New technology could change the way FATs are conducted in the future.

Get in a car. Hop on a plane. Factory Acceptance Tests (FATs) often require the baker and even some operators or maintenance personnel from the bakery to travel to an equipment supplier to inspect and test the equipment one final time before it is shipped and installed. While these in-person inspections still remain the most effective way to test the equipment, new technology may give bakers remote options and could alter the way FATs are performed in the future.

“Methods of FATs are changing based on technology,” said Andy Baker, mechanical engineering manager, AMF Bakery Systems. “For instance, computing and communication tools have improved to the point where it is now feasible to do virtual FATs online.”

Video conferencing with technology such as Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts or GoToMeeting permits bakers to view the equipment test remotely without the added cost and time of travel. “Technology also allows us to make decisions a lot faster when modification or improvements are required, minimizing delays to the delivery of the equipment and start-up process,” said Cesar Zelaya, bakery sales and technology manager, Handtmann Inc.

Shaffer Manufacturing, a Bundy Baking Solution, uses the latest GoPro camera technology to take bakers inside their new mixer while it’s running. This behind-the-scenes footage gives bakers insight into how their doughs come together. The video can be shared later or streamed live to the baker.

Three-dimensional imaging can also give bakers a good idea of what their equipment will look like from every angle. “With today’s 3D equipment designs, a great visual image of the equipment is shown early on and allows the engineers to fit all the pieces together with our CAD software,” said Tremaine Hartranft, director of engineering, Reading Bakery Systems. “This greatly reduces the risk for any interference once the equipment is assembled together in the customer’s factory. We highly encourage all customers come in and review their new equipment prior to shipment to be sure they are satisfied with everything prior to it leaving our factory.”