Advances in technology for case packing — and for bulk packing fresh and frozen baked goods for food service operators — have increased productivity and sometimes even improved the quality of life on the production floor. Automatic case erecting, bag lining and taping can reduce repetitive motion on the job and even stress on production lines turning out tens of thousands of pieces an hour, said John Keane, executive product manager of packaging and automation at AMF Bakery Systems, Richmond, Va.

Improvements in bulk packing, he added, streamline the sometimes highly chaotic packaging operations with high-speed bun and roll lines.

“The implementation of inspection/rejection and line balancing systems prior to the grouping area reduces the amount of work an operator has to perform by increasing the efficiency of getting the individual products grouped prior to releasing them to the slicing area,” Mr. Keane said.

Combining robots and vision systems may reduce waste and improve packaging efficiency in getting buns and other baked goods into bulk packers, noted Brandon Woods, director of sales for LeMatic Inc., Jackson, Mich.

Instead of an automatic laner, which relies on a variable-frequency drive to speed up or slow down a conveyor’s feeding lanes, the company now sees more interest in robots and vision systems to fill the lanes with buns, rolls or other baked foods. Specifically, such systems will allow bakeries to replace the infeed operator who monitors product quality and aligns buns into the bulk packer.

“Using these systems will reduce the manpower on the line and reduce the number of times the product is touched,” Mr. Woods said.