我们的渠道

活动

博客

report Industrial Transformation

“Here at Bell, we combine handcraft and automation”

06.05.2019

Over the space of 150 years, a butcher’s in Basel has grown into an international food company, with the Bell Food Group now employing more than 12,000 people in 15 countries. Markus Ettlin, Head of Industry 4.0/Automation at the Bell Food Group, provides an update on the company’s current Industry 4.0 projects, the limits of automation, and innovations in the food sector.

BaselArea.swiss: When will robots start making sausages?

Markus Ettlin: An extremely large amount of handcraft, experience and skill goes into making a sausage. At the moment, it would be virtually impossible to have the work done by a machine – that is not our goal either. For us, it’s a balancing act to find the sweet spot between tradition and innovation. When it comes to sausages, tradition and handcraft are extremely important. Robots will not be making sausages in the foreseeable future.

Is this because there is no demand for it?

I believe that our customers want a handmade product and not fully industrialised sausages. A sausage is a natural product with natural characteristics that must be satisfied. A great deal of experience is also required. Whether it’s sausages or ham, production requires a great deal of experience and all of our senses. We are, however, in the process of automating certain sub-processes. We want to combine handcraft and automation.

Which areas are suitable for automation?

We need to distinguish between the handcraft sector and convenience products. Great importance is attached to handcraft in the production of sausages and ham. In the Convenience sector, where products have to be more uniform, the progress made with automation is at a much more advanced stage. For example, the production of hamburger patties and chicken nuggets is highly automated, as they are shaped by machines. We have successfully introduced automation technologies in the Logistics division as well as for repetitive work and physically demanding jobs.

Where do you see the greatest potential?

The degree of automation used in handling and packing tasks is higher than in other areas, but even here human staff are needed. We see great potential in the data and information that is generated on a daily basis. We want to learn from this data and improve ourselves. Let’s look at the cooking process, for example, where data such as temperature is measured. Here, we have target parameters, we have actual parameters, and at the end we have a result. Although the employees check the temperature, they cannot keep track of all of the parameters, the different values and the complex relationships. By analysing this data, we can safeguard and even improve the quality of the cooking process – and thus also the quality of the product. This data analysis also helps us to increase energy efficiency and make optimal use of system capacities.

On which transformations and in which areas is Bell focussing?

On the one hand, we should be able to trace the journey of the product; on the other hand, we should be able to understand why certain steps have been taken in the manufacturing process and what effects these steps have on the finished product. The main areas of focus here are thus standards and standardisation. We want to use standardised technology, transform automated processes and ensure transparency.

Which sectors are particularly interesting as a source of ideas for standardised technologies?

The meat processing specialist area is a leader in this regard. In my area, I am interested more in which technologies can be used for unconventional purposes. For example, if there are procedures and methodologies used in the pharma industry that could also work in the food industry. The pharma industry is able to handle large volumes of data, which is an extremely exciting prospect for my division. The automotive industry, for its part, has made great progress with automated processes. Car manufacturers frequently have to roll our large production runs. Within an individual production run, however, sometimes the steering wheel has to be installed on the left of the chassis, and sometimes on the right. These are topics we have to deal with as well, since we also have products that come in different forms – sometimes lighter, sometimes heavier, some in small packaging and others in large packaging. We like to draw inspiration from other industries.

What is being implemented?

We are building a huge state-of-the-art cold store with an extremely high level of automation. The aim is for logistics to be as fully automated as possible, for employees to spend as little time as possible in the cold store area, and to provide highly automated support processes. All of the systems and processes will generate data and information that we want to analyse in order to implement improvements, carry out maintenance work and raise efficiency. In all areas, the collection of data is an opportunity for us to improve and safeguard our quality levels.

What challenges does the upcoming transformation pose for Bell?

For us, Industry 4.0 is strongly linked to the production environment. Digitisation is a huge step for our employees. We want everyone to be involved and show them that new technologies are there to support them in their work. I also perceive a challenge in the fact that everything is increasing in complexity, that everything is interlinked. This is not always easy to understand. As a result, we also need to build up knowledge and generally raise awareness of Industry 4.0 issues. We additionally need to develop an understanding of where we're going to start with the implementation and how we're going to establish a meaningful roadmap.

Bell is taking part in our Industry 4.0 Challenge. What have you been able to learn from this so far?

