Baader: a century of technology
One of the industry’s famous names has just celebrated a hundred years in business that has seen the company weather enormous changes to remain firmly among the top tier of suppliers to the fish processing industry.
Times were hard as the First World War came to an end, and the city of Lübeck had been through many hardships. At the time, fish was a vital food resource, although production conditions were extremely harsh compared to today’s standards. A day after his 34th birthday, on 29th of July 1919, Lübeck businessman Rudolph Max Joseph Baader signed his new company Nordischer Maschinenbau Rud. Baader, Lübeck onto the commercial register, and the company we know today simply as Baader came into existence.
His aim was to develop a machine that would carry out fish processing tasks that were otherwise done by hand, and when the Baader 450, built to head and fillet herring, was presented at the Lübeck Fish Fair in 1922, it attracted interest – and was also pelted with stones by fish workers who saw it as a threat to their livelihoods.
Rudolph Baader didn’t have an easy time of it to begin with, but the machine caught on and the increase in processing capacity resulted in a greater availability and demand for fish, to the point that the industry could no longer manage without his machine – and by the mid-1920s his company began opening offices abroad.
The outbreak of the Second World War was a turning point, as by this time there were Baader machines in use in Russia, Africa and even as far away as the Pacific – but the war brought the company’s international business to a halt. At the same time, there was a shortage of manpower as young men were required for the military or for armaments production, and Baader had no choice but to turn over part of its capacity to producing aircraft components. As the war ended Baader’s focus immediately returned to fish processing equipment.
The Baader 99, capable filleting whitefish between 50 and 120cm, became the company’s star product, fitted on many factory trawlers as processing at sea took off during the 1950s, and the company continued to grow in the years after Rudolf Georg Theodor Baader took over the reins from his father. He took the company to a new purpose-built factory outside Lübeck in 1959, and expanded in new directions with equipment for processing poultry during the 1960s.
By now Baader had again become a highly international company with its equipment in use around the world, and following the end of the Soviet Union, Baader was one of the first to become a co-operative partner in a venture in Russia with Baader-Vostok-Service, established in Vladivostok.
In 1995 Petra Baader took over the company at a difficult time, just as Russia was in crisis and deliveries to that market had ground to a halt, and as restricted fish quotas had depressed demand for equipment. At that time aquaculture was still in its infancy, and she was faced with some tough decisions. She decided to invest in expansion in the USA and ramped up activities in the poultry sector. Baader was able to occupy a leading market position following the purchase of Johnson Food Equipment in the USA in 1997. The acquisition of Linco Food Systems A/S in 2007 completed the processing line and further strengthened Baader’s market position, especially in Central and South America as well as Asia.
At the turn of the millennium, business was also good in Norway, especially in salmon processing. The Baader 142 in particular generated a real boom from the mid-1990s with its automated princess cut which gets the most out of the fish, and Norwegian salmon producers were able to process many more fish than previously.
In 2012 Baader acquired Stavanger company Trio Food Processing, a specialist in skinning machinery and pin boning equipment. These machines permit the production of fully boneless and skinless salmon fillets with a longer shelf life, and the acquisition of Seafood Innovations in Australia in 2013 brought with it unique techniques for gentle and humane stunning and killing methods.
Today, Petra Baader is confidently confronting the challenges brought by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Besides driving the company’s transformation from a machine manufacturer to a full-service partner for manufacturers all over the world, she is also an active advocate of digitalisation. Thanks to her vision, a special digitalisation section was set up at Baader back in 2017 and this ever-growing department has been working with external partners on innovations along the entire food value chain ever since.
The mission is to drive innovation along a digitalised and transparent value chain based on partnership. This is being done with the aim of supplying a growing global population with safe, sustainable and high-quality food, while setting new standards in animal welfare, maximum utilisation of resources and sustainability.
“Baader is the main initiator and mentor of a new, unique Food Value Chain Network. This is a rapidly growing, interdisciplinary community made up of trustworthy partners. Besides all of the economic possibilities, they primarily concentrate on two things: people and the planet,” she said.
“The community represents a new way of thinking within the industry and shares the same ethical values. The aim is to share data and knowledge and work together to improve the way in which food is perceived, produced, distributed and consumed. This new Food Value Chain Network has the potential to significantly boost innovation along the existing food value chain and remodel the future of food.”
Petra Baader explained that cameras and diagnostic radiology are key components of modern food processing, and processing fish and poultry is complex, as equipment has to cope with various sizes and species of fish.
“Digital options such as data collection and new algorithms allow for digital learning. This makes the processing of raw materials even more precise. In addition, we can collect and analyse the data that our machines provide in order to generate real added value for us and our customers,” she said.
“Cloud technology is an important building block for future solutions along the supply chain from the farm to the end user. We have a cloud-based platform that allows us to process all available data to gain the best results for our customers and the end user. We can significantly support the process of resource reduction as well as the process of quality improvement. A supply chain is not to be understood as a one-way street, but rather as a network in which a variety of data relating to the Internet of Food flow.”
“I am convinced that many of today’s business models will look different in the future or simply no longer exist at all,” she said.
“We are focused on our tasks and have a clear idea of where we should be heading and where our potential lies. Digitalisation plays an important role here. We must combine digital data with human creativity, verifiable facts and visionary ideas, challenges and demands so that we are in a position to utilise and drive forward innovation along the entire food value chain and beyond.”
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