Having attended bakery trade shows since the ’80s, I found iba 2018 an interesting departure from previous events. Most prior iba shows were identified by their introduction of new technology, control and communications systems as well as equipment, devices and methods that established new trends for the industry. Certainly this year, there were advances to be found, but iba 2018 likely will be remembered for raising the bar on the fundamentals. Attendees observed meaningful refinements to existing and proven process equipment, control systems, training and support programs, and inherent designs supporting food safety — all very meaningful advances for the baker.

Across the board, it seemed equipment and ingredient suppliers had doubled down on their efforts to assist the baker in meeting regulatory pressures and consumer demands associated with nutrition and food safety, providing equipment and systems that minimize the need for large numbers of skilled workers, and offering ingredients and methodology that assist the baker with meeting demands for clean labels, gluten-free baked foods, creative flavors and enhanced textures.

Exhibitors presented interesting refinements in production equipment. Imbedded sensory technology and secure wireless communications transmit not only real-time operational data to parent systems but also support statistical production analysis as well as forecasts for maintenance requirements. The imbedded technology enables the baker to realize greater product consistency by monitoring and controlling belt and cutting speeds, deposit weights, temperatures, and time within predetermined limits. Alternative approaches to bread and bun bagging on display will certainly improve line efficiency and speed.

Not surprising as Industry 4.0 resulted from an initiative undertaken by the German government, Industry 4.0 was forefront at iba 2018. Many of the exhibitors were conversant in Industry 4.0 and spoke to the intelligence and communications capabilities available either as standard feature or as an option for their equipment. Smart equipment capable of seamlessly integrating with other production equipment along the line or with supervisory or enterprise systems is now the standard. Equipment designed for the “smart factory” is the norm. The need for equipment to integrate seamlessly with line equipment produced by other manufacturers has been recognized.

Sanitary and eco-friendly designs were also profiled by many equipment manufacturers. Designs minimized collection points for scrap during production or for liquids to collect during cleaning cycles. They minimized washdown requirements. Open-access designs facilitated housekeeping and sanitation. Also profiled during the show were open frames and clean lines that avoid/minimize recesses and voids, and provide energy-efficient deigns that reduce consumption and emissions.

Ingredient suppliers were not to be overshadowed. There was significant innovation in flavor technology, tailored fermentation and leavening products, advancement in clean labels, and a marked increase in the ingredients available for gluten-free, natural and organic products. Yeasts and controlled ferments that can assist the baker in targeting specific flavor profiles presented considerable variety. Ingredient encapsulation that enhances flavor, texture and shelf-life extension also generated significant interest among the artisan and craft bakers. Virtually all the suppliers were sensitive to the need for clean and natural products to address consumer sentiments and meet marketplace demands.

If iba 2018 can be used as a measure, IBIE 2019 is an exposition not to be missed.

Jim Kline is a contributing editor for Baking & Snack and founder of The EnSol Group. Connect with Mr. Kline at jkline@theensolgroup.com.