The bread and roll makeup line combines automation with the hand-twisting of dough to create about 1,200 loaves of traditional challah bread per hour.


Fulfilling a vision

Initially, Mr. Lehault worked with contractors and project managers to develop a conceptual design for the facility, sketching out where to locate drains and utilities, for instance, before handing the drawings over for modifications by Beigel’s engineering and operations teams.

To ensure food safety, Beigel’s built a concrete wall to separate it from an automobile business that shares half of the building, which totals about 155,000 sq ft. Meanwhile, the storage freezer was constructed over a railroad spur. Instead, now the company relies on trucks to supply flour and other bulk and minor ingredients.

“We wanted to make sure we had the correct flow and everything was in place where it was needed,” Mr. Gordon recalled. “Our vision was about doing what’s best for the production.”

Today, production runs 24/6 with the bakery closed on the Sabbath. About 130 employees work on two staggered shifts, which start with the prepping of scratch fillings for sweet goods and sponges for breads and rolls. Because of its fresh delivery needs, the operation typically runs at full tilt from 7 p.m. until 3 a.m. so the local distributors can make deliveries before customers open at the break of dawn.

Flour is delivered via truck to a KB Systems 120,000-lb enclosed flour silo and through a KB sifter. All minor dry ingredients, such as rye flour, are sifted in another room per kosher requirements. Meanwhile, other ingredients such as seeds, toppings and pails of icings are segregated per kosher guidelines or to address allergen concerns. For food security, roughly 60 cameras throughout the facility constantly monitor all aspects of the operation and can be reviewed remotely by the management team.

The main production area is separated into bread and sweet goods departments. Here, semi-automated methods are clearly at work. During Baking & Snack’s recent visit, Beigel’s was producing its popular challah breads. Doughs are mixed in one of two horizontal mixers upgraded with a Pfening Enviro-Blender to ensure precise metering of water to create 500-lb batches. “We prefer to run small batches, not 1,200-lb doughs, because they make a much more consistent product,” Mr. Gordon noted. The bread department also has a Sancassiano spiral mixer for making baguettes and other specialty breads.

After a 45-minute rest to relax the dough and develop its flavor, the troughs are automatically lifted to a Gemini-KB makeup line with a 6-pocket divider. Flour dust is applied to the dough balls as they enter an intermediate proofer where they rest for about 18 minutes. The dough pieces then travel through the sheeter and curling chains to turn the round balls into 6-in.-long strings. The system also has a stamper and other makeup devices to produce Kaisers and a variety of other bread and rolls.

Six operators at the end of the line then take six dough pieces and hand-twist them to form the challah bread, and they do this at a rate of about 1,200 15-oz loaves an hour. The braided pieces are panned and racked, with the racks rolled into a 24-rack proof box. Before baking, the challah dough pieces receive an egg wash before entering one of two Mondial Forni 30-ft triple-deck ovens.

The second bread line turns out a variety of conventional, Pullman and specialty breads — some using different sponges that have up to three hours of fermentation time. The line’s Glimek single-pocket divider and cone rounder are part of the 30% new equipment installed in the bakery and can produce up to 1,000 loaves an hour. Here, the dough pieces travel through an intermediate proofer, sheeters and moulders, brought over from the old bakery, before entering the proofing and baking process.

After ambient rack cooling, the loaves head to a manually fed packaging line that features a Bettendorf-Stanford bread slicer, a new Formost Fuji horizontal bagger, a Kwik Lok bag closer and a Safeline metal detector. Nearby, slices of bread and buns are manually fed to a wrapper to be individually packaged for hospitals and other institutions.

Sweet goods and pastries — everything from non-dairy babka to croissants to rugelach — are produced on a new Fritsch Euroline lamination and pastry line located adjacent to bread production. In addition to six mixers that range from 140 qt to 300 lb, the department also uses four Rondo sheeters that could be found in any retail bakery as well as two Polin semi-automatic depositors for cakes, muffins and other batter products.

Here, bakers manually apply fillings to sheeted doughs to mass-produce a host of short-run items that are baked in five new Revent rack ovens or six existing Gemini, Revent and Sveda Dahlin ovens transferred from the previous facility.