When the Bühler Group acquired Draiswerke, Inc. in December 2010, the company looked at the acquisition as giving it new technologies in production equipment as well as a new northeastern headquarters. As a result, Bühler spent much of the rest of 2011 integrating Draiswerke’s product line and renovating Draiswerke’s Mahwah, NJ facilities.
To celebrate the successful renovation of its new northeastern facility, the Bühler Group decided to host an Open House with a Technology Seminar, a two-day event held on March, 5-6 2012. The Open House featured a comprehensive tour of the newly created RADEC (Regional Application Development and Education Center). This state-of-the-art center includes the latest technology from Bühler and a full range of lab and process size equipment, plus a well equipped analytical lab.
Meanwhile, speakers from both within Bühler as well as outside experts gave a broad overview of topics for all aspects of wet grinding and dispersing of materials across a wide spectrum of industries.
“Our main focus was on the open house to debut our revitalized facility, combining it with a seminar with outside speakers and the hands-on demonstration of our equipment,” Steve Jacobson, general manager, Grinding & Dispersing Technologies for Bühler, said. “Bühler invests more than 4% of our revenue into R&D yearly. We also put a lot into our new facility in North America, and we want to get the message to our customers that we are investing in a highly functional facility for this market.”
Mr. Jacobson noted that Buhler had acquired Drais Mannheim, the original German side of Draiswerke, in 2003, but the Draiswerke location in Mahwah, NJ, was an ideal location for its GD business segment.
“We looked at all of the portfolios,” Mr. Jacobson said. “There was only some minor overlap on the bead mill side between the two companies, and Bühler made considerable innovations to all the equipment after we acquired the German side of Drais. Today, Bühler offers the latest bead mills and three-roll mills, but Draiswerke had developed some interesting mixers, such as their thermal kinetic mixer.”
“This also allows us to be closer to our customers,” Mr. Jacobson added. “Our headquarters in Minneapolis is ideal for our customers in the grain industry. The eastern seaboard is a good location for a variety of other businesses, especially grinding and dispersion-related industries.”
As for presentations, a number of leading Bühler experts were on hand to give talks on topics ranging from three-roll mill technology and wet milling to nanotechnology. In addition, Howard Zakheim, engineering fellow for Dupont, and Richard Phun, staff engineer for Dupont, discussed automotive coatings trends, while Dan Scheffer, director R&D at Vorbeck Materials, a graphene ink innovator, gave a talk on conductive inks.
“We wanted to have some different people, a mix between major companies such as DuPont and Vorbeck Materials, to present some breakthrough technology,” Mr. Jacobson said.
Rene Eisenring, sales account manager, Grinding & Dispersing Technologies for Bühler, noted that the event was very well attended, with more than 80 industry people coming in to the Open House and the seminar.
“The turnout was phenomenal,” Mr. Eisenring said. “It exceeded our expectations. It was an honor to Bühler, to have so many people taking two days off during their busy schedule for this event.”
Mark Finley, vice president of manufacturing, Superior Printing Ink, attended the two-day seminar and came away impressed with the information that was presented.
“I thought it was very well done,” Mr. Finley said. “It was all first class. Bühler obviously put a lot of time and thought into it.”
“You went home with a lot of information,” Mr. Finley added. “I thought having outside speakers gave it more credibility, while the talks by Bühler’s people on dispersions, grinding and nanotechnology was very informative. If you knew nothing about milling going in to the sessions, you would come away with a good basic knowledge, sort of like a Grinding & Milling 101 and 102 level, and it was not heavily sales-oriented.”
Mr. Finley said that this sort of event provides a benefit to all attendees.
“Overall, it was very worthwhile,” Mr. Finley said. “It is important to be able to share knowledge. I wish more companies would do something of this nature, providing information on the industry and their company.”
“We had a lot of requests by customers for trials in our new test center, and also for seminars with more in-depth discussions on topics such as dispersions, grinding and nanotechnology, which were covered by our speakers,” Mr. Jacobson said. “We have had a large number of requests to do this again, and we are contemplating making this an annual event.”