Even if a pan has come through the line 20 times already, it should perform as though it’s the first time. The ability of a pan, whether it’s carrying bread or angel food cake, to cycle through again and again while maintaining durability is vital for bakers because it cuts cost and guarantees value product.
Many positive factors contribute to longer-lasting pan life, including firm material.
“Stronger materials like the high-tensile strength aluminized steel used on our ePans are more resistant to denting and warping,” said Jason Tingley, vice-president of American Pan, a Bundy Baking Solution. “Longer release-life coatings and the timely scheduling of refurbishment and recoating of pans can also contribute to the increased life of baking pans.”
On the other hand, many challenging factors in a bakery can deplete a pan’s lifespan. These include hard-crusted products, depanning by comb rather than suction, higher baking temperatures and aggressive chemical ingredients, said Pierre Escarbelt, vice-president, sales and marketing, industrial division, Sasa Demarle, Inc. And when these issues occur, the most important part of a baker’s line is the cleaning equipment.
“Most of the items you’re going to wash, if not all of them, require a rigorous powerful wash followed by some form or fashion of a sanitizing rinse,” said Kevin Quinn, sales manager, Douglas Machine Corp. “In years past, chemical sanitizers were used. Now, more often than not, hot water sanitizing is used; typically, these pans are extremely durable and are not affected by the high temperature used in the washing and sanitizing process.”
A proper cleaning won’t damage the life of the pan; rather, it removes any residue left after depanning to extend its longevity, which means a bigger increment of time between pan purchases.
Rinse and repeat
Every bakery’s situation is different, from the variety of products to the different pans and coatings themselves. But as a general rule, bakers should wash pans after a single bake.
Mr. Quinn observed that some bakers put wax paper between the product and the pan and then send the pan through the oven two or three times before cleaning it. Although the metal might visibly appear to be clean, baking it repeatedly can cause the food soils on the edges to cook carbon black. It’s a difficult task to remove carbon soil, and stronger measures such as a baking soda blasting might have to be implemented.
Time also matters when cleaning bakeware, especially if it holds product that sticks to the sides.
“If I were to bake 200 pans today, 200 pans tomorrow and 200 pans on Sunday and then turn the washer on Monday and try to clean 600 pans, that soil has been allowed to age,” Mr. Quinn noted. “And once it’s aged, it becomes much more difficult to remove, which can negatively affect pan life.”
Bakeware should be cleaned as soon as possible for gentler and easier handling.
“When the pan is still hot coming out of the oven, you should depan the product and clean it right there,” said Patrice Painchaud, vice-president of sales and marketing, Rexfab. “Overall pan life will be increased.”
To monitor a pan’s life cycle, Kaak Group offers technology through its iBakeware program. Sensors located throughout the production line pick up a bar code on each pan and send information to a computer that sorts out the signals, said Job Pyrek, account manager, Kaak Group. This technology counts the times a pan passes through the line and can sense if it needs recoating or should be replaced before issues occur in combination with a Bread In Pan Sensor.
Coatings preserve pans, but a good cleaning preserves the coatings. This means no dust, crumbs or any other residue on the pans as they will dim and reduce the glaze over time.
“Residue can degrade the coating or cause abrasion and reduce the overall life,” Mr. Tingley explained. “However, it is also important to be sure that the cleaning process does not damage pans.”
Spray-on release coatings can make cleaning the pan more difficult, said Mr. Quinn. A company might have to move from a short to a long wash cycle in a cabinet washer or slow down the conveyor belt speed in a continuous motion tunnel washer to prolong a cleaning, resulting in less efficiency.
With glazing and other types of pan coatings, typically the only obstacle would be the type of detergent used.
“Make sure the proper chemical detergent is being used to safely remove the product soils without removing the coating,” Mr. Quinn noted. “As long as that rule is applied, the washer should have no effect on the life of the pan.”
Sasa Demarle’s coatings, such as its iNFiNiUM 601, have evolved over the years to be more mechanical and thermal resistant. To ensure the durability of its products, the company has detailed data for bakers that specifies how its coated pans should be cleaned in comparison with its other pans.
“Non-abrasive brush or cloth, detergent with a pH between 5 and 10, hot air drying under 150°C (302°F) are the main guidelines,” Mr. Escarbelt said.
Cleaning pans increases the longevity of a glaze, which means a baker can wait longer between recoatings. Mr. Painchaud said companies that regularly recoat could drastically save on cost if they cleaned after every bake cycle.
But for baking companies not wanting to invest in recoating pans, Mr. Pyrek suggests that they consider using simple bakeware with greasing.
“If it’s possible to use greasing, you get away from the coating and still use a washing machine inline, so every pan is perfectly clean and should be stored in a clean environment,” he said.
Hung out to dry
All of the benefits of washing pans after every use can go down the drain if moisture lingers in the pan.
“The trick is getting the pan dry out of the cleaning machine because it’s still metal,” Mr. Pyrek said. “If it’s not dried and then stored, you’ll have a lot of problems with corrosion.”
The continuous motion tunnel washer from Douglas Machine Corp. can include a Blow-Off system, which sheers the water off. Other washers such as the company’s smaller cabinet washers don’t offer a dryer because aluminum and alumni steel pans easily absorb temperature.
“The change of temperature from absorbing a 160°F wash and 180°F rinse to coming out of the washer into an 80°F facility causes a flashover,” Mr. Quinn said. “Basically, it means a metal pan is going to dry in a matter of minutes due to the change in temperature that the pan has absorbed while in the washer relative to the temperature outside the washer.”
Rexfab’s cleaning equipment doesn’t use water at all. Instead its Pan Inverter-Cleaner turns the pans upside down and dry cleans them.
“There’s always a residual amount of water that remains in pans,” Mr. Painchaud said. “We have gravity on our side and a sweeper assembly with an air nozzle that dislodges seeds or any unwanted material or foreign object that may be left in that pan.”
Many companies have made progress in using less water and power during the cleaning process, creating less water waste that must be disposed, said Mr. Tingley. Advances in pan washing systems also have made it easy to clean the filters while the machine is running to improve the efficiency of the cycle, he added.
Efficiency is everything when an oven — that can’t and won’t be stopped — is full of pans. So washing machines need to run continuously. The faster a baker can fully and correctly clean and dry incoming pans, the quicker these pans can be recycled into brand new vessels for bakery products.