Smart science and innovative solutions

The Dutch-based multinational company DSM is a key player in the animal nutrition sector. Their recently opened premix facility in China is one of the most modern plants in the world and testament to DSM’s customer centricity, aimed at providing peace of mind with regards to safety, quality, and reliability. The strategic partnership with Bühler enables DSM to adapt to changing market demands, reduce their environmental footprint, and increase animal welfare. 


The chinese meat market has grown exponentially over the last few decades. According to the FAO (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization), per capita meat consumption today stands at more than 60 kilograms, up from around 24 kilograms in 1990. This sharp increase is in line with the growing middle class in the world’s second largest economy by GDP (gross domestic product), and with this appetite comes the need for healthy, nutritious, and safe feed for animals.

Our newest plant in hengyang is the sixth we’ve built with bühler in china since 2006, and with an annual production capacity of 120,000 tons, it’s the biggest plant in our network.

Markus Driess, Head of Animal Nutrition & Health and Assets Global at DSM


“Premixes play a vital role in animal health, as they provide essential mixtures of vitamins, minerals, and trace elements. We operate a total of more than 50 premix plants on all continents. Our newest plant in Hengyang is the sixth we’ve built with Bühler in China since 2006, and with an annual production capacity of 120,000 tons, it’s the biggest plant in our network,” says Markus Driess, Head of Animal Nutrition & Health and Assets Global at DSM. The facility is equipped with the latest Bühler technology and automation solutions for premix production from intake to cleaning, dosing, and weighing, mixing, and bagging. Planning, building, and operating such a facility comes with a myriad of challenges. However, having worked with Bühler on many large-scale projects, Driess knows the recipe for success. “We see Bühler as a solution provider rather than a machine supplier. We constantly challenge each other when discussing trends and developments in our industry, especially when it comes to key topics such as feed safety, automation, or digitalization,” Driess explains. 

Another key pillar is trust and mutual respect for each other’s expertise. “Some of the team members on both sides have worked together for more than 15 years. That creates a high level of trust between the teams, which provides a basis to speak openly about areas to improve, such as equipment and process design, and to continuously discuss new ideas and solutions from other business fields in which Bühler is active,” Driess adds. 


Setting new standards

Richard Li, Head of International Sales Animal Nutrition at Bühler, has been involved in the Hunan II project from the initial idea to the first batch leaving the plant. For him, the state-of-the-art facility is much more than a successfully completed customer project. “This is one of the most modern premix plants in the world. We have four mixing lines with a 4,000-liter batch mixer each and an hourly capacity of 32 tons per hour. The plant is a prime example of our latest processing technology and features the highest levels of automation, mixing accuracy, traceability, and cross-contamination reduction,” he says.

The double-screw feeder on the bagging station is evidence of the two partners’ joint efforts for continuous improvements. It’s designed and built by Bühler based on feedback from DSM, with the clear goal of reducing residue and extending service life. “The feeder has been such a success for bagging premix products that DSM orders the latest model every year, both for their new plants as well as for upgrading existing plants,” Li says.


DSM_Hunan plant DSM_Hunan plant An inside view of one of DSM’s newest plants in Hengyang, China.


Innovation as a common denominator

DSM and Bühler are never satisfied with the status quo. The two partners are collaborating on a project to design and build the next generation of premix plants. A key target is to fully leverage the potential of digitalization, resulting in more accurate production, full transparency, and traceability from intake to output, and reduced costs of operation. Moreover, the new plant concept will also deliver enhanced value for DSM’s customers. This includes latest reports, production status, as well as mixing and product safety certificates. “Our digital solutions, such as the maintenance software ProPlant, the digital spare and wear parts shop myBühler, and our cloud solutions Bühler Insights and SmarT, will continue to accompany the process design improvements on the shop floor,” explains Li.


This is one of the most modern premix plants in the world. We have four mixing lines with a 4,000-liter batch mixer each and an hourly capacity of 32 tons per hour.

Richard Li, Head of International Sales Animal Nutrition at Bühler

His counterpart Markus Driess looks forward to creating the future of premix plants together, while reaping the many benefits of digitalization. 

