Buhler opens CUBIC innovation campus

Buhler Group officially opens CUBIC innovation campus in Switzerland, which includes world’s largest Grain Milling Application Center.

May 22, 2019

4 Min Read

After a construction period of 20 months and an investment of about CHF 50 million, Buhler Group has officially opened its CUBIC innovation campus in Uzwil, Switzerland, with eight Application Centers.

“We are with this driving forward our strategy of innovation, training and development,” Buhler Group chief executive officer Stefan Scheiber said. “Together with our customers, partners from industry and science, academia and start-ups, we are using the CUBIC to conduct research into new and sustainable solutions that we can apply to successful business ventures, and we are taking a step forward here in providing modern training and development.”

The global challenges associated with nutrition and mobility are becoming increasingly urgent, such as how to sustainably feed and provide mobility for a population of nearly 10 billion in 2050. Addressing these issues and responding to them with sustainable, commercially attractive solutions is the goal of the innovation campus.

“This is our contribution to transforming the urgent global challenges of our time into solid business solutions together with customers, partners, academia and start-ups,” Scheiber said. “In this campus, we are also promoting new professional skills and competencies, modern learning and working methods and collaborating with our partners.”

Every year, the company invests a sum in the three-digit millions in research and development. In 2018, this amounted to CHF 145 million, or 4.4% of turnover.

The three-story CUBIC is designed to accommodate up to 300 people and is, in itself, a model of sustainability and innovation. The building uses 15% less energy than comparable structures of its size. Its smart electrochromic glass facade was coated on equipment from Buhler Leybold Optics. This enables Buhler to slash energy consumption for heating and air conditioning by as much as 50%. Building sensors measure carbon dioxide levels, air humidity, temperature and flow of people to continuously fine-tune the functionality and energy consumption of the CUBIC. On the basis of this smart building concept, Buhler expects to be able to sustainably optimize the operation of the building. The CUBIC complies with the sustainability standards of LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environment Design), which certified the structure by awarding it a gold rating.

In terms of its design concept, the new innovation campus is integrated into the Buhler site in Uzwil, Switzerland, as the bridge that links the development, engineering and design teams with the modernized application centers and the factory. This enables Buhler to develop solutions together with customers, start-ups and industry and research partners up to the point of market maturity, with much higher speed and efficiency. The CUBIC represents Buhler’s purpose of “Innovations for a Better World” and focuses on promoting new training and development methods. Among other things, it embraces the dual education system of Switzerland by housing apprentices and academics, as well as youth and experience.

Project teams from all Buhler business areas currently reside in the CUBIC. Many of them are developing digital solutions, including Buhler Insights, a cloud-based platform for digital services that was created in close partnership with Microsoft. About 20% of the research and development budget went into the development of digital solutions in 2018.

“The CUBIC campus will become the epicenter of our collaborative ecosystem,” chief technology officer Ian Roberts said. “It embodies our innovation spirit and culture, where we will inspire, discuss, understand and derive actions that will support us as an industry to create more sustainable value chains while contributing to addressing the burning environmental and societal challenges of our time.”

Shorter time to market

Vital elements of the new innovation campus are its eight modernized application centers, where customer ideas and prototypes are tested and then refined up to the point of market maturity.

In the Battery Lab, researchers are continuing their efforts to develop a new continuous process for mixing electrode slurries applied in the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries. In the Grinding & Dispersing Application Center, Buhler is developing wet grinding and dispersion solutions for making such things as printing inks, for example. In the Die Casting Application Center, five die-casting cells are installed for training operators and for conducting customer tests. Many of these developments are already incorporated into modern applications for the e-mobility industry.

The Pasta Application Center is developing the latest pasta, such as high-protein pasta containing flour from pulses or products with a proportion of microalgae.

The Grain Technology Center, at 3,000 sq. m., is the world’s largest Grain Milling Application Center. It also has its own analytics lab. Among other things, the Nutrition Application Center develops textured vegetable proteins – alternatives for the growing number of flexitarians. Together with customers, the Bakery Innovation Center develops wholesome, fresh bakery products.

The Chocolate Application Center tests new flavors and novel processes for cocoa-based products. In the Coffee Application Center, customers test low-energy roasting processes to develop new taste variants.

As a Swiss family-owned company, Buhler is active in 140 countries and operates a global network of 30 production sites around the world.

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