I’ve come to know BaselArea.swiss from various events, where we’ve always made interesting contacts. In terms of the Industry 4.0 Challenge, I can easily see which ideas are represented on the market and how others see the world. In the case of large corporations, it’s often not quite as transparent how they’ve come up with their great solutions. Start-ups can quickly present a proof of concept, so I can imagine what it involves and what it would mean for me. This is, in my opinion, extremely exciting. Our division is also in contact with the companies that attended the last Industry 4.0 Challenge. Although we are more on the lookout for standardised tools, start-ups often bridge the gap between a major standard and the real world.

What kind of innovations can we expect to see in the food sector in the near future?

Meat that can be produced without having to kill any animals – the hamburgers produced by Mosa Meat are cultured from cells. Bell holds a stake in the Dutch company, which is currently working on making its concept ready for market.

report Invest in Basel region

Salina Raurica is making good headway

16.05.2019

report Innovation

Impact Hub Switzerland etabliert grösste Community für Entrepreneure in der Schweiz

16.05.2019

report BaselArea.swiss

“The Basel region is very advanced in healthcare innovation”

02.04.2019

A new master’s degree at the FHNW University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland aims to prepare the next generation of professionals in the life sciences industries: Students in “Medical Informatics” are trained to apply the latest technologies during projects for the medical and pharmaceutical industries. Professor Enkelejda Miho from the Institute for Medical and Analytical Technologies at FHNW is confident that the combination of life sciences, informatics and business brings forward a desired new profile of professionals.

BaselArea.swiss: Enkelejda, do you think that the traditionally trained scientist who adds a technological perspective is the new normal?

Enkelejda Miho: Drug discovery is a large area. There are fields that will remain quite traditional while branches like real-world data and digital clinical trials are changing rapidly. Scientists cannot analyze their large-scale data with the same means used in former years. Further, a multitude of tools are ready to use today. The field is in the process of finding out how to combine these tools in order to bring drugs faster to the market. Applying cutting-edge technology to answer scientific questions is an integral part of the job as a scientist. We hear from pharmaceutical companies that the technologically savvy scientist is a desired profile, alas not necessarily the profile that is available on the market. Education has to catch up with what is happening in the real world.

What changed in the understanding of healthcare?

Healthcare developed like every other field: We observed slow process over centuries. Then suddenly, technology brought things forward abruptly. Knowledge in health was always centered on organs, which helped to reduce complexity. You had the cardiologist, the pneumologist, the neurologist who tried to understand one problem at a time. Knowledge was dissected. This is changing massively.

How so?

New technologies are leading towards faster diagnostics and therapeutics. For example, we can train an algorithm to detect a tumor. The machine thus supports the specialized doctor in upscaling the quantity of patients he or she can see and diagnose. The first step is to apply what we know to accelerate diagnostics and therapeutics based on larger experience and faster knowledge processing. The second step is integration of knowledge from different systems. There are many different technologies. Now we have to ask how to apply them adequately. Integration of knowledge is key.

Which role does Artificial Intelligence play in this?

Instead of asking one question at a time, AI allows to integrate not only health data but also other information like the times you went to the doctor, the prescribed therapies and symptoms as well as social and environmental data. AI helps to integrate all that to support us making better choices and better diagnostics so people don’t go for the wrong therapy or suffer treatments that are not specific to them.

Are we prepared for healthcare innovation?

We are on a very good way. The first challenge is standardization. There is no aligned idea of which method to use when and how they compare – there are just so many. Research groups, labs and pharmaceutical companies could do more in the precompetitive space so we don’t make the same mistakes all over again. We could learn a lot from software development where sharing is common. The second challenge is the bias that we introduce to the algorithms. Researchers have to think thoroughly about matching the right question with the right data set – a computer is not able to do that. We need researchers who are aware of the potential pitfalls of applying AI and machine learning to healthcare.

How far are we in Basel?

The Basel region is very advanced compared to other regions. We have major players, we have a startup environment and we have major research institutions and applied institutions like University of Basel, ETH, FHNW and the Friedrich Miescher Institute. All the components are here. I believe there is need for more cross talk between the stakeholders, though, instead of trying to bring the whole machinery forward by oneself. BaselArea.swiss and DayOne help as they bring different perspectives together. There could be more dedicated resources to spark the interaction, though. This would also help to retain the talent we need to bring this field forward.

Which difference does the new Master in Medical Informatics make?

We fill a gap. Talking with the industry, we discovered that everyone is moving into applying the new technologies like machine learning and AI. This requires specialized knowledge. On the one hand, you need to know about chemical molecules and biology because you need to understand the data you are analyzing. On the other hand, you need knowledge in programming and in the mathematical framework of applying machine learning. So, a broad knowledge is required to apply an exact part of data and an exact method of machine learning to a very specific project. You need a background of everything to be a master of one specific question. This is the challenge that other institutions in Switzerland and in the European countries have not tackled yet.

