New designs of stacker freezers offer a compact configuration as well as enhanced food safety features.

When it comes to right-sizing freezers, it’s always better to take the positive perspective of half full rather than empty. It doesn’t matter if they’re blast, storage, spiral, tunnel or even cryogenic systems. Sooner or later, successful bakeries run out of space. Eventually, it becomes a matter of “when” — not “if” — they’ll be expanding, and that can be a costly proposition.

“I’ve never come across bakers who, after five years, determined their companies put too much capacity in the freezers they built,” noted Bryan Hobbs, director of North American sales, Ashworth Bros. “Almost always, they’re looking to figure out ways to get more capacity from what they currently have or originally purchased.”

Sometimes adding freezer capacity comes as a gradual progression that can be managed as business blossoms. In these cases, cautiously optimistic bakers need to have faith in what the future holds, said Peter White, president, IJ White Systems.

“The customer needs to understand his market and have confidence in his projections of future sales,” he advised. “Expansion planning should include layout drawings showing the location and flow of future production lines, and they should buy equipment that’s expandable and flexible.”

Other times, the need for additional capacity occurs almost overnight as the cold reality sets in that the demand from new and existing customers for the next hot product caught the baker by surprise. That can result in scrambling around the clock to fill orders or, in a worst-case scenario, seeing opportunity go by the wayside.

“It’s very common for spiral freezers to be the bottleneck in bakery facilities,” said Luke Facemyer, vice-­president, refrigeration design, Stellar. “Sure, you can purchase a bigger oven or add packaging equipment fairly easily, but a spiral freezer is a huge piece of equipment right in the middle of your line. No matter how much you upgrade either side of it, your output is only as great as your freezer’s capacity. Before investing in a spiral freezer, it’s critical to establish your anticipated output and future production goals. Once the freezer is built in-place, moving it or replacing it can easily take four to six weeks — costing you money in downtime.”