“We’re both global players with a thorough understanding of our responsibility to continuously improve sustainability and feed safety within the animal protein sector. Luckily, we have a partner with Bühler that walks the talk together with us. It’s our common drive to never stand still and collaborate on the next innovation. This creates a constant push-and-pull situation that gets the best out of both DSM and Bühler.” 


A strong partnership

Bühler and DSM have a long-standing history of collaboration. Several manufacturing sites are equipped with Bühler technology and they have entered a more strategic partnership to gain faster access to new technologies and digital applications. The goal is to work closely and leverage the strengths of both companies on a more tactical and strategic level. In this interview, Dr. Michael Pohlscheidt, Vice President Global Premix and Additives Operations at DSM, sheds light on trends in animal nutrition.


  • What expectations does DSM have for Bühler as a key technology partner? 

The expectation is simple: Let’s build the future of Premix Operations from a technical, customer and ease of working perspective together. We want to combine the experience and deep industry knowledge of Bühler as an equipment manufacturer with DSM’s knowledge of best practices, best-in-class application and understanding of customer needs at different levels. As a result, we want to create superior solutions for our employees and customers to create a modern, exciting, and safe working environment in our plants, provide the right technology to ensure Quality by Design and therefore provide peace of mind from a quality and environment, health, and safety perspective. This is how we create win-win situations. 


Many proven technologies already exist that can significantly improve the sustainability of animal proteins, especially in the field of functional nutrition.

Dr. Michael Pohlscheidt, Vice President Global Premix and Additives Operations at DSM

  • What are the new trends and regulations in terms of animal nutrition and feed additives? 

There are several trends. Increased quality requirements are key, as well as an even stronger focus on local solutions and, most importantly, sustainability and animal welfare. As DSM we always put the customer at the heart and deliver high quality solutions. With recent acquisitions we have increased our product portfolio, further innovated in the enzyme and eubiotics space and improved the formulation  of our essential products. In addition, through our  Precision Services, we provide customers with data driven diagnostic and modeling capabilities such as Verax™ and Sustell™ that provide insights and solutions to improve animal health and sustainability of our customers. For example, with our Sustell™ service we can model end-to-end the environmental footprint along the value chain of our customers and offer tailor-made solutions for improvement.

  • How can digitalization help to address new market trends? 

In my opinion, digitalization will enable three domains to accelerate. The first aspect is peace of mind for our customers and employees through simpler, more reliable, and safer manufacturing operations, including end-to-end visibility of orders and materials. The second aspect is digitalization in combination with diagnostic capabilities, enabling precision nutrition for better feed conversions and healthier animals. Third, through digitalization, we will see the opportunity to drive more sustainability in livestock farming through both innovative solutions and insight into targeted optimizations across the entire value chain. All in all, this is essential to sustainably feed nearly 10 billion people by 2050.

  • How can we improve sustainability in the animal protein sector? 

By using primary farm and feed data and full life cycle assessments, we can gain insights into the ecological footprint of animal proteins. We provide detailed insights down to the farm level, insights into where problems exist, and by tailoring interventions, we are able to make measurable improvements. By making more use of primary data, we make the invisible visible. Customers can take ownership of their own operational footprint and implement best practices on their farms for quick wins while understanding where changes and investments are needed for improvements.

DSM_Hunan plant_1 DSM_Hunan plant_1 DSM’s Animal Nutrition & Health premix plant in Baishazhou Industrial Park, Hengyang City, China has an expected annual production of 120,000 metric tons.

Since most of the carbon foot-print of animal production occurs on the farm, and each farm is very different, greater use of primary data is key to unlocking sustainability value. Many proven technologies already exist that can significantly improve the sustainability of animal proteins, especially in the field of functional nutrition – for example, improving feed utilization, improving productivity, reducing loss, and directly reducing greenhouse gases emissions. Greater adoption of these feed technologies could lead to immediate and substantial improvements in sustainability.


  • In your opinion, where will the animal feed industry be in 5 years time? 

Animal proteins play an important role in a healthy, balanced diet. To stay competitive, we need to address many issues ranging from tackling antimicrobial resistance through reduced use of antibiotics to becoming more efficient at using feed resources. It is important that we continue to work with our customers, suppliers, governments, and across the industry to make major steps forward. Working across corporate boundaries, driving strategic partnerships, and making innovative solutions available at affordable prices is essential to sustaining the current growth rates in our business.

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