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TECHNOLOGY

Bühler & Microsoft to unveil digital solutions to up safety, cut losses
Friday, 20 April, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Uzwil, Switzerland
Bühler is set to unveil groundbreaking digital technologies that include minimising toxic contamination, reducing food waste and increasing end-product quality across the whole food value chain as part of a new partnership with Microsoft. The new digital solutions and services will be presented at the Microsoft booth at Hannover Messe (April 23-27, 2018) in Germany.

“Today’s food value chains are facing tremendous challenges,” says Ian Roberts, CTO, 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%,” Roberts adds.

“For the agriculture industry to meet the global quality demands of the future, sustainability in all aspects of agricultural production is key,” states Caglayan Arkan, general manager, manufacturing & resources, Microsoft. “Microsoft’s 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 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 we 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 800 million people are starving. From today’s perspective, we continue to challenge the limits of our agricultural systems, which will need to supply an additional 265 million tonne of plant protein by 2050.

It is Bühler’s declared aim, through smart partnerships, to create businesses that contribute to solving these challenges. “With the digitalisation of the food industry we have a new, unrivalled capability, we can bring to bear,” says Roberts.

The showcases to be presented at the Hannover industry tradeshow cover the whole value chain from farm to fork:

Gamaya – Efficiency and sustainability of industrial farms
Gamaya decision support and automation services help farmers optimise their use of water, chemicals, fuel and manual labour, 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 – Towards saving lives and increasing yields
Maize, the world’s main cereal crop, can be affected by aflatoxin, a naturally occurring toxin that is highly carcinogenic. Some 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. The company will be launching a breakthrough sorting technology for maize, making a major contribution to addressing this urgent challenge. This revolutionary solution will be presented for the first time at the show with a working demonstration.

PreMa – Intelligent storage and handling
85 million tonne of cereal grains are lost in storage and handling every year. Reducing this loss helps our customers and contributes to safeguarding more of the food the world produces. This is an intelligent silo monitoring solution to ensure grain is stored under the correct conditions.

TotalSense – Quick and objective quality control for rice
This is a mobile rice analyser 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 discoloured rice grains. The solution reduces the time for rice quality checks by up to 10 times.

Safefood.ai – Food safety through data-driven early warnings
The solution scans thousands of official databases, webpages, news and social media channels for events and rumours related to food safety. It identifies food and feed products affected and provides customised early warnings to food processors, enabling them to stay ahead of food safety risks.

Arkan states: “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.”

And Roberts concludes: “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.”
 
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