UTRECHT, NETHERLANDS — After overcoming challenges from the global COVID-19 pandemic and now the war in Ukraine, exhibitors at VICTAM International were ready to share their latest innovations for the feed, grain and flour processing industries.

“We went to our first show in November, and we were still wearing a mask,” said Joost Keijzer, business development, Muller Beltex. “Now it’s just like old times, and it feels fantastic.”

VICTAM International is one of the world’s largest dedicated events for the animal feed processing industries. Co-located with VICTAM International is GRAPAS Europe, which is focused on the grain, flour and rice processing industries.

The event started May 31 at the Jaarbeurs exhibition grounds in Utrecht, Netherlands. It concludes June 2.

Muller Beltex displayed its belting products, buckets and more at its booth. The Netherlands-based company specializes in belts, buckets and bolts as well as solutions for wear problems. 

Its branded polyurethane product, Kryptane, can be used in tubes, bucket elevator hats and more to reduce wear. 

“That’s what we do worldwide, deliver those things to the end user and also to OEMs,” Keijzer said.

The company has a new splicing system that is lighter than the original steel splicing system and also is offering a new belt aligning system in North America.

“We are expanding our business,” Keijzer said.

Like other equipment suppliers, Muller Beltex is navigating an uncertain landscape that includes high shipping prices, reduced availability and inflation.

The company imports buckets from the United States, typically at a cost of €5,000 to €6,000 per container. Those costs have doubled to nearly €12,000 to €13,000 per container. 

“It takes much longer than normal,” Keijzer said. “There are not enough drivers in the US and not enough drivers in Rotterdam to unload the ships. We have customers in Russia we cannot deliver to and customers in Ukraine who are being bombed at the moment.”

Bühler, based in Uzwil, Switzerland, will discuss rising prices early on in a new project or equipment purchase, said Christian Hilber, head of product management and marketing, business area value nutrition.

“We try to discuss these circumstances as early as possible just to make them aware we can’t change the situation,” he said. “It’s difficult to find ships, specifically from China at the moment. There’s not as many ships available as before the pandemic.”

Bühler was highlighting its Granulex hammermill, its latest innovation for the feed industry. It reduces energy consumption by 10%, offers increased performance and the hammer exchange is much faster.

“This is really a huge step forward,” Hilber said.

The company decided to showcase the hammermill virtually, which is more sustainable than shipping the actual equipment and has the added benefit of easily highlighting its innovations, he said.

“If you show them in a smart way, it’s even better than just having a machine here,” Hilber said. “We can show more details, we can dive into the machine and show the benefits much easier and better.”

Bühler also was showcasing its PelletingPro digital solution, which allows customers to optimize the entire pelleting process. Customers can optimize the moisture of the process, which has a huge impact on electric consumption and can reduce the CO2 footprint.

“We collect data and then we summarize it,” Hilber said. “Based on that, we can give recommendations on how the customer can improve the capacity, how better to reduce energy consumption. We can consult with the customer, and together we can further improve the line.”

It's not only the machine that plays a role in sustainability, he said.

“We have to think beyond the machine,” Hilber said. “We are responsible for what we do and what we install. Not only Bühler, but as a feed industry.”

Brabender, based in Duisburg, Germany, was highlighting its ViscoQuick, which measures the rheological properties of fluids, slurries and more.

The compact design has fully integrated heating and cooling and is a standalone device.

“You don’t need an external PC or water bath outside,” said Adrian Jaspers, sales engineer Europe. “Everything is integrated.”