Four years in the planning, the new Turano Georgia Bread plant at Villa Rica, GA, positions Turano Baking Co. of Berwyn, IL, for the future. The familyowned-and-operated business supplies customers in the Southeast and along the Atlantic Coast, using a highspeed, fully automated pan bread line and a high-speed, artisan-quality hearth bread line. And it enables Turano Baking to follow its customers.

“Our purpose is to serve the customer no matter where he’s at,” said Renato (Ron) Turano, owner and c.e.o., “and we have customers all over the country. That’s the expansion program we designed, and Georgia is one of the steps we have implemented. We’re here to stay,” he added.

“This bakery takes Turano to the next level, to allow our next generation to be able to grow the business,” observed Umberto (Tony) Turano, owner and president.“And it brings us to a different part of the country, helping our products and brands become better known.”

The new bakery not only provides additional reach and expanded product lines but also increased competitiveness, according to Giancarlo Turano, owner and vicepresident, sales and marketing. “Our future is putting us into the pan bread and bun businesses in high-speed, high-volume applications,” he said. “This rounds us off as a baking company.”

Housed in a brand-new building, Turano Georgia Bread is the first location for Turano Baking outside Illinois and is sized to bake 130 million to 140 million lb of bread annually. The company also operates bakeries at its Berwyn headquarters location (specialty breads and rolls), at Bolingbrook (frozen par- and fully baked breads) and at Bloomingdale (pastries). And another bakery is being readied at Orlando, FL, to bake buns.


What brought Turano Baking to the pine forests and red clay of western Georgia? The company’s signature rustic Italian, authentic French and classic American specialty breads enjoy popularity at retail, yet the bakery has also built a strong portfolio of baked foods for the food service and institutional market. To serve this market, Turano Baking’s product development team includes master bakers, pastry chefs and an executive chef, who work to identify custom bread solutions for national chain operators and retailers. The team draws on the company’s core competencies in specialty breads and rolls.

The “industrial” customer base is national. The company has supplied specialty products to customers in the Southeast for more than 15 years, shipped frozen from Illinois.

“Villa Rica and Orlando are customer-driven projects,” Giancarlo Turano said. “We found ourselves with customer opportunities that needed to be filled. Our lead customer at Villa Rica provided the tonnage, approximately 40 million lb a year, to support our decision to install line No. 1, the pan bread line. Also, the Villa Rica location allows us to get closer to our existing customer base in this region, and we expanded our product line to bring hearth-baked items to the Southeast as well.”

There’s a reason a peach is included in the plant’s logo. “The peach signals our desire to be part of the community,” Giancarlo Turano said, which is also why the company named the facility Turano Georgia Bread. The bakery in Orlando is called Turano Florida Buns.

Because the Turano managers sought to shorten distances and improve delivery times for customers, they made their final site selection in western Georgia. “We looked at the Carolinas and Florida, but the location of the bakery’s major customer made Villa Rica the right choice,”Giancarlo Turano stated. The new plant is conveniently close to Interstate 20, the major east-west highway running through the Southeast. The plant serves a geographic area that stretches from Maine to the tip of Florida and west to Houston, TX.

Turano Baking takes a partnership approach to customer relationships. “Our customers are our partners,” Giancarlo Turano declared. “We are joined at the hip with them. We are a part of their development, facilitating their needs. Although our product line is unique, at the end of the day, it’s the commitment we have to our customers that defines us.”

“And it’s been that way from day one,” Ron Turano added. “We’re not in business just to sell a loaf of bread today, tomorrow or the next day.We’re in business to help customers become even better.”

Once the decision to build at Villa Rica was made, everything else went quickly and relatively smoothly, according to Giancarlo Turano. With planning for processing and sales done in advance, the site selection, bids, construction, installation and commissioning took about two years. He said design occupied about six months, with building and installation another 12 months.

“We had an accelerated time frame,” Tony Turano noted.


To achieve their output targets, Turano Baking engineers turned to efficient, high-speed, high-volume production lines, coupled with labor-saving packaging and distribution systems.Automation became an essential factor, and along with it came a number of important “firsts” in technology for the company.

“Automation was a function of fulfilling our cus- tomer’s need,” Giancarlo Turano explained. “When you produce at these high speeds, you must have long runs of products. That was one of our challenges during the design and layout stages.”

Knowing that automated systems would be required, the managers decided to up the ante, so to speak, and seek higher levels of technology. Through its Bolingbrook bakery, the company already had experience with high-speed hearth lines, but the brew system, the ingredient system and the high-speed pan bread line were all “firsts” for Turano Baking.

“We did a lot of legwork evaluating our equipment choices,” Tony Turano said.“We knew we could marry these new technologies and make them work together, not only for speed but also for production control and consistency.”

Ron Turano added,“And to do it effectively.”

