UZWIL, SWITZERLAND— Bühler announced during its Networking Days that it is building a new five-story Grain Innovation Center featuring all the key grain and feed processes as well as a Milling Academy at its headquarters in Uzwil, Switzerland.

 The center will be located at the center of the company’s campus and will have grain processing on one side and feed on the other. The old building is being dismantled now and will be gone by the end of the year. The new facility is expected to be finished by the end of 2024, followed by installation and start up, said Christian Geser, project director, grains and food.

 Work on the Milling Academy is expected to start in 2024 and be complete by the next Networking Days in 2025.

 The innovation center will be surrounded by the application centers including the pasta lab, extrusion, protein, bakery, and the biomass lab and energy center, which are both under construction.

 “All of these are fully integrated into the Grain Innovation Center. We can produce those products, can bring those products to the other labs, so can process those products further downstream in the application centers,” Geser said.

 The center will be able to produce a wide variety of products including flour, bran, maize grits, pea flours and more. It will help customers meet many of the challenges they face in the grain processing industry, said Stefan Birrer, head of business area milling.

 “Here we have a fully integrated pulses processing capabilities. We have room to adapt them for future optimization of the whole protein value chain,” he said. “This is addressing a very important topic. The flour millers have a big advantage in this new business field because they know how to handle grains, they have infrastructure and they have knowledge in processing.”

 The animal nutrition portion of the facility will include multiple key processes such as grinding, conditioning, hydrothermal treatment, inline particle size analysis, mixing, homogenization and pelletizing.

 The Milling Academy will include executive courses, milling technology as well as electrical and mechanical maintenance. Birrer said even though Bühler is working toward a self-optimized mill, well-trained operators and millers will be needed years and years into the future.

 “We wanted to make life less complicated and help them free up time to concentrate on other things. Millers have a 100 different things on the table,” he said. “Therefore, it’s very important to provide a very good training environment, both theoretical and practical.”

 While hands on training is important, the pandemic has also shown the benefits of remote learning, Geser said the academy will be equipped with the modern tools of learning. This would allow for hybrid courses, cutting down on the expense and time of travel.