Bühler partnered with Microsoft Corp., Redmond, Wash., to unveil groundbreaking digital technologies designed to minimize toxic contamination, reduce food waste and increase end product quality across the whole food value chain.

“Today’s food value chains are facing tremendous challenges,” says Ian Roberts, chief technology officer at Bühler. “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 toward meeting our goals of lowering waste and energy consumption in the food value chain by 30%. With the digitalization of the food industry, we have a new, unrivalled capability we can bring to bear.”

“For the agriculture industry to meet the global quality demands of the future, sustainability in all aspects of agricultural production is key,” says Caglayan Arkan, general manager manufacturing and resources at 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 new farm-to-fork innovations include:

Improving efficiency and sustainability of industrial farms. Gamaya decision support and automation services help farmers optimize use of water, chemicals, fuel and manual labor, 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.

Saving lives and increasing yields with breakthrough sorting solution. Bühler announced plans to launch a breakthrough sorting technology for maize.

Intelligent storage and handling. PreMa is an intelligent silo monitoring solution to ensure grain is stored under the correct conditions.

Providing quick and objective quality control for rice. TotalSense is a mobile rice analyzer 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 discolored rice grains. TotalSense reduces the time for rice quality checks by up to 10 times.

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

“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,” adds Caglayan Arkan, manufacturing and resources general manager for Microsoft. 

“The digital revolution is a huge opportunity for the food manufacturing industry,” adds Roberts. “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.”