First, competitors scoffed, but now they envy. Today, Turano Baking Co., a noted Chicagoland artisan baker, is producing soft hamburger buns in Florida and doing so successfully. “When we announced our plans to put up a bun bakery in Orlando, there were people in the industry saying, ‘Can these guys really make buns?’” said Giancarlo Turano, executive vice-prsident of the Berwyn, IL-based family company. “Well, we can make buns and continue to do so at an extremely efficient rate.”

In 2004, Turano Baking Co., Berwyn, IL, announced plans to establish a bun bakery to supply food service operations in Florida. In fact, the company reported it would build two new facilities simultaneously, one at Villa Rica, GA, and the other at Orlando, FL. Such ambition on the part of a family-owned-and-operated company raised a lot of eyebrows, especially because it was stretching beyond its expertise in hearth-baked specialties.

“This addition puts us into mainstream baking providing us the entire gamut of high-speed production along with the artisan and specialties for which we have long been known,” Giancarlo observed. “We are one of the very few companies to produce such a wide variety of products.”

Turano Florida Bun, as the Orlando, FL, bakery is known within the company, is a showcase of automated production — a continuing focus for the Turano engineering team. Labor costs are low, with just eight people per shift in production and a total employment of 68. The automated equipment is not only integrated by PLC but also linked by an internal Wi-Fi network. And because powerful storms regularly blow through the region, contingency planning shaped many aspects of the new $30 million bakery.

Co-located on an 8-acre site with the Martin-Brower Distribution Center that serves 800 Florida McDonald’s locations as well as more in the Southeast, Turano Florida Bun is the company’s first venture into the McDonald’s supply chain. Along with Martin-Brower, the bakery celebrated its grand opening May 21, 2009.

As it turned out, Turano’s two new bakeries did not open simultaneously. Turano managers originally set a 2-year schedule for planning, purchasing and startup, but holds in Florida with permits and “other uncontrollables,” according to Giancarlo, allowed the company to concentrate instead on the Georgia site. Construction in Orlando finally began in 2008.

“We were delayed but ultimately successful,” he said. “And Orlando started up great.” Jeff Kozloski, plant engineer, observed that the second dough ever made here qualified as saleable.

Turano Florida Bun’s smooth startup of a highly automated production facility opened what Giancarlo calls “Chapter Four” for the company, with the previous chapters being the first automated facility in Berwyn 40 years ago, Bolingbrook 20 years ago and Villa Rica. And yes, Giancarlo noted, many more chapters remain to be written.


With the bakeries in Georgia and Florida, the company created a new locus for its growing operational base. Orlando’s plant general manager Leo Desrosiers is responsible for both facilities as southeast regional manager. The decision to build at Orlando was customer-specific to serve a defined market, according to Giancarlo, but the plant’s potential reach extends even farther.

His son Giancarlo Turano II, the company’s national sales manager, explained, “The first year to year-and-a-half is being dedicated to McDonald’s, but we have begun looking for third-party business.”

The 100,000-sq-ft building currently houses one highly automated production line, but ample floor space will easily accommodate another. The plant bakes six varieties of buns on a 24-hour, 5-day-per-week schedule. All finished and packaged products feed into the on-site Martin-Brower freezer for distribution to restaurants along with other supplies.

Several aspects set this bun plant apart from similar operations — not just in production technology but also in its approach to staffing and preparedness.

The company hired its Florida plant manager and plant engineer a year ahead of opening. “We got to see and make decisions beforehand,” Mr. Desrosiers said. The rest of the department heads were brought in three or four months ahead of equipment installation. “This has been key from a sanitation, production and quality standpoint,” he observed, “and especially to the smooth startup.”

Local hiring benefited from the existence of other bakeries in the market, and several managers transferred from existing Turano plants. “Among the local team, we have 150 years of bakery experience,” Mr. Desrosiers noted. Orlando is managed by Mr. Desrosiers; Mr. Kozloski; Jeff Benny, sanitation manager; Jack Mitchell, production manager; Johnny Cowart, quality assurance manager; and Monica Scurry, human resources manager.

The level of staffing, too, differentiates Turano Florida Bun from similar bakeries. “This facility runs with only eight people per shift because we invested in streamlined operations,” explained Mr. Mitchell. “Other bakeries would require 11 to 14 people for a similar line. Here, automation allows three or four people less per shift.”


Building a new bakery provided the opportunity to work with several technologies new to Turano and some new to the baking industry itself. Chief among these are the inspection system and an automatic palletizing station.

“We have the first US installation of the EyePro Q-Bake automated inspection system — a wonderful system,” Giancarlo said. It has been used in Europe.

