Bühler extends major digitalisation scheme for Swiss chocolate wafer business Kägi Söhne

Swiss equipment and systems group Bühler has confirmed an extension of a key project with chocolate wafer firm Kägi Söhne, through creating a digitally-led smart factory for the manufacturer, reports Neill Barston.

According to the Uzwil-headquartered company, its latest project for the fellow Switzerland-based confectionery producer will have enabled the complete digital transformation of its lines, including all process data being fully visualised.

As Bühler noted, the first steps towards the smart factory began in 2019, when Kägi and Bühler teams conducted a Performance Assessment Workshop to discover where improvements could be made in the production process of the chocolate wafer manufacturer. “Our vision is to produce the perfect Kägi every day, whether it is 30°C in summer or minus 10°C in winter,” says Pascal Grin, Chief Operating Officer of Kägi Söhne AG.

After all factors relevant to the production were analysed, the teams identified areas for improvement and defined plans to address them going forward. The quality of Kägi’s products has always been high, explains Grin, but the goal was to ensure a high level of quality without interruption and with fewer rejections.

According to Bühler, initial works included connecting many of Kägi’s production to the Bühler Insights platform, its core digital tool that connects devices, operational metrics, and analytics. Consequently, the company reported that the level of transparency on process and machine data has since increased significantly.

“25 to 30 data points per machine connected to Bühler Insights enables both operating staff and management to take their decisions based on data, facts, and figures. This is of special interest for the Continuous Improvement Process at Kägi,” says Kristina Polic, Project Lead Smart Factory 2024, and Continuous Improvement Manager at Kägi.

Judith Spreitzer, Project Manager Bühler Services, agreed that the existing relationship between the two businesses had proved notably successful. She commented: “Connecting Kägi to Bühler Insights platform creates unique transparency on process and machine data. From raw materials, to baking and filling of wafer sheets, and to chocolate coating, data can now be recorded, analysed, and interpreted at any time.”

In addition, all process-relevant data and KPIs for each production step are visualized via dashboards. This allows each operator to see how well the respective process is performing and take the necessary action when needed. This results in higher performance and optimization of processes. By linking and visualizing the data in Bühler Insights, Kägi expects to see an Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) increase of 5% to 8%. “We are already using the data in real time and our employees can react immediately to fluctuations in quality, thus preventing unplanned downtime. For us, this leads to cost savings and an uncomplicated overview of the process,” says Pascal Grin.

Another advantage of Bühler Insights is that, by connecting processes, devices, and data, it supports companies in addressing key issues related to sustainability, such as measuring their environmental impacts. Kägi adopted Bühler’s Environmental Quantification Service for its entire factory. Bühler’s Environmental Quantification Service supports organisations in measuring their environmental footprint according to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. Bühler experts analyze the performance of assets and optimise processes to avoid unnecessary CO2e emissions, improve resource efficiency, and reduce waste. With this, Kägi now understands its CO2e emissions and is able to prioritise actions to reduce its footprint along the whole value chain.

Based on the outcome of the Performance Assessment Workshop and product tests in the Bühler Wafer Innovation Centre, Kägi decided to invest in a fully automatic BM-W 180-H batter mixing plant, a highly efficient SWAKT-80 wafer baking oven, and a fully automatic WIS-EAGLE In-Line wafer sheet inspection system.

Franziska Babst, Head of Quality & Development at Kägi, says: “We have a full range of new, innovative products planned. We have enough ideas. With this plant and Bühler at our side, we are now ready to scale up new products to high quality and large volumes.”


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