Competence areas

Equipment

Country/Region

United States

Crops

All

Date

June 2016

Equipment

More than just a plant

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  • The demand for innovative seed-applied solutions is increasing around the globe
  • Innovation is what the new R&D center is designed for
  • In Shakopee, machinery for various kinds of seed for all kind of customers is produced

Peter Herold, International Marketing & Team Lead Global Engineering Services Bayer SeedGrowth Equipment

The new Bayer SeedGrowth™ Equipment Innovation Center in Shakopee, Minnesota (USA) not only produces state-of-the-art machinery for seed applied technologies but also has an advanced R&D part and training facility for up to 120 people. But the cherry on the cake is something else …

The facility in Shakopee truly includes a BBQ area?

Peter Herold: “Yes, it does. We had our last BBQ last week. We use it regularly. I would say, twice a month. Having the BBQ site is not only fun but supports the spirit of our excellent team. Our events resemble somewhat a family meeting.”

The plant is quite unique for several reasons. For planning and construction, Bayer cooperated with conservationists. But that's by far not all, is it?

Peter Herold: “Indeed. We have prairie land set aside for natural habitat of honey bees and other beneficial insects. We have been working together with county conservationists installing water-saving drip irrigation instead of lawn sprinklers. We planted native seeds and grassland. We also sowed a pollinator seed mix around the facility to assist local beekeepers.”

What were the strategic considerations behind Bayer's decision to build the new site in Shakopee?

Peter Herold: “It's quite simple. Our equipment section always used to be U.S. focused. The demand for innovative seed-applied solutions is increasing all around the globe. Currently, Latin America is an important market but Asia is a target too since rice treatment is becoming more and more mainstream. To cover the expansion of the business we needed a new facility. The second consideration was that we never had the space to demonstrate our machinery to customers. When we planned the center that was key. Third, Shakopee has the kind of skilled workers we need for equipment manufacturing.”
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New, bigger, more accurate: The production site in Shakopee.

Bayer is the only crop protection company developing and selling its own application equipment. How do the customers benefit from this approach?

Peter Herold: “Being an integrated company with the unique fourfold competence brand such as Bayer SeedGrowth, we want to stay cutting edge when it comes to our offer. Our equipment portfolio allows us to meet users’ needs in all product segments. We provide machinery for various kinds of seed – for large seed companies, multipliers and also for local seed retailers. For industrials, we offer stationary equipment that can be tied to plant process control systems. For our semi-industrial customers we have semi-mobile downstream equipment and continuous flow treaters on offer that provide more accurate application control and greater payback potential when applying high-value seed treatments. We also provide large on-farm equipment for treating seed and small mobile systems as for example back-of-a-truck solutions consisting of basic application equipment plus a power generator which are driven from farm to farm.”

In Shakopee, 40 different treating machines are produced. What are the highlights?

Peter Herold: “The technology we use in the Continuous Batch Treaters (CBT) is unique. Our loss-in-weight system batch treating machines run with an extremely high level of accuracy. We are offering numerous versions of our continuous flow drum treaters to meet different customers’ demands as e.g., our On Demand™ system and the RH series. Thus, our customers can select tailored solutions for their unique seeds.”
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Peter Herold at the BBQ.

How important is regular training on application technology to ensure high quality seed treatment?

Peter Herold: “Hands-on training is an integral part of everything we do at Bayer SeedGrowth. This conviction is displayed by the design of our new Equipment Innovation Center where we demonstrate new technologies we are working on and show the existing ones. Training and demonstration are key components of this site. Therefore, we enlarged our facilities so we can train up to 120 people, both external customers such as certified treaters, farmers or seed companies and also internal staff e.g., support personnel and sales representatives from all over the world.”

What are the main challenges for Bayer SeedGrowth in the market?

Peter Herold: “The main challenge is developing the service capacity of the machinery as we expand all over the world. Supplying the machines is one thing, keeping it running is something else. So ensuring we have good service to our existing and potential customers that is the biggest challenge we have today. The main objective of seed treatment is making sure that the applications are on the seed all the time. If we can manage our own equipment to do that, it benefits the customer, for he is ensured what he supplies his farmers is accurately treated. That is our goal. By managing the whole system – service, products et cetera – we can deliver the objective.”

And what are your next plans? Would you give us an outlook?

Peter Herold: “Go out and grill some burgers and bratwurst. Joking aside, the new facility has room for expansion. That is very much an objective: new, bigger, more accurate – whatever term you want to use. One of our goals is how can we build a better seed treater that makes it even easier for our customers to treat seeds every time accurately? Thus, innovation is what the R&D center is designed for. What we are looking at right now is 3D printing technology where we can replace parts of the machines with 3D printed materials. If something breaks somewhere in the world we can just send a print file. The customer gets it to the next 3D printer and has the machine up and running again very quickly. Within the next three or four years we will add some 30,000 ft2. One of our promises is – and here we come back to the conservation issue – that the prairie land we consume will be reinstated on the roof area.”

Shakopee in brief

  • Broke ground in August 2014
  • Officially opened on the July 9, 2015
  • Overall space encompassing 135,000 ft2
  • $ 12 million invested
  • 50 employees
  • Producing 40 different batch and drum treaters
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