SWITZERLAND – Swiss food processing technology group Bühler will open two more food-safe application centers in 2021 to enable it to be close to customers and to their markets, the company has said in a statement.

According to the statement, Bühler’s new joint lab with Givaudan in Singapore is set to open on April 26, 2021 while its new facility at Deutsches Institut für Lebensmitteltechnik e.V. (DIL) in Germany is scheduled to open in the second half of the year.

Sandra Lutz, global coordinator of Bühler’s application center network noted that apart from the new facilities enabling them to be closer to their customers, their commissioning will help them provide possibilities for virtual collaboration in the same language and time.

She subsequently invited customers and partners to visit the new sites and take advantage of the services that they offer. “Your local sales offices are there to support you to organize this,” said Lutz.

Bühler has a network of application and training centers spread across 24 locations globally.

These centers play a key role in the company’s business as they create a platform where the company’s experts can work side by side with customers to validate and improve processes.

Customers also get to co-create new products together with Bühler at the application centers.

Bühler also leverages the platform to offer customers training on the latest technologies, and to co-create new products together with Bühler.

Before the pandemic, customers would just walk into any of the 24 application centers and in collaboration with experts from the Swiss food processing technology group, perfrom trials, validate and improve processes, or even co-create new products with Bühler.

The advent of the pandemic has however created new challenges that hampared smooth operations at the application centers.

Travel restrictions have curtailed free movement of people and thus made it impossible for customers to get to the centers.

Where movement is not curtailed, social distancing measures need to be observed, making close collaboration at the centers even more challenging.

Being a leader in processing technology, Bühler was not about to shut all its application centers as they are critical to the success of its business. It had to innovate.

During the last 12 months, Bühler says it has become particularly adept at performing trials with customers, either virtually or within a carefully managed “bubble.”

 “Twelve months ago, we asked ourselves if we can do factory acceptance tests and remote commissioning of lines, then why are we not doing virtual pilot plant trials together?” says Ian Roberts, Chief Technology Officer at Bühler Group.

“In a time of prolific use of digital technologies, there is no reason that our availability should be a bottleneck in the speed of innovation of our customers.”

To make working amid a pandemic possible, Bühler adopted a number of technologies including trial data capture, the Bühler Insights platform, remote visualization and video streaming, and on-site analytical labs to enable its team  work together with customers.

Die Casting Application Center- Switzerland

With digital technologies in place, Bühler says it has been able to plan, run, and adjust trials in real-time. Products from the centres are then sent for evaluation at customer sites.

What was once thought not possible, actually worked, enabling Bühler’s application labs in China to run at full throttle with close to 100 trials run with customers in March.

Additionally, adoption of technology has enabled Bühler application and trainings centers across Europe and the US run three to five customer trials per week during the same period, many of them remotely.

Bühler says that it has also put excellent practices in place, from rapid testing, to distancing, masks, disinfection, and safe behavior, to create the safest possible work situation to enable physical trials, when national rules and travel allow.

“Although it is more fun to work side by side, the virtual trials are so efficient that Bühler will maintain this option even when travel is easier again,” the company said.

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