Equipment and ingredient companies innovate together

by Charlotte Atchley
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At its Science and Innovation Center in Robesonia, PA, Reading Bakery Systems works with global snack manufacturers to develop new snack products or improve their existing products and processes. Such experimentation on a full-scale pilot plant can subsequently lead to adapting these tested products more easily to their production lines.

Additionally, the company works with major ingredient suppliers to conduct tests in a variety of formulation and process conditions. To get ready for trade shows, companies will use Reading Bakery Systems’ Science and Innovation Center to test new ingredients and product ideas and to make samples for the trade show floor, according to Ken Zvoncheck, the center’s director. Even though an ingredient company won’t buy the equipment, Reading’s team of engineers benefit from the formulating and processing knowledge gained during such trials.

“The ingredient trials are some of my favorites because of the learning involved,” Mr. Zvoncheck said. “It’s very useful for us because then we understand what a specific ingredient does.”

During such an ingredient trial, the engineering team will run the same formula all day in its 30,000-sq-ft facility, which houses two pilot lines. The team tweaks the type and quantity of the specific ingredient. Analyzing the results based on these changes gives the team a thorough working knowledge on how an ingredient will operate on their machinery. Mr. Zvoncheck can then use that knowledge to suggest solutions when faced with a challenging customer trial. He described this as a win-win for both Reading and the ingredient companies.

“The more I understand, the more it helps me suggest solutions during our customer trials,” he observed. “Then, the ingredient supplier gets a recommendation if its ingredient happens to work for our customer’s particular product.”

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