Efficiency is a worthy goal for any business, but particularly in manufacturing where waste comes at a cost of tangible resources. In the commercial bakery, moments in production that can stand to use some tightening are the mixer, the oven and the freezer, when applicable. These areas exert a lot of energy to accomplish their objectives, either in actual electricity to power the equipment or heat to bake the product. Efficiency is often associated with dollar and energy savings, but there are other benefits too, particularly in the oven.
A bakery has achieved the pinnacle of efficiency when it bakes the maximum pound of product with the minimum amount of energy, measured in Btu/lb. Achieving baking efficiency has several measurable benefits as well as the immeasurable effect of enhancing consumer perception of the product. Higher throughputs, ROI, lower costs, more saleable product, less waste and higher product quality are just some ways in which a baker can see the advantages.
“Efficient tunnel ovens provide consistency and repeatability of performance and product quality,” said Ken Johnson, president, Gemini Bakery Equipment/KB Systems. “Efficient, automated lines lend themselves to longer production runs and minimum product changeovers.”
With higher efficiency comes increased output from a single oven, which can reduce production hours or the number of ovens operating, according to Patricia Kennedy, president, WP Bakery Group USA, the subsidiary of WP Bakery Group of Germany. “In many cases, baking is the prime limiter to the maximum output a bakery can produce,” she said.
And while efficient ovens can bring down baking times 10 to 20%, finished products benefit in quality too by retaining more moisture, improving taste and extending shelf life, according to Ms. Kennedy.
There are several strategies and technologies that can help bakers improve productivity. “Keeping an oven full to design capacity, process control of exact application of heat when needed in the bake process, least excess exhaust heat loss and oven insulation all enter into the efficiency calculation,” said Dennis Kauffman, thermal specialist, AMF Bakery Systems.
Everything it seems from the design of the baking chamber to the recipe-driven controls can help make an oven more effective from the start and help operators repeat those results over and over again.
Read on to learn how the baking chamber itself has an impact of efficiency.