Le Gouvernement du Grand-Duché du Luxembourg
Henri Guillaume, CEO of Hein

Innovation that leads to efficiency

Oven and cooling equipment manufacturer Hein has maintained relevance in Luxembourg’s industry for 142 years through innovation. Benefitting from Luxinnovation’s support and “Fit 4” programmes, it is now forging ahead with R&D for zero-fossil energy ovens.
The baking industry has undergone significant transformations spurred by the use of new technologies. Henri Guillaume, CEO of Hein, explains that this evolution, marked by a dwindling number of bakery personnel over the years, has also reinforced the demand for efficiency by both artisanal and industrial bakeries seeking top-quality machinery that are cost-effective and energy efficient.

Innovation and the quality of our products have been key in making sure we remain a recognized brand in the market.
Henri Guillaume, CEO of Hein

To keep up with evolving market demands and secure its leading position, Mr Guillaume explains that strategic innovation has been essential in its journey. “We’ve been around for the last 142 years, and innovation and the quality of our products have been key in making sure we remain a recognized brand in the market,” he underlines.

With support from Luxinnovation in 2022, the company applied for R&D funding from the Ministry of the Economy and is now developing a novel hybrid heating technology for zero fossil energy ovens. It has also benefitted from SME-specific programmes like Fit 4 Digital and was recently selected for its Fit 4 Innovation counterpart.

Strategic R&D investments

Hein invests about 6% of its revenue on research and development and has carefully expanded its product line to remain competitive. Several oven models from the company have successfully integrated energy-saving features. Its latest innovation under development, the zero-fossil energy oven project aims to integrate a new heating technology that eliminates the need for oil and gas-powered burners, thereby reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

We are looking at ways of reducing the quantity of energy needed for the same quantity of products baked.

“It's important to innovate and be strategic because customers have become more and more price sensitive and you have to take that into consideration when developing new products or re-designing existing ones,” mentions Mr Guillaume. In addition to cost-effectiveness, the family business also prioritises lower energy consumption and energy source diversification when creating new solutions. “Together with the suppliers, we are looking at ways of reducing the quantity of energy needed for the same quantity of products baked,” he continues.

Today, customers are looking for energy-saving technologies that reduce their consumption and save costs.
The ongoing R&D project to develop fossil-free energy ovens is a critical step in its efforts to create alternative energy sources for ovens. “We want to respond to a demand that will hopefully be increasing in the future,” he adds.

Luxinnovation support

During the R&D funding application, he highlights support from the national innovation agency to evaluate their ideas and prepare the required documentation. “The Luxinnovation team helped us to first understand what we can include or exclude from such a project, based on requirements of the funding facility. They were interested in our ideas and really supportive and helped with all the administration part to prepare the project documents. This is a support that I appreciated a lot,” he specifies. Following approval by the ministry, the R&D project is now advancing, and two prototype iterations of the zero-fossil energy oven have been developed.

In the first quarter of 2023, the company also opted to participate in the Fit 4 Digital programme managed by Luxinnovation to boost SME performance through digital solutions. “We had all sorts of support from Luxinnovation for the Fit 4 Digital programme, which helped us look at our IT functions and systems, with recommendations for implementation,” states the CEO, who explains that ideas are currently being considered to ensure the smooth transition of their systems.

We are proud of this main achievement and it puts us on the map of leading innovative companies in the bakery sector.

To further boost its performance and competitiveness, the company also applied and was recently selected to benefit from additional support as part of the Fit 4 Innovation programme. “The programme offers a 360-degree assessment of the company. In a way, it is based on our motivation to look at ourselves from an external point of view with internal insights, from how our staff view the company to our way of working over the last few years and what could be implemented to improve our efficiency in the future.”

The multiple-time innovation prize winner is no stranger when it comes to leveraging innovation for growth having received past innovation awards both locally and internationally. Its contribution to the development of a new generation of ovens without fossils was recognised at the IBA exhibition in 2023, a world-leading trade fair showcasing the latest innovations and developments from the industry. “We are proud of this main achievement and it puts us on the map of leading innovative companies in the bakery sector,” Mr Guillaume concludes.

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