Smart enough? The sugar industry in the digital age

A hot topic – and the title of a meeting on 23 November 2018 of international decision-makers from the sugar industry and top experts in digitalisation. The one-day symposium was hosted by BMA Braunschweigische Maschinenbauanstalt AG, a reliable partner to sugar producers for over 160 years and through all industrial revolutions. Among the 70 or so guests were representatives from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK) and the Cooperative Initiative Mechanical Engineering (KIM).

The event kicked off with a stirring keynote speech by Professor Dr Klemens Skibicki, who vehemently called for more openness in digitalisation matters. This was followed by an absorbing talk for non-lawyers on the “Limits of digitalisation” by Professor Dr Peter Bräutigam. He spoke about laws and plans for legislation in the light of key developments in Industry 4.0. Alexander Schmidt, Technical Lead at DEVDEER, used his slot for an appeal from the implementers’ perspective, urging the audience to join BMA. “With their smart4sugar® platform, they’re already well on their way to digitalisation”, said Schmidt emphatically. During the breaks and the half-hour panel discussion chaired by BMA’s CTO Uwe Schwanke, there was time for animated discussions and lively exchange.

Replacing Dr Thomas de Witte at short notice, Samuel Balieiro of the Thünen Institute presented concrete and reliable figures on “Production cost for sugar beet and sugar cane - How producers can gain from digitalization” after the lunch break. A change of venue soon afterwards took the symposium participants to BMA’s main site, for a guided tour of the manufacturing workshops entitled “Networks in production”. Rounding off the symposium was the last paper, by Maik Schlosser and Safwan Saltaji; its title: “The digital twin of a sugar factory”.

So what have we learned? That digitalisation is, in fact, well under way in many places! It offers many opportunities for the sugar industry, too – you just have to grab them. Just like BMA has done.