The long journey from a brainstorming session to developing a final bakery or snack product requires time, patience and work. An area for sharing knowledge and experimenting with the latest in technology is also necessary, and the Handtmann Technology Center, located in Biberach, Germany, not only seeks to provide these tools, but it also strives to foster creativity and discussion.
As concepts are born and grown into realities, Handtmann’s innovation center works alongside companies, allowing them to focus on each small step of progress in the process while staying aware of overall developments — further upstream, downstream and everywhere in between — for making a successful end product.
The approximately 43,000-square-foot technology center was expanded in 2017 and is Handtmann’s main innovation center in Europe followed by its locations in Lake Forest, Ill., and Waterloo, Ont. The new center is actually separated into two buildings to allow more companies to experiment at the same time. With the core statement being “ideas for the future,” Handtmann’s center provides a hands-on environment and a platform for trail-and-error-research.
“We use our technology centers to assist customers during their R.&D. processes for new and existing products, to validate the feasibility of our equipment for their products when evaluating new Handtmann equipment, and to conduct factory acceptance testing before the final installation at their bakeries,” said Martin Rössler, industry manager for marketing and sales.
Despite already having innovation centers in the United States and Canada, Handtmann created the technology center in Germany with North American bakeries and snack producers in mind. Whether customers are in the area touring bakeries, attending trade shows or even visiting Handtmann, the centers are easily accessible.
“As our technology center in Germany is better equipped, it provides immediate benefits for our North American bakery customers at the very time when their evaluation metrics are more detailed and fact-based,” said Cesar Zelaya, bakery sales and technology manager. “Our customers indicated that more production flexibility, equipment reliability and the total cost of ownership are more important than ever.”
From the formulation process to final product, innovation requires a variety of equipment, and the center has everything from dough dividers and depositors to forming, extruding, portioning and cutting machines. Additionally, it includes a spiral mixer, sourdough fermentation tank, convection oven, electric deck oven and automatic proofing unit. Mr. Zelaya noted that the technology center complements the company’s facilities in its U.S. and Canadian offices by also demonstrating the advantages of its adjustable vane cell technology, which has a shorter product path, reduced temperature rise and gentle handling for improved quality and productivity.
A variety of machines allows baking and snack companies to develop and evaluate a long list of products.
“The portfolio ranges from artisan baked goods made of ancient grains through products from other cultures such as naan bread from India to fitness protein bars, snacks to go and industrially produced discount goods,” Mr. Rössler said.
He added that the center also offers equipment solutions for the dairy, meat and pet food industry that bakers and snack producers can experiment with and learn about during visits.
The center includes conference and training rooms, which have wireless headsets for presenters and live video projectors for viewing the inside of the equipment. It also offers free training with equipment purchases, regularly scheduled equipment courses and optional customized training and support classes. As a part of the Handtmann Customer Forum, the equipment has E.U. and international approvals for food production, which means it complies with the latest food legislation regulations.
Bakers, of course, are actively involved in defining the process and tasting the end products for further improvement, but Handtmann gets involved, too. It not only supplies the equipment but can also provide recipes and raw materials for preliminary trials and keeps specialist application technology experts on hand to assist with product samples and informative findings.
“In the Handtmann Technology Center, we work closely together with the best partners in the industry: ingredients, recipes, packaging solutions, expert forums, industry seminars, joint practical tests, trial programs and more,” Mr. Rössler said. “The overall process is the central focus.”