VMI offers premium mixing and kneading solutions for the food, bakery, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical industries. They design equipment that is reliable and modular to meet specific production needs, from laboratory and pilot units to production platforms and automated systems. VMI has been building on its mixing expertise for over 70 years. Their core businesses in the artisanal bakery and the paint industry have guided experts in accompanying the growth of our customers in their respective markets. Through international development and the industrialization of its mixing solutions, VMI was able to enter new markets such as snack foods, catering, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. Interview with Mélanie Gay, Marketing Manager at VMI. Easy Engineering: What are the main areas of activity of the company? Mélanie Gay: VMI develops complete industrial solutions for the bakery and food industries. We also offer mixers and kneaders for artisan bakers and catering professionals. With more than 70 years of experience, we cover all mixing technologies: pre-mixing, batch mixing, continuous mixing, planetary mixing, fermentation, automated systems, and more. VMI’s mixing technologies also cover a wide range of cosmetic, pharmaceutical, and chemical applications, from classic processes that require only simple agitation to complex processes that combine several mechanical effects. E.E: What’s the news about new products? M.G: VMI is committed to providing efficiency and innovation in our mixing solutions to help customers meet their development and performance goals over the long term. We are constantly improving our equipment to ensure the level of safety, standardization, and modularity of our equipment is appropriate. For instance, in the last years, we have fitted most of our craft bakery range with intuitive touchscreen interface (Digy) to automate and simplify the daily life of artisan bakers and pastry chefs. We also focus on ergonomics as we know the choice of equipment is also crucial to improve working comfort and protect bakers from work-related illnesses (asthma for instance). Bakery kneaders and mixers are possible levers to reduce the daily workload of bakers and pastry chefs. We also develop automated mixing technologies to help increase productivity, guarantee production consistency, and reduce production errors We also know that it’s crucial to provide solutions to the new challenges faced by manufacturers. To this end, we developed Octopus Solutions®, an IoT platform for monitoring your industrial performance. This tool gives you a centralized access to all your machine. You have instant and continuous access to data as well as the possibility to adjust your analysis periods and compare your equipment for intelligent, integrated and more efficient production. E.E: What are the ranges of products? M.G: As mentioned earlier, we provide equipment for: Bakery, pastry and snack food manufacturers: VMI develops complete industrial solutions for the bakery and food industries. We also offer mixers and kneaders for artisan bakers and catering professionals. From traditional mixers for artisanal bakeries to automated production lines for the food industry, our installations are reliable, modular, and adaptable to different dough families. Healthcare and chemicals: VMI offers mixing solutions for all the process requirements of the cosmetic, pharmaceutical, and fine chemical industries. Our solutions are reliable, modular, and apply to the specific rheology of your products. They also cover all types of production capacities (laboratories, pilot units, and production platforms). E.E: At what stage is the market where you are currently active? M.G: The demand for baked goods has been constantly increasing for several years. The range of bakery products is also extensive, including bread, cookies, cakes, buns, biscuits, pies, donuts, frozen products… It is a very dynamic and changing market, driven by new lucrative markets such as emerging countries with inflating disposable income. It has a high potential to expand in the coming years. The trends are changing quickly, there is also new challenges such as labor, raw materials and energy costs, need for automation and productivity. Equipment manufacturer must adapt to these new challenges to take full advantage of these new opportunities. As for the Healthcare and chemicals market, there is a high demand for premium, luxury products and it’s increasing despite inflation. Emerging markets also have a strong impact on the potential of this market. E.E: What can you tell us about market trends? M.G: On the bakery and food side, trends are changing quickly. Customers are looking for varied bakery products and they are ready to try new products with different flavors and stuffing. Health is also important and health-conscious consumers are slowly shifting the focus towards low-calorie products. As for manufacturers, they are trying to meet these demands by purchasing versatile equipment, with high productivity. Automation is also needed to ensure the monitoring of the production and traceability. As for the Healthcare side, new standards are emerging, with customers looking for functionals products who can benefit them (anti-aging, hydrating…). They are interested by clean beauty but are looking for proofs. Manufacturers are upgrading their production lines to be able to offer transparency regarding their processes. E.E: What are the most innovative products marketed? M.G: Without doubt: Connected Process intelligence to monitor industrial performance. As far as the process is concerned, the first step in reducing consumption is being able to measure it. VMI is convinced that information is the key to making improvements in this area. Accessing and analyzing data is a challenge for many manufacturers. We believe that IoT systems like Octopus Solutions® will play a major role in the future, in meeting changing manufacturing challenges. By developing and growing this technology, we also get to know its customers and better understand their challenges: In the long run, we hope that our customers will be able to build their own benchmark in terms of production performance or energy efficiency, compared to reference values. E.E: What estimations do you have for 2023? M.G: We expect that manufacturers won’t be curbed by inflation and the uncertain economic environment and that they’ll be looking for new solutions: automated production lines, IoT, traceability. We are also looking to develop our services side as we know support is important to ensure efficiency and sustainability.