Strapped In for Bread Changes
by Shane Whitaker
By this time next year, the bread industry will be greatly different than it is today, noted a recent Milling & Baking News
report. “Fundamental changes range from likely to imminent for each of the largest bread companies in the US, creating an atmosphere of anticipation and uncertainty,” stated “Bread Industry Perspective” on the front page of its Sept. 20 issue.
The report also noted that these changes occur at a time when the bread business is not particularly strong. In fact, fresh bread unit sales fell 3.3% for the 52 weeks that ended Aug. 7, according to Infoscan Reviews from SymphonyIRI Group.
Despite the sales decline and losing market share to specialty bread products, baking companies continue to seek solutions to produce pan breads more efficiently and cost-effectively.
Automation offers the best way to improve output and energy efficiencies, according to Sherri Swabb, business development manager, The Peerless Group, Sidney, OH. “Automated lines require less human interaction at an operator level, therefore reducing the full-time equivalent costs associated with the process,” she said. “Peerless mixers are used quite regularly in automated bread lines because our control systems, automated tilt-and-jog options and enclosed customized mixer canopies support this process well.”
In the US and UK markets, pan bread continue to move toward whole-wheat and specialty whole-grain varieties, Ms. Swabb noted. “The whole-grain product’s dough is typically more dense than that of white pan bread, so bakers must modify the mixing equipment or the mixing process to accommodate this change in density,” she said.
High-speed pan bread lines installed today run a larger variety of products such as whole-grain, high-fiber and rye than those of a decade ago, according to Bruce Campbell, dough systems product manager, AMF Bakery Systems, Richmond, VA. “The use of recipe management in the operator interface terminals is needed for simple changeover, in some cases requiring only the press of a button to change products on a makeup line,” he said.
New mixing control technologies allow bakers to more closely monitor the process to ensure consistency batch to batch.
AMF’s Dough Guardian, a mixer monitoring tool, can predict the completion of the mix. It will halt and alert the operator if any of nine different parameters is out of specification during the mix cycle. “Dough Guardian has a statistical process control package that permanently retains all the data from each mix cycle,” Mr. Campbell said. “This data is graphed and trended for analysis and review by production staff.”
Peerless has focused on helping bakers improve product quality and consistency with its Dough Quality Control (DQC), which Ms. Swabb referred to as a highly sophisticated integrated mixer control system. “The system monitors dough temperature and consistency from batch to batch, measuring and displaying the instantaneous mix cycle energy curve along with a target energy curve as the dough batch is mixed,” she explained.
Maintaining proper dough temperatures is essential to ensuring consistent product quality, according to Terry Bartsch, vice-president, sales, Shaffer Manufacturing Corp., a Bundy Baking Solutions company, Urbana, OH. To this end, Shaffer offers jacketed and bowl-end cooling as well as refrigerated agitators. Mr. Bartsch noted the use of variable-frequency drives to eliminate the energy spikes common when horizontal mixers change from low to high speeds. These drives also provide built-in soft-start capabilities.
By offering complete subsystems, AMF enables bakers to increase their efficiency, according to Mr. Campbell. Bakeries can integrate controls for a sponge system, fermentation room, mixer, chunker, conveyor, divider, rounder and moulder so that one operator can manage the entire system. “Not only does this create labor efficiency, but the systems start up smoother and the dough process is more accurate,” he added.
Turkington USA, Clayton, NC, is among companies that offer a variety of systems for pan bread production. Its offerings include the Tow-Tro system for managing trough movements with trough-to-mixer and trough-to-divider cycles.
The company’s SofTouch divider features single- or dual-rotating cutters to meet the high-speed production rates required for today’s high-speed bread lines, yet Turkington USA offers gentle dough handling with precise scaling accuracy for both soft and stiff doughs.
AMF redesigned its high-speed Advanced Dough Divider (ADD) with a proprietary technology called Vector augers. “This allows the same high speeds but with better accuracy and less dough stress,” Mr. Campbell noted.
Additionally, AMF took ram-and-knife technology to higher speeds with its new Servotech dividers. “By using high-precision servo drives, we can scale much more accurately with lower pressure and much longer reliability than the typical old-style dividers,” Mr. Campbell noted.
Rondo, Inc., Moonachie, NJ, offers both sheeting and traditional bread makeup equipment for pan breads. “With sheeting lines, we have the flexibility to process a wide variety of products with inclusions or enrobing of seeds if needed, which gives the bakery the ability to offer more products to the marketplace as demands dictate,” said Jerry Murphy, the company’s president.
To meet bakers’ specific needs, AMF has developed a full range of oven technologies, according to Phil Domenicucci, the company’s thermal systems product manager. Its Vesta oven product line includes direct- and indirect-fired tunnel ovens as well as direct-fired tray ovens. “We have also added industry-leading continuous baking systems with our BakeTech product line of conveyorized proofers and ovens,” he added.
To reduce the amount of energy needed to bake a loaf of pan bread by a much as 20%, AMF can equip its Vesta ovens with Emisshield material, which reradiates heat in the oven. “More importantly, Emisshield will enhance product quality,” Mr. Domenicucci said. “The evenness of baking, color and side-wall development is significantly increased in an oven equipped with Emisshield paneling and emitters. Emisshield helps to get the heat into the product sooner, resulting in a greater oven spring and potential yeast savings.”
AMF’s ovens are equipped with ERB burner technology, which has a 100% higher turndown ratio than conventional burners, according to Mr. Domenicucci. “The high turndown ratio allows precise burner control with less temperature spiking and flash heat for more even baking and higher product quality,” he said.
Turkington USA helps bakers to understand the science behind the art of baking with its new eBake oven process control system, according to Jerry Barnes, the company’s vice-president of engineering. This system monitors and controls more of the key parameters within the oven to maximize the use of energy for the most optimal baking characteristics, he said.
The Henry Group, Greenville, TX, provides a variety of ovens for baking pan breads as well as other systems for these high-speed lines such as proofers and pan loaders and unloaders for ovens and proofers. The company has focused on making its ovens more energy efficient, and its E4 hybrid tunnel oven is a front-runner in the green oven technology, according to Darren Jackson, the company’s COO. The oven features an indirect-fired first zone followed by a direct-fired zone. Heat from the direct-fired portion is exhausted to a catalytic oxidizer that reburns the ethanol to heat the first zone.
Bakers have many options when it comes to building a high-speed pan bread line, and today’s equipment systems will give them the flexibility and control to meet consumers’ desires for a wide variety of products.