The inspection system examines 100% of output at the rate of 1,100 buns per minute. The previously used method inspected by sampling, looking at about 10% of output. The new unit examines the tops and bottoms of buns, recording measurement of heel color, height and other aspects and rejecting out-of-spec products immediately. The collected data allows plantwide adjustment of processing conditions.

“The system takes a picture of anything it rejects and continually records the trend data for reporting,” Mr. Cowart said.

The AMF automatic palletizer is also new technology. It accepts groups of four stacks of filled delivery baskets, slots them onto plastic pallets, wraps the stacks for stability and conveys the pallets into the Martin-Brower blast freezer. Turano managers designed a customized pallet that supports the bottom tray by fitting into the pallet like a tongue-and-groove joint and locking into place.

“Yes, plastic pallets are expensive,” Giancarlo added. “But this is a closed system. The pallets never leave the building, so you don’t lose them. It starts with the vision. Not many bakeries need such equipment, but we do because our products are frozen and move in a closed system through distribution.”

The vision for Turano Florida Bun also encompassed wireless data communications. Allen-Bradley PLCs, equipped with PanelView terminals, operate the line’s major systems and provide troubleshooting capability. A fiber-optics system connects corporate and plant IT functions, and three routers manage communications on the production floor with FactoryTalk, Allen-Bradley software that manages the Wi-Fi data network. “I can monitor and adjust the operation as needed, even from home,” Mr. Kozloski explained.

The brew-based doughmaking technology at Orlando is new to Turano and also the market. Mr. Mitchell explained, “The previous Florida bun supplier used sponge-and-dough methods, which require a lot more labor and involve more quality issues, especially if breakdowns occur. With brew, you eliminate such problems because by holding it at 36°F, the yeast stays dormant.”

From a staffing point of view, a sponge-and-dough mixer operator has to come in early, according to Mr. Mitchell. “With brews, there are no additional labor needs, even if startup is 30 hours later. It is very user friendly,” he observed.

Also, Turano took advantage of the latest versions of proven technologies for ingredient handling, dough preparation, dividing, proofing, baking and packaging at the new plant. “This facility is a compilation of what we have seen around the world. It has European technology. It has American technology,” Giancarlo said.


Production occupies 67,000 sq ft, while ancillary services take up 18,000 sq ft and offices 15,000 sq ft. Painted walkways on the floor guide traffic flow for groups touring the bakery. The open design of the production shop simplifies sightlines for managers and supervisors. Mr. Mitchell observed that the bakery provides a “very friendly environment” for its staff.

With receiving operations on one side of the building, the doors on the opposite end handle receiving and storage of sanitation supplies as well as returned trays.

Because of Florida’s usually mild climate, the company installed three Shick USA 225,000-lb-capacity flour silos, two 92,000-lb soy oil and HFCS tanks and two 60,000-lb cream yeast tanks outside the bakery. Inside, a generously sized room contains the Shick minor ingredient system, supplied by three bag dump stations equipped with bar-style magnets as a safeguard against tramp metal. The raw materials warehouse employs 4-tier racking to hold ingredients. Salt comes into the plant in bulk via super sacks, and a load cell sits under the tote dispenser.

Flour is delivered by tanker truck, but rail is available because the distribution center brings in its frozen french fries by this mode. Mr. Desrosiers explained that the decision between truck or rail for flour depends on the economics. An in-line sifting system located in the minor ingredient storage room handles flour, which is sifted at receipt and as it moves to the mixer’s holding tank. The company installed three stations of 2,000- and 3,200-lb above-mixer use hoppers; one set is in use now, with two in place for the future.

The brew system sits in one corner of the main production flour. The fermentation operation produces 3,600 lb of 40%-flour brew per hour. The mixture goes through a 10-minute blending stage, followed by 25 minutes in one of three fermentation tanks. The brew then passes through a heat exchanger that reduces its 95°F temperature to 36°F before it enters the cold hold tank. The brew system can easily hold brew for 36 hours over a weekend for the next startup day.


“The fully automated dough mixer requires automatic feed,” Mr. Mitchell said. A Shick IntelliBatch ingredient management and batch execution software manages the inventory of ingredients and their flow to the mixers. Bulk and minor ingredient transfer into the AMF 3,200-lb fully automated horizontal mixer when signaled by the computer-integrated batching system, but micro ingredients are manually portioned at a station in front of the mixer. After being placed into a weigh-up bucket, they are dumped by hand into the mixer bowl.

Dough discharged from the mixer is pumped to a vertical conveyor leading to an overhead horizontal conveyor. The belt dribbles the dough into the AMF SBD 8-across rotary bun divider. (The whole-wheat Angus bun, an oversized item, was being made during Baking & Snack’s visit run 6-across.)

“We recently changed the divider’s rounding bars to Teflon-coated aluminum from the original UHMW [ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene],” Mr. Kozloski said. The new bars release dough balls without sticking.

