Lighter pans made with sturdier steel reduce bake times and save energy. Source: American Pan, a Bundy Baking Solution

That bang, bang, banging heard throughout the bakery is the sound of money flying out the window. When metal clashes with metal, that clanging means something is going to ding, dent, warp or bend over time, and that’s when cash registers — and often workers’ ears — start to ring.

Fortunately, with nimble robotics, gentler pan handling and advances in metallurgy, pans quietly hold their shape longer. And while pan design may not be exactly rocket science, it certainly involves a foundation of physics, mathematics and chemistry that has extended their life over time.

In fact, consider this smart formula that’s relatively easy to understand: Less mass plus enhanced conductivity equals greater profitability. Add it all up? Today’s stronger, lighter and often bigger pans also bake better than ever.

This didn’t occur overnight, but it did happen, said Jason Tingley, vice-president, American Pan, a Bundy Baking Solution. Bakers can, in part, thank the auto industry for progress in pan technology.

“What’s changed is the design of pan materials,” he said. “This concept of using more intelligent, fully designed materials started eight years ago and continues to expand. With these higher tech materials that have become available as a result of research and development from automotive industry, we can design pans with these custom, high-strength steels. We can take as much mass out as possible, which makes the pans more efficient on the baking and cooling side and provides significant savings.”

To make his point, Mr. Tingley suggested simple subtraction involving the ePan with 30% less mass than its conventional counterpart — and the e2Pan with up to 50% less weight — to see what happens when it comes to baking more efficiently.

“If you take 50% of the mass out of an average bun-and-roll set, you can easily eliminate 10,000 lbs of steel that does not need to be heated, conveyed or cooled and realize significant energy savings,” he said. “Energy-saving pans made from new, high-strength steel have been the most important development in baking pans. Nothing else like it in the past 50 years has been so successful and important, and a lot of people are still not aware of it, so they’re still using heavy pans when there are other options that are more efficient.”

This year, Industrial Bakeware Co. (IBCO) introduced the T8 pan design for bread pans.

“The strapping is its key innovation that improves the stacking of pans, decreases the floor space required and provides more effective handling, thereby preventing sliding of pans, which can cause damage to rims, bases and coating,” noted Dan Cochrane, IBCO managing director. “By preventing the ineffective stacking of pans, the lifespan and the internal coating can be extended.”

From an automatic pan-handling perspective, its nesting, rigidness and weight affect stacking and unstacking the most.

“The nesting features will dictate stack stability and prevent inadvertent contact of the interior of the pan cavity with the next pan in the stack,” said Aaron Burke, territory manager, GTA/Western Canada, ABI Ltd. “The rigidity of the pan will determine its life expectancy in the automated environment. A rigid pan can be picked and placed far more precisely than a warped or weakened pan.”

He added rigidity, in combination with the nesting feature design, will also determine the height of the stack, ensuring that the bottom-most pan will not deform under the stack weight.