Two for One
Signature Breads’ new roll line optimizes space and improves product quality.
BakingBusiness.com, Nov. 1, 2011
by Shane Whitaker
To optimize floor space at its Chelsea, MA, bakery, Signature Breads, Inc. installed a new WP/Kemper Evolution roll line in April. While the best use of the plant’s floor space played a major role in the company’s decision to purchase this new line, improved product quality has been a key benefit, according to Kevin Helman, director of supply chain operations, Signature Breads.

“One of the most important features that attracted us to the Evolution line was the Softstar divider,” he said. “The low-stress divider/rounder allows us to work with high-absorption dough, which, in turn, produces higher-quality products and increases yields.”

The artisan bread bakery raised dough hydration by approximately 3% using the Evolution line because the equipment it replaced was unable to effectively process such wet and sticky dough, Mr. Helman said.

The Evolution line is gentle on the dough during the dividing and rounding process, allowing bakers to increase water absorption without changing a product’s characteristics, noted Pat Kennedy, president of WP Bakery Group/Kemper Bakery Systems Ltd., Shelton, CT.

INCREASING THE EFFICIENCY.

Signature Breads replaced two lines with the Evolution. “We had three different manufacturing areas in our facility, and we wanted to use just one of them,” Mr. Helman said.

The bakery puts the Evolution line to work making rolls and petit pan. These products are all 6 oz or less, so the company selected the Evolution line specifically designed for manufacturing breads and rolls of this size, Mr. Helman said. “The line fits in well with what we are doing because of the weight ranges that you can achieve on this divider,” he added.

Kemper offers a standard version of the Softstar capable of producing four to eight rows with an hourly capacity of up to 20,000 pieces and Softstar Plus with up to 16 rows and 48,000 pieces per hour. Signature Breads chose a 10-row Softstar Plus, which can produce up to 30,000 rolls per hour.

As its name suggests, the Evolution line can evolve with a company. With its modular construction, a bakery can modify its production line easily to accommodate changes in the market. “For example, a line purchased for round or long moulded products today can be fit with modules to increase proof time or to add stamped products such as Kaisers, slit rolls or a moulding station,” Ms. Kennedy said.

Modular construction also reduces installation times, according to Jim Souza, WP/Kemper’s vice-president and director of industrial sales, who noted that it typically takes only three to four days from “crate to dough.”

For bakeries that require precise dough control, Ms. Kennedy pointed out that the Evolution line provides the best option. “The Kemper Evolution line has corrective devices designed in key areas throughout the system to eliminate cripples,” she said.

Even though Signature Breads hasn’t yet completely optimized production on the new line, the company has increased throughput 10 to 15% compared with that of its previous lines, according to Mr. Helman.

LIMITING ACCESS.

To prevent too many deviations in the process, Signature Breads added the optional Kemper Key when it purchased the Evolution line. “Every line operator seems to have a different tweak to a recipe when their shift starts, and the Kemper Key helped us standardize what the recipe or settings would be for each SKU,” Mr. Helman noted.

The Kemper Key offers a level of security beyond the password-protection systems on the lines it replaced, he said. It’s actually a physical key needed to make changes to processes or formulations at the line’s control system, and it provides four levels of security protection for the control system and recipe programming, according to Ms. Kennedy. While level No. 1 access is for line operators, level No. 2 is for line managers. Level No. 3 is for engineering, and level No. 4 provides all function access.

“Operators can make a certain level of changes based on their authority,” Mr. Helman said. “Obviously, our head baker has a master key, and he would be the one to make changes after consulting with quality assurance.”

While Signature’s previous lines’ controls were password-protected, Mr. Helman said, “Somehow those passwords seemed to make it to all operators.”

When changes were made on those lines, those altered settings would remain in place until adjusted by the next operator. Now, when an operator makes formulation changes using the Kemper Key, those modifications are not saved to the main recipe. Therefore, the next time the line runs that product, the system reverts back to the master recipe.

Six months since its installation, the Evolution line is running smoothly, Mr. Helman said. “It has been what we expected, and we have seen plenty of positive results at this point,” he concluded.