To help a bakery customer better track its pans, the Kaak Group, Terborg, The Netherlands, incorporated an automatic pan monitoring system into a high-capacity line it installed earlier this year.

“The system works by reading metal bar code tags welded to the sides of the strap pans,” said Ken Hagedorn, vice-president and partner at Naegele, Inc. Bakery Systems, Alsip, IL, which is the US representative for the Kaak Group. What helped make this possible, he added, is that Kaak manufactures its own pans.

“Every pan that passes the detector will be read, and the data will be sent to a computer system,” explained Ashley Morris, the Kaak Group’s US sales manager. “This data is then collected in a database system that will keep count of all the pans.”

This information can be used to determine the moment a pan has to be taken from the line for recoating purposes. In that case, the computer system will send a reject signal to the line control system, which then will activate a vertical switch that automatically removes the pan from the line.

Each pan carries two metal tags on opposite sides. “The reason for this is that the orientation of the square pans will be turned 180° after each pass through the production line,” Mr. Morris said. ”Another advantage is that, when the operator puts the pan back into the line after recoating, he doesn’t have to worry about the correct position of the barcode tag.”