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BKI Foods embracing tech to be successful

Right from the start in 1960, BKI Kaffe a/s has delivered quality coffee to Danish consumers. Today, BKI is one of the biggest players in the coffee market and is today the only 100% Danish-owned company that has still retained its coffee production in Denmark and thus keep Danish jobs in the production. The family ownership is praised for its ongoing investment in developing BKI. This includes a high degree of automation and digital systems contributing to optimization of production, warehousing and shipping and an increased focus on sustainability

BKI was first introduced to the ADMA scan in the second half of 2019. The priorities for development were agreed to be ECO Factory, End-to-end Customer Focused Engineering and Smart Manufacturing.

Taking a look into the production a number of breakthroughs have already materialized.

Everything in our productions is now digitalized, and we no longer utilize any paper. By using QR-codes on both production lines and components, the failure rate was reduced by 95%. Our process and pallet-logistics in the warehouse have been optimized by introducing a new Warehouse Management System, which has improved our efficiency with around 70 percent compared to the time with manual handling” explains Factory Manager Ib Hauberg.

The system allows for full traceability ensuring a high level of quality. Introduction of Sortex Vision System (IR & HD camera’s) and the use of Big Data helps to improve the efficiency of the roastery.

In terms of Eco Factory (T3), BKI has made revolutionary improvements in the area of recyclable foils. BKI has in collaboration with Polyprint invented a new coffee bag, which is almost 100% reusable. The key is a new type of metal free foil, which also reduces the use of plastic with 15% and has a 23% reduced carbon footprint. The efforts continue and in the future BKI will be working with even thinner foils and in the end fully recyclable foils. – Another ecofriendly change is the reduction of energy demanded for the roasting of the coffee beans. Using a roaster that uses the heat from the roasting process to preheat the green beans, the energy consumption is being reduced by 20%.

Heading forward

Despite corona’s slowing down of the idea creation process, steps toward further development have been taken. In March 2021 BKI was one of two key cases at one of ADMA’s learning network events. In this connection a movie about BKI was made introducing the lean and automated production flow and ending with the quote of Mr. Hauberg: “We now work with Big Data trying to see if we can be more efficient. And in the future, we want to use AI to improve output even more.”

This ambition of using AI to improve the use of data towards increasing efficiency became the key element of the Implementation Plan. BKI has joined the ‘AI Denmark project’, with the aim of using AI to improve planning efficiency and optimize use of ‘material’ leading to cost savings and quality improvements. Factory Manager Ib Hauberg : “We have a focus on data collection and focus on combining and working more analytically with data. We’ll analyze how we can use the data more actively and how we can collect more and more data automatically. So far, we have been good at using data to understand the past, now we want to use a more forward-looking perspective especially related to Production and logistics.”

A few follow up questions for BKI Factory Manager Ib Hauberg

Was the ADMA process and Transformation Plan valuable for your company’s objective?

Yes, we produce 50 million coffee bags a year and we have constantly to improve the processes. Together with ADMA and MADE we made the scan of our production, which gave us insights to areas where we can improve in the coming year in full alignment with our company objectives. – The ADMA process has enabled us to see things in a new perspective, which has strengthened the efforts of BKI to include new ways of looking at future opportunities within the company.

What does ‘Factory of the Future’ mean to you?

We know that innovation is crucial for our corporate survival” We develop our factory of the future through the use of technology in the production but also in our marketing and sales forecast. We want to create a company with less waste, less carbon pollution and more re-cycling – and with a high efficiency.

How are you going to re-take cruising speed to a level before corona crisis?

We are happy now to see all colleagues back in the company. They are the key to carry out our production and for the further innovation processes. Furthermore, we increase the partnership with our suppliers in order to make further developments together.

Do you have a piece of advice for others aiming for similar changes in their production?

You have to give this kind of work top level priority. You have to find good partners in the different areas to develop new possibilities and ideas and you have to be willing to invest both time and money to succeed. Furthermore, you must have an organization that understands the meaning and methods you want to integrate.

Any final message for local/regional/national/European policy makers?

There is a lack of uniform rules in the EU countries regarding recycling, CO2 regulations and initiatives. That includes missing uniform tax conditions within these areas which should ensure equal conditions of competition across national borders in the EU. The various country-specific conditions are harmful to free trade across national borders.

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