What is your approach?

The FHNW is known for being an applied institution to the latest questions. We are giving the students diverse enough background in life sciences, in informatics and business and then bringing these students to real life projects from pharmaceutical companies and hospitals. If you know the drill, you can apply it for another question as well – that is the ambition. Our students will deal with the diversity of projects, with databases, with citizen-patients, with classification and automation. How can you automatize image analysis in the pharma industry or in the hospital? How can you be of support to regulatory agencies, knowing the latest trends and pitfalls? We are the first with this twist of educational purpose. We are training the new generation of professionals, considering the digital transformation in the application field.

We are not talking about data ethics?

You cannot escape the ethics. It’s the most important question we face in digital health. But sometimes you need to walk the line to understand what is needed in terms of ethics and data privacy. We try to address these questions in the frame of specific projects. Discussion is great for preparing the ground and for creating awareness. We are more about the doing.

What students do you expect?

We wanted to give FHNW trained students the possibility to get into cutting-edge projects. What we experience is that companies are also very interested in the Master program. This program connects the life sciences and the business world based on the informatics ground. Together with Prof. Dr. Knut Hinkelmann, Head of the Master of Science in Business Information Systems at FHNW, we are producing a profile that understands the needs of science but that can actually apply it with regard to cybersecurity, data privacy and business applications. We train the people in the best tradition of the Fachhochschule to get the job done.

There are different initiatives in digital health education from ETH, University, and Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, too. How do you value these efforts?

These efforts are valuable and relevant for our community. I don’t see any overlap in these programs. While the focus at the FMI, ETH and University of Basel is more research driven, here at the FHNW we are going for hands-on application-driven education. We are in collaboration with the University of Basel, especially the Innovation offices, and with FMI and ETH as well. At last, it’s a community effort.

report Innovation

University of Basel amongst the most innovative in Europe

14.05.2019

report Precision Medicine

Tackling the healthcare innovation chasm

13.05.2019

report BaselArea.swiss

33 recently arrived companies create hundreds of jobs

28.03.2019

The efforts of BaselArea.swiss proved extremely successful in 2018. 33 companies – seven more than in the previous year – were persuaded to move to the Basel economic region. 16 companies arrived from Europe, nine of which came from Germany. BaselArea.swiss also supported six Swiss companies in the search for a suitable business location in the Basel region. Of the newly arrived companies, 19 operate in the life sciences and chemicals sectors.

The companies most recently relocated to the Basel economic region have already created 139 jobs and plan to add 296 more over the coming years. The huge interest in the Basel region as a business location was also reflected in the over 400 consultation sessions in Switzerland and abroad and the 69 visits to Basel made by investors and company delegations that were organised by BaselArea.swiss in 2018.

As well as promoting the location, BaselArea.swiss also achieved extremely impressive results in its second key activity: fostering innovation. 72 startups received support from BaselArea.swiss in founding their companies and the number of companies established increased by nine compared to the previous year. The startups were mainly companies operating in the life sciences and ICT sectors.

There was also a sharp rise in the demand for consulting and mentoring. Companies used this service provided by BaselArea.swiss 556 times, which represents a more than three-fold increase compared to the previous year. The events organised by BaselArea.swiss also proved extremely popular and provided around 6,000 participants with an opportunity for networking and generating new ideas.

See the press release here. The complete 2018 BaselArea.swiss annual report can be downloaded as a PDF.

report Life Sciences

Pfizer acquires Basel-based Therachon

09.05.2019

report Life Sciences

Swiss biotech industry growing

08.05.2019

report Precision Medicine

Healthcare innovations gain traction with the DayOne Accelerator

05.03.2019

Three innovative healthcare startups participate in the first round of the DayOne Accelerator. Faraz Oloumi from Aurteen, Chang Yun from Noul and Christian Vogler and Leo Gschwind from Advancience are examples of how far conviction can get you.

BaselArea.swiss: Faraz, why did you establish Aurteen in the first place?

Faraz: During my studies in electrical and computer engineering, I worked on retinal-image analysis and fell in love with the subject. I completed my Masters, then my PhD and declined a safe job to pursue the topic and founded Aurteen. I am 100 percent convinced of the novelty and necessity of computer-aided assessment of the retina, because the vessels at the back of the eye tell the story of your overall health from retinal disease to metabolical and cardiovascular disorders.

