Stronger pans improve automation

by Shane Whitaker
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Because 80% of the mechanical damage to baking pans results from automated pan handling equipment, according to Jason Tingley, vice-president of American Pan, a Bundy Baking Solutions company, bakeries desire stronger pans that won’t deflect and warp as quickly.

Accordingly, American Pan strengthened its pans using structural ribs and bell gussets inside the pan construction. This gives pans extra strength without the added weight or energy costs of a solid-constructed pan. The increased strength also allows bakeries to stack pans higher so plants require a smaller footprint for storage.

American Pan developed a machine that simulates stacking conditions in bakeries, and it often works with the bakery and pan handling equipment supplier prior to designing pan sets. American Pan then provides the bakery with recommended stack heights.

To best protect pans and their coatings, Mr. Tingley said, pans need to be guided straight onto pan stacks, adding that gantry-style robots perform well at stacking pans.

During the past 10 years, many of the bun pans have doubled in size as bakeries look to improve baking efficiencies, according to Mr. Tingley. With larger pans, bakeries run fewer pans per minute and gaps between pans are less, which increase efficiency from a baking standpoint. “The concept is to get as much dough through the oven and as little pan through the oven as possible, so all your energy is going to bake the bread or rolls and not heating the pans,” he said.

The company’s ePans and e2Pans, which are made from high-strength steel that is about 2.5 times stronger than traditional steel used to make pans, have pretty much become the standard of what American Pan offers, Mr. Tingley said. The company introduced the pan five years ago as a lighter alternative to traditional pans, but they also have proven to be more durable, he added.

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