Rounded dough pieces fall down the zigzag board of the AMF Accupan bun makeup system. After a short intermediate proofing period, the dough pieces drop to the system’s sheeter to be flattened and deposited in waiting bun pans that index forward to accept each row of dough pieces. A Larramore flour reclaim system with filter manages the dusting flour. When making Angus buns, the dough pieces pass under a herringbone-patterned roller that imprints them to give the desired braided appearance. Filled bun pans encounter a Burford orbital shaker that oscillates the pan in the horizontal plane to properly seat dough pieces.

Pans, carried on grids equipped with magnetic grippers, travel in the short direction, with their long edges facing forward. This conveying style maximizes output while minimizing speeds. Filled pans move into the Stewart Systems conveyorized proofer, entering and exiting low thanks to the crossover flow design of the conveyors. The Stewart Systems oven also uses this design, and pans enter and exit at waist height.

A Burford Smart Seeder employs coded mandrels to accurately deposit seeds on buns when required. A seed recovery system improves the unit’s efficiency. The seeder also handles flaked grains for topping whole-wheat buns.


From the oven, pans ride to the Stewart Systems vacuum depanner. Pans are sent back into the makeup system’s pan loop, while buns move forward to the plastic mesh belt of the AMF ambient-temperature spiral cooler. A Stewart Systems bun pan cleaner vacuums and brushes debris off the pans. Turano engineers built screens around the overhead pan cooler to prevent hot pans from accidentally dropping.

A Workhorse Automation pan management system corrals the bakery’s four pan sets, storing them on a 3-tier rack when not in use. The robotic system feeds stacked pans to the Stewart Systems unstacker, while a matching stacker pulls pans off the line for return to storage. The bakery expects 4,500 releases per glazing cycle for its pans, according to Mr. Kozloski.


Every bun baked in the plant passes through the EyePro Q-Bake inspection system before it reaches the three Stewart Systems P1000 pillow-pack bulk packaging lines, each with its own slicing and bulk packing machines.

Buns move along conveyors, with horizontal switches routing them into specific lines. They travel forward into a laning system by sliding down chutes to the packaging table. Hold-down bars stop the buns briefly to group them as they enter the slicer. The slicer also features a moving re-grouper to keep buns precisely aligned as they go through wrapping. Air is withdrawn from the pillow pack as the package is sealed. The finished package passes through a Thermo Scientific metal detector before it slides down into the waiting basket-style tray. Two tray loading stations on each packaging line improve speeds.

Three AMF tray stackers automatically accept loaded baskets, stack them and push the stacks out onto a short conveyor leading to the AMF pallet loader. The system slides two stacks at a time onto the waiting pallet, whose grooves stabilize the stacks. When four stacks are present, the loader moves the pallet forward to be wrapped for additional stability. Here, the whole pallet is color-coded by a tag or film wrap designating product type.

An electric eye counter physically tags each pallet. When two pallets are present, the system moves them along to the freezer, where the pallets are also counted as they pass through the sliding door.

“Once buns enter the freezer, they become Martin-Brower’s inventory,” Mr. Mitchell said, “to be pulled and slotted for delivery to the customer’s restaurants.”

When 90 pallets accumulate in the freezer, a signal is sent to the distribution center to start slotting these for delivery. Martin-Brower operators break down the orders and take the stacked buns off the pallets. The plastic pallets stay within the building, although a few go to a Martin-Brower satellite location at Pompano Beach, FL.

Returned delivery baskets are cleaned before they re-enter the production area. An AMF B-40 basket washer is housed in a separate room, and the trays go directly from the truck to the washer.


As practiced at Turano Florida Bun, sustainability involves not only energy usage but water as well. “Our biggest concern is water,” Mr. Kozloski said. All water usage points are separately monitored. “We know our water usage,” he continued. “If it gets too much, it gets fixed the next day. We have actually reduced water usage 50% since the day we opened.” He said that while planning the building, he and Mr. Desrosiers were constantly removing drains from the drawings. Through good water management, the bakery avoided having to install a water treatment system.

The county’s high surcharges on water are one reason for such care, but “doing the right thing” is also a priority for the family company. “You have to be sensitive to the environment,” Giancarlo said.

Another energy-savings plan was to put all interior lighting on motion detectors. “We can remotely monitor and set all aspects of the HVAC system,” Mr. Desrosiers noted. And motor selection for equipment was based on low energy-consumption ratings.

The Orlando bakery hosted a McDonald’s sustainability conference in mid-January.

“You learn from one facility to the next,” Giancarlo said. “Because our company is privately held, we have the freedom to act on new initiatives. The next facility will be even better.”

For the time being, Orlando offers plenty of expansion capacity. Output on the current line could rise to 140% of what it is now, according to Giancarlo.

“There are only opportunities here,” Giancarlo II added.

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