Management chose the team for the Turano Georgia Bread project by considering the skills needed to layout, install, commission and run a bakery quite different from the other Turano plants. “Our team included Kevin Deming, who came on board as plant manager about eight months before the first loaf was baked,”Tony Turano said. Mr. Deming joined from another baking company that operated several automated pan-bread lines. “He trained at our Berwyn and Bolingbrook locations and was here throughout installation. Frank Biernacki manages engineering, and Les Mesina, another Bolingbrook veteran, is in charge of operations. Each played a big role in putting this bakery together.”

Describing equipment choices, Giancarlo Turano observed, “We have a ‘league of nations’ represented in our plants.We look for the equipment that will operate to achieve products that meet our level of quality. History, product variety and reputation were all factors in our decision-making about the equipment chosen for Villa Rica.”

“Over the years, we have seen similar equipment systems,”Tony Turano said.“We also traveled to visit other bakeries and trade shows.” The bidding process involved many different manufacturers and helped team members learn about the many new technologies they were considering.

The company set up a collaborative program with its vendors. The facility’s layout was mostly done in-house, but lead equipment vendors supported that effort with their engineering resources. “We also took advantage of the knowhow at our other plants,” Ron Turano said. “In many ways, this site is a ‘mirror’ of Bolingbrook.”


The bakery’s straight-line layout facilitates automation. Ingredients flow from silos, bulk bins and rack storage adjacent to line No. 1, while the brew system is on the other side of the production floor, next to mixing operations for line No. 2. The lines have sufficient flexibility to bake a wide range of products, including artisan-style items and organic breads.

“What we make in our Berwyn and Bolingbrook plants we hope to also do at Villa Rica and Orlando,” he continued. “So this new bakery represents not only territory expansion but also customer expansion and product line expansion.”

The Villa Rica plant currently produces “a nice mix” of products, in Giancarlo Turano’s words, and at this time, the company wants to keep the number of varieties to a minimum. Products are distributed both fresh and frozen.

The large building brings 107,000 sq ft under roof, with 38,000 sq ft used for processing, 20,000 sq ft for packaging, 27,000 sq ft for warehousing, 7,000 sq ft for office space and 15,000 sq ft for ancillary services. Because of Georgia’s warm and often humid climate, Turano Baking designed this plant with air-cooled ingredient storage and production rooms.

The 19-acre site allows future expansion. “The way the project was laid out, this building could triple in size,” Giancarlo Turano said. Walls can be “bumped out,” with little disruption to production. The flour and yeast systems already in position were scaled to handle the extra volume. “This is a growth-friendly facility,” he noted.


With the bakery only a year old, its schedules are already busy. Giancarlo Turano estimated that the bread line is currently at 40% capacity and the hearth line at 66%. Line No. 1 bakes pan breads, including Pullman (sandwich) styles, while line No. 2 provides capabilities for making specialty, hearth and artisan items. Roughly 85% of Villa Rica’s output goes to the food service market as bulk and individually packed loaves.

Both lines receive their ingredients through a Shick USA automatic bulk handling and minor ingredient system, run- ning IntelliBatch software on Allen-Bradley terminals set on Strongarm mounts. Three tall silos and four temperaturecontrolled holding tanks manage the bulk ingredients such as flour and soybean oil. The interior warehouse storage includes eight minor bins supplied with raw materials delivered in 50- and 100-lb bags and filled by a bag dump system. The ingredient storage area houses a Shick Pro-Sack bulk bag unloader to manage ingredients transported in super sacks. Bulk totes deliver canola oil.

The bakery’s brew system, designed and installed by Shick, feeds line No. 1. Flour from the Shick system and cream yeast from the Inox-Tech system are mixed with other ingredients and held in three fermentation tanks. The brew travels through a heat exchanger that cools it before it reaches the mixing station’s “cold” tank.

Two AMF automatically operated horizontal tilt-bowl mixers provide the dough needs for line No. 1. The mixers drop their doughs into an AMF rotary chunker, mounted on rails to travel between them. The chunker transfers dough via elevator belts to another conveyor where the chunks pass through a Thermo Scientific metal detector. The conveyor carries dough chunks to two AMF rotary bread dividers where dough balls are formed.

Dough balls rest as they travel on an Intralox plastic-link conveyor belt for a few minutes before reaching the two AMF straight-line sheeter-moulder-panner systems. The moulder drops the loaf-shaped dough pieces into 6-strap pans supplied by American Pan as they are indexed below. The two moulding systems sit side-by-side in the bakery, allowing ready access by operators.

The two streams of filled pans converge onto one infeed conveyor that leads into a Stewart Systems conveyorized proofer. A lidding system ahead of the proofer is engaged when making Pullman bread. Magnets on the pan grids help stabilize pans during their travel through the spiral-inspiral proofer. After exiting the proofer, pans travel into a Stewart Systems conveyorized oven.

Removed from their pans after baking by a Stewart Systems bread depanner, the loaves move along to the top of the tall AMF spiral cooler. Here, they ride 26 times around the spiral conveyor to emerge fully cooled and ready for slicing, packaging and tray loading.

