Next to the production facility of the family business Bolidt, an impressive Innovation Center emerged in 2019. In the heart of the building, product developers are at work, whilst around this area there is also plenty of space for visitors to test and discover. In May, the Ondernemers Sociëteit Voedingsindustrie (OSV) was a guest there.
'What does the future food factory look like?' That question ran like a common thread throughout the 'Food & Floor Experience' hosted by the OSV. In the spacious, meters-high welcome hall there is a huge screen that would not be out of place in a movie theater. The windows stretch from floor to ceiling. Just before the presentations begin, the curtains close: meters-high black drapes perforated with hundreds of holes that let daylight through. We find ourselves envisioning a starry sky like you can really only see on a high mountain: far away from cities and construction projects. "Here everything is about pioneering innovation, sustainable continuity, as well as room for making mistakes to learn from, and asking questions," Rientz-Willem Bol, CEO of Bolidt will tell us later.
Bessels Architects kicks off this afternoon: Mandy Doeve and Cordy Volkers, co-owners of the company, design a lot for the food industry. Mandy urges us to start dreaming, asking yourself the question, "What does your dream building look like? Not very difficult in this setting of light darkness and stars. "How great would it be if some aspects of your dream building could actually become a reality?" she continues enthusiastically, bringing us right back down to earth. Because: "Dreaming is wonderful, building castles in the air is exciting, but don't forget the foundation!" The starting point at Bessels is always how processes run and how people enter that process.
"The foundation is building sustainably," Cordy continues the presentation. "Circularity is becoming increasingly important. To achieve that, a building has to be as demountable as possible. The materials you use are biobased where possible. This approach means working fundamentally different, thinking and designing differently, and looking for new solutions, not forgetting working comfort, safety and light. During all this, the food manufacturer's process remains leading." They display beautiful photos of a multitude of projects in the food industry to illustrate.
Then Hugo ter Hoeve, of Simpel desinfecteren, takes the stage. He asks us to imagine "the future of disinfection. He, too, wants us to dream a little first. "What if..." , he begins, "your disinfection method would be effective against all microorganisms, and does not produce resistance. It leaves no residue, so rinsing is not necessary, and it is not corrosive. 'What if' the production area stays dry and all of that could be automated?" You can see some OSV people musing. But Hugo quickly pulls us out of the dream: after all, we can already do all of these things. "With 'Nocotech'." Crystal clear, he explains how the system works. In short (and explained somewhat simplified) it comes down to the following: ions are blown into the room to be disinfected by the Nocotech. These ions "search" for organic material and oxidize with the microorganisms they encounter. The result: the cell membranes of bacteria and fungi break down, the microorganism dies. As long as the machine is on, it blows ions into the room. About half an hour after it is turned off, the room is safe to enter again. Hugo also shows a long list of leading companies already working with the system.
Ton van Wijnen of Bolidt wants the OSV to get a sense of Bolidt's DNA. The mission, in a nutshell: to replace traditional materials for more circular ones, in order to contribute to a better living environment'. He is clearly proud of the family business, and of the employees involved. What is special is that Bolidt has everything handled in-house: from the development, production and sales of the floors, to their implementation and installation. Their floors can be found everywhere: in schools, civil, infra, maritime and a multitude of sectors in the industrial market. Customized solutions, making use of the knowledge available through cross-fertilization between the segments, and keeping a sharp eye on new developments are key words.
For the tour, the large group is divided into three. Along the way, OSV'ers are treated to snacks and drinks, all of which symbolize something from this company's special DNA. We start with an orange-colored vitamin boost: the color stands for "a Dutch company at heart," the vitamins for Bolidt's health. A Spanish tapas snack, served on a piece of floor as a plate, symbolizes the attention to detail in finishing the floors, the sandwiches stand for the many layers that make up these floors. There is nibbling, laughter and networking. The OSV people ask questions in an open atmosphere as soon as they come up.
Finally, Rientz-Willem Bol talks candidly about the journey the company has made over the past decades: about the blow that corona dealt and how they worked together - management and employees - to overcome it. About how they involved the younger generation in the company's vision of the future, the confrontational input from this "Next Generation group," and how they began working on it. "Brainstorming with each other is essential to achieve innovations," he believes. And that is exactly why not only the building, where all these innovations in the field of flooring originate, is so open and transparent. The communication and working atmosphere are too, coupled with a clear vision and achievable goals for the future. "Out of respect for life."
Photos: ©Patricia van Os
Source: Vakblad Voedingsindustrie 2023