Food safety outbreaks pose a significant burden to public health and welfare, as well as to the economy. According to a 2015 World Health Organization report, every year, almost one in 10 of the global population fall ill after eating contaminated food and 420,000 people die. Children under the age of five are hit hardest, representing 40% of those affected with 125,000 deaths each year.
Unsafe food is also very costly for low and middle-income economies, which lose around USD 95 billion in productivity each year, with employees who are too ill to work. Product recalls are also extremely costly for food producers. “Time is critical when dealing with a food safety issue with the average direct cost of a product recall known to be around USD 10 million,” said Stuart Bashford, Bühler’s Digital Officer.
At the Microsoft booth at the Hannover Messe, Bühler is showcasing leading-edge technologies to address these global challenges and increase food safety standards, including Laatu, a breakthrough technology to reduce microbial contamination in dry goods, and Tubex Pro, a smart, self-optimizing scale system that produces a constant flow of production data. Integrated into Bühler’s advanced Yield Management System, Tubex Pro can improve production efficiency and yield, and unlock a new degree of traceability and transparency. These solutions connect to the Bühler Insights IoT platform powered by Microsoft Azure.
Laatu – a digital service to reduce 99.999% of Salmonella
Laatu is a breakthrough microbial reduction technology for dry foods. Laatu is different from more conventional microbial reduction processes as it exposes dry foods to low-energy electrons. It is able to destroy more than 99.999% of Salmonella with minimal impact on the internal structure of the food. This maintains the quality of the food and its nutritional value.
Laatu significantly reduces harmful microorganisms such as Salmonella, E. coli, and spores in milliseconds. When compared to conventional technologies, Laatu has a significantly smaller footprint and can be implemented anywhere in the processing line. Moreover, Laatu provides a cost-efficient and environmentally-friendly solution. It can reduce energy consumption by up to 80% in comparison to steam, without introducing water or chemicals. Today, Laatu is ready for the spice market and its implementation for other dry food markets is under development.
With a connection to Bühler Insights, Laatu can be used as a powerful tool in food safety auditing as its real-time monitoring system captures processing parameters, dates, times, and product batches. With a potential link to blockchain, it is capable of providing an accurate and secure audit trail for food producers and all players in the supply-chain.
Tubex Pro – a smart scale system that continuously improves the production process
Tubex Pro is a smart process scale system that self optimizes its measuring algorithm according to product flow characteristics and the plant environment. It produces a real-time stream of production data and status information, which can be visualized remotely using Bühler Insights and seamlessly integrated into Bühler’s advanced Yield Management System. All data is processed in order to track production, optimize scale performance, and reveal opportunities to improve the yield and performance of the plant.
Collecting and interpreting process scale data is providing a deep insight into production losses, improvement potential, and the influence of input material variations. With hygienic design, a high level of food safety and the potential to securely log product data using blockchain technology, Tubex Pro with Bühler Insights, supports safe food production with full transparency and traceability along the food value chain.
Yield Management System enables efficient yield monitoring and benchmarking
Bühler’s Yield Management System enables yield monitoring from anywhere at any time. Based on its integration with Bühler Insights, it makes deviations between different recipes visible and comparable. Moreover, various production sites can be monitored and benchmarked.
Both the additional transparency and push notifications help food producers to react quickly if deviations become apparent. That way, a constantly high yield can be achieved – which is crucial for running a profitable food processing business. Bühler’s Yield Management System integrates data from key components of the process chains such as the Tubex Pro scales directly into Bühler Insights, independent of process control systems.
A powerful blockchain system for the food processing industry
Laatu, Tubex Pro, and Bühler’s Yield Management System are connected to Bühler Insights, which is powered by Azure. Together, they offer a strong food safety auditing tool, capable of generating a fast, accurate and secure audit trail for food producers globally. Real-time production data from Tubex Pro and oversight in the Yield Management System allow food producers to increase production efficiency and yield. Last, but not least, data can be integrated with the blockchain where it cannot be changed. This provides consumers, retailers, and food producers an almost real-time, traceable and secure audit trail.
“With this integrated food safety and yield management solution, you can capture the date, time, batch, and input parameters used on a specific product and then store all that data on the blockchain. This enables customers to track, for example, that a batch of peppercorns has been processed using the Bühler Laatu technology,” said Nicolas Meneses, Laatu Project Manager at Bühler. “Using blockchain you can see if a food ingredient has been properly processed in seconds rather than days – and with a high degree of certainty. You can then quickly take action. This helps reduce the number of people exposed to potentially unsafe food and also to cut food waste as the specific batch can be traced.”
Bühler machines currently process 65% of the world’s grain products, 70% of the world’s chocolate, and 30% of global rice and pulses. With such a wide global reach, introducing verifiable food safety solutions into processing lines that can be linked to blockchain have the potential to significantly reduce the human and financial cost of food poisoning globally. “With our global reach and network, we have a tremendous leverage on bringing down food poisoning levels and help our customers reduce food waste,” said Ian Roberts, Chief Technology Officer at Bühler Group.
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