Closing the automation gap for bakers
by Charlotte Atchley
Small- and medium-sized companies producing bars often operate in the limbo between using handmade methods and employing commercial-sized production lines. While these companies may be ready to take the next step and automate some or all of their production processes, often they lack the necessary capital to make the investment. The equipment they can afford frequently damages the integrity of the product. Unifiller Systems, Delta, BC, Canada, hopes to address this need.
“Equipment that a small startup company can afford will many times overwork the product,” said Martin Riis, product specialist for Unifiller. “That’s where we’re trying to close that gap and offer them a stepping-stone solution in the price range they can afford.”
Companies currently making bars manually but wanting to move to automation generally use a process that involves rolling dough into a sheet pan and cutting the dough into bars by hand. Unifiller’s bar forming line simulates that rolling pin process at a lower price point than similar equipment, according to the company. This allows smaller companies to buy a piece of equipment that will help them automate but not destroy the bars or budget.
Reiser’s bar-processing equipment lends itself to the small- and medium-sized bar company. Unlike sheeting systems, the Canton, MA-based company’s line extrudes individual bars in single or multiple lanes. This brings high flexibility and maintains product integrity.
“Many of our bar customers are smaller producers looking to get away from spreading product into a pan, baking and cutting the bars,” said John McIsaac, vice-president, strategic business development, Reiser. “We work with them to move to more automation without sacrificing what makes their product great in the first place.”