The baking industry is chock full of old ovens, many of which have been around for 20, 30, 40 and even 50 years. The baking industry also is full of new ovens with old designs. Although ovens may appear shiny on the outside, their baking chambers and control systems merely are repeats of old designs with slight modifications at best.
However, a new breed of ovens slowly is infiltrating the baking industry. These ovens apply the latest advancements in electronic controls and challenge common design theories. These ovens bake, control and manage energy consumption better than old ovens. More importantly, they solve common problems that plague most ovens in the industry. When purchasing your next oven, make sure it addresses the following issues:
1) Baking chamber: For years, baking chambers have been painted steel finishes. But is this necessarily the most efficient method? One oven manufacturer says no, and has designed an oven that uses stainless steel in its baking chamber to improve the radiant heating process.
2) Burners and ignition systems: As energy prices continue to skyrocket, any measure designed to save energy pays big dividends. As ovens are major consumers of energy, bakers should examine new ovens carefully to ensure that they have the capabilities to monitor burners. In older ovens, if a burner fails to ignite, gas continues to be sent to the burner. New ovens feature control systems that automatically turn the burners’ valves off if they do not ignite, which reduces gas consumption. In addition, ovens with advanced electronic controls also alert operators that a burner is malfunctioning.
A baker also should make sure an oven’s burners are electronically controlled through PLC’s, which provide independent burner controls. This measure reduces gas consumption by shutting off and turning on burners during the bake cycle to maintain consistent temperatures throughout the oven.
3) Controls: Oven control is one of the most important aspects of baking, and one of the biggest advancements in new ovens. Whereas old ovens use switches to control baking, new ovens feature encoder control systems that are controlled through a PLC. This allows bakers to change an oven parameter automatically through a PLC, instead of manually modifying switches.
"Your operator has more control over the oven, hence more even baking and less energy usage," one oven manufacturer says.
Ovens with operator interfaces used in conjunction with PLC’s also provide bakers enhanced controls to better manage product changeovers.
"One of the biggest oven issues in the industry is product changeovers," one oven manufacturer says. "If you have to change your oven, you have to change your burner rates and there can be a lot of time between changeovers."
Operator interfaces give bakers the opportunity to use recipe management systems. These systems allow bakers to set up baking profiles in an oven to automatically change from one product to the next with a push of a button.
In addition, one new oven also features a tray tracking system that monitors when the last tray of a product run is going through the oven. As the last tray goes through each zone, the oven automatically starts adjusting zone temperature for the next run.
Problem Solver Quick Tip
Operator interfaces give bakers the opportunity to use recipe management systems. When programmed, these systems allow bakers to set up baking profiles in an oven to automatically change from one product to the next with a push of a button.