In the meantime, the 6-strap pans return to the system to be either filled again with dough pieces or rerouted into pan storage. A set of Stewart Systems pan stacker/unstacker units handle the flow of pans in and out of the line. A Workhorse Automation 3-tier pan storage and retrieval system, assigned to line No. 1, manages the bakery’s three sets of bread pans. A shuttle, with an elevator on board, raises and lowers pans to the different levels in the system.

All loaves pass through a Thermo Scientific metal detector before being sliced and/or packaged on three AMF slicer-bagger lines. Some products bypass the packaging lines to go directly to the AMF robotic pattern formers that load delivery baskets.

Before being loaded, all baskets pass through the AMF basket washer. Filled baskets are stacked onto dollies and moved to the staging area for distribution or to the freezer for later shipment.


Line No. 2, the hearthbread system, opens the doors to considerable product variety at the new plant. Busy now with par-baked hoagie-style sandwich rolls, it is capable of making a wide range of baked foods, according to Giancarlo Turano. “Villa Rica will be able to produce many of the artisan styles we make elsewhere and still have additional capabilities in the future,” he said.

The process starts with preparation of the sponge, called a biga, in a small Bertuetti Turbomix spiral mixer. Dumped out of the mixer into a tub, the biga ferments for five hours. Depending on the final product, sponges can ferment for much longer, up to 14 hours for ciabatta.

On schedule, the mixer operator moves the biga to the Sancassiano 4-bowl spiral mixer system that prepares line No. 2 doughs. Bowls move through the system carouselstyle. First, the bowl is charged with sponge, additional flour, water and other ingredients. Next, it moves through mixing and resting stations before being discharged.

Doughs for this line get at least one hour of floor time before being fed into the Rheon Stress Free V4 bread makeup system. Gravity dispenses the dough out of the hopper onto the forming line, creating a band of dough, while continuous weighing systems control the speed of the conveyor carrying the dough sheet, thus assuring accurate portioning. The Rheon line incorporates several sheeting, gauging, flour dusting and cutting stations that transform the continuous sheet of dough into individual loaves.

“This line normally places dough pieces onto peel boards, but the customer wanted the dough proofed and baked on pans,” Mr. Deming explained.

Line No. 2 employs an Alitech rack proofer and tunnel oven, supplied by Gemini Bakery Equipment. The rack proofer accepts loaded peels (or pans) and moves them through the proofer, which maintains constant temperature and humidity throughout the long chamber. The Gemini oven loader includes a bypass feature that permits it to be raised, thus allowing the filled pans to be conveyed directly from the proofer onto the oven’s traveling hearth.

Leaving the oven, the loaves are depanned and, for this product, given a light spray of sorbate solution. The warm loaves move along a conveyor to the G&F spiral cooler mounted above the oven. “The placement of the cooler saves floor space — something we learned at Bolingbrook and Berwyn,” Tony Turano said.

“That layout decision came from having tight quarters in our other buildings,” Giancarlo Turano explained.“We have plenty of space here at Villa Rica and can take advantage of the height of this building.”

Finishing options for bread made on line No. 2 include slicing, using a LeMatic system on one of the two packaging lines, both equipped with UBE baggers. Or the bread can be counted into corrugated cartons lined with poly bags. The shipping cartons are placed on pallets and secured with shrink wrap before they go into the freezer.


The Villa Rica bakery is staffed with a total of 120 employees.“For some management positions, we had candidates with bakery experience but generally not for the line staff,” Mr. Deming noted. That’s where Quick Start, a program from the state of Georgia’s technical college system, kicked in. It assisted with job fairs to attract applicants, and it produced a series of training videos.

“Georgia Quick Start staff came up to our facilities in Chicago and worked with our human resources group in developing the videos,” Giancarlo Turano said. The videos provided an introduction to the bakery’s processes, explained good manufacturing practices (GMPs) and offered an overview of the Villa Rica facility. They also laid out the company’s expectations for staff performance. The

group set up a training classroom in the bakery, scheduling key sessions to preview critical line operations before startup.

“Some of the training was done hands-on, some with videos,” Mr. Deming said.

Getting the Villa Rica employees off to a good start was important to the Turano Baking managers. “We make a commitment as an employer,” Tony Turano said.


The emphasis that the training program and videos put on quality and GMPs is carried through in the bakery’s quality assurance program, managed by Susan Dooley. “With my prior experience as an AIB inspector and following those standards, we put together a quality assurance program based on food safety, GMPs and lab assistance,” she said.

“QA technicians are out in the plant constantly to monitor lines and check conditions,” Mr. Deming said. Incoming ingredients are screened, too. “We insist on a certificate of analysis (COA) for every raw material,” he said, and Ms. Dooley added,“COA allows traceability analysis.”

Sustainability and environmental matters are essential operating principles, and staff training follows up with monthly sessions. In fact, a number of the videos produced for the Georgia plant now find companywide use.

“This company does not deviate in its process and commitment to its customers,” Mr. Deming said. “We do it right.”