‘Consumers are increasingly concerned about the origin of the products they are buying’
The company, founded by Dr. Peter Schimitzek, celebrates its 40th anniversary this month and has overseen a number of software developments across the food industry in that time including mobile data capture, cloud computing with its own computer center in Geilenkirchen since 2008 and CSB-Automation, specializing in the design of innovative automation technology.
Starting out as a small team of consultants for the meat industry, CSB has developed into a global firm offering software, hardware, services and business consulting.
Timo Schaffrath, marketing manager, CSB-System, said in the food industry over the past 40 years, one of the most noticeable trends has been the increase in digitization and automation throughout the value chain. This has been combined with the growing demand for convenience as consumers seek to find ways to cope with increasingly busy lifestyles.
In the meat sector, this has led to a growth in pre-packed fresh meat and poultry as well as the introduction of a huge choice of ready meals.
“At the same time, consumers have become increasingly concerned about food quality and safety and more interested in the precise origins of the products they are buying,” said Schaffrath.
“Developments in IT over the same period have helped to bring these various requirements together. Most notably, as factories become more automated, IT systems are able to completely integrate all the equipment to help maximize throughput and efficiencies while maintaining overall product quality.”
He added, from the moment raw materials arrive at the factory relevant data can be entered electronically, allowing these to be supplied to subsequent operations such as cutting, production, packaging and inventory.
“Not only do such systems use intelligent inventory monitoring, they can calculate the optimal order quantities and notify automatically as soon as the minimum stock is reached in raw materials or at the dispatch warehouses,” said Schaffrath.
“We have also seen the introduction of specific software for individual parts of the line. Recipe optimization programs, for example, calculate the most cost-efficient composition of recipes while ensuring consistently high quality levels are maintained.
“The introduction of mobile devices on the shop floor has been another important development in increasing efficiency, reducing error rates during picking and increasing order fulfilment times.
“To meet the growing need for enhanced quality and hygiene, we have seen the introduction of non-invasive image processing solutions in the food sector. Such methods deliver objective classification results with minimal errors in the assessment and quality control of cuts, as well as the optimization of raw materials and products.
“In the increasing drive to improve food safety and quality standards over the past 40 years, IT systems have helped to provide effective traceability systems, enabling products and individual ingredients to be quickly and accurately identified in the result of any problem being identified.
“And as consumers become more concerned about how their products were manufactured and sourced, such details can be easily accessed by scanning a barcode with their smart phones.
“Many of these IT developments have provided the forerunner to today’s focus on Industry 4.0 and the smart factory, evidence that IT will continue to have a huge role to play in the next 40 years.”
Today the CSB Group employs more than 600 members of staff, generates an annual sales volume of €77m and is one of the largest owner-managed software enterprises in Europe.
When the firm was established in 1977, Dr. Schimitzek had completed his training as a master butcher and went on to pursue a degree in business administration and economics and obtained a doctorate with his thesis ‘Recipe optimization for meat products’.
This software program, which was designed to facilitate the implementation of guidelines for meat and meat products in 1975, was expanded to represent an ERP system, first for the meat sector, then for the entire food industry.
"We want our customers to maintain a head start in the fiercely competitive environment of the process industry with optimized processes through IT and automation,” said Schmitzek's daughter Vanessa Kröner.
Kröner, along with her father represent the company's executive board, and is responsible for the areas of finance, sales and marketing. She has positioned the company in an even more global environment: CSB is active in 50 countries, with its own regional organization in over 25 countries, and is expanding further.
Currently, CSB is focusing on the digital networking of the value-added chain in accordance with Industry 4.0.
"By combining software, hardware and consultant we make our customers Industry 4.0 ready and futureproof," said Kröner.
"We are well positioned globally. This applies to our technology as well as to the expansion of the company. We have every reason to look positively into the future."
In conjunction with its 40th anniversary, CSB has published a book. In "2027 – A look back at the future of innovation", CSB, its customers and external experts answer some existing questions about the future: Which topics will CSB and its customers deal with in the years to come? How will the food industry develop, what will be the trends in the pharmaceutical, chemical and cosmetics industries? In short: What will the process industry look like in 10 years? The book can be downloaded here.