KANSAS CITY — Expectations will be at an all-time high when the show floor opens onto Baking Expo 2013, scheduled for Oct. 6-9 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. With just three months to go before the big show, bakers and suppliers alike are planning their show floor strategies.

While bakers prioritize their lists of critical needs and add to their ever-expanding lists of wants, suppliers prepare exhibits to meet those needs, fulfill those wants and reach those high expectations. After all, as Ken Hagedorn, vice-president of sales and marketing and a partner at Naegele Bakery Systems, Inc., Alsip, Ill., noted, “I.B.I.E. is often the only opportunity to show bakers new technologies.”

The latest in process control systems, labor-saving devices and hygienic equipment designs are just a few items topping bakers’ lists.

“I am interested in seeing new technology that will give us great process control,” said Delroy Walsh, operations manager, The West India Biscuit Co., Barbados. “We want to see real-time numbers on moisture and product color on our lines.”

Hearthside Food Solutions, Downers Grove, Ill., plans to have engineers take full advantage of the time at Expo.

“Because I.B.I.E. is every three years, and there is actually new news that’s been created for this show, we bring all our engineers to Las Vegas,” said Rich Scalise, president and chief executive officer of Hearthside and second vice-chairman of the American Bakers Association board of directors. “We conduct our management meeting at I.B.I.E., so the senior team will be there. We’ll meet with the engineering group every day and talk about what we’ve seen on the show floor.”

Dave Van Laar, president, Oak State Products, Inc., Wenona, Ill., hopes to see ideas for flexible automation.

“We recently invested in robotics and packaging, and now we’re looking at projects that can combine ingredients as well as smaller systems that can handle labeling and weighing,” he said.

Sanitary design continues to be one of the biggest trends in baking, and bakers looking for advances in this area will not be disappointed.

“When we evaluate equipment, we look at function first,” Mr. Van Laar explained. “If three different systems from three different manufacturers offer equal functionality, then we evaluate them on Food Safety Modernization Act requirements and then sustainability.”

Equipment shopping also tops the I.B.I.E. to-do list of Robert Brookhart, president of Burlington, Iowa-based Baker’s Pride.

“We’re in growth mode here, so we’re going to be looking for similar equipment to what we have now but that has maybe taken the next step. So many advances happen every three years at this show. The time span in which the differences in design take place is just amazing.”

Of course, I.B.I.E. is all about making face-to-face connections in a digital world.

“For us, the show is about networking, educating and account management,” said Scott Fischer, director of sales and marketing, Shick, Kansas City. “We go to the show to reach out to customers who are not familiar with us, to touch base with customers we haven’t worked with in a while and update them on what we have going on, and to maintain our current relationships.”

Another expectation many suppliers have for the show is locking in customer awareness.

“Brand recognition is really big for us this year,” said Eric Kartlick, regional sales manager, Zeppelin Systems, Inc., Odessa, Fla. I.B.I.E. 2013 marks the second Expo since the Zeppelin-Reimelt merger.

“We also want to expand our knowledge base by visiting exhibits and sitting in on some education seminars,” added Mr. Kartlick’s colleague, Lisa Arato, applications engineering manager. “We may attend T.I.A.’s Technical Conference session ‘Equipment and maintenance modifications to improve yields and decrease waste’ and the ‘Ask the experts’ panels on baking technology and plant construction and expansion.”

The Banner-Day contingency also plans on taking advantage of Expo’s educational opportunities.

“We typically attend sessions in AIB’s Technical Seminar and the Business Management and Marketing track,” said Mike Day, president, Banner-Day, Saginaw, Mich. “As far as expectations for the show, as a supplier and exhibitor we hope to meet and engage with potential customers and be available to our current customers to answer questions and initiate future projects. As attendees, we like to keep abreast of what is new and interesting. We focus on changing trends with the bakers and how we can meet their expectations.”

One thing is clear: Bakers and suppliers across the board have great expectations for I.B.I.E. 2013.

“This show is once every three years, so it’s a large gathering of customers,” said Tim O’Brien, vice-president of sales, Urschel Laboratories, Valparaiso, Ind. “Economic conditions are certainly better than they were in 2010, and even better than 2007, so we’re optimistic that we’re going to have a good show.”