Baking Pans: A Pan of Action
by Shane Whitaker
Pans represent a major asset for bakeries. Therefore, when a plant invests in new pans, it must ensure that it is selecting the set that will best meet its needs for several years to come. In most cases, bakeries expect to get at least three years from a single pan set, and properly maintaining the pans and the systems in which they operate goes a long way to ensure they achieve the longest life.
Bakeries must determine which pans and release surfaces are going to work best for their products and processes, and new developments in pan technology may affect those decisions. Bakeries then must purchase pans specifically designed to work with their systems, according to Jason Tingley, vice-president of American Pan, a Bundy Baking Solutions company, Urbana, OH. “It is important to design a pan that has more than just dimensional accuracy. The pan should be designed for each application with the correct materials and strength enhancing features to withstand each bakery’s unique industrial environment,” he said.
Most commercial baking pans are constructed of aluminized steel because it offers superior heat transfer, corrosion resistance and durability. However, one of a bakery’s biggest concerns regarding pans is the cooling time they require. “This process takes a lot of space, time and energy and limits production,” Mr. Tingley said. To this end, American Pan last year introduced the e2Pan, which is up to 50% lighter than traditional pans.
The e2Pan is constructed of high-tensile-strength aluminized steel and incorporates a special channel design in the pan rim that allows the perimeter band to cool 25% faster than traditional pan rims, he said. Also because the e2Pan is lighter than traditional bun pans, it reduces the energy use in ovens and on conveyors as well as line wear and maintenance costs.
In 2007, American Pan introduced the ePan bun pan, which has been shown to cool the pan bottom 17% faster than bun pans made with traditional aluminized steel, the material most often used for bread straps and bun pans in the US.
In 2001, Cainco Pans, Bauru, Brazil, began offering its stock bakery pans in the US, selling primarily to smaller wholesale bakeries and food service customers. In 2003, it expanded its offerings to include custom-designed bread straps and roll pans for US industrial bakeries. Mario Casarin, Cainco’s president, said the company concentrates on folded-end and seamless bread straps, hot dog and hamburger bun pans, and small cupcake and muffin pans as well as pans for specialized lines such as an AutoBake serpentine line.
Cainco’s Smart Pans are higher-end custom-designed pans that offer added value to bakers, such as using higher-strength yet thinner steel alloys to make pans that are more resistant to mechanical damage, said Mr. Casarin. Smart Pans are “anything that brings improvement to the customer,” he added.
GLAZES AND COATINGS.
US bakeries tend to prefer silicone glaze, although coatings made of fluorocarbon-based polymer, or fluoropolymers, are gaining ground, according to Mr. Casarin. Silicone is a semipermanent glaze that protects pans for 400 to 800 oven cycles before the pans need reglazing. In general, bakeries want approximately 20 reglazing cycles per pan set, but that can be more or less depending on the stress that the particular bakery puts on its pans. Some bakeries will purchase new pans every year, while others get more than a decade’s use from a set of pans.
Fluoropolymer coatings last between 2,000 to 6,000 cycles on average and can also be reapplied multiple times until the pans wear out. The most well-known fluoropolymer coating is polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), which is known by the DuPont brand name Teflon.
Pan Glo, a Bundy Baking Solutions company, is preparing to introduce another glazing option that, according Tom Bundy, president of Pan Glo, could improve heat transfer and increase oven cycles between reglazes by as much as 50%. Thus, he added, if a bakery currently gets 400 releases from its pans, it could achieve as many as 600 from this new glaze.
In 2007, it launched AmeriCoat Plus, a longer-lasting silicone release coating that provides a 10 to 15% performance increase over its previous AmeriCoat glaze, according to Tom Bundy.
AmeriCoat Plus is made with a different silicone resin and is more durable than AmeriCoat, so it is more resilient in some bakery environments that can cause breakdown in coatings, according to Gil Bundy, president of American Pan. Pan Glo also gets a better leveling of this coating when applying it to pans. “It smoothes out and levels better, so it helps resist any imperfections in the coating application,” he said.
Although Cainco applies silicone glazes to its pans before shipping them from Brazil, it allies with glazing companies in North America for reapplying glazes of its customers’ pans. In Canada, it partners with Lockwood Manufacturing, Brantford, ON, which operates the only five reglazing operations in that country. And in the US, Cainco works with all the independent reglazing centers and can assist in synergizing relationships between its pan customers and reglazers, according to Mr. Caserin.
Also in the US, Cainco formed a relationship with Bakeware Coating Systems Companies (BCS), Camden, NJ, which offers a wide variety of fluoropolymer pan coatings. In fact, it can provide more than 40 different fluoropolymer coatings specifically designed for the baking industry, according to Steve Schwartz, BCS president.
Also, manufacturers now produce these coatings without using the likely carcinogen perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).
BCS was formed nearly 10 years ago to be the exclusive US applicators of SBS-Teflon coatings from Italy. Now, the companies offer a much wider range of fluoropolymer coatings for the baking industry as well as other manufacturing sectors in the US, according to Mr. Schwartz. “Every coating has a specific application whether it’s parbaked, croissants, higher-fat, higher-sugar, cheese applications. The list goes on and on,” Mr. Schwartz said. “For example, some doughs have very high acidity; thus, you need a coating that is very permeation-resistant so the acids don’t seep down to the substrate.”
BCS developed a special line of coatings for Mecatherm parbaked baguette lines. These lines have typically used pans with silicone elastomers; however, the rubberized silicone mechanically bonded to an aluminum tray tends to exhibit breakage, according to Mr. Schwartz. “When we see chunks where rubber is gone from pans, it’s not a mystery where the rubber went,” he said. “The pieces just break off, and it’s not wear — it just breaks. Because of that, bakeries are switching to our more permanent coatings.”
DuraShield, a Bundy Baking Solutions brand, is a PFOA-free certified fluoropolymer coating. On bun pans, bakers typically achieve 4,000-plus cycles with DuraShield, according to Gil Bundy, president of American Pan, noting that the company guarantees 3,500 cycles. And for bread pans, American Pan guarantees 2,500 cycles, and routinely bakeries realize more than 3,000 cycles between reglazings.
Mr. Tingley added that the company is also in the final stages of changing its DuraShield coating so that dough can stay in better contact with pan moulds.
Also, fluoropolymer coatings can eliminate the need for oiling pans, which can lead to improved bakery hygiene and production speeds. However, many US bakers, Mr. Schwartz noted, still use oil even with BCS’ coatings to achieve certain final product
“If you don’t use these release agents, you save money by not having to buy these ingredients and with the downtime associated with cleaning these oils,” he said.
Although fluoropolymer-coated pans are more expensive to purchase and recoat than silicone-glazed pans, plants could achieve long-term savings because of the increased cycles and savings on release oils. “I think the biggest misconception is that fluoropolymer coatings are too expensive,” Mr. Schwartz said, “but the ROI on these coatings is far better than just about any other investment a bakery would make in their systems.”
On the other hand, Mr. Bundy asserted that silicone glaze is probably still the best value because of the ease of the service. He said that when pans need to be recoated with a fluoropolymer, it generally takes anywhere from two to four weeks from the time they are taken out of bakery and put back in.
However, whether a bakery opts for silicone or fluoropolymers, today’s pans are continuing to feature new engineering to better withstand the harsh environments in which they must perform.