Christian, was there a starting point for you as well?

Christian: I studied psychology and genetics. In order to use genetics as a tool to research the human mind, my co-founders and I started to pursue psychometrics. The typical toolkit for psychometric testing originates in the 1940s to 1970s. We took psychometric tests to the 21st century, added gamification, made it entertaining and scalable and thus are able to process large numbers of study participants. We want to drive psychology forward. We are convinced that you can use our tools for a broad range of different purposes: It is a diagnostic tool for testing attention disorders or memory impairments as well as an HR tool to make teams work better together.

Chang, you joined Noul one year ago. What was the reason?

Chang: One of the co-founders is a biomedical engineer. Right after he had earned his PhD in the United States he spent 1,5 years in Malawi for his voluntary social service. He witnessed many children die from malaria and was surprised to see health workers still rely on tests that were inaccurate and inefficient. He founded Noul in 2015 to develop a portable device that uses image analysis and artificial intelligence to diagnose diseases from blood samples. As his close friend I have been interested in this project from the beginning and joined one year ago being ascertain that my career in the United Nations would be conducive for success of the project. I have a background in business management and public administration. As the Director of Global Business Development at Noul I now set up the European office.

What was the hardest part in establishing the company?

Chang: For us, it was the science. We had trials and errors. While the clinical trials in the laboratory worked well, the results in the field were often unexpected. Sometimes it was hard to get enough samples with high quality. To overcome those hurdles, we cooperate with the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute in Basel. In addition, to approve a new technology like ours also requires new criteria. That takes a lot of time and sufficient convincing data from our side.

Christian: As a scientist, you don’t become an entrepreneur overnight. I had to learn that the scientific results are not the only thing that counts. Instead, I also need to sell my results and think about specific value propositions. I’m familiar with psychology, genetics and bioinformatics – and now I have to come up with business cases on top of that. In the corporate world, we encounter a new problem every day. You always need a plan B, C and D. It is a tremendous amount of work, but a lot of fun, too.

Faraz: Not being able to financially support yourself is not easy. I haven’t paid myself a dime in the past years. The hardest part for me though was convincing people that my ideas and vision are not crazy. I had to fight a lot of adversity. But I don’t regret it at all. Then there are other challenges like making myself be a CEO rather than just being a CTO, which means that you can no longer be a perfectionist. That is a challenge I enjoy.

What do you hope to achieve during the next couple of months in the DayOne Accelerator?

Faraz: While Canada is well suited to the telemedical approach and my collaborators and potential customers are there, we don’t have a strong business case in Canada in terms of pure numbers. Plus, the nearest market, which is the US, is very fragmented and complicated to enter. To participate in the DayOne Accelerator is the perfect opportunity for us to look at and validate the European market. Further, we want to validate our list of value propositions and find investors.

Chang: Our Swiss partners encouraged us to apply for this program and luckily we were selected to take part. I believe Noul has worked very hard for developing unprecedented diagnostic solutions for last three years. Now the time is right to  look back at what we have achieved so far and use the input we get here to make our business model more concrete. We want to get to know the people that can further help us to reach that goal and explore the opportunities.

Leo: We want to learn how to set up and run the business. And we want to get ready to pitch to potential investors and look for seed money.

The acceleration program started in January. What is your experience so far?

Faraz: It all came as a pleasant surprise. The ecosystem in terms of support for startups is completely different from what I am used to. I am talking to senior figures from the pharma and clinical side and the overall support happens to be on a high level. The DayOne team cares for me and my business to succeed. I am convinced that we can gain more traction here. Based on my experience so far, I am exploring the idea of establishing here in Basel. It really is a blessing for our team.

Chang: I am impressed. The meetings we had so far are extremely beneficial and helpful. Strategically, it pays off to be in Basel and be close to our partner, the Swiss TPH and in traveling distance to our stakeholders in Geneva. So far, the accelerator proves to be very effective.

Leo: The input is enormous. We benefit tremendously in learning how to structure the business. It’s brilliant to learn the trade from experts and get first-hand insights. And the funding relieves the hardest pain.

What was the biggest cultural shock when coming to Basel?

Chang: In my culture, people are not as direct while here people voice their opinions more directly. I enjoy that diversity and wish we had more of that in our team in South Korea. Also, I rarely see traffic jams here.

Faraz: It is shocking how everyone seems to understand English.

Cookies

BaselArea.swiss uses cookies to ensure you get the best service on our website.
By continuing to browse the site, you are agreeing to the use of cookies.

Ok