Vertical step methods carry pans through the proofer on plastic friction pads.
Must an automated final proofer necessarily occupy a bigger footprint on the plant floor? Usually, but not always.

“Space optimization has always and will continue to be a primary concern for all bakeries, regardless of their size,” explained Aaron Burke, territory manager, GTA/Western Canada, ABI Ltd. “Bakeries will tend to have more available height after a certain point than they do square footage on the ground.” The company adjusted spacing between flights and products.

Production solutions based on smaller footprints are a frequent request, according to Eric Riggle, vice-president, Rademaker USA. “Nowadays, it is even more important to maximize floor space efficiency,” he said.

The 30-ft ceiling heights of modern bakeries readily accommodate such solutions. Peter White, president, IJ White Systems, described a multiple production line system that operates on one vertical tower to reduce the footprint. “However, we believe our designs are adaptable and flexible to accommodate the layout constraints of new installations within the limitations of existing facilities,” he said.

When automation requires bakers to go large on proofer size, things other than output get involved. “Other design factors then need to be taken into account like air velocity, duct placement and so forth,” said Brian Doan, project engineer, The Fred D. Pfening Co.

Vertical proofers answer the need for a smaller more compact footprint. Frank Achterberg, president, CBF Bakery Systems, noted that CBF’s step-style proofers use the height of the building rather than running it out horizontally. “And the pitch — the vertical distance between pans — can be adjusted to handle more products,” he explained.

And some bakers get really innovative in their installations. “Customers will give us their building specifications,” said Richard Breeswine, president and CEO, Koenig Bakery Systems. “In recent years, Koenig has built small-footprint proofers that extend into the next building floor, above the bread roll line, under a roof or even down into basements.”