While straight-line production is always the best option, detailed planning can offer other solutions when executed properly.
Expanding an existing line immediately presents two challenges. Since it must be assembled in an operating bakery, careful planning is required for minimal interruption of daily production. The other test is ensuring all new equipment requirements are met, such as enough floor space, electricity, natural gas and ventilation. Other considerations include: does the building's existing power source need to be upgraded to support the new equipment; is interior lighting adequate for workers to run the new equipment; and will positioning equipment affect any needed access ways?
“These are things that a typical baker should not try to tackle by themselves. If they do, they may find the project costing far more than they thought,” says Greg Carr, bakeries project planner, The Austin Co., Cleveland.
Phil Ackley, director of process services at The Haskell Co., Jacksonville, Fla., notes three requirements for the successful integration of new equipment components into an existing production line. First, both the bakery's operations team and the contracted process team must clearly understand the objectives and goals of the project. Then, have a plan on how the bakery will operate, if at all, during installation. Finally, know how the line will function and what automation, reporting, alarming and emergency shut downs are needed.
Before even attempting any expansion, bakers need to get a true lay of the land to fully understand what is required. Greg Balnoschan, director of engineering, The Peerless Group, Sidney, Ohio, adds that the two biggest hurdles are determining the bottleneck in the system and working with the space available. “You may have to hang some of the dough processing systems from the ceiling in order to fit it into available space,” he says.
When working to expand existing lines, the time used in understanding the goal and how to best accomplish it is the only way to end up with a successful and cost-effective expansion project.
Detailed planning is never more important than when installing straight-line production. “Everyone knows that if you can make production a pure, straight line, it will be the most efficient and cost effective. But you can be constrained by the design of the facility, so it goes back to needing someone to take the time to lay out the most efficient method. You have to analyze the best setup,” Carr says.
When looking at any type of line expansion, Jim Diver, vice president of operations, Dunbar Systems, Lemont, Ill., suggests evaluating each piece of equipment to gain a full understanding of the production line efficiencies. Then, identify the areas that need the support of new equipment to handle additional production. “By analyzing the current production line, we can identify areas within the line that can be eliminated, added to or reconfigured to best achieve maximum productivity with minimal use of energy and labor,” Diver says.
When modifying line production, the line design must begin before the building modification design and estimate, whether it is a new line or an extension of an existing one, Ackley says. “If it's done in reverse, then the process layout will need to conform to a less than ideal building layout.”
Peerless' Balnoschan agrees that the layout design is critical to achieve straight-line production. “Using all available space, including overhead, will help make the most of your square footage available. Conveying can easily take place overhead, as well as some chunking,” he says.
Expanding an existing line is common, but often challenging, as every bakery is different. However, the main issue always seems to be available space.
Several factors can help ease the integration of new equipment. “Try using equipment and vendor/suppliers that are familiar to the plant,” Ackley says. “Common spare parts, knowledge and familiarity with the vendor's service technicians are important.”
Allotting reasonable startup time to allow for the operators to become comfortable with the equipment and allocating time for small adjustments that require short shutdowns of the line also are critical to any new equipment integration. These small issues are vital for long-term success and efficiencies.
“Sometimes [bakeries] are able to replace existing equipment with more space-saving technology,” says Frank Achterberg, president, Capway Systems, York, Pa. “These lines are designed to proof, cool, bake and freeze products and utilize the building height instead of floor space. Going vertical and not needing to expand actual facility structures, including all the peripheral wiring, plumbing, etc., can save cost and time while still optimizing production.”
Also make sure production capabilities match up. “In terms of hardware, you need to size the capabilities of the equipment to work within the limiting equipment, which is likely the oven,” Balnoschan says.
“Whether a new facility, expanding an existing bakery or simply integrating new equipment into an older line, the best way for any baker to optimize is to plan, plan, plan before beginning anything. That is true whether they hire someone or do it themselves,” says Mike Pierce, senior vice president and general manager, The Austin Co.
The latest offerings from system suppliers
From a new bakery blueprint and new equipment integration to the best in control systems, everything is available to any baker who is looking to expand, lower cost and streamline product efficiency. It’s all in the pre-planning and then choosing the best partner for an effective project fit.
The latest from the Cleveland-based Austin Co. is what it refers to as its “Standard Bakery Concept.” This best-design bakery layout can be easily modified and customized to suit what a particular bakery needs.
“Our standard bakery concept follows the straight line flow. Instead of building a new bakery from square one, you are sort of starting from square 28. It becomes only a matter of adjustments to the design. It has proven to save both time and cost,” says Greg Carr, bakeries project planner.
Dunbar Systems, Lemont, Ill., also provides solutions. “Some bakers have been technologically forward and have implemented maintenance software that identifies inefficiencies in the production line. Most bakers utilize other various methods of measuring efficiencies that may or may not be as effective. Either way, this is where bakers call upon Dunbar Systems to verify their findings and uncover other ways they can potentially save time and maximize efficiencies. Once complete, we recommend a solution and equipment with proven technologies tested by us in the field,” says Jim Diver, vice president of operations.
To advance expansion projects, Haskell Co., Jacksonville, Fla., has been offering 3D models of new equipment, workstation areas or line layouts. “ Since most process drawings are done in 3D for piping, clearance and minimizing structural interference, these can very easily be developed into drawings to take to the clients and operators for input, critique and gain acceptance during the very early phase of the design,” says Phil Ackley, director of process services.
On the equipment side, The Peerless Group, Sidney, Ohio, has introduced a new mixer bowl design. “We recently reduced the pressure drop by 50 percent across the bowl and have taken ice out of the mixing process for several bakers and reduced the cooling BTU requirements for everyone else. We also have a new precision depositor for batters that can save the bakery up to 10 percent on product giveaway,” says Greg Balnoschan, director of engineering.