Current baking industry conditions demand versatile production systems. This automated system features various attachments that allow multiple bakery foods to be produced with one system.
Bakers often are forced to make decisions between automation and flexibility. Sometimes, this decision forces them to sacrifice efficiencies for versatility or vice versa. However, is this decision always necessary, or is there a way for bakeries to install automated lines that still maintain flexibility?
Although sometimes difficult to achieve, bakers can operate highly automated production systems that retain a level of flexibility allowing for multiple product changeovers and new product introductions. To achieve automation and flexibility, bakers employ versatile equipment, modular conveyors and programmable logic controllers.
At this year's International Baking Industry Exposition in Las Vegas, many equipment suppliers touted the ability of their production systems to produce multiple products with minimal changeover times. One equipment manufacturer's versatile system processes many bakery foods, including muffins, artisan breads, bagels and pies, using attachments that minimize downtime. With one machine, a baker can accomplish depositing, dividing, portioning and filling applications.
By installing two of these systems on one line, a baker also can create encrusted products such as filled pastry pockets, breadsticks, scones and pies. This system also creates convenient Hispanic snacks, which grew 103% in the period from 1999 to 2004, according to a recent study from Packaged Facts.
Besides installing versatile production systems, bakers also can promote flexibility by integrating their production lines with programmable logic controllers (PLCs).
PLCs give bakers the ability to gain complete control over a process. This control is used to gain efficiencies and minimize downtime between changeovers. By using PLCs and servo drives, bakers can adjust a process and conduct changeovers by punching a computer screen instead of manually adjusting equipment.
Bakers also can employ modular conveyors to gain flexibility without sacrificing speed or automation. Modular conveyors allow bakeries to temporarily change the flow of a plant to accommodate changeovers and new products. Most modular conveyors consist of plastic snaps that allow bakers to easily assemble or disassemble conveyor units when production requires a new flow.