For 25 years, we have been realising beautiful projects in our established market, the Netherlands and Belgium, under the brand name of Project Techniek. The demand for our services changes in this market as well. Therefore Project Techniek becomes Integrated Bakery. Read below the interview with our founder and CEO published in the NBT magazine (trade magazine for the total bakery industry).
On the first of December 2017, Project Techniek celebrates its 25th anniversary. However, by that time we probably cannot speak of Project Techniek anymore. At Project Techniek they have noticed a certain change in market demands. Integrated Bakery will meet these needs and Project Techniek will leave the scene. We spoke with Frans van der Schoot, founder/CEO of Project Techniek and Integrated Bakery, about this change and, of course, we look back on a quarter of a century of Project Techniek.
First of all, congratulations on this milestone. What have you done in the past 25 years?
“Actually, Project Techniek exists a lot longer. Project Techniek was established in 1993 via a management buy-out of the technical department of SaBa B.V., thee forerunner of Bakkersland and Bake Five. Including my 9 years of employment at SaBA, I have been active as technical consultant in the bakery industry for 34 years. In those years I have realised, together with my colleagues and suppliers, a lot of amazing projects. The ground-breaking projects like frozen bake-off (Pre Pain), frozen pizza dough (Euro Pizza Products) and the development and application of many new techniques come to mind.”
“But we have also done all kinds of generic technical bakery projects, like development of new facilities and optimisations where we have worked on capacity expansions, mechanization and automation issues. Between 1986 and 1990 we have realised the digitalizing of all bakery lay-outs. And not to forget, the service projects like Dust Explosion (ATEX), efficiency studies, legionella and so forth.”
Which changes have you seen in the industry?
“In terms of bakery technology we were actually part of the technical evolution and were the guiding partner for machine builders. For example the dough-grabber at Bakkerij het Anker, automated crate-loading at Bakkerij de Paauw, grabber-depanner at Bakkerij Amstelveld, Gantry robot at Bakkerij Veenhuis & van der Molen and robotization. This all resulted in a broad expertise and experience found to be quite unique in this world.”
Earlier projects that we have realized
“If we look at the bakery industry today, industrial bakeries have developed from an artisan oriented production facility to a process based industry in which the need for process operators exceeds the need for bakers. This development is initiated from the Netherlands, in which we have had our share and to which we delivered a major contribution. The Dutch bakery techniques are therefore highly regarded worldwide! We have noticed that the demand for Dutch bakery knowledge- and techniques has increased particularly in upcoming markets since 2004. At that time the developments in the Netherlands and Belgium, our focus market at the time, stood still. We expanded our borders and found our way to the international market. At first as a bakery engineer, later as consultant offering a wider range of services and since 2016 as System Integrator for complete bakery projects, mostly aiming at emerging markets.”
Why reposition yourself from consultant to System Integrator?
“Customers in ‘emerging’ markets need much more than just technical advice. They want help from the very first start until commissioning and even afterwards, when we monitor and correct for long-term performance guarantee. In terms of project realisation, the international customer clearly seeks one party who will take responsibility for the final result, will guarantee performance and, preferably, an independent party with knowledge and experience. For us this was the motivation for a repositioning and the above is exactly what we want to offer our client under a new brand, Integrated Bakery. This way, by getting in the ‘driver’s seat’, we have the needed authority towards machine builders to eventually deliver our client what we have promised.”
System Integration, combining bakery equipment into a whole working solution. With this we strive for the most optimum technical solution based on a turn-key delivery.
Why does Project Techniek leaves the scene and when will this happen?
“Under our new brand, Integrated Bakery, we were initially focussing on the so-called emerging markets. However, we noticed that our working method also chimes with the need from customers in the ‘established’ markets, like the Netherlands and Belgium. Working under two brands is unclear towards our customers and to realise growth within our organisation, we have to make choices. That is why we have decided that Project Techniek will leave the scene so that we can focus our attention entirely on Integrated Bakery. Nothing big will change for our existing clients. They can still count on the expertise and service they trust.”
Now you are actually delivering the machines, what will differentiate Integrated Bakery from the OEMs?
“The customer will have to deal with only one contact person instead of multiple, which is of great value. There is another important aspect: we are able to focus on the best technical solution: we do not produce and therefore do not have a self-interest in projecting as many techniques as possible, giving us freedom of choice. We choose the system that matches the need of the project the most. In case desired, we are even able to offer used equipment as part of the total solution. For this, we work closely together with our sister company Dubet. All this requires extensive expertise from our staff on the processes and different solutions that OEMs have to offer and the strengths and weaknesses thereof. That is why our people are truly ‘out of the box’ thinkers.”
How do you see the future of Integrated Bakery within the bakery industry?
“My general expectation is an increasing demand for System Integration, especially internationally, but also nationally. As an independent party we see more and more possibilities to profile ourselves and to give an ongoing push towards optimisation of business processes and continued upscaling in our industry.”
“Besides the development of the ‘best solution’ fitting the clients need, we have also delivered a conceptual solution to a selection of our clients. In this, we deliver a full business plan with all details regarding the product, the (potential) market, the technical solution, the needed investment and finally, the potential profit of the product. This option is very appealing to investors in new markets in which the supply still exceeds the demand, and where there is also demand for product innovation. Think of countries like Saudi Arabia, where for the past ten years a gigantic production capacity for croissants has been projected, but where a clear need for product innovation has occurred at the moment.”