasta production, Bühler showed how digital solutions can enhance food safety and cut energy consumption.
«Digitalization is an important driver in our aim to reduce energy consumption and waste in the production process by 30%,» says Ian Roberts, Cto of Bühler.
Smart automation solutions enable customers to decrease their retracing and monitoring administration requirements from material reception to load out by as much as 80%.
The potential of new digitalization solutions in the food industry is enormous: in 2017, Bühler launched 10 digital solutions. Another 50 additional ones are currently under development.
Sensors make for more taste
At Ipack Ima Bühler launched its sensor innovation PastaSense. This solution for the first time offers pastamakers the opportunity of monitoring the entire process from raw materials to the end product on the basis of sensor technology. It eliminates the need for costly manual checks. The sensors applied in this innovative technology analyze the composition and colour characteristics of the raw materials and the finished pasta products throughout the production process, supplying pasta producers with real-time information on moisture, protein, and ash contents as well as product colour and possible discolorations. This enables them to enhance the quality of their products and to respond quickly and in a targeted manner to production errors. Fewer manual checks and lower production losses allow the capital investment to be fully paid back within one year.
With its Osiris vertical pearler, Bühler presented for the first time at Ipack Ima a pearler for durum millers which is completely equipped with diamond technology. This innovation achieves a throughput capacity of up to 12 tonnes of grain per hour. Customers also benefit from cloud-based maintenance options. Predictive maintenance allows them to perceptibly reduce maintenance costs and downtimes.
More than 20 digital innovations
At Ipack Ima Bühler presented over 20 digital services to its customers.
These solutions are designed to make food safer, to save energy, and to prevent waste. «Digitalization is unlocking an enormous potential in the food processing industry», says Johannes Wick. «This is only the very beginning of a transformation of the entire industry. Recently, we have established our first team of data analytics experts. Our goal is to help advance digital transformation in our industries,» he adds.
«We now have the capability to connect more than 85% of our solutions to the cloud,» says Ian Roberts, Bühler Cto. And he adds: «We are convinced that digital technologies are key to deliver on our promise of achieving a 30% reduction of waste and energy consumption in the food value chain.» (Look at the Diagram).