Karsten Eisenhardt comes from a family of millers. He took the classic route, doing his military service in the German Armed Forces and then completing a miller’s apprenticeship in a compound feedstuff factory, where he already felt the urge to acquire more knowledge. “I then asked my teachers and instructors how I could continue learning as a journeyman,” he says. “There was really only one option: the DMSB.”
So, he moved to Braunschweig and gained all the qualifications he could there. “But that still wasn’t enough for me. On the contrary, it was there that I first became really inspired and inquisitive,” Eisenhardt says. “In Braunschweig we were superbly prepared to put theory into practice, but I wanted to delve deeper into the technology side of things.” He had analytical methods, process engineering and looking at the wider picture in other industries in mind. So, he studied food technology with a focus on food engineering at Anhalt University of Applied Sciences.
Throughout his studies, he was particularly interested in extrusion (see also pages 8 and 9). “We touched on this area at the DMSB, because milled products are the main ingredients in recipes for the production of breakfast cereals.” He wrote his master’s thesis on this subject and stuck with it after gaining his degree, as his first employer was the breakfast cereal manufacturer Brüggen. “When working on my master’s thesis, I worked at a research institute near Potsdam. During this time, I got to know Brüggen. When I was offered the opportunity to work there as a product developer for extrudates, I accepted – it was a perfect fit.”
Yet he still had not satisfied his curiosity, Karsten Eisenhardt also wanted to do a PhD and switched from industry to science. After some delays in his doctorate, Brüggen in turn asked if he would like to return. “My former boss offered me the opportunity to set up a technology department with a focus on extrusion. That’s when I discontinued with my doctorate and accepted this challenge, which I am still doing now.” Extrusion has lost none of its fascination for him to this day. “Extrusion requires a lot of experience and a sense of proportion. When dealing with natural raw materials such as cereals, the result cannot be predicted purely by calculation; it always requires a sure instinct.
As a private label manufacturer – less than ten percent of its products are sold under its own brand – Brüggen is strongly development-driven. Every customer wants “their” individual granola mixes, bars, breakfast cereals or similar. Innovations and technological advances are very important for business success, because they are also in strong demand from customers. Eisenhardt’s department – Technology and Process Development – therefore partners with research institutes and brings new technologies into the company. This enables him to continue discovering and learning new things in